New algorithm lets you make anything in origami


They say if you fold 1,000 origami cranes out of individual sheets of paper your deepest wishes will be granted. I tried it once – I was a lonely college kid – and I ended up with pink eye. However, a new paper out of MIT describes a way to possibly make 1,000 origami cranes out of one piece of paper, a unique feat that is now a possibility thanks to a new origami algorithm.

Computer science has long struggled with computational origami. In 2008 Tomohiro Tachi first piece of software that can create folding patterns, usually out of long strips of paper. The new algorithm, however, uses a simpler, large sheet of paper and is more “watertight,” meaning it has more folds and fewer joints.

“The new algorithm is supposed to give you much better, more practical foldings,” said…

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Google now has all the data it needs, will stop scanning Gmail inboxes for ad personalization


Here’s a surprise announcement from Google: It will stop scanning the inboxes of Gmail’s free users for ad personalization at some point later this year.

Google already doesn’t do this for business users who subscribe to its G Suite services, but until now, it routinely scanned the inboxes of its free users to better target ads for them. It then combined that information with everything else it knows about its users to build its advertising profiles for them.

Diane Greene, Google’s senior VP for Google Cloud, says the company made this decision because it “brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.”

Google won’t stop showing ads in Gmail, though, and it’s worth noting that given how much the company already knows about all of its…

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YouTube’s mobile app will soon better display all video formats, add messaging


On the heels of a major redesign of its desktop site which delivered an overall cleaner look-and-feel and a “dark mode” for nighttime watching, YouTube this week announced it will soon roll out an update to its mobile app, as well. The new app will better support video shot in other formats and orientations, by dynamically adapting its player to whatever video you’re currently watching.

As YouTube explains on its blog, “Who cares if they’re vertical or horizontal? Shot on a mobile phone or DSLR? Square, 4:3 or 16:9?”

The idea is that the software itself should adapt to play the video in the appropriate way, instead of trying to cram differently sized videos into one fixed area of the app because of technical constraints. When this functionality arrives in the weeks…

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YouTube TV expands to 10 more U.S. markets, adds more YouTube Red series


YouTube TV, Google’s $35 per month streaming service aimed at a younger demographic of cord cutters and cord-nevers, is expanding to ten more markets, the company announced this week at VidCon. The service had initially launched in April offering streaming live TV and DVR functionality to just five major metros: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

In just a couple of weeks, YouTube TV will be tripling its footprint, by offering service in Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne and Charlotte.

The company also confirmed that its strategy to attract younger viewers was working – at least in terms of the demographics of its YouTube TV…

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IBM is working with the Air Force Research Lab on a TrueNorth 64-chip array


IBM is working with the U.S. Air Force to improve its TrueNorth line of chips designed to optimize the performance of machine learning models at the hardware level. The new 64-chip array will consist of four boards, each with 16 chips. IBM’s chips are still too experimental to be used in mass production,  but they’ve shown promise in running a special type of neural network called a spiking neural network.

Though the technology is still in its infancy, IBM believes the low power consumption of its chips could some day bring value in constrained applications like mobile phones and self-driving cars. In an Air Force context, this could include applications in satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The chips are designed in such a way that researchers can run a single…

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About a month ago, word spread that Google had quietly launched a new fund for investing into AI companies. Now this fund has made its first (or at least its first public) investment. Led by Google’s VP of engineering for AI, Anna Patterson, this new fund is leading a $10.5 million Series A into Algorithmia, a marketplace and enterprise solution that allows developers to easily tap into its catalog of 3,500 algorithms, functions and machine-learning models.

Other participants in this round include new investor Work-Bench, as well as current investors Madrona Venture Group, Rakuten Ventures and Osage University Partners.

As Algorithmia founder and CEO Diego Oppenheimer told me, there was a lot of excitement for this funding round among VCs, mostly because the service enables other…

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Razer makes virtual currency push with $20M investment in Asian payment firm


Razer has invested close to $20 million into Malaysia-based online payment firm MOL Global as part of a push to establish its virtual currency for gamers in Asia.

The deal sees Razer subsidiary ZV-Midas buy equity from existing backers MOL Investment and Hotel Resort Enterprise in a deal that values the MOL Global business at around the $100 million mark.

Gaming company Razer, which made its name selling high-end peripherals and gaming laptops, introduced its ‘zVault’ digital wallet and ‘zGold’ rewards program for its gamers back in March. The strategy seems like a long-term effort to keeps gamers’ money inside the Razer ecosystem, via its services and services of its partners, and bolster its e-commerce business through rewards and incentives.

This week’s investment…

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China clamps down on live-streaming services


The Chinese government has cracked down on three of the country’s top live-streaming services over their apparent broadcast of unsuitable political content.

Weibo, the Nasdaq-listed microblogging site, disclosed that it had received a notice from The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (‘SAPPRFT’) asking it to remove illegal content and user accounts.

“The SAPPRFT had recently requested the local competent authorities to take measures to suspend several companies’ video and audio services due to their lacking of an internet audio/video program transmission license and posting of certain commentary programs with content in violation of government regulations on their sites, and Weibo is named as one of…

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