YouTube suspends ads on Logan Pauls channels after recent pattern of behavior in videos

More problems and controversy for Logan Paul, the YouTube star who caused a strong public backlash when he posted a video of a suicide victim in Japan. Google’s video platform today announced that it would be pulling advertising temporarily from his video channel in response to a “recent pattern of behavior” from him.

This is in addition to Paul’s suspensions from YouTube’s Preferred Ad program and its Originals series, both of which have been in place since January; and comes days after YouTube’s CEO promised stronger enforcement of YouTube’s policies use a mix of technology and 10,000 human curators.

Since coming online again after a one-month break from the service in the wake of the Japanese video, in addition to the usual( asinine) content of his videos, Paul has tasered a rat, indicated swallowing Tide Pods, and, according to YouTube, intentionally tried to monetize a video that clearly infringed its guidelines for advertiser-friendly content( we’re asking if we can get a specific reference to which video this might be — they all seem fairly offensive to me, so it’s hard to tell ).

“After careful consideration, we have decided to temporarily suspend ads on Logan Paul’s YouTube channels, ” a spokesperson said to TechCrunch in an emailed statement elaborating on the Tweet. “This is not a decision we attained gently, however, we believe he has exhibited a pattern of behavior in his videos that induces his channel not only unsuitable for advertisers, but also potentially damaging to the broader inventor community.”

Yesterday, during a series of “Fake News” hearings in the U.S. led by a Parliamentary committee from the UK, YouTube’s global head of policy Juniper Downs said that the company had detected no evidence of videos that pointed to Russian interference in the Brexit vote in the UK, but the platform continues to face a lot of controversy over how it vets content on its site, and how that content subsequently is used unscrupulously for financial gain.( YouTube notably was criticised for taking too long to react to the Japanese video that started all of Paul’s ache .)

This is a contagion problem for YouTube: not only do situations like his damage public perception of the service — and potentially have an impact on viewership — but it could impact how much the most premium brands choose to invest on ads on the platform.

Interestingly, as YouTube continues work on ways of improving the situation with a mix of both machine learning and human approaches, it appears to be starting to reach beyond even the content of YouTube itself.

The Tide Pod suggestion came on Twitter — Paul wrote that he would swallow one Tide Pod for each retweet — and appears to have since been deleted.

Generally, YouTube reserves the right to hide ads on videos and watch pages — including ads from certain advertisers or certain formats.

When a person builds especially serious or repeated violations, YouTube might choose to disable ads from the whole channel or suspend the person from its Partner program, which is aimed at channels that reached 4,000 watch hours in 12 months and 1,000 subscribers, and lets the creators make money from a special tier of ads and via the YouTube Red subscription service.( This is essentially where Paul has fallen today .)

Since YouTube is wary of getting into the censorship game, it’s leaving an exit road open to people who choose to post controversial things anyway. Posters can turn off ads on individual videos. From what we understand, Paul’s channel and videos will get reevaluated in coming weeks to see if they meet guidelines.

It’s not clear at all how much Paul has made from his YouTube videos. One calculate sets his YouTube ad revenue at between $ 40,000 and $630,000 per month, while another puts it at $270,000 per month( or around $3.25 million/ year ). To note, he’d already been removed from the Preferred program and the Originals program, so that would have already dented his YouTube income.

And you have to ask whether suspending ads genuinely fixes “the worlds biggest” content issues on the platform. While an advertising suspension might entail a loss of some revenue for the inventor, it’s not really a perfect solution.

Logan Paul, as one example, continues to push his own merchandise in his videos, and as a high-profile figure who has not lost his whole fan base, he will still get millions of views( and maybe more now because of this ). In other terms, the originally contravening content( and a viable business model) is still out there, even if it doesn’t have a YouTube monetizing element attributed to it.

On the other hand, SocialBlade, one of the services analytics on YouTube inventors , notes that Paul’s opinions have dropped 41 percent, and subscribers are down 29 percentage in the last month, so maybe there is a god.

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Alphabet launches new cybersecurity company, Chronicle, out of its X moonshot factory

Alphabet, the company you probably still incorrectly refer to as “Google, ” today announced the launch of Chronicle, a new cybersecurity company that aims to give companies a better opportunity at seeing and fighting off hackers. Chronicle is graduating out of Alphabet’s X moonshot group and is now a standalone company under the Alphabet umbrella, just like Google.

Stephen Gillett, who joined X from Google Ventures and was previously the COO of Symantec, will be the new company’s CEO.

To get started, Chronicle will offer two services: a security intelligence and analytics platform for enterprises, and VirusTotal, the online malware and virus scanner that Google acquired in 2012.

Gillett writes that members of the general notion behind Chronicle is to eliminate a company’s security blind spots and allow businesses to get a better picture of their security posture. “We want to 10 x the velocity and impact of security teams’ work by making it much easier, faster and more cost-effective in order to be allowed to capture and analyze security signals that had already been been too difficult and expensive to determine, ” writes Gillett. “We are building our intelligence and analytics platform to solve this problem.”

X’s Captain of Moonshots Astro Teller also notes that “the information that security teams need to identify and investigate assaults is right there in an organization’s existing security tools and IT systems, but it’s hidden in enormous volumes of data and therefore can’t easily be seen, understood, or used.”

What exactly this new platform will look like remains to be seen, though. Gillett notes that it will run on Alphabet’s infrastructure and use machine learning and advanced search capabilities to help business analyze their security data. Chronicle also says that it will offer its services in the cloud so that they can “grow with an organization’s needs and don’t add yet another piece of security software to implement and manage.”

Chronicle isn’t precisely the first company to take this approach, so it’ll be interesting to see how it is different from its competitors, which includes various log analytics firms and the likes of IBM.

While Alphabet admits that it doesn’t have many details to share at the moment, the company does say that the service is currently being alpha tested by a number of Fortune 500 companies.

Chronicle will host a press bellow later today and we will update this post as we learn more about the service .

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Eric Schmidt stepping down as Alphabets executive chairman to become a technical advisor

A little late in the day news dump for you, ahead of the upcoming holiday. Longtime Google executive Eric Schmidt announced today that he’ll be stepping down from his role as the executive chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors.

Alphabet has confirmed the move with TechCrunch, offering up a statement from Schmidt.

“Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition, ” he said in the statement. “The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Gambles are flourishing. In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my day on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work.”

Schmidt joined up with Google in 2001, stepping into the role of CEO at the behest of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, after stints at Sun Microsystems and Novell. Around the time of the company’s 2004 IPO, the trio reportedly pledged to work together for another 20 years.

Of course, Schmidt handed the baton to Page in 2011. Four years later, when Google restructured to form Alphabet, Page became its CEO, with Sundar Pichai stepping in to take over Google.

Alphabet’s not offering much insight into why a shifting is taking place once again, but Page echoed Schmidt’s general positivity in the same statement. “Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology. Continuing his 17 years of service to the company, he’ll now be helping us as a technical advisor on science and technology issues. I’m incredibly excited about the progress our companies are building, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation.”

Alphabet, meanwhile, is expected to appoint a new chairman at a meeting next month. The role will likely be a non-executive one. Schmidt meanwhile will remain on Alphabet’s board, stepping into what appears to be a less key role as “technical advisor.” No specifics on what shape that position will take, moving forward, though perhaps he’ll be able to stay on through 2024, after all.

You can read the entirety of the statement over on Alphabet’s investor site.

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With $70M from Alphabet, UnitedMasters replaces record labels

Record labels are obsolete. They haven’t to be maintained as music evolved from selling Cds to streaming anthems to promoting concert tickets and merchandise. Labels were meant to help artists generate albums, fame, and fund. But now anyone can record themselves and no one “buys” music. So today that requires being a technology company, combining analytics with hyper-targeted ad. And the old labels don’t have the engineering talent for it.

That’s why last year, the former chairman of Interscope Records Steve Stoute secretly created a $70 million Series A led by Google’s corporate umbrella Alphabet and joined by prestigious venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, Silicon Valley investors Floodgate, and amusement giant 20 th Century Fox.

Today, his startup UnitedMasters emerges from stealth.

UnitedMasters is ready to give musicians an alternative to exploitative record label bargains. Artists pay UnitedMasters a competitive rate to distribute their music across the internet from Spotify to YouTube to SoundCloud, and they split the royalties while the artist retains the rights to the master recordings. Then UnitedMasters sucks back in all the analytics, identifies the listeners, builds artists a CRM tool, and helps them retarget their top fans with pinpointed ads for tickets and merch.

Stoute expressed the view that the scheme is to “Look at music like gaming. You monetize the game to all the people who are most engaged. I wanted to bringing that theory and thinking to music.” It’s off those whales, those super fans, where musicians make a lot of their fund. And ultimately person constructed a style to deliver ads for what artists do sell to people who’ve listened to their album 50 periods for almost nothing.

Stoute had already been working on an ad agency for culture makers called Translation since 2004, and the company will join UnitedMasters as part of Translation Enterprises. Beyond musicians, UnitedMasters will also work with brands looking to advertise to specific segments of listeners. For example, it is unable to assistance alcohol tycoon Diageo to marketplace its Puff Daddy-affiliated vodka Ciroc to the rapper’s fans.

The startup world’s biggest rap fan Ben Horowitz is so smitten with the idea that he’s joining the board of UnitedMasters. “Steve thought: What if there were a platform that instantaneously enabled musical artists to market themselves globally as effectively as the top technology companies marketplace to their customers? ” Horowitz wrote in a now-published blog post shared with TechCrunch. “Such a platform would free musicians from dependencies on the old model while increasing their income tenfold. It is generating unprecedented intimacy between artists and fans, while making artists truly independent.”

It was Larry Page himself that pushed Alphabet to lead the startup’s $70 million Series A. “People don’t know Larry was actually a drummer. He has a deep sensitivity for the artist” says Stoute. Page was stunned that musicians couldn’t keep track of the fans that bring in the most money and retarget them. So Page worked with Google’s Corp Dev leader David Drummond, a former radio DJ, to invest all the money UnitedMasters needed.

The Google family is quite gung-ho about upending the recording industry. The first investment of GV( Google Ventures) was Kobalt, a music distribution and rights service. It’s created over $200 million to track to publish artists’ run and track down royalties, while subsidiary Kobalt Capitol is a platform for investors to buy music copyrights.But Kobalt stops short of helping musicians marketplace their tours and t-shirts.

Musicians trust him unlike some technologists. Born in Queens, NY, he used to manage local heroes Nas and Mary J. Blige, turning them into icons. Talking to him, you get the distinct sense that he’s fed up with watching other musicians get screwed over. He refers to UnitedMasters more like a movement than a mere software company.

Music Tech Is Inevitable, Not The Enemy

The first iteration of UnitedMasters is now live allowing artists to connect their YouTube or SoundCloud accounts to the site and in return receive “personalized guidance on how you can grow your career”. That could include insights into fan demographics or where to route tours.

UnitedMasters is now actively recruiting both tech talent in product, design, and engineering; and its first wave of independent musicians. The team of around 40 features ex-Facebook and Dropboxers. Meanwhile, it’s already working with around 1,000 acts, focusing first on emerging artists who want to be digital aborigines in how they operate their business. “Being able to operationalize freedom was the goal of UnitedMasters.There needs to be 250,000 Chance The Rappers” Stoute says, pointing to the ferociously indie hip-hop upstart who won a Grammy as a role model.

Eventually, it could sign established artists who want to ditch their label bargains, bet on their long-term potential, and retain control of their original records. Instead of a cash advance, a leash, and a sliver of the revenue, UnitedMasters acts as a partner.

Now labels often want a cut of all of the artists’ revenue streams. “Label started doing 360 deals because they margins were drying up[ as CD marketings declined ], but they weren’t a 360 service” Stoute chides. “I’m not attaining the records labels the’ bad guy’” he qualifies, but declares “The models have to change.” Artists often complain that streaming doesn’t pay enough, but companies like Spotify pay out almost 70 percent of their revenue. It’s the labels withholding more than they deserve.

There are already services like TuneCore for pushing music to the streaming services, and each of them is trying to woo musicians by providing more analytics. Spotify simply launched a whole insights app for artists. There are also plenty of merchandise platforms and ticket partners to choose from. But UnitedMasters wants to be the missing data layer for the music business. That could allow it to find a huge fan of an artist on Pandora earning them simply fractions of a penny per river, retarget them with ads on Facebook, and get them to buy a signed poster or VIP ticket package.

Educating artists that there’s another track could be UnitedMasters‘ biggest challenge. Many musicians still think of streaming as the foe, cannibalizing their album marketings, rather than as the inevitable progression of music distribution that can serve as marketing for their band as a brand. But once artists see that they’re not much different from Nike and their anthems are like commercials, they realise they need assist getting listeners to convert, and turn their passion into a purchase.

There’s room for both the old school labels and startups like Kobalt and UnitedMasters. But artists are beginning to see themselves more as founders building a squad of marketing and product experts, rather than able to get all the diverse servies they need from one company or label. That could induce UnitedMasters’ partner model increasingly attractive compared to dedicating control to an outdated, centralized owner.

“It’s very important that an artist’s jobs is to be a great artist” Stoute concludes. “The infrastructure around them should be helping them get more fund at efficient rates , not owning their masters and taking from them.”

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Google sibling Waymo launches fully autonomous ride-hailing service

Alphabets self-driving automobile firm beats Uber to be first to offer robot taxis without humans behind the wheel to take over in an emergency

Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car, is launching a fully autonomous Uber-like ride-hailing service with no human driver behind the wheel, after testing the vehicles on public roads in Arizona.

Waymo, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, said members of the public will begin riding in its fleet of modified Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans outfitted with self-driving technology in the next few months. Passengers will initially be accompanied in the back seat by a Waymo employee, but will eventually travel alone in the robotic car.

The service will first be available to those who are already part of the company’s public trial already under way in Phoenix. Rides will be free to start with, but Waymo expects to begin charging for journey at some point.

” Because we consider so much potential in shared mobility, the first route people will get to experience Waymo’s fully self-driving technology will be as a driverless service ,” said Waymo’s chief executive John Krafcik as he announced the new service at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon.

” To have a vehicle on public roads without a person at the wheel, we’ve built some unique safety features into this minivan. Our system runs thousands of checks on itself every second. With these checks, our systems can instantly diagnose any problems and pull over or come to a safe stop if needed ,” said Krafcik.

The service marks a major step forward in the development and roll-out of fully autonomous vehicles. While self-driving automobile companies have routinely tested their vehicles on public roads, they usually have a human sitting behind the wheel ready to take over should the autonomous technology fail.

Waymo has been testing the automated Chrysler Pacifica minivans without a human backup since 19 October in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona, which has no restrictions on self-driving vehicles. The trials and new service please give Waymo the march on competitors Uber and other tech and automotive manufacturers such as Delphi, General Motors, Intel, Uber, Lyft, Apple and Tesla.

Autonomous vehicles are seen as the logical next step for ride-hailing firms such as Uber, and perceived as an existential threat by the firm, which began ploughing money into its own self-driving efforts.

Waymo is a pioneer of self-driving technology and has tested its system in six nations across the US, the most recent being Michigan. It has more than eight years of testing under its belt, after beginning as Google’s self-driving car research project under its moonshot division, X.

In January, Krafcik unveiled a suite of self-driving hardware developed in-house, including an enhanced vision system, improved radar and laser-based lidar- technology that has considered lawsuits with Uber over intellectual property and the involvement of former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski.

Krafcik said Waymo was exploring many applications for its technology, including ride-sharing, personal use vehicles, transportation, trucking and logistics.

In April, driving statistics compiled by analyst firm Edison Investment Research found that Waymo’s self driving technology was 5, 000 times better than Uber’s, which was ranked the worst of six major self-driving auto companies testing its vehicles. Edison’s data showed that Uber’s self-driving vehicles forced a human to take over once every mile driven. By contrast, Waymo’s technology faced a similar situation once every 5,128 miles driven, with more than half a million miles driven in the last 12 months, something that must have been ironed out in the last six months for driver-free operations to be allowed.

Self-driving vehicle firms say the robot cars have the potential to be safer than human-driven vehicles because their is no risk of drowsiness, distraction or drunkenness. Autonomous vehicles also have the potential to restore life to those areas and industries that have suffered from stricter drink-drive statutes, such as country taverns and sports clubs, and may help reduce congestion and pollution in urban areas by taking private cars off the road.

Living my nervousnes dreaming: taking a ride in a Google self-driving auto

Al Franken hammers Facebook lawyer at hearing over Russian ads

Senator conflicts with Colin Stretch over how tech giants apparently missed posts coming from Russia: How could you not connect the dots?

A top executive at Facebook struggled to answer on Tuesday as an angry and incredulous Al Franken, a Democratic senator, demanded why the social network accepted political advertisements paid for in Russian roubles during the presidential election.

Colin Stretch, vice-president and general counsel at Facebook, admitted that the internet company could have done better in tracing the source of its ad fund during testimony to a Senate judiciary subcommittee. It is the first of three congressional hearings focusing on how three tech giants- Facebook, Google and Twitter- were exploited by Russia to sway voters.

” This is something you guys have to deal with and fix ,” Franken told Stretch, who was appearing instead of the more recognisable Facebook leaders Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg.” You were kind of the canary in the coal mine in 2016.”

In a devastating line of questioning, Franken asked irately:” How did Facebook, which prides itself on being able to process billions of data points and instantly transform them into personal connections for its users, somehow not induce the connection that electoral ads paid for in roubles were coming from Russia? Those are two data points! American political ads and Russian fund: roubles. How could you not connect those two dots ?”

Stretch said Facebook had done an effective job on cyber-theft but admitted:” I think in hindsight, we should have had a broader lens. There were signals we missed and we are now focused -”

But Franken, angry and sardonic, interrupted:” People are buying ads on your platform with roubles. They’re political ads. You set billions of data points together all the time. That’s what I hear that these platforms do: they’re the most sophisticated things invented by human, ever. Google has all knowledge that human has ever developed. You can’t put together roubles with a political ad and go hmm, those two data points spell out something bad ?”

Stretch responded:” Senator, it’s a signal we should have been alert to and in hindsight -”

But Franken cut him off, asking whether Facebook would pledge not to publish a political ad paid for in Northern korean won. As Stretch demurred, Franken interjected ferociously:” Please answer yes or no, sir … You’re sophisticated. You’re the chief legal counsel for Facebook. Please answer yes or no .”

Stretch sought to clarify that currencies did not necessarily indicate the source country of an advert and refused to commit to banning political ads purchased in foreign currencies. But Franken snapped back, asking why a bad actor would choose the North Korean won to conceal his activities. He told the counsel:” My goal is for you to think through this stuff a little bit better .”

The hearing on Capitol hill heard how Russia’s attack via social media began in 2015, before the party primaries, and continued even after last November’s presidential election. Stretch said there had been an effort to challenge the validity of Donald Trump’s election, sowing further division.

Facebook, Twitter and Google defended their security measures and promised to do more to stop the misuse of their platforms by a foreign power. Richard Salgado, director of law enforcement and information security at Google, said:” We take this seriously. We’ve stimulated changes and will continue to get better .”

But some senators were sceptical. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, called the companies” Johnny come latelies” and said:” There’s a lot that I think you could have done earlier .”

Senator Dianne Feinstein highlighted fake pages such as “Black Matters US” and” United Muslims of America”, which Russians use a custom audience tool to target. Stretch described such attempts to exploit divisions in society as “vile” and “cynical” and said there have been a modification to ad targeting policies with added layers of review.

Senator Chris Coons struck a similar tone to Franken and again Facebook the brunt. He drew attention to an advert that claimed Hillary Clinton, along with Barack Obama, was despised by Americans and the army should be withdrawn from her control. Another advertised a non-existent” miners for Trump” rally. People were “duped”, Coons said.

Stretch reacted:” That advertisement has no place on Facebook and we are committted to preventing that sort of behaviour happening again on our platform. You’re right to surface it. It induces me angry, it induces everyone angry .”

But Coons said he was ” concerned” that it had taken Facebook 11 months since the election to come forward and address the issue. Stretching disputed this , noting the company had published a white paper in April.

In written testimony to members of the committee, Facebook said it calculated approximately 29 m people were served content in their news feeds immediately from Russia’s Internet Research Agency’s( IRA) 80,000 posts over two years.” Posts from these pages were also shared, liked, and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a tale that originated from the Russian operation .”

The company said its best calculate was that about 126 m people may have been served content from a page associated with the IRA at some phase during the two-year period. This equals about 0.004% of content in news feed, or about one out of 23,000 pieces of content. Stretch testified that many of those users may never have find the material.

These “organic” posts are separate from more than 3,000 ads linked to the agency that Facebook has already turned over to congressional committees. Many of the ads focused on divisive social issues.

Twitter told the same subcommittee that it had found and shut down 2,752 accounts linked to Russia’s IRA, which is notorious for pro-Russian government positions.

On Twitter, the Russia-linked accounts put under 1.4 m election-related tweets from September through 14 November last year- nearly half of them automated. The company also procured nine Russian accounts that bought ads, most of which came from the state-backed news service RT, previously known as Russia Today. Twitter said last week it would no longer accepted ads from RT and Sputnik, another state-sponsored news outlet.

Twitter’s acting general counsel, Sean Edgett, said:” The investigation continues and we expect to keep the committee up to date on any future discoveries .” The other companies also said the investigations continued.

Twitter’s general counsel claimed that the company could” draw lines” between organic tweets and advertisings. But Senator Richard Durbin objected:” When it comes to drawing those lines, it’s a challenge for us, and we do it for a living. I think it’s going to be very hard for you, too .”

Google said two accounts linked to the Russian group spent $4,700 on ads on its platforms during the 2016 election. The company also detected 18 YouTube channels likely backed by Russian agents. Those channels hosted 1,108 videos with 43 hours of material, although they racked up just 309,000 opinions in the US between June 2015 and November 2016, Google said.

The Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar asked the companies whether they would support the” honest ads” bill she has introduced with Senator Mark Warner, which would bring political ad regulations from Tv, radio and publish to the internet.

Each of the tech giants offered qualified subsistence rather than answering “yes”. Stretch said:” We stand ready to work with you and your co-sponsors on that legislation going forward .”

Edgett of Twitter added:” The same runs for Twitter .”

Salgado of Google said carefully:” We surely support the goals of the legislation and would like to work through the subtleties to make it work for all of us .”

The committee chair, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, quoted Donald Trump as went on to say that he had won the election based on Twitter. Graham warned that the social media platforms were being used by people who” wish us damage and wish to undercut our way of life “.

The Republican senator John Kennedy said he was proud of the American companies but added:” I think you do enormous good, but your power sometimes scares me … You’ve got 5m advertisers and you’re going to tell me you’re going to be able to tell me the origin of all those advertisers? … I’m trying to get us down from la-la land .”

All three companies will also testify Wednesday before the House and Senate intelligence committees as part of congressional investigations conducted by Russian election interference.

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Alphabets Sidewalk Labs to turn Toronto area into a model smart city

Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs, the Google parent’s company focused on smart city technologies, will build a “mixed-use, complete community in Toronto on its eastern waterfront, with the aim of constructing a livable space from the ground up employing innovations in construction techniques, self-driving, climate friendly energy systems and more to build a community that’s affordable and accessible with a focus on connected tech.

That’s plainly an ambitious project, but some of the groundwork is already being laid: Alphabet’s Google is likely to be the flagship renter for the new neighbourhood, anchoring the easter waterfront, to be called “Quayside, ” and Sidewalk Labs has committed $50 million to kick off pilot testing and planning in partnership with the City of Toronto.

Sidewalk Labs won the contract through its response to a Request for Proposals issues by Waterfront Toronto, and organisation created by the Canadian federal government, the Ontario provincial government and the City of Toronto together to promote development of Toronto’s lakefront areas in ways that address urban sprawl while respecting the realities of climate change and taking into account the ability of the city’s residents to get around efficiently.

The area involved in the RFP that Sidewalk Labs will work with the governmental forces coalition to develop spans around 800 acres( though 12 acres are specified for the initial project ), and is one of the largest underdeveloped urban areas in any North American city, constructing it a good target for Sidewalk’s ambitious vision, which involves building smart cities holistically from the very start. Ultimately, the partners hope to turn the area into a “place for tens of thousands of people to live, work, learn and play- and to create and advance new ideas that improve city life, ” according to a release from Sidewalk.

Google will kick things off by relocating its Canadian HQ, and around 300 employees to its new anchor office in the district, and infrastructure to avoid flooding and other necessary structural elements to the region, including roadwork, will be funded by $1.25 billion in committed monies from city, province and federal sources.

A community town hall event will start things off to its implementation of involving city residents and stakeholders in the process, with that planned for November 1st. Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, along with Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau( yes the dreamy one ), Ontario Premiere Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the news at a live press conference on Tuesday near the anchor growth site.

We’ll likely hear more about specific plans for the region as the town halls proceed and Sidewalk takes into account local feedback, but the Alphabet subsidiary says its aim is to build a place “that encourages innovation around energy, trash, and other environmental challenges to protect countries around the world; a place that provides a range of transportation options that are more affordable, safe, and convenient than the private vehicle; a place that embraces adaptable buildings and new construction methods to reduce the cost of housing and retail space; a place where public spaces welcome families to enjoy the outdoors day and night, and in all seasons; a place that is enhanced by digital technology and data without giving up the privacy and security that all individuals deserves.”

It’ll definitely be a boost to Toronto’s technology and startup scene, which is already among the more vibrant and active in the world outside of Silicon Valley. That’s likely a big reason why the city wanted to work with Sidewalk Labs to begin with, as it seems eager in general to increase Google’s investment and presence in the area. Google currently has over 1,000 employees in Canada working across its various offices in the country.

Watch the live river of the announcement regarding Toronto’s new Alphabet city below 😛 TAGEND

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Puerto Rico cell phone service to be restored by Google balloons

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, 83% of cell sites remain out of service in the US territory

The US Federal Communications Commission has approved Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc’s application to provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico through balloons.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83% of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites.

Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to employ solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to” supporting licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications ability” in Puerto Rico.

Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

” It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services ,” Pai said in statement.

Separately, Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello said in a Twitter posting late on Friday that he had a” great initial dialogue with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring possibilities. Next steps soon to follow .”

Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc, said on Friday the company would send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island over two weeks ago.

Musk said he was diverting resources from a semi-truck project to fix Model 3 bottlenecks and” increase battery production for Puerto Rico& other affected areas .”

In late September, Tesla said it was sending hundreds of batteries that they are able store power generated by solar panels to Puerto Rico to provide emergency help in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

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Alphabet is reportedly mulling a $1B investment in Lyft

It’s about as good a timing as any for Lyft to capitalize on the tidal wave of negative advertising that Uber is facing right now, and it looks like it might end up with a significant investment from Alphabet in the middle of that develop wreck, according to a report by Axios.

That’s not to say that this is directly related to Uber, which has a new CEO and is trying to move on from the disaster of the past few months. Still, Alphabet appears to be discussing a$ 1 billion investment in Lyft in an effort led by CEO Larry Page, according to the report. Lyft last raised $600 million at a $7.5 billion valuation in April.

This would be an interesting move for Google, which invested in Uber early in its life through its investment limb GV. We’d heard some murmurings of something brewing between Alphabet and Lyft for a few weeks, but it was unclear what the outcome would be. Bloomberg also reported the news this afternoon. In the end, it is suggested that Lyft may get a big infusion of money to fuel its efforts to pick away at Uber — especially as it appears primed to begin its move internationally, according to a report from The Information.

A big financing round like this would go a long way for Lyft, which can use the capital to provide aggressive driver and rider benefits through promotions. Lyft may have an opportunity to snag momentum away from Uber in key cities by ramping up in marketing and discounts. That is an expensive proposition, to be sure, but Lyft also has the benefit of the wave of difficulties Uber has had recently. Such a large investment would also help Lyft remain independent.

Alphabet’s self-driving division, Waymo, has been fighting with Uber in tribunal over allegations of theft of files. Earlier the coming week, a magistrate ruled that Uber had to turn over to Waymo the due diligence report for its acquisition of Otto.

Lyft announced that it had begun self-driving car development in earnest in July, saying it would ramp up hiring and had signed a rental for a big Palo Alto facility.

Representatives from Google and Lyft have not yet responded to requests for comment.

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Googles life sciences unit is releasing 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitoes in Fresno

Verily, the life sciences limb of Googles parent company Alphabet, has hatched a plan to release about 20 million lab-made, bacteria-infected mosquitoes upon Fresno, California and thats a good thing!

You see, the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito is prevalent in the area. Earlier this year, a woman contracted the first confirmed example of Zika in Fresno through sex contact with a partner who had been traveling. Now theres the fear of the inevitable mosquito-meets-patient if we dont do anything about it. Verilys plan, “ve called the” Debug Project, hopes to now wipe out this potential Zika-carrying mosquito population to prevent further infections.

Could messing with the mosquito population have some unforeseen disastrous consequences? Not likely. This particular mosquito species entered the region in 2013.

So whats the plan to get rid of them? Verilys male mosquitoes were infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, which is harmless to humen, but when they mate with and infect their female equivalents, it induces their eggs unable to produce offspring.

Bonus, male mosquitoes dont bite, so Fresno residents wont have to worry about itching more than they are generally would.

No word from the company on how much something like this will cost, but Linus Upson, an technologist on the team releasing the mosquitoes, told MIT Technology Review the company planned to do something similar in Australia next.

We want to show this can work in different kinds of environments, he told the magazine.

Verily plans to release about 1 million mosquitoes a week over a 20 -week period in two 300 -acre neighborhoods in the Fresno area the largest U.S. release to date of mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria.

Those in the Fancher Creek neighborhood may notice a Verily van releasing healthy swarms of the little bugs throughout its streets starting today.

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