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Top IT News of the Week (48/2021)

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IT news #1: Meta works with AWS to expand AI services.

Topic: Meta, Cloud Direct

Meta has announced it has chosen AWS as its strategic Cloud partner in a bid to expand its Artificial Intelligence services. The company said it will work with AWS to complement its on-premise infrastructure and broaden the use of AWS compute, storage and security solutions. Meta has expanded a previous partnership and will now run third-party collaborations on AWS and implement Cloud to support acquisitions of entities already supported by AWS. It will also be used to accelerate Meta’s AI research efforts and development programmes. The two companies will also work on PyTorch, an open-source machine learning library designed by Facebook’s AI research lab. The project is based on the Torch library and can be used for computer vision and natural language processing applications. AWS will be responsible for improving the performance of PyTorch AI and ML learning models.

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IT news #2: Microsoft’s ‘buy now, pay later’ plan met with criticism.

Topic: Microsoft, ‘buy now, pay later’

Microsoft is now under fire after announcing plans for a ‘buy now, pay later’ feature to its Edge web browser. These arrangements are known to divide payments into smaller bits after a certain period. They are generally quite controversial as they can contribute to users building up debt. The company has added one provider to the checkout page of shopping sites as a default payment option and is now being accused by users of being greedy and having a “cash grab” mentality. Due to Microsoft’s user-based tagging system, the official announcement is now flagged with tags like “poor leadership”, exploitative”, “garbage”, and an “embarrassment”. Users also claimed that Microsoft aims to make money from this initiative; however, the company confirmed that it doesn’t collect any fee for giving out loans.

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IT news #3: Dutch telco unveils breakthrough in voice technology.

Topic: Artificial intelligence, voice technology

Dutch voice technology company DAISYS B.V announced the release of a worldwide breakthrough in the development of human-sounding voices by means of artificial intelligence. The innovation, which narrates written texts naturally, generates new, realistically sounding, not yet existing voices. Speech properties like speed and pitch can be adjusted in real-time, allowing the voice to be customised. ‘This is a huge breakthrough. Up until now, naturally sounding voices were always deepfake, based on audio data of professional speakers. But deepfakes in text-to-speech, for many reasons, aren’t usable. One of those reasons is that not everyone wishes to lend out their voice without controlling what is being said with it. With this technology, as the first company in the world, we are able to create new voices that sound like real people,’ said Barnier Geerling, CEO of DAISYS. “This technology makes it easier and faster to apply speech-steered technology. The market potential is enormous, think of audio-visual media using voice-overs, or ‘talking’ cars, robots, or appliances”, he added.
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IT news #4: Apple seeks legal action against Israeli spyware firm NSO Group.

Topic: Apple, spyware

Apple is suing Israeli spyware company NSO Group, and its parent company, for targeting iPhone users with a hacking tool, the BBC reported. The firm’s Pegasus software can contaminate both iPhones and Android devices, allowing hackers to extract personal information, including messages, photos, and emails, or record phone calls and secretly activate microphones and cameras. The company stated its software was made to increase terrorism and target criminals. However, it was discovered that it was also used on specific public figures. Despite this, NSO Group says it only trades Pegasus to military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies from countries with good human-rights records. This move follows a lawsuit that WhatsApp launched in 2019, which is still going through the US court system.
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