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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

StreetCred is building a blockchain-based marketplace for location data

While applications like Google Maps and Yelp seem to provide an inexhaustible source of information about local restaurants, stores and other points of interest, they also can come up short — moments when you arrive somewhere only to discover that the hours you had were wrong, or the store is closed for a holiday, or it’s just shut down altogether.

The team at StreetCred is trying to build a better system for gathering and selling that data. And it’s raised $1 million in seed funding from Bowery Capital and Notation Capital.

CEO Randy Meech explained that if someone wanted to build the next Uber or the next Pokémon GO, they’d need location data to make it work. And while they could buy that data now, it’s “very difficult, very expensive.”

Plus, he sees room for lots more data — while Foursquare has data about 105 million points of interest and Google has 100 million, Meech estimates that there are more than 1 billion POIs across the world, many of them in developing nations where the data is more spotty.

So StreetCred is building a marketplace where users should be rewarded for collecting this data, while interested companies should be able to buy the data more easily.

Randy Meech headshot

Meech has been working on mapping for years, serving as the CTO at MapQuest (which, like TechCrunch, is owned by Verizon/Oath) and then as CEO at Mapzen, an open-source mapping subsidiary of Samsung. That’s where Meech met his StreetCred co-founder Diana Shkolnikov — he said StreetCred was created partly in response to the disappointment of shutting down Mapzen earlier this year.

“If we can get this protocol and data economy right, it can’t be shut down,” Meech said. That means leveraging blockchain technology: “It’s a very natural way to open up and decentralize the data and also to build a payment mechanism around that.”

StreetCred is just starting to test the system out around New York City. The idea is that users can download an app and then collect location data around the city, earning crypto tokens as they do. (They take photos to validate their location, and the data is also verified by other users.) Then companies that want to buy the data can do so by purchasing tokens.

Meech drew parallels to Foursquare, which started as a location-sharing app before building a business around its data. StreetCred, on the other hand, won’t have any social component — Meech said the app will be “completely anonymous” and focus entirely on the collection of location data.

The team is still experimenting with the specific details of how contributions are incentivized and compensated, but Meech said users will be paid through an “anonymized wallet mechanism.” And while it’s important to make sure StreetCred’s tokens can be converted into “fiat currency” (i.e. regular money), Meech said this approach should also mean users are more invested in StreetCred’s success: “We want to build an asset where the value of the currency is tied to the value of the data,” Meech emphasized.

“Our thesis is that if you make the data much more accessible, much cheaper to buy … you’re going to make things a lot easier and enable things that don’t exist today,” he said.


Source: TechCrunch

With IGTV, Instagram Takes Aim at YouTube

The new app for long-form video will exist within Instagram’s existing app, which now has more than 1 billion monthly active users.
Source: Wired

Trump signs an executive order to detain families together at the border indefinitely

President Trump has signed an executive order to reverse a practice recently enacted by his own administration that resulted in the separation of children from their families at the border.

The language of the executive order, titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” points blame at Congress, echoing Trump’s previous statements demanding that this issue be resolved through legislation although it was not implemented through legislation.

The meat of the order:

“Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws. Under our laws, the only legal way for an alien to enter this country is at a designated port of entry at an appropriate time. When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country anywhere else, that alien has committed at least the crime of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment under section 1325(a) of title 8, United States Code. This Administration will initiate proceedings to enforce this and other criminal provisions of the INA until and unless Congress directs otherwise. It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources. It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

The executive order proposes a “temporary detention policy” that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to detain families attempting to enter the United States at the southern border “during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members.”

That portion of the order suggests that DHS would indefinitely detain a family, together while any of its members await prosecution and potential deportation, a policy that looks likely to violate an existing court decision, Flores v. Reno. Because that legal precedent forbids the indefinite detainment of children at the border, the administration is likely gearing up for a clash in the courts.

Through the executive order, the president makes his plan to challenge the decision, known as the Flores agreement, plain:

“The Attorney General shall promptly file a request with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544 (“Flores settlement”), in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.”

As controversy around the southern border erupted in recent days, many major tech companies weighed in with vocal opposition to the Trump administration’s recent practice of separating adults who enter the U.S. illegally from the children they bring with them. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella also denounced the policy, though the company is facing both internal and external criticism over its previously announced intentions to supply deep learning and facial recognition software to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through a lucrative federal contract.


Source: TechCrunch

5 tips for Google Podcasts – CNET

Here’s how to make the most of Google’s new app.
Source: CNET

Instagram debuts IGTV, a standalone app for videos from creators – CNET

At a splashy event in San Francisco, the Facebook-owned photo service announces a bigger push into video.
Source: CNET

Microsoft is buying AI startup, Bonsai

If all of the big tech co’s agree on one thing at the moment, it’s that artificial intelligence and machine learning point the way forward for their businesses. As a matter of fact, Microsoft is about to acquire Bonsai, a small Berkeley-based startup it hopes to make the centerpiece of its AI efforts.

The company specializes in reinforcement learning, a kind of trial and error approach to teach a system within in the confines of a simulation. That learning can be used train autonomous systems to complete specific tasks.  Microsoft says the acquisition will serve to forward the kind of research the company has been pursuing in the field by leveraging its Azure cloud platform.

“To realize this vision of making AI more accessible and valuable for all, we have to remove the barriers to development, empowering every developer, regardless of machine learning expertise, to be an AI developer,” Microsoft Corporate VP Gurdeep Pall said in an announcement. “Bonsai has made tremendous progress here and Microsoft remains committed to furthering this work.”

Microsoft is among a number of high profile companies that have supported the four-year-old startup. Last year, it joined ABB, Samsung and Siemens in helping the company raise a $7.6 million round, bringing the company’s total raise up to $13.6 million, per CrunchbaseThe pending  move follows the recent high-profile acquisition of code hosting tool, GitHub.

“Going forward, we see a massive opportunity to empower enterprises & developers globally with the tools and technology needed to build and operate the BRAINs that power these intelligent autonomous systems,” Bonsai co-founder/CEO Mark Hammond said in a blog post. “We are not the only ones that feel this way. Today we are excited to announce that Microsoft will be acquiring Bonsai to help accelerate the realization of this common vision.”


Source: TechCrunch

HTC U11 review: HTC U11 is a cheaper HTC U12 Plus alternative – CNET

HTC’s U11 might be a year old, but it’s still a solid phone for buyers who want a taste of HTC’s squeezable sides.
Source: CNET

Trump signs order reversing family separation policy after tech, political backlash – CNET

The president signed an executive order that changes the administration’s application of immigration rules.
Source: CNET

Microsoft’s Windows Andromeda device may pack telephony capability

Sources claim the latest prototype of Microsoft’s unannounced “Andromeda” device includes telephony capabilities. It won’t be a re-entry into the smartphone business, but rather a new entry in its “always-connected” initiative.

The post Microsoft’s Windows Andromeda device may pack telephony capability appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

AMC's Latest Move Proves MoviePass Changed Moviegoing for Good

Now that even AMC has gotten in on the subscription game, there’s no going back.
Source: Wired

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