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YouTube will explore NFT features for video creators: CEO

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YouTube is exploring adding non-fungible token features for its video creators, Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki wrote to the site’s broadcasters on Tuesday. 

Although Wojcicki didn’t say exactly what her team is planning, or when, it marks the first time Alphabet Inc.’s Google, YouTube’s owner, is becoming involved with the cryptocurrency collectibles. Several of YouTube’s rivals have already jumped on the trend. Twitter Inc. began letting users post NFTs as profile photos and Instagram is reportedly working on a similar offering, according to the Financial Times.  

NFTs are digital assets, such as art, that people can buy or sell. YouTube, home to the largest creator economy, has spent several years building ways for its video stars to earn money beyond advertising, adding tools like fan payments and e-commerce. Wojcicki told creators her company was looking to web3, an umbrella term for internet models built around crypto, as a “source for inspiration.”

“We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube,” she wrote in her annual letter to creators this week. A YouTube spokeswoman declined to share more about the site’s NFT plans.  

Several YouTube creators have built active, lucrative careers posting videos about crypto and related tech. The site, like other social media, has also been plagued by scams promising crypto riches.

Web3 backers often hold up NFTs and other crypto-fueled projects as better alternatives for creators to make money than ad platforms like YouTube and Instagram, which control distribution of their content and how they’re paid. But the market is still nascent and volatile. In the past week, the main cryptocurrency used for purchasing and trading NFTs has plunged in value. 

In her letter, Wojcicki also mentioned YouTube’s priorities on gaming, shopping, music and Shorts, its TikTok copycat feature. Shorts, the CEO wrote, has claimed over 5 trillion video views since its debut in late 2020.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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Google pushes new plan to overhaul web-tracking cookies

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Google on Tuesday announced a new plan to stop using small files known as cookies to track people’s web browsing habits, after its previous proposals were roundly criticised.

US tech giants are under huge pressure to overhaul the way they collect data — Google was fined 150 million euros ($169 million) by France earlier this month over its cookie policies.

Privacy campaigners have pushed hard against the use of cookies, which transmit users’ information often to dozens of companies each time they visit a website.

But the files form the backbone of the online advertising industry that has proved hugely profitable for Google and their customers.

The company said on Tuesday it would trial a new system called “Topics”, which it said would protect privacy while continuing to allow targeted advertising.

Chrome users will still be tracked and the websites they visit and advertising partners will be given three topics — broad themes supposed to correspond to their interests — based on the user’s browsing history.

However, the firm said the process of generating topics would take place entirely on the user’s device — even Google itself will not have access.

Advertisers will only be able to retain the topics for three weeks, and Chrome users will have the option of opting out entirely.

“Topics” replaces an earlier idea floated by Google called “Federated Learning of Cohorts”, which caused consternation among advertisers and the media industry.

Critics said the FLoC system would allow Google to hoard user data for itself and cut third parties out of the loop.

“Topics was informed by our learning and widespread community feedback from our earlier FLoC trials, and replaces our FLoC proposal,” said senior Google official Vinay Goel.

Internet companies have faced stricter rules since the EU passed a massive data privacy law in 2018 obliging firms to seek direct consent of users before installing cookies on their computers.

Privacy campaigners have filed hundreds of complaints against companies including Google and Facebook arguing that they make it much easier to opt in than to opt out.

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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Microsoft’s $22 billion Army goggles still aren’t combat-ready

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Microsoft Corp.’s new multifunction goggle system for the U.S. Army shows promise, but the $22 billion program isn’t yet ready for combat deployment, according to the Pentagon’s test office.

Despite progress since the contract was awarded in 2018, the system “has not yet demonstrated the capability to serve as a fighting goggle,” according to a non-public assessment by the Pentagon’s director of operational testing that was sent to the Army for review. 

The report on the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, will be made public in the office’s upcoming annual report. 

The program by the Redmond, Washington-based company aims to develop a “heads-up display” for U.S. ground forces, similar to those for fighter pilots. The system — a customized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles — would let commanders project information onto a visor in front of a soldier’s face and would include other features such as night vision.

Improved versions of goggle prototypes fielded for initial soldier evaluations “demonstrated growth capabilities” and “improved comfort and field of view,” according to the assessment. 

The Army announced in October a delay in fielding the program to allow more time to prepare for the intense combat testing needed for full-rate production. The test, previously scheduled for last September, is now tentatively scheduled for May. 

“The Army should develop an adequate test and evaluation strategy that quantifies improvements” to known deficiencies before the testing, according to the latest assessment. 

Microsoft said it’s continuing to make improvements to the technology. 

“Our close collaboration with the Army has enabled us to quickly build and iterate on IVAS to develop a transformational platform that will deliver enhanced soldier safety and effectiveness,” David Marra, Microsoft’s program director, said in a statement.  “We continue to test and refine IVAS through soldier engagements, ensuring this state-of-the-art mixed-reality platform is effective, reliable, and exceeds the Army’s objectives.”

The project with the Army has been opposed by some Microsoft employees who have protested the use of the technology for combat.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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