Category: Бізнес

економічні і бізнесові новини

YouTube Stars Can Live Stream from Mobile, Make Money from Fans

Alphabet’s YouTube said it was rolling out live streaming from mobile devices for users with more than 10,000 subscribers, adding a feature that will help them make money, as it takes on Facebook Live.

YouTube said in a blog post Tuesday it would roll out the feature to other contributors soon.

YouTube also launched Super Chat, allowing users to highlight their messages for a fee. “Super Chat is like paying for that front-row seat in the digital age,” YouTube said.

Any fan watching a live stream would be able to purchase chat messages that are highlighted in bright colors and stay pinned to the top of the chat window for up to five hours.

Live video is becoming a highly competitive feature on social platforms, with companies competing to stream major sports events and exclusive videos from high-profile events such as the Oscar and Grammy awards shows.

While YouTube has been supporting live streaming on its website since 2011, Facebook Live, which offers streaming video in real time, was launched in 2015.

Twitter started allowing live broadcasts from its mobile app last year.

The live videos will have all the same features as regular YouTube videos as they can be searched for, found via recommendations or playlists, and protected from unauthorized use, YouTube said.

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НБУ зміцнив офіційний курс гривні щодо долара США на 23 копійки

Національний банк України зміцнив офіційний курс гривні щодо долара США на 23 копійки – до 27,03 гривні за долар.

Офіційний курс гривні до євро складає 28,85.

У попередній торговельний день НБУ встановив на рівні 27,26 і послабив офіційний курс гривні на 19 копійок.

У січні курс гривні щодо долара США почав знижуватися, тоді Національний банк України коливання курсу гривні щодо долара США пояснював ситуативними і сезонними факторами, як-то вихідними у США, що припадали посеред тижня, чи спадами ділової активності.

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Twitter Announces Steps to Curb Abuse

Twitter says it is stepping up efforts to prevent “abuse and harassment” on its microblogging platform.

On Tuesday, the company announced several steps it is taking.

First, Twitter says it will identify people who have been banned for online abuse and prevent them from creating new accounts.

Additionally, the company says it will create a “safe search” feature so that “tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts” will be removed from search results. Those tweets will still exist, but Twitter says they will not clutter search results any longer.

The company also says it will begin “identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward.”

Twitter has been failing to keep up with other social media platforms such as Facebook. Twitter recently reduced staff and an attempt to sell the company failed.

The 10-year-old Twitter has never made a profit, and despite tweaks to the format, has continued to see its user base shrink.

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Uber Hires NASA Engineer for Flying Car Initiative

Uber has hired an engineer from the U.S. space agency NASA to work on its initiative to nurture a flying car industry. 

Mark Moore joins the Uber Elevate project, which is aimed at supporting companies that are developing vehicles, as well as working with regulators and governments that would be involved in setting rules. 

Uber says it sees itself as a “catalyst” and issued a research paper last year describing its vision for vehicles that most resemble helicopters, but are quieter and cheaper to operate on a mass scale. 

The paper said that while Uber’s vision of electric aircraft that take off and land vertically on a network of elevated pads is ambitious, it believes that can be achieved in the coming decade with the right collaboration. 

Moore told Bloomberg he predicts there will be several prototypes of flying cars with human pilots within one to three years. 

Uber suggests that people might take a conventional Uber ride from their homes to what it calls a ‘vertiport’ where they could board the flying car.  That vehicle would then take them to a ‘vertiport’ near their destination.

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Brain-computer Connection Unlocks Possibilities, Both Good and Bad

Imagine the possibilities that could be unlocked by hooking up your brain to a computer.

Science fiction has explored this idea in many films, including the upcoming movie MindGamers, in which students create a wireless neural network that can link people’s minds through a quantum computer. It allows people to transfer motor skills from one brain to another, but also opens the door for mass mind control.

In the real world, research toward a brain-computer interface is under way, and one of the possible applications can help change lives.

“The most fundamental good is restoration of function for people who have limited capabilities,” explained computational neuroscientist Tim Mullen. “Let’s say a paraplegic can’t move, allowing them to walk again.”

Mullen said his company, Qusp Neurotechnologies, is working on a platform to digitally link a person to the cloud and, from there, to any internet-connected device, such as a multiplayer brain-controlled game.

Mullen said a type of mediated telepathy, or brain-to-brain communication, may also be in the future.

“Currently we can do this in rats. … First experiments in humans have been demonstrated, in a very limited way, and … in the coming decades we will actually be able to have brain-to-brain communication between humans,” Mullen said.

Joanne Reay, writer and producer of MindGamers, sees connecting minds to the cloud as a good thing.

“The need of the ego to put oneself first is redundant in our society,” she said. “And that would be a benefit if that could just fall away like a monkey tail.”

But with the good comes the potential for bad, some say.

“This rosy picture, yes we can get there, but in doing so, we will enable this whole other dark side, and we need to plan for it and we need to have some mitigating strategies for it,” said Todd Richmond, at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies.

Science ethics

Richmond, director of the institute’s Advanced Prototype Development, works with emerging disruptive technologies and warns that internet hacking and other criminal behaviors will be magnified as scientists pursue certain types of innovation.

“We have anonymity. We have online stalking. We have harassment. We have the capabilities of some kid in a country 5,000 miles [8,000 kilometers] away having a very real impact on society, hacking power grids, hacking monetary systems,” Richmond said. “Part of the challenge is a lot of the innovation right now is driven by the commercial sector, and in that case their focus is on profitability and getting a product out there and getting the new capability, a new shiny object that they want to excite the consumer to buy. For them, moral and ethical repercussions are not necessarily part of their development timeline.”

Mullen agreed, pointing out, “There is a very strong code of ethics that’s inherent in our academic and scientific institutions to not do harm to people, to use our best judgement as we make discoveries. But that being said, science is a process of being on the edge. You don’t know what the outcome is going to be of the technology you’re building. You don’t know how it will be used. The responsibility lies on society to use that technology for good.”

Richmond added, “But technology has become so sophisticated and so complex that it’s very difficult for members of society or policymakers to really understand what’s going on inside the black box. So now, more than ever, it’s really critical that the scientist and the technologist be part of that conversation about ethics and morals and where is this technology heading in society.”

The experiment

Through the movie, filmmakers present one possible view of a world in which this technology exists.

“We aren’t perfect and we will make mistakes and the people who are designing the tech have to have the right mindset or they can take this in a direction we don’t want to go,” said Andrew Goth, director of MindGamers.

Scientists will soon be able tell how audiences respond when 1,000 people watch the film on March 28, and participate in an experiment wearing cognition headbands. Cloud technology makes this mass mind-state experiment possible.

Mullen said that data gathered from the experiment will help scientists answer the questions of what makes people similar and different.

“We’ll be looking at some interesting stuff, where we’re looking at how the similarities in their brain activity map onto other aspects like their demographic groups or their socio-psychological traits,” he said. “So if you’re an extrovert, is your brain like another extrovert in some way? Do you tend to respond in the same way when you’re watching a movie?”

But whether brain-computer interface technology will be a blessing or a curse to society is yet to be determined.

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Film Explores Bright, Dark Side of Brain-computer Interface

Imagine if you could hook up your brain to a computer: What are the possibilities that could unlock? Science fiction has explored this idea in many films, including an upcoming movie called “MindGamers.” However, this type of technology, called brain-computer interface, is very real. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee explains its potential benefits … and dangers.

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Facebook Vulnerable to Expected Changes in Key Visa Program

Among Silicon Valley’s top tech employers, Facebook could be the most vulnerable to U.S. President Donald Trump’s expected crackdown on guest-worker visas, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Labor Department filings.

More than 15 percent of Facebook’s U.S. employees in 2016 used a temporary work visa, giving the social media leader a legal classification as a H-1B “dependent” company. That is a higher proportion than Alphabet’s Google, Apple, Amazon.com or Microsoft.

That could cause problems for Facebook if Trump or Congress decide to make the H-1B program more restrictive, as the president and some Republican lawmakers have threatened to do.

Both Trump and Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions have opposed the program in its current form. They have also indicated that they are open to reforming it to “ensure the beneficiaries of the program are the best and the brightest,” according to a draft executive order seen by Reuters. Reuters could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft.

The Trump administration has not proposed any new rules that would target companies with the H-1B “dependent” classification.

But the fact that Facebook alone among major tech companies falls into that category suggests it is the most exposed in the industry to any changes in H-1B visa policy.

Facebook declined to comment on the matter.

H-1B criticism

Trump administration officials could not immediately be reached for comment. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump would target H-1B visas as part of a larger immigration reform effort through executive orders and Congressional action, but gave no details.

H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in “specialty” occupations that generally require higher education, which according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers or computer programmers. The government awards 85,000 every year, chiefly through a lottery system.

Companies say they use them to recruit top talent. But a majority of the visas are awarded to outsourcing firms, sparking criticism by skeptics that those firms use the visas to fill lower-level information technology jobs. Critics also say the lottery system benefits outsourcing firms that flood the system with mass applications.

H-1B dependent status is mostly held by these outsourcing firms such as India’s Tata Consultancy Services or Infosys. The status was introduced in the late 1990s in an effort to ensure that companies did not use the visas to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. The status requires companies to prove they cannot find U.S. workers for the jobs.

Facebook listed itself as a dependent company in its applications for H-1B visas with the Labor Department last year.

Possible changes

Before he took office as president, Trump discussed changes to the H-1B visa program with top technology executives, including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Those changes included possibly ending the lottery and replacing it with a system that would award the visas to the highest-paying jobs first, a move designed to reduce their issuance to outsourcing firms.

Such a move could soften the blow from any H-1B changes for Facebook and other major technology companies. The average salary offered for Facebook H-1B jobs was $145,550, according to its application filings last year. Tata, a traditional outsourcing firm, offered $67,950 on average.

The draft executive order did not mention specifics about the lottery. It did require the U.S. secretary of labor to provide the president with a report on “the actual or potential injury to U.S. workers caused, directly or indirectly, by work performed by nonimmigrant workers in the H-1B” visa program.

“We are hoping that the final draft will have more details,” said Russell Harrison, director of government relations at IEEE-USA, a group that represents U.S. engineers and favors that H-1B reform.

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Мінфін завершує переговори з МВФ – Данилюк

Міністерство фінансів України завершує переговори з Міжнародним валютним фондом щодо отримання наступного кредитного траншу. Про це повідомив керівник відомства Олександр Данилюк.

За його словами, Мінфін продовжує обговорення технічних деталей меморандуму співробітництва з Міжнародним валютним фондом.

Данилюк очікує, що цього тижня всі технічні питання будуть погоджені.

«Усі транші, заплановані на цей рік, мають бути отримані, оскільки це є важливим індикатором реформ», – сказав він. 

Наприкінці січня у МВФ повідомляли, що фонд визначиться з датою засідання Ради директорів з питання третього перегляду програми EFF (програма розширеного фінансування) після доопрацювання меморандуму про співпрацю з Україною.

У жовтні 2016 року в МВФ повідомили, що в разі успішної реалізації програми розширеного фінансування між Україною та Міжнародним валютним фондом, для чого необхідно виконати низку умов, Київ може отримати від МВФ 1,3 мільярда доларів у 2016 році і майже 5,4 мільярда доларів у 2017 році. Виділення коштів планується щоквартально за підсумками виконання критеріїв ефективності.

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Women Thriving in Computer Science at California College

In a computer lab at Harvey Mudd College in California, a small robot performs the graceful movements of tai chi, an ancient Chinese meditation exercise. Student Jane Wu writes instruction codes from a nearby computer, showing a visitor a simple form of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Wu is a third-year student in mathematics and computer science at the college, a leader in attracting women to high technology.

“I think the moment for me was during my freshman robotics elective [class] that I took, called Autonomous Vehicles,” she said of her decision to pursue a computer science career, “and in that class we got to make our own autonomous robots from scratch.”

Harvey Mudd College, with just 800 students, stresses engineering, and is part of an educational cluster called The Claremont Colleges, in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles. It was named after a mining engineer who helped to found the school.

The school overhauled its computer science program a decade ago to make the discipline less intimidating to those with little background in computers. The effort has yielded results: last year more than half of the college’s graduates in computer science were women. Students are initially placed in academic streams based on their knowledge of computers to reduce the intimidation factor, and many later come to understand that computer science is “a beautiful intellectual discipline,” says professor Ran Libeskind-Hadas, “but also, or course, a useful and practical one.”

Taste of coding

The introductory computer class, a requirement for all students, sparked the interest of senior Veronica Rivera, who is majoring in computer science and mathematics.

“It was a very balanced class,” she said, “and I think the professors also do a very good job of making sure everyone feels welcome, regardless of their coding ability.” 

Rivera hopes to develop computer applications to help people with motor impairments.

Women were prominent coders in the early days of computers when Grace Hopper, who was later became a U.S. Navy rear admiral, helped invent programming languages, says Jim Boerkoel, an assistant professor who oversees the robotics lab.

“She [Grace Hopper] is the original coder,” Boerkoel said. “It was only in later decades, the 1980s and 90s, that computer games and the idea of computer programming got heavily marketed toward boys rather than girls.”

Women technologists

At Harvey Mudd, some women who come to study engineering rediscover programming, and each year, dozens attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest conference of women technologists.

“With coding, I can just have my computer, have some programming language I’m working in, and I can make almost whatever I want,” said computer science major Emilia Reed, who is helping create computer apps to enhance the productivity of workers and students.

Internships in industry are part of the training, and third-year student Samantha Andow will intern at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, later this year. 

“I’m really excited to see all the problems that computer science is working on right now,” she said.

Computers are integral to all areas of life, and the field needs the best and the brightest, notes Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd.

“If we don’t manage to get a more diverse community into technology,” she said, “we’re not going to get as good solutions, as much progress as we need on the problems facing the world, whether it’s climate change or education, health care.”

Klawe says today’s challenges require the creativity that diversity brings, and that the field needs more on women and minorities — both underrepresented in the high-tech industry — as future programmers.

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Women Thrive in Computer Science at California College

Women are underrepresented in high tech industries, and at American universities, they make up only 1 in 6 students of computer science. That’s changing on some campuses, as Mike O’Sullivan reports from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, near Los Angeles, where more than half of last year’s graduates in computer science were women.

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A Step Toward a Large-scale Quantum Computer

Quantum computers, once they become available, are likely to help us solve problems too complex for the fastest computers today. So far, several laboratories around the world say they have created small quantum chips as the proof of concept. Scientists in Britain now say they have created the first blueprint for a large-scale quantum computer. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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Silicon Valley May Face New Hurdles to Attracting Foreign Labor

The tech industry is bracing itself for an expected Trump administration executive order that will most likely limit U.S. employers’ use of a set of visas for skilled foreign workers.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump criticized visa programs that allow U.S. employers to bring skilled foreign workers into the country. He promised to make changes to ensure more of those jobs go to Americans, not foreigners.

The tech industry has relied on temporary visas such as the H-1B to bring in workers with skills it says are hard to find in the U.S. Each April 1, the U.S. holds a lottery for 65,000 of these visas and 20,000 additional visas for foreign students with master’s degrees. Last year, there were requests for more than 200,000, a record figure.

But critics say skilled-worker visa programs have hurt American workers. Companies have used them, they say, to hire foreign workers who are not highly skilled and who are paid lower than market rate wages. The biggest users of the H-1B program have been outsourcing firms that do IT consulting.

Leaked draft order

A draft executive order that has been circulating among tech firms would not immediately impose new requirements. Many of the changes would rely on specific agencies and Congress.

For example, one draft document seen by VOA says the secretary of homeland security will have 90 days to review all regulations allowing foreign workers to come to the U.S., and the Department of Homeland Security shall consider ways that the visas could be better allocated. “It’s vague,” said one person who works for a tech industry group.

But Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University and a critic of the foreign worker visa programs, said that the draft executive order he has seen would be a good first step.

“If we got good reform, it would save and create tens of thousands of jobs and it would increase the standard of living for hundreds of thousands of American workers,” he said. “And it would free H-1B visas for the true best and brightest.”

The first place where the effects of the order could be felt will be the annual H-1B application window on April 1. At the moment, the visas are issued by a lottery system, but the Trump administration could choose to favor visas for positions that offer to pay higher wages, Hira said.

Unintended consequences

Some in the tech industry say that some reform has long been needed, but dramatically tightening down on the visas, or restricting U.S. immigration laws, could have unintended consequences.

Jonathan Nelson, chief executive of Hackers/Founders, a tech startup accelerator in San Jose, said he has worried about whether the H-1B visa program has been used to bring in cheap engineering labor, suppressing wages.

But he said most of the entrepreneurs he works with are foreign-born, some waiting for years to get a H-1B or stand in line for a green card. If there are new limits on visas or regulations that lengthen the time workers must wait for one, he said he would open up centers in places such as Vancouver or Guadalajara, Mexico.

“If they can’t come to Silicon Valley, let’s get them in the same time zone,” he said. “I’ll invest in them there instead of here.”

Others in the tech industry argue that barriers to visas, already so scarce, could hurt the U.S.’s competitive edge as an innovation center.

“We should harness the talents of foreign-born entrepreneurs and students to benefit our economy and our communities, rather than pushing them to other countries to compete against us,” said Leezia Dhalla, a spokesperson with FWD.us, an issues advocacy group funded by tech industry leaders that focuses on immigration.

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Amazon Increasingly Wants to be its Own Deliveryman

Amazon isn’t content just being the “everything store.” Increasingly, it looks like it wants to be its own deliveryman, too.

Its Monday announcement of a new air cargo hub in Kentucky is merely Amazon’s latest foray into building out its own shipping and logistics unit. If successful, the move could ultimately mean lower costs for Amazon – and possibly faster delivery and low prices for consumers. But it could also pit Amazon against package deliverers like FedEx and UPS. 

Amazon has long plowed its profits back into its business investments. In order to speed up its delivery, it has invested in opening new distribution centers and leasing fleets of trucks. In May, Amazon leased 40 Boeing jets from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group Inc., a fleet it dubbed “Prime Air.”

The moves comes e-commerce continues to outpace retail sales. Amazon said Thursday the number of items it sold in the fourth quarter rose 24 percent compared with a year ago. Its revenue rose 22 percent to $43.74 billion, slightly missing analyst expectations.

Meanwhile, profit rose 36 percent to $749 million, or $1.54 per share, ahead of expectations.

Next step

On Monday, Amazon took the next step, announcing plans to build a worldwide air cargo hub at a northern Kentucky airport about 13 miles southwest of Cincinnati. The nearly $1.5 billion investment is expected to create 2,700 jobs.

It’s an auspicious location, since UPS has a big air hub in Louisville and DHL has an international shipping hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Amazon has long batted down rumors that it plans to start its own package delivery service, saying it’s just trying to speed up deliveries and lower costs. The company insists it will continue working with the U.S. Post Office, UPS, FedEx and other carriers to deliver packages.

“It’s not a big surprise,” Cathy Roberson, founder of consulting firm Logistics Trends & Insights, said of Amazon’s Kentucky announcement. “By utilizing that location they can reach anywhere in the U.S. in two days.”

E-commerce explosion

If Amazon succeeds in building out its delivery infrastructure, it could ultimately reduce package volume for companies like FedEx and UPS, Roberson said. On the other hand, ecommerce volume is growing so fast there may be room for everyone, she said.

For example, UPS reported Monday that 55 percent of its fourth-quarter deliveries – and 63 percent of those in December – were directly to consumers, setting records in both cases.

The rub

It’s no sure bet that Amazon will succeed in the highly competitive and complex delivery space.

“It’s hard to scale up, to have a network as built out and mature as FedEx, UPS or DHL,” Roberson said. “Amazon is still not mature.” To really go up against that big three, she said, Amazon will have to invest “an awful lot of money in networks and more facilities” – at least double what it’s already spending, she estimates.

Still, Amazon has a history of developing services for its own use and then offering them to other customers. It built Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing business, for its own purposes; that service now generates annual revenue of more than $12 billion.

“You could see a scenario in the future where they perfected their delivery network and become a carrier for other retailers,” said Rob Convey, CEO of Convey, a company specializing in improving retailer shipment delivery. 

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On Risk and Failure: Silicon Valley Vs. Asia

The state of California is experiencing what could be considered a modern-day gold rush, though markedly different from the one that took place in the mid 1800s. The new gold: technology and successful startups in California’s Silicon Valley. It attracts people from around the world, who go there and try to make it big. Tech hubs also are forming in Asia, but a different start-up culture than you’ll find in the Golden State. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee explains from Silicon Valley.

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Newest Los Angeles Skyscraper Earthquake-proof

Building skyscrapers in earthquake-prone areas, such as the U.S. West Coast, may seem irresponsible, but thanks to recent advancements in construction engineering, Los Angeles will soon open a 73-story tall hotel capable of withstanding up to 8.3 magnitude earthquakes. VOA’s George Putic has more.

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Newest Los Angeles Skyscraper Earthquake-proof

Building skyscrapers in earthquake-prone areas, such as the U.S. West Coast, may seem irresponsible, but thanks to recent advancements in construction engineering, Los Angeles will soon open a 73-story tall hotel capable of withstanding up to 8.3 magnitude earthquakes. VOA’s George Putic has more.

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