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Google's AI
Search giant Google is under a lot of pressure to stamp out extremists' online presences, and it's responding to that heat today.

The company has outlined four steps it's taking to flag and remove pro-terrorism content on its pages, particularly on YouTube. Technological improvements play a role, of course, but the company is also counting on a human element that will catch what its automated filters can't.

To start, it's pouring more energy into machine learning research that could improve its ability to automatically flag and remove terrorist videos while keeping innocently-posted clips (say, news reports) online. It's also expanding its counter-radicalization system, which shows anti-extremist ads to would-be terrorist recruits.

It's the stronger reliance on people that may matter the most, however. Google plans to "greatly increase" the number of humans in its YouTube Trusted Flagger program, improving the chances that it'll catch terrorist material. It's likewise working with anti-extremism groups to pinpoint recruiting-oriented content.

Google is serious in its bid to tackle those YouTube videos that are borderline, too - if it spots videos with "inflammatory" religious or supremacist material, it'll put those clips behind a warning and prevent them from getting ad revenue, comments or viewing recommendations. In theory, this strikes a balance between free speech and public safety.

To some extent, the plans are an extension of Google's ongoing efforts, such as its plan to pull ads from extremist videos. Still, they might just assuage politicians who have threatened to institute legal mandates for anti-extremist takedowns.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have already stepped up their collective fight against terrorism, but this is a relatively concrete roadmap. The big question is whether or not all these initiatives will be enough. AI-powered flagging and greater oversight could help, but the sheer volume of videos on YouTube makes it entirely possible that some footage will slip through the cracks.


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When Amazon completes its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos will try to keep the grocer’s reputation for premium fresh foods while cutting prices to shed its "Whole Paycheck" image.

Amazon expects to reduce headcount and change inventory to lower prices and make Whole Foods competitive with Wal-Mart Stores and other big-box retailers, according to a person with knowledge of the company's grocery plans. That included potentially using technology to eliminate cashiers. An Amazon spokesman denied any job cuts were planned.

Amazon, known for its competitive prices, is trying to attract more low- and middle-income shoppers with its grocery push. The Seattle-based company already offers discounted Amazon Prime memberships for people receiving government assistance and is part of a pilot program to deliver groceries to food-stamp recipients.

Whole Foods has already been reducing prices to try to turn around its worst sales slump since going public in 1992. It has four "365 by Whole Foods Market" stores that are cheaper to build and operate than a traditional location and offer lower-priced items aimed at younger shoppers.

Amazon is considering extending the cost-cutting effort with the no-checkout technology it’s developing at its Seattle convenience store, "AmazonGo," according to the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the plans are private.

The technology lets people pay with smartphones without seeing a cashier or going to a checkout kiosk, which would help Amazon differentiate itself in the brick-and-mortar setting and reduce labor costs at Whole Foods stores. The employees remaining would help improve the shopping experience, the person said.

Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, said in a statement the company has "no plans to use no-checkout technology to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods and no job reductions are planned."

Amazon would also look to change Whole Foods’ inventory, introducing its own private-label products to replace items deemed too expensive to have mass appeal, the person with knowledge of the matter said. That fits with Whole Foods private-label push to compete on price, and gives Amazon a bigger foundation on which to develop its own food brands.


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Wendy's and Pure
Everyone loves a witty piece of signage in the countryside of United States, especially the conservative areas. At Country Living, writers and staff can't help but crack a smile when they see funny church signs criticizing the gays and Muslims or cheeky grocery store signs.

The most recent displays to make everyone giggle are the ones involved in a hysterical sign war currently going down in front of a Wendy's and a Pure Water Ice and Tea Company at the corner of 4th and Frankford in Lubbock, Texas.

After several attempts to provoke the Wendy's situated across the street from their store, the Pure Water employees finally got them to take the bait last month, according to KCBD News. Since then, there's been a war of the words between these two outposts, and the resulting signs are hysterical. Now, customers, town residents, and people from all over are checking social media to see what the stores will post next.

It all started when Pure Water began angling for a visit from NFL quarterback and Texas native Kliff Kingsbury. The cafe's initial message read, "Kliff Kingsbury drinks for free," and Wendy's responded by posting, "Hey Kliff, hungry and thirsty? We got you."

Both store managers have decided they are ready to rumble. "It's on," Kyler Smith, the Assistant Manager at Pure Water Tea Ice and Tea Company, told KCBD. And Wendy's is prepared to fire back. "I didn't expect them to react the way they did, and then when they did I was like, you know what? It's on," said Santos Perez, General Manager of the Wendy's.

Several passersby have captured the signs and shared them on Twitter in recent weeks. Pure Water poked fun at Wendy's square burgers while Wendy's threatened to serve drinks from Pure Water as punishment to drivers parked illegally.

The managers haven't spoken in person-only through the signs. They're both committed to the rivalry though, and won't stop until one of them can't think of what to display next-or until the other ceases. Perhaps a visit from Kliff himself would finally put the feud to rest? Not that anyone really wants it to stop!


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Firefox
The team behind open-source browser Firefox has finally released a version that promises to be faster and less of a memory hog. Version 54 is the first to use "multiple process" tech that has been available for a while now on Chrome, Safari, Edge and other browsers. Now, Firefox tabs running heavy, complex websites will impact other tabs less, making the web run better overall on Windows, Mac and mobile devices.

"With today's release, Firefox uses up to four processes to run web page content across all open tabs," Firefox VP Nick Nguyen wrote. "By separating the tabs into separate processes, we make better use of the hardware on your computer, so Firefox can deliver you more of the web ... with less waiting."

Firefox enjoyed a stint as the second most popular browser (after Internet Explorer) until Chrome passed it in 2011. Since that time, its tech has lagged behind -- a 64-bit Windows version of Firefox only arrived in 2015, and it has used single-process tech until now. Chrome (and Safari and other browsers) had 64-bit and multiple process tech well before Firefox.

Besides making the web run more smoothly overall, Firefox 54 should run better on computers with limited memory. At the same time, it "won't suck up memory and slow down your computer as Chrome will sometimes do," writes Firefox Head of Product Ryan Pollock. That's because the team implemented multiple processing differently than Google in order to strike a balance between speed and memory usage (above).

Overall, Firefox uses "significantly less RAM than other browsers on Windows 10, macOS and Linux," Nguyen adds. The release also includes bug and security fixes, and should be rolling out to all major platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux) now.

Firefox still sits comfortably in third place in the browser wars, behind Chrome and (yep) Internet Explorer, but well ahead of Microsoft's other browser, Edge. The new release might help stop users from quitting it or encourage them to try it again.


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Adult Swim
A few months ago, Adult Swim’s executive vice president and creative director Mike Lazzo was accused of purposely not taking on any female creators or showrunners by anonymous employees at the network because "when you put women in the writers room, you get conflict, not comedy."

Adult Swim, according to a recent Buzzfeed report, has the lowest number of female writers on staff out of any network. Only 1 in 34 credits on any given series were by a woman, which pales in comparison to the other television networks’ 1 in every 5. According to Buzzfeed’s anonymous sources who worked at Adult Swim, Lazzo was one of the main reasons why more female writers weren’t being brought on board.

Lazzo then took to Reddit to clear up what he said. According to Lazzo, he believed "women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects." He added that despite what employees had told Buzzfeed, he was considered one of the most approachable executives at Adult Swim and that he tried to help everyone tighten their idea or pitch into something that the network would actually want to get behind. Lazzo then went on to say that if unnamed sources were mad at him, it was an issue on their end, not his.

"If unnamed sources want to complain, complain about me after I’ve read the script you asked me to read or tossed you out of my office for pitching something I didn’t like," Lazzo wrote on Reddit. "If you did come to me I bet I offered some decent suggestions on how to accomplish whatever you wanted to do."

The bottom line is that Lazzo’s explanation of why Adult Swim didn’t have more female creators wasn’t an apology and a promise to do better, but more excuses as to why he wouldn’t bring on more. It’s not a new trend for white men to outnumber women and people of color in a writers room, but Lazzo’s approach to rectifying the issue is to simply ignore it and carry on like there’s nothing wrong in the industry.

But there is something wrong in the industry, and it’s time for action, not just excuses.

According to a study from the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, women only made up 26 percent of all showrunning, producing, writing and editing jobs between 2015 and 2016. That number is a slight increase over the 2014 and 2015 period, but it’s been a snails' pace growth. Certain networks, like ABC, have made more of an effort to diversify their talent both behind the camera and in front of it, but there hasn’t been a strong movement from any of the networks to actually change the writing landscape.

For every Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder) there’s five J.J. Abramses or Chuck Lorres. As long as creators like Lorre and Abrams continue to bring in the numbers that they do — Lorre practically owns the primetime comedy scene with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Mike and Molly — the networks don’t see a need to diversify the talent creating its shows, and that’s the main issue.

If other executives are like Lazzo, who seems to have an excuse for why more women can’t be brought onto network shows ready to go whenever he’s asked about it, then television isn’t going to become any more diverse anytime soon.

MEN STILL DON’T VIEW WOMEN AS FUNNY

It’s not okay to say, "I wish we had more people like Tina Fey or Amy Schumer" when networks aren’t willing to give female writers the chance to prove they can be.

This is especially true in the realm of cartoons, where women make up even less of the creative body than they do on network or premium cable. It’s still very much a man’s world, and as many sources explicitly state in that Buzzfeed article, it’s because men still don’t view women as funny in the way cartoons are often portrayed. Women aren’t viewed as people who can write a great fart joke or a fantastic, raunchy punchline, but we know that’s not true from the handful of women that are in the cartoon space.

Female creators and writers like Rebecca Sugar ("Adventure Time"), Kristen Schaal ("South Park") and Wendy Molyneux ("Bob’s Burgers") have proven they can write mouth-dropping one liners just as well as the men in the industry can.


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