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Alarm raised after Microsoft wins data-encoding patent • The Register

Microsoft last month received a US patent covering modifications to a data-encoding technique called rANS, one of several variants in the Asymmetric Numeral System (ANS) family that support data compression schemes used by leading technology companies and open source projects.

The creator of ANS, Jarosław Duda, assistant professor at Institute of Computer Science at Jagiellonian University in Poland, has been trying for years to keep ANS patent-free and available for public use. Back in 2018, Duda’s lobbying helped convince Google to abandon its ANS-related patent claim in the US and Europe. And he raised the alarm last year when he learned Microsoft had applied for an rANS (range asymmetric number system) patent.

Now that Microsoft’s patent application has been granted, he fears the utility of ANS will be diminished, as software developers try to steer clear of a potential infringement claim.

“I don’t know what to do with it – [Microsoft’s patent] looks like just the description of the standard algorithm,” he told The Register in an email. The algorithm is used in JPEG XL and CRAM, as well as open source projects run by Facebook (Meta), Nvidia, and others.

The Register asked Microsoft whether it intends to seek royalties for its patent but the company has not responded.

“This rANS variant is [for example] used in JPEG XL, which is practically finished (frozen bitstream) and [is] gaining support,” Duda told The Register last year. “It provides ~3x better compression than JPEG at similar computational cost, compatibility with JPEG, progressive decoding, missing features like HDR, alpha, lossless, animations.

“There is a large team, mostly from Google, behind it. After nearly 30 years, it should finally replace the 1992 JPEG for photos and images, starting with Chrome, Android.”

But now, he said, Microsoft’s patent could make JPEG XL adoption more difficult.

The tangled web of patents

Others don’t consider the situation to be that dire. Jon Sneyers, senior image researcher at Cloudinary and editor of the JPEG XL spec, told The Register in an email message, “As far as I know, this patent doesn’t affect JPEG XL. At least Microsoft has not declared to ISO that it does, even though they have had plenty of time to do so if they thought it did, and Microsoft is participating in JPEG so they are aware of the technology used in JPEG XL. But of course I am not a lawyer.”

In a phone interview, Timothy Lee, a reporter for Full Stack Economics who covered Google’s attempt to secure an ANS-based patent three years ago, said that the proliferation of patent applications related to ANS illustrates the problem with the way software patents work.

“Companies try to make minor improvements on technologies and then patent those,” he explained. “Then you end up with a patent thicket where there are only so many to implement, and if all of those ways are patented, it becomes difficult to figure out a way around it.”

Another problem, he said, is that there’s no standard terminology for software patents. Unlike drug patents, where chemical formulas can be specified, software patents may describe the same thing in different ways.

“It becomes quite a minefield when you are an open source developer who doesn’t have the time or resources to hire a patent lawyer,” he said.

Bradley Kuhn, policy fellow at Software Freedom Conservancy, told The Register in an email that the SFC opposes the patenting of software algorithms completely.

“We think it’s risible that any company, and in particular Microsoft, can claim on one hand to support Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and on the other hand continue to build their giant patent portfolios that will ultimately have chilling effects on FOSS innovation,” said Kuhn.

“Microsoft has a long history of patent aggression against FOSS; it was not too long ago that they were shaking down Linux users and Android distributors over patents, and we would expect more shakedowns to come on this and other patents.”

Kuhn said attempts to extract patent rent tend to happen behind closed doors, to pressure smaller companies into an “acqui-hire” deal or secure huge licensing payments. The SFC, he said, would gladly work with any company to develop a clear, permanently binding FOSS-friendly patent license.

“What we have regarding software patents is a patchwork of inadequate ‘patent promises’ and other incomplete solutions,” said Kuhn. “For example, despite Microsoft being a member and licensee in the Open Invention Network (OIN, a for-profit industry-controlled consortium), our initial analysis shows that OIN protection will not meaningfully extend to FOSS uses that could infringe this patent.

“Similarly, standards bodies have a very poor track record in protecting FOSS from patent problems. These situations show the real downsides of allowing Big Tech to police themselves on their bad patent policies.” ®

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Ways Small & Medium-Sized Businesses Can Hire Big Tech Talent

In response to mounting financial concerns, tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have recently implemented significant staff cuts. This has prompted industry leaders to reevaluate their hiring practices, recognizing the limitations of Big Tech’s ability to weather challenging economic times.

While the tech industry’s overall stability is assured, the combination of a declining economy and a previous surge in hiring has resulted in substantial job losses. However, this situation also presents an opportunity for small businesses and start-ups to tap into a pool of available tech experts.

To capitalize on this unique scenario, small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners must act swiftly to gain a competitive advantage over larger companies and attract highly skilled candidates.

In this article, John Elf, Technology Contributor at ‘Voice of EU’ and Head of Marketing at Vibertron Technologies, provides insights into some simple but effective strategies for attracting talent in a candidate-heavy market.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can leverage consulting services to attract the best talent, just like big tech companies do. Here’s how SMBs can make use of consulting services to enhance their talent acquisition efforts:

1. Talent Acquisition Strategy Development: SMBs can engage consulting firms specializing in talent acquisition and HR strategies to help them develop a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy. These consultants can assess the organization’s needs, identify talent gaps, and devise effective recruitment and sourcing strategies tailored to the SMB’s specific industry and requirements. This strategic approach ensures that the SMB is targeting the right candidates and maximizing its resources.

2. Employer Branding and Positioning: Consulting firms experienced in employer branding can assist SMBs in developing a strong employer brand that resonates with their target talent pool. They can help SMBs articulate their unique value proposition, culture, and growth opportunities, ensuring that the organization stands out as an attractive employer. These consultants can also provide guidance on how to effectively communicate the employer brand across various channels to attract the best talent.

3. Recruitment Process Optimization: Recruitment service provider can help SMBs, same as LCEs, optimize their recruitment processes, making them more efficient and effective. Consultants can review and streamline the entire hiring process, from job postings and candidate screening to interview techniques and selection methodologies. By improving the candidate experience and ensuring a smooth and timely process, SMBs can enhance their reputation as an employer of choice.

4. Candidate Sourcing and Evaluation: Consulting firms specializing in talent acquisition can assist SMBs in sourcing and evaluating candidates. They can leverage their networks and resources to identify top talent and conduct thorough assessments, including skill evaluations, cultural fit analysis, and background checks. By leveraging external expertise, SMBs can access a broader candidate pool and make well-informed hiring decisions.

5. Compensation and Benefits Consulting: Attracting and retaining top talent often requires competitive compensation and benefits packages. SMBs can engage consulting firms that specialize in compensation and benefits to ensure their offerings align with industry standards and meet the expectations of high-caliber candidates. These consultants can provide insights into market trends, salary benchmarks, and innovative benefit options, enabling SMBs to remain competitive in talent acquisition.

6. Training and Development Programs: SMBs can leverage consulting services to design and implement training and development programs. These programs not only help attract talent but also contribute to employee retention and growth.

Consultants can identify skill gaps, design customized training modules, and provide guidance on employee development initiatives, ensuring that SMBs create a culture of continuous learning and professional advancement.

By utilizing consulting services in talent acquisition, SMBs can access specialized expertise, best practices, and industry insights that are typically associated with larger companies. This approach enables SMBs to compete for top talent on a more level playing field, enhancing their ability to attract and retain the best candidates.


By John Elf

John Elf is Head of Marketing at Vibertron GYPOTech, and an Honorary Contributor at ‘Voice of EU’. A version of this article has already been published.


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Imandra’s AI Innovation Boosts Operational Resilience While Transforming European Exchanges

Imandra’s AI Innovation Transforming European Exchanges

Revolutionizing the landscape of European exchanges, Imandra, an AI startup at the forefront of automated reasoning technology, is making waves with its groundbreaking solutions. Offering a suite of AI-powered services through its flagship product, Imandra Markets, the company is reshaping the way exchanges and trading venues operate, test, and improve their systems.

Imandra Markets leverages advanced AI and digital twin technology to provide exchanges with tools for designing, testing, and auditing complex financial systems. This innovative approach enhances business intelligence and system resiliency, ultimately ensuring compliance and correct implementation while meeting regulatory obligations.

The significance of Imandra’s impact is evident, as its technology now supervises exchange technology responsible for a quarter of all European equities trading. By digitizing venue design and creating ‘digital twins’ powered by automated reasoning AI, Imandra Markets allows exchanges to test and enhance their system operational resiliency, mitigating the risk of outages and failed technology upgrades.

Market outages, with their far-reaching consequences, have prompted regulatory bodies to seek solutions for improving market-wide resilience. The IOSCO Consultation Report, released in December 2023, underscores the importance of addressing software-related issues, which have been responsible for the majority of market outages. Imandra’s Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Brennan, emphasizes the significance of their technology in preemptively identifying defects and inefficiencies, thereby averting potential disruptions before they impact the market.

Imandra Markets empowers organizations to implement changes to their financial infrastructure confidently, ensuring predictability and unlocking avenues for innovation and revenue enhancement. With Imandra’s solutions, newly designed or updated systems can be brought to market more efficiently, allowing for a leap forward in governance and operational excellence.

Imandra’s groundbreaking AI technology is reshaping the operational landscape of European exchanges, offering a cost-effective and efficient approach to system design, testing, and auditing. As the financial industry continues to evolve, Imandra remains at the forefront, driving innovation and ensuring the resilience and reliability of exchange systems.


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— By Darren Wilson | Team ‘The Voice Of EU

— For information: Info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: Press@VoiceOfEU.com

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Innovative Kite Sail Technology Startup Paves the Way for Greener Shipping Industry | “EU20”

The maritime sector faces increasing pressure to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Recently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced new emissions-reduction targets. In this piece, we will analyze:

  • Beyond The Sea’s Revolutionary Kite Sail Technology
  • A Game-Changer for the Maritime Industry
  • Expanding Possibilities and Environmental Commitments
Overcoming Challenges and Seeking Government Support

Future Opportunities

In response, startups like Beyond The Sea are revolutionizing the industry with their innovative kite sail technology. With the ability to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%, these kite sails have the potential to transform the way ships and vessels operate.

In response, startups like Beyond The Sea are revolutionizing the industry with their innovative kite sail technology. With the ability to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%, these kite sails have the potential to transform the way ships and vessels operate.

Beyond The Sea’s Revolutionary Kite Sail Technology

In southwest France’s Arcachon Bay, Beyond The Sea conducted successful tests of their blue inflatable kite sail. The company’s founder, Yves Parlier, combined his sailing expertise with artificial intelligence and automated traction systems to develop a highly efficient kite sail. This innovative technology adapts the sail’s position based on wind conditions, resulting in significant fuel savings.

A Game-Changer for the Maritime Industry

The impact of kite sails on the maritime industry cannot be understated. With approximately 100,000 merchant ships and 4.6 million fishing trawlers worldwide, the potential for widespread adoption of this technology is enormous. The Wind Ship association predicts that by 2030, the market for kite sails could be worth four billion euros, with around 1,400 vessels equipped with this sustainable solution.

READ MORE: ALL ABOUT ‘BEYOND THE SEA’

Expanding Possibilities and Environmental Commitments

Beyond The Sea plans to further develop their kite sail technology. In upcoming tests off the waters of Norway, Japan, and the Mediterranean, they will explore larger kite sizes, aiming to reach 800 square meters within four years. Meanwhile, other companies like Airseas and Chantiers de l’Atlantique are also pioneering alternative solutions, such as larger kites for larger ships and rigid sails for ocean liners.

Overcoming Challenges and Seeking Government Support

While the wind propulsion sector shows promise, challenges remain. The cost of heavy fuel oil and the need for environmental regulations are key considerations. Lobbying for wind to be recognized as a fuel, the sector is working closely with the French government to create a supportive regulatory framework.

Recognizing wind as a viable fuel source could not only accelerate the adoption of wind propulsion technology but also create over 30,000 new jobs by 2030.

Future Opportunities

The innovative kite sail technology developed by Beyond The Sea and other companies presents a game-changing opportunity for the maritime industry. With the ability to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions, these sustainable solutions align with the industry’s growing focus on environmental responsibility.

By harnessing the power of the wind, the maritime sector can chart a course toward a greener and more sustainable future.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Johnathan Elf, Contributor ‘The Voice of EU

— Contact Us: Info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous News Submissions: Press@VoiceOfEU.com


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