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YouTube is facing another brand-safety crisis, and agencies see it as an opportunity to get the video platform to pay the brand safety tab

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Another brand-safety crisis has hit YouTube, and this time advertisers think they could use it as leverage over the video platform.

On February 17, blogger Matt Watson posted a 20-minute video showing how YouTube videos featuring children included inappropriate comments that linked to pornography. By Wednesday, big brands like McDonald’s, AT&T and Nestlé that ran ads alongside the videos had pulled or paused their ad spend with YouTube.

While the videos only represent a sliver of advertisers’ YouTube spend, the advertisers that pulled spend are some of the biggest advertisers on the platform and make up its core, according to analytics company MediaRadar. The episode also is the latest example of how brand-safety concerns continue to plague YouTube.

This week, Google set up an hour-long conference with holding companies and a handful of its executives including Philipp Schindler, SVP and chief business officer, and YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan to go over the steps that it has taken to protect minors on its platform, according to one holding company exec.

The brand-safety issue comes at a critical time as agencies and YouTube are negotiating 2019 contracts. Two weeks ago, Business Insider reported that YouTube recently notified holding companies that it would stop paying for third-party brand safety fees. Tech firms like OpenSlate and Pixability provide software that allows brands to make sure that their ads only appear on a vetted group of videos.

Read more: YouTube quietly stopped paying the bill for brand safety, and a battle with agencies could be escalating

“They’ve been communicating heavily every day — lots of detail [about] short-term, long-term plans,” the exec said. “They spent a lot of time going through the actual step-by-step process.”

During the call, YouTube execs told agencies that it has shut down 400 channels and removed comments on millions of videos. Execs also detailed some longer-term changes to the platform like comment-moderation software that allows creators to control comments and updates to a strike system that YouTube uses to determine if a creator can serve ads alongside their videos.

“Any content including comments that endangers minors is abhorrent, and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube,” said a spokesperson for YouTube. “We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors. There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly.”

YouTube execs on the call also talked about the possibility of requiring videos creators to approve comments on their videos before the comments could be posted on YouTube. However, the massive number of videos that are uploaded to YouTube makes vetting videos and their comments resource-intense. The agency exec said that YouTube is encouraging creators to “police their own feed.”

“If you think about the ratio of videos to comments, the order of magnitude of reviewing comments in a pre-screen mode is just too daunting,” an agency exec said.

YouTube’s snafu represents a small amount of ads

The snafu may not amount to a lot in terms of advertising dollars, but it has affected some of the largest spenders on the platform.

Only $8,000 in advertising was spent on the videos in question in the past two months, according to a knowledgable source.

The agency exec said a couple of its clients had only spent an average of $3 advertising on the videos in question since the beginning of January.

“It’s very limited exposure. That doesn’t change the concern about the content and the comments,” the exec said. “The underlying issue is that these things aren’t happening periodically. It’s the nature of the beast.”

MediaRadar crunched data for seven companies that have pulled their ads this week. They include YouTube’s biggest advertisers: Disney, AT&T, Epic Games, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Clorox and Hasbro. The data tracks ad spend between January and February 17, when Watson posted the video.

Five of the seven companies spent up to 70% less on the platform versus a year ago, according to MediaRadar. Nestlé was the only one of the seven that pulled its spend during last year’s issue, though the company came back two weeks later.

In other words, the impact of this episode on YouTube could be large if those brands’ actions are any indication.

MediaRadar said that these advertisers typically buy ads on YouTube’s homepage and on popular channels like The Ellen Show and WWE.

“It will be interesting to see how many of these advertisers truly discontinue their advertising with YouTube,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar. “This is not YouTube’s first brush with brand safety concerns, and in previous cases, the majority of advertisers returned to the platform within weeks of the breach.”

Agencies could gain leverage with YouTube

For more than a year, YouTube reimbursed agencies who used third parties’ brand safety protection in the form of refunds or credit. In December, YouTube notified agencies that it would stop picking up the bill in 2019.

Agency sources said YouTube believed it made significant progress in cleaning up its platform in the two years since brand-safety issues started getting a lot of marketers’ attention. YouTube also added new ad-tech vendors like DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science to its platform in recent months and sources speculated that YouTube didn’t want to look like it favored one vendor over another.

Deals are still being negotiated and the agency exec said advertisers could use the latest outcry over brand safety to get YouTube to pick up the brand safety cost again.

“Unfortunate events like this demonstrate the need for greater third party oversight — no question,” the source said. “It’s hard to imagine that this would not give us more leverage.”

Not all brands are pulling spend

Not all brands are pulling away from YouTube. Burger King, Johnson & Johnson, and Anheuser-Busch InBev told Business Insider they are sticking with the platform.

While brand safety is important to Burger King, it is satisfied with YouTube’s efforts to tackle the issue, Burger King’s CMO Fernando Machado told Business Insider.

YouTube dedicated 10,000 employees across Google to vet videos, rolled out tools that catch questionable content through artificial intelligence, and significantly raised the requirements for creators to make money from their videos.

“The most important part is that they seem to be committed to solving the problem,” Machado said.

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Trudeau Government Should Turn to Sustainable Floor Heating In Its New Deal

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A consortium has been chosen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to manage the $1.1-billion overhaul of five heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. However, this decision has been met with a lot of disapproval by the country’s largest federal public service union.

Early June, the department announced that Innovate Energy has been awarded the 30-year contract “to design, retrofit, maintain and operate the plants,”winning the bid over a rival group that included SNC-Lavalin.

Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, said the federal government was “leading by example” in its bid to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the country. McKenna noted that by supporting this project, they’re utilizing heating and cooling infrastructure to promote a more environmentally friendly option.

“We’re very proud that our government is working with partners like Innovate Energy to modernize this critical infrastructure,” she said during the announcement at one of the facilities that will be upgraded, the Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant in downtown Ottawa.

The plants would be known as the district energy system and would heat 80 buildings in the area with steam. It is also expected to cool 67 of these buildings with chilled water through more than 14 kilometres of underground pipes.

Under the Energy Services Acquisition Program, PSPC will be tasked with modernizing the outdated technology in the plants to lower emissions and supportgrowth in the eco-friendly technology sector.

During the first stage of the overhaul, the system would be converted from steam to low temperature hot water and then switched from steam to electric chillers—with the estimated completion date being 2025. PSPC notes that the project will reduce current emissions by 63 per cent, the equivalent of removing 14,000 non-eco-friendly cars off the road.

Afterwards, the natural gas powering the plant will then be replaced by carbon-neutral fuel sources, which according to estimated will reduce emissions by a further 28 per cent. The renovation project is bound to save the government an estimated fee of more than $750 million in heating and cooling costs in the next 40 years.

Furthermore, the implementation of radiant floor heating in Ottawa by the federal government would be an additional step in driving its agenda for a more eco-friendly state.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant floor heating has a lot of benefits and advantages over alternate heat systems and can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 per cent.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant floor heating provides an equal amount of heat throughout a building, including areas that are difficult to heat, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings, garages or bathrooms. Consideringit warms people and objects directly—controlling the direct heat loss of the occupant—radiant floor heating provides comfort at lower thermostat settings.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

Radiant heating is a clean and healthy option—a perfect choice for those with severe allergies—as it doesn’t rely on circulating air, meaning there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room. Additionally, it is more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing with wall radiators or floor registers and virtually noiseless when in operation.

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

It is important for the leadership in Ottawa to equally drive the adoption of radiant floor heating as doing this would lead to increased usage in residential buildings—and even government-owned buildings.

However, in October, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a representative body of employees of the plants,began a campaign target at the government against their decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) for the retrofitting project, citing concerns about costs and safety.

According to the union, outside employees won’t be bound to the same health and safety standards of government workers and that typically P3 projects cost a lot more than traditional public financing deals.

The union demands that the government scraps the proposed project and meet PSAC members and experts to brainstorm on a new way forward that would ensure federal employees continue to operate and maintain the plants.

However, parliamentary secretary to public services and procurement minister, Steve MacKinnon said that the union officials have consulted him but that after conducting an analysis, the P3 option was still the best for the job.

“We didn’t have (to) sacrifice on safety or health — we didn’t have to sacrifice on job security,” he said.

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Steps to becoming a Data Scientist

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Data science has become one of the most in-demand career paths in this century, according to Business Insider. With the amount of information being circulated online, it has created a huge demand for storing, interpreting and implementing big data for different purposes—hence the need for a data scientist.

Today, there too much information flying around for regular people to process efficiently and use. Therefore, it has become the responsibility of data scientists to collect, organize and analyze this data. Doing this helps various people, organizations, enterprise businesses and governments to manage, store and interpret this data for different purposes.

Though data scientists come from different educational backgrounds, a majority of them need to have a technical educational background. To pursue a career in data science, computer-related majors, graduations and post graduations in maths and statistics are quite useful.

Therefore, the steps to becoming a data scientist are quite straightforward.  After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field—such as computer science, maths or physics—you can also further your education by obtaining a master’s degree in a data science or any other related field of study. With the necessary educational background, you can now search for a job and obtain the required experience in whichever filed you choose to invest your acquired skills.

Here are the necessary steps to be taken to become a data scientist.

Step 1: Obtain the necessary educational requirements

As earlier noted, different educational paths can still lead to a career in data science. However, it is impossible to begin a career in data science without obtaining a collegiate degree—as a four-year bachelor’s degree is really important. However, according to a report by Business Insider, over 73% of data scientist in existence today have a graduate degree and about 38% of them hold a Ph.D. Therefore, to rise above the crowd and get a high-end position in the field of data science, it is important to have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.—and with various online data science masters program, obtaining one is quite easy.

Some institutions provide data science programs with courses that will equip students to analyze complex sets of data. These courses also involve a host of technical information about computers, statistics, data analysis techniques and many more. Completing these programs equips you with the necessary skills to function adequately as a data scientist.

Additionally, there are some technical—and computer-based degrees—that can aid you begin a career in data science. Some of them include studies in, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Applied Math. These degrees will imbibe some important skills related to data science in you—namely, coding, experimenting, managing large amounts of data, solving quantitative problems and many others.

Step 2: Choose an area of specialization

There rarely exists an organization, agency or business today that doesn’t require the expertise of a data scientist. Hence, it is important that after acquiring the necessary education to start a career as a data scientist, you need to choose an area of specialization in the field you wish to work in.

Some of the specializations that exist in data science today include automotive, marketing, business, defence, sales, negotiation, insurance and many others.

Step 3: Kick start your career as a data scientist

After acquiring the necessary skills to become a data scientist, it is important to get a job in the filed and company of your choice where you can acquire some experience.

Many organizations offer valuable training to their data scientists and these pieces of training are typically centred around the specific internal systems and programs of an organization. Partaking in this training allows you learn some high-level analytical skills that were not taught during your various school programs—especially since data science is a constantly evolving field.

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Artificial intelligence pioneers win tech’s ‘Nobel Prize’

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Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don’t think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.

But making those quantum leaps from science fiction to reality required hard work from computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. The trio tapped into their own brainpower to make it possible for machines to learn like humans, a breakthrough now commonly known as “artificial intelligence,” or AI.

Their insights and persistence were rewarded Wednesday with the Turing Award, an honor that has become known as technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.

The award marks the latest recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence will likely play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology in the decades ahead.

Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Award.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power tasks such as facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made enormous strides over the past decade. Such neural networks also are a critical component of robotic systems that are automating a wide range of other human activity, including driving.

Their belief in the power of neural networks was once mocked by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works at Google as a vice president and senior fellow while LeCun is chief AI scientist at Facebook. Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.

“For a long time, people thought what the three of us were doing was nonsense,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on. My message to young researchers is, don’t be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly.” Now, some people are worried that the results of the researchers’ efforts might spiral out of control.

While the AI revolution is raising hopes that computers will make most people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, it’s also stoking fears that humanity eventually will be living at the mercy of machines.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun share some of those concerns especially the doomsday scenarios that envision AI technology developed into weapons systems that wipe out humanity.

But they are far more optimistic about the other prospects of AI empowering computers to deliver more accurate warnings about floods and earthquakes, for instance, or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, far earlier than human doctors.

“One thing is very clear, the techniques that we developed can be used for an enormous amount of good affecting hundreds of millions of people,” Hinton said.

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