Alexa-maker Amazon is creating a machine learning and artificial intelligence research lab at USC as the retail giant grapples with growing privacy concerns around its products. The Center for Secure and Trusted Machine Learning, part of USC's Viterbi School of Engineering, will support research that looks at new ways to secure and preserve privacy in machine learning and can be applied at scale "to support billions of users."

Amazon's artificial intelligence systems extend beyond its smart home devices; the company automates much of its processes using machine learning; including product recommendation, the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Go store (a brick and mortar location that runs without cashiers). Amazon also recently launched Halo, a wearable fitness tracker comparable to the Fitbit that also connects with Alexa and the rest of its smart devices.

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It's boom time in the world of remote learning.

That's especially true for TutorMe, a Los Angeles-based company founded in March 2015 that provides students with tutoring resources with the click of a mouse. The company has signed nearly 100 deals with schools and companies since the pandemic began, its co-founder and CEO Myles Hunter said this week. Most recently, the startup inked a September 30 agreement with Comcast to provide online tutoring services for families of their employees in the broadcasting and cable television company's northeast division.

The Comcast deal is evidence of an appetite to improve work-from-home quality of life for employees who are also parents. The pandemic has forced many parents to re-learn school subjects from years ago in order to help their kids complete their studies.

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Researchers at the University of Southern California, Emory University and the University of Texas Health Science Center have received a federal research grant to create a mobile app for contact tracing the novel coronavirus that hopes to track a person's real-time location and symptoms "for quarantine and decontamination." The project would use collected data to calculate a type of credit score of your COVID-19 risk and uses that to help calculate an aggregate risk score for locations like your neighborhood grocery store over time.

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