1. VB Assets LLC, a new company created to manage patents still owned by conversational AI vendor VoiceBox, is suing Amazon, claiming infringement of speech recognition and natural language patents. VoiceBox, acquired by Nuance Communications last year, had explored a potential business relationship with Amazon in 2011. No deals were made, the suit says, but "on information and belief, Amazon decided to build its Alexa Products—without telling VoiceBox Technologies or asking permission to use VoiceBox Technologies’ patented technology.” VB Assets claims that the first generation Echo speaker used technology that was similar to the patented technology that VoiceBox Technologies showed Amazon. As of January, Amazon had sold more than 100 million devices with its Alexa smart assistant built in.- GEEKWIRE
2. Microsoft has acquired data privacy and governance service provider BlueTalon. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. BlueTalon's solutions are used by enterprises to set policies for how their employees can access enterprise data and provides tools to enforce and audit those policies across data environments. Microsoft says the deal will help support enterprise transformation by assuring the right use of data with centralized data governance at scale through Azure. The BlueTalon team will become part of the Azure Data Governance group, to work on enhancing Microsoft’s capabilities around data privacy and governance. - TECHCRUNCH
3. GitHub has blocked access to private code repositories and paid accounts run by developers or companies in Iran, Cuba, and Syria. The Microsoft-owned company said that it could not risk being non-compliant with ongoing US government sanctions against these countries. Developers who had been working on projects said that they were unable to download their work or access public repositories. GitHub says that free individual and free organizational GitHub.com accounts will have limited access to GitHub public repository services for personal communications only, and not for commercial purposes. Eighty percent of GitHub contributors are outside the US and it was not immediately clear how many repositories had been shuttered unexpectedly as a result of the move. - COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW
4. China now has 227 of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers. That's more than twice the number in the US, according to Lowy Institute's second annual Asia Power Index. Supercomputers can be important to the development of technologies such as AI. The US remains the leader in the index's economic resources measure, which factors in technology. Quantum computing is expected to have a disruptive impact in areas like cybersecurity, machine learning (ML), drug discovery, materials engineering and finance - ZDNET
5. Industry group TechNet, whose members include Google and Facebook, seeks changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act before it takes effect next year. Several bills backed by the technology industry already have failed to advance or were amended in committee this month. Among proposed changes was a bill that would narrow the definition of “personal information” protected under the act. TechNet says that it's critical that the business community, consumer groups, and the Legislature work together over the next 18 months to improve this law to avoid unintended consequences on many California small businesses and startups. - THE MERCURY NEWS
6. New research says that IT pros with AWS and Google cloud computing certifications have the highest salaries across all regions. The Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary report says that IT employees with these certifications earn average salaries of $129,868 and $147,357 respectively. Raleigh, North Carolina, Omaha, Nebraska, and Austin, Texas have the highest rate of tech job openings, according to acquisition company ICIMS. - FORBES
7. NEC has signed an agreement with the Star Alliance airline network to develop a biometric data-based identification platform. The opt-in facial recognition system would enable customers of Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Air India, and Singapore Airlines to pass through boarding gates without stopping at airports that deploy the technology. NEC says photos would be encrypted and “safely stored.” The system is expected to debut in 2020. - CNBC
7. Machine learning platform developer DataRobot has raised $200 million in a Series E funding round to advance its technology platform. Sapphire led the funding round. The company has now raised more than $400 million in venture capital and has a valuation of more than $1 billion. DataRobot's platform automates data science functions such as predictive modeling. - XCONOMY
9. TIAA asset management firm has moved to a new operating model for producing software that uses agile, DevOps and microservices. Since it stopped using a classic n-tier architecture software delivery model. TIAA has seen a 50 percent boost in cycle time to onboard clients to new products. It also has seen a 75 percent reduction in costs and a 400 percent return-on-investment. - CIO
10. In an opinion piece for VentureBeat, Will Martino of blockchain vendor Kadena writes that blockchain technology could transform databases for core business transactional data. He attributes this to its ability to combine the basic elements of security, robustness, replication and business logic with business rule enforcement and continuous backup and verification of databases.- VENTUREBEAT
Jennifer Zaino is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business, technology, healthcare and education.
Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).