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ai

The New York Times Is Suing Microsoft And OpenAI Over Copyright Infringement 

OpenAI and Microsoft are being sued by the New York Times over copyright infringement, alleging that the two companies’ artificial intelligence technology has illegally copied millions of articles from the Times to train AI services like ChatGPT.

ai

Amazon Invests up to $4 Billion in OpenAI Rival Anthropic in Exchange for Minority Stake

On Monday, Amazon announced it will invest up to $4 billion into the artificial intelligence company Anthropic. In exchange, Amazon will gain partial ownership, and Anthropic will use the company’s cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), more widely.

The growing relationship between the two firms is an example of how some large tech companies with extensive cloud computing resources are using those assets to strengthen their position in the artificial intelligence industry.

According to a statement released by Amazon, Anthropic will use AWS as its primary cloud provider, using the cloud platform to do most of its AI model development and research into AI safety. Anthropic will also have access to Amazon’s suite of in-house AI chips.

“AWS will become Anthropic’s primary cloud provider for mission-critical workloads, including safety research and future foundation model development. Anthropic plans to run the majority of its workloads on AWS, further providing Anthropic with the advanced technology of the world’s leading cloud provider.”

In addition, Anthropic has committed to making its AI models available to AWS users long-term, providing them with early access to features, including the ability to customize Anthropic models for their own purposes.

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“With today’s announcement, customers will have early access to features for customizing Anthropic models, using their own proprietary data to create their own private models, and will be able to utilize fine-tuning capabilities via a self-service feature.”

Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers already have access to Anthropic’s AI models through Amazon Bedrock, the tech giant’s storefront for AI goods. Bedrock not only supports Amazon’s own models but also those from third-party developers such as  Stability AI and AI21 Labs.

In a press release, the co-founder and CEO of Anthropic, Dario Amodei, said that his company is “excited to use AWS’s Trainium chips to develop future foundation models.”

“Since announcing our support of Amazon Bedrock in April, Claude has seen significant organic adoption from AWS customers. By significantly expanding our partnership, we can unlock new possibilities for organizations of all sizes as they deploy Anthropic’s safe, state-of-the-art AI systems together with AWS’s leading cloud technology.”

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Anthropic stated that Amazon’s minority stake would not alter the company’s corporate governance structure or its dedication to the ethical advancement of artificial intelligence.

“Our corporate governance structure remains unchanged, with the Long Term Benefit Trust continuing to guide Anthropic in accordance with our Responsible Scaling Policy. As outlined in this policy, we will conduct pre-deployment tests of new models to help us manage the risks of increasingly capable AI systems.”

Several cloud market leaders, like Microsoft and now Amazon, have made investments into artificial intelligence technology. OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, received $1 billion from Microsoft in 2019. Microsoft recently also invested $10 billion in OpenAI and is striving to integrate OpenAI’s technology into consumer-facing Microsoft products such as Bing.

This deal is Amazon’s most recent push into the artificial intelligence space to compete with industry leaders like Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google.

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Alphabet Stock Drops After Samsung Considers Switching Default Search to Bing

Samsung is considering ending its long-standing partnership with Google in favor of Bing as the default search engine for its devices. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, saw its stock drop by more than 3% in early trading Monday as a result of the news.

According to The New York Times, Google’s internal response to the possible change was “panic.” It is unclear whether Microsoft’s decision to incorporate ChatGPT into Bing was a driving factor in Samsung’s deliberation.

Since Google makes the bulk of its money from search ads, the development of AI search technology represents the greatest threat to Google’s search business in the past 25 years. As it stands, Google’s contract with Samsung generates around $3 billion in annual revenue. Google’s contract with Apple, which is up for renewal this year, brings in $20 billion in revenue.

Recent advances in AI have prompted Google to explore ways to incorporate AI into its flagship search product. According to internal reports, around 160 designers, engineers, and executives at Google are all working together in “sprint rooms” on a new project called Magi to build competitive AI-powered search features.

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Google is also working on a brand-new search engine that uses artificial intelligence more broadly. Plans for this new search engine are still in the early stages, and a release date has not been set. The future system will anticipate user searches, provide curated lists of potential purchases, and be more conversational, similar to Bing’s new search engine format. In the meantime, the goal of the Magi project is to enhance Google’s current search engine.

Jim Lecinski, a former Google vice president of sales and service and professor of marketing at Northwestern University, said the company has to now persuade users that it is as “powerful, competent and contemporary” as its competitors.

“If we are the leading search engine and this is a new attribute, a new feature, a new characteristic of search engines, we want to make sure that we’re in this race as well.”

During a test last week, Google employees quizzed the Magi project’s enhanced Google search on its conversational skills by asking it follow-up questions. Next month, Google plans to roll out the tools to the public, making them available to as many as 1 million users, with added functionality coming in the fall. According to The New York Times, the number will increase to 30 million users by the end of the year. The tools will only be available in the United States.

In a roadmap document, a Google executive revealed that the company is thinking about integrating artificial intelligence into Google Earth’s mapping features and providing a separate feature that lets users conduct music searches via conversation with a chatbot.

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A feature that uses AI to generate images within image results is also in the works, as is a feature that uses AI text conversations to teach users a new language. Users will also be able to ask a chatbot questions as they browse the web using a product called Searchalong.

Last year, Google made $162 billion from its search business. According to The New York Times, Google was taken aback by the prospect of Samsung, which sells hundreds of millions of smartphones with Google’s Android software every year, switching its default search engine.

In a statement to CNN, Google spokesperson Lara Levin said the company has always been committed to using AI to “improve the quality of our results” and “offer entirely new ways to search,” citing a feature rolled out last year that allowed users to search by combining images and words.

“We’ve done so in a responsible and helpful way that maintains the high bar we set for delivering quality information. Not every brainstorm deck or product idea leads to a launch, but as we’ve said before, we’re excited about bringing new AI-powered features to search and will share more details soon.”

Google has been involved in AI research for a long time, and its DeepMind lab in London is world-renowned. The company has also contributed to the development of autonomous vehicles and large language models used by chatbots. Due to concerns over the accuracy of AI, Google has been slow to integrate it into its search engine.

snapchat

Snapchat Launches AI Chatbot Powered by ChatGPT

Snapchat is launching its own artificial intelligence chatbot powered by OpenAI’s viral ChatGPT. The feature, called My AI, will be available to Snapchat Plus subscribers starting this week.

In a blog post, Snapchat shared how My AI can help subscribers with various tasks and assist them in their day-to-day activities.

“My AI can recommend birthday gift ideas for your BFF, plan a hiking trip for a long weekend, suggest a recipe for dinner, or even write a haiku about cheese for your cheddar-obsessed pal.”

Snapchat cautioned, however, that the chatbot is “experimental” and may respond in unexpected ways.

“As with all AI-powered chatbots, My AI is prone to hallucination and can be tricked into saying just about anything. Please be aware of its many deficiencies, and sorry in advance!”

An AI hallucination is a term for when an AI presents false facts as the truth. In other words, it may confidently output completely made-up answers, leading to misinformation. At times, the answers may even be nonsensical.

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In an email to CNET, a Snapchat representative described how the company customized the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology for its platform.

“My AI was trained to have a unique tone and personality that plays into Snapchat’s core values around friendship, learning, and fun. It has been trained to adhere to our trust and safety guidelines.”

The company’s community guidelines prohibit the chatbot from responding with explicit, inflammatory or violent content.

Snapchat will store all conversations between subscribers and their My AI to review and help improve product experience. Users can also submit direct feedback to Snapchat by pressing and holding any message. Snapchat advised users not to “share any secrets with My AI” and to not rely on it for advice.

Currently, the feature is only available to Snapchat Plus members. However, in an interview with the Verge, Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel said the goal is to make the feature available to all of Snapchat’s 750 million monthly users.

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Snapchat is the latest in a string of companies to integrate artificial intelligence into their platforms. Google recently revealed its ChatGPT contender Bard. The chatbot infamously made a factual error during an ad demo, costing Google a $100 billion drop in market value.

The same week, Microsoft announced it would integrate ChatGPT into its search engine Bing.

Since Snapchat is a messaging service, Spiegel believes it is uniquely positioned to create a personable chatbot. Spiegel told the Verge, “The big idea is that in addition to talking to our friends and family every day, we’re going to talk to AI every day.”

Unlike other AI chatbot integrations on platforms, Snapchat’s My AI interface suggests the chatbot is intended to be more than just a productivity tool. The chatbot has an avatar, and its “user profile” resembles a regular Snapchat friend profile. Users can even change the chat’s wallpaper.

The current price for a subscription to Snapchat Plus is $3.99 per month.

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Google’s AI Chatbot ‘Bard’ Makes a Factual Error, Costing Alphabet $100 Billion in Market Value

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, saw a $100 billion drop in market value after Bard, its competing chatbot to Microsoft’s ChatGPT, made an error in an ad containing a demo.

Internet Explorer

Microsoft Officially Retires Internet Explorer Web Browser 

This past week Microsoft confirmed that its well-known web browser, Internet Explorer, would be retired after years of declining user engagement. Initially launched in 1995, Internet Explorer was the standard for web browsing on all Windows computers. 

More often than not, Windows users opted not to upgrade from the traditional IE browsing format, but security researchers are emphasizing that IE and its many security vulnerabilities, that also contributed to its shut down, were still existent. 

Microsoft will begin disabling the IE application on all Windows 10 devices, prompting users to instead download its next-generation Edge web browser, which was initially released back in 2015. The original IE icon will remain on user devices, and Edge will be incorporating a service called “IE Mode” so users can preserve access to old websites that were specifically made for Internet Explorer. 

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Microsoft says it will support “IE mode through at least 2029. Additionally, IE will still work for now on all supported versions of Windows 8.1, Windows 7 with Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, and Windows Server.”

Industry analysis shows that more than half a percent of total global browser market shares are held by Internet Explorer. 

“I do think we’ve made progress, and we probably won’t see as many exploits against IE in the future, but we will still have remnants of Internet Explorer for a long time that scammers can take advantage of,” says Ronnie Tokazowski, an independent malware researcher and principal threat advisor at the cybersecurity firm Cofense.

“Internet Explorer as the browser will be gone, but there are still pieces that exist.”

“We haven’t forgotten that some parts of the web still rely on Internet Explorer’s specific behaviors and features,” Sean Lyndersay, the general manager of Microsoft Edge Enterprise, wrote.

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“There was a real need to start over with Edge rather than trying to salvage IE. The web has evolved and so have browsers. Incremental improvements to Internet Explorer couldn’t match the general improvements to the web at large, so we started fresh,” he stated. 

Maddie Stone, a researcher for Google’s Project Zero vulnerability hunting team, wrote that hackers are still able to exploit vulnerabilities within the IE application, which is a problem, referring to previously unknown vulnerabilities as “zero-days.” 

“Since we began tracking in-the-wild 0-days, Internet Explorer has had a pretty consistent number of 0-days each year. 2021 actually tied 2016 for the most in-the-wild Internet Explorer 0-days we’ve ever tracked, even though Internet Explorer’s market share of web browser users continues to decrease. Internet Explorer is still a ripe attack surface for initial entry into Windows machines, even if the user doesn’t use Internet Explorer as their internet browser,” she wrote.

IE will begin to be phased out of Windows devices in the coming months, but its legacy will live on for the standard it set for optimal web browsing.

Microsoft

Microsoft To Potentially Buy Discord In $10 Billion Deal

Microsoft and Discord are currently in talks to reach an acquisition deal worth $10 billion. Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy are the programmers and entrepreneurs who founded Discord back in 2015 as a platform for people to talk while they play video games. The service is free and offers voice, video, and text chat, and has become extremely popular especially within the past year since so many people were stuck at home and investing in more at-home entertainment.

“During the pandemic, with people stuck at home and playing more video games than ever and also looking for ways to safely socialize, Discord became a hub for communities interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, homework help, book clubs and more, pitching itself as a place to talk,” said new Chief Financial Officer Tomasz Marcinkowski.

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The site itself now has more than 140 million monthly users and has brought in over $100 million in revenue last year. Last December Discord also doubled its valuation to $7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Users can create their own communities, or servers, on the platform which can range from having under 10 people, to hundreds of thousands. For Microsoft, the variation in communities on Discord is the biggest selling point. Microsoft in general has been looking for assets that would “provide access to thriving communities of users,” according to inside sources.

Discord’s popularity also stems from the fact that there’s no advertisements on it either. Instead, Discord offers a subscription service called Nitro that gives members the ability to customize tags next to their usernames, upload large files, and stream at a higher video quality; Nitro costs $10 a month and is how Discord makes its money.

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The platform has also allowed smaller video game creators to have their own space where they can chat with fans and discuss ideas. Megan Fox is the founder of the independent game development studio Glass Bottom Games, and she uses Discord to create communities for all the games her company develops.

“We really just wanted to build a low-key community that was nice to hang out in. Our first game, Skatebird, is about birds on skateboards and has a Discord community of about 900 users that mostly use the server to talk about birds, or skateboarding. Our studio also has a channel solely intended for users to share your attempt at a kickflip. Many Discord servers lean on humor and inside jokes, which is part of the appeal,” Fox explained.

Rod Breslau is an esports and gaming consultant who believes that “if Discord is going to sell, Microsoft may actually be one of the safest places for it to go without experiencing any major changes. Their recent acquisitions of LinkedIn and GitHub were both hands-off acquisitions, so this would likely be the same.”

The deal is still in the talking stages, and there’s no actual confirmation regarding if Discord plans to sell or not.

President Biden Launches Emergency Task Force To Address Microsoft Cyber-Attack

The Biden administration has announced the creation of an emergency task force specifically made to address an “unusually aggressive” cyber-attack that took aim at hundreds of thousands of Microsoft customers around the world and within the US.

U.S. Stocks Climbing Despite Uncertainty Surrounding Presidential Election

Tech-led stocks in the US began climbing when the market opened up on Wednesday morning, despite there being a lack of clarity in terms of who will win the 2020 presidential election. 

According to reports, The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 500 points, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 traded 2.3% higher while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite increased by 3.2%. Mike Lewis is the managing director of US equity cash trading at Barclays, and spoke with the press this morning about these surges. 

“I think that the outlook going forward for markets is this is going to be more about policy and the Fed than it’s going to be about politics, which is a good thing for markets.”

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Key swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could take a while to fully determine how the votes will lean. Both candidates and their camps are confident in their paths to victory this week.

Amazon, Microsoft and Apple all saw spikes of at least 3% in their stocks while Facebook increased by 7%, and Google-parent company Alphabet jumped more than 5%. Traders on Wall Street attribute these spikes to a multitude of factors. The possibility that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate is a positive for the groups, as a Democrat congress could have weighed down on the high-growth sector, according to Barry Bannister, Stifel Head of Institutional Equity Strategy.

“It appears investors may be satisfied with at least half a Republican Senate and no tax increase, knowing they have a ‘Fed put’ if fiscal assistance is slower in coming. This favors Growth stocks over Value near-term.”

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Traders are also still grappling with the idea of a contested election, as Wall Street strategists claim that could have major consequences for the stock market. “News of a contested election could cause a sharp drop in stocks in the very short term, but we do not see it as a bearish gamechanger,” Tom Essaye, founder of the Sevens Report, said.

Traders are also watching the Senate race closely as the result of that race will have major implications on the future of the market as a whole. A Democrat win in the Senate and a Biden presidency has a lot of traders worried about the higher tax rates that would impact technology shares especially. 

On the other hand, some traders think a blue wave in the Senate and White House could lead to a larger stimulus package for Americans as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic; which would also boost stocks linked to the larger economy. 

“When this is all said and done, I still believe equities will move higher regardless of who wins the Oval Office. The coronavirus pandemic and U.S. monetary policy will be bigger market drivers over the long haul,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial intelligence.

Walmart Store

Walmart Teams Up With Microsoft In A Bid To Buy TikTok 

Walmart announced this week that they would be collaborating with Microsoft in a bid to acquire TikTok. Currently ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company which is based in Beijing, is nearing an agreement to sell its American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand operations in a deal that’s projected to earn the company up to $30 billion. 

Walmart and Microsoft are just one team placing a bid for the app in America, as many are looking to take advantage of buying one of the most popular social media platforms in 2020. Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove recently spoke with the media, and while he denied to comment on how the two companies would be dividing their ownership of the app, he claims this acquisition would be an amazing opportunity for both companies to compete against other giant corporations such as Amazon. 

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Walmart and Amazon have been competing as major “superstore” type retailers for years now. In fact, Walmart recently announced plans to launch its own membership program similar to Amazon Prime, called Walmart+, which will also include original content. 

“We believe a potential relationship with TikTok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart a way to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses.”

Walmart went on in their statement to also claim that they were confident in their ability to meet both the expectations of current TikTok users, and the US government; who has recently been attacking TikTok for its potential sharing of personal data with China; which has not been proven. 

In the US, TikTok currently has around 100 million active users. When compared to the amount of users the app had in 2018 there’s an 800% increase in use. Daniel Ives, managing director and technology analyst, claims that there’s a 90% chance TikTok will accept the bid from Microsoft and Walmart, and the acquisition of the app will be a major step in Walmarts constant expansion of services. 

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This will not be the first time Walmart and Microsoft work together either. In 2018, Walmart announced a five-year “cloud deal” with Microsoft, allowing the retailer to adopt Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure and include bundles in certain devices that would include Office 365 with every purchase. 

After TikTok was under major threat of being banned by Donald Trump and his administration, the app knew it had to find a new buyer so that the app would remain alive in one of its most lucrative markets worldwide. The Pentagon has already banned TikTok from being downloaded on any government-issued devices due to security concerns; the US House of Representatives and Senate were also ordered to follow suit. 

Despite the many allegations from Trump himself, TikTok has went on record multiple times that they have never shared personal data with China, it’s parent company, or any other company for that matter. They then explained how TikTok is run within each country it’s available, and all US user data is stored in the US. 

There’s no real timeline as to when TikTok will accept or deny Microsoft and Walmart’s bid, however, with the 2020 election getting closer, it’s likely the app will make a decision sooner rather than later in order to keep it alive.