Microsoft ditches waitlist for release of AI features, Facebook furious at FTC allegations; and ChatGPT potentially trained on copyrighted books, including the Terminator.


These top tech news stories and more for Friday, May 5th, 2023.  I’m your guest host, James Roy.

Microsoft has got no time to waste as the generative AI buzz is in full swing. 

The AI-powered features of Microsoft Bing are moving from limited preview that required signing up for a waitlist to a “preview” that’s now open to all.

But for Microsoft consumer marketing chief Yusuf Mehdi, the fact that the AI features remain in “preview” means that Microsoft is taking account of concerns raised regarding the engine’s tendency to ‘hallucinate’ or make up information.

However, Redmond keeps juicing up the AI bot, adding images and videos to answers in search and chat, where appropriate.

Until now, Bing’s AI-powered chat had been text only.

Plus, in the Edge browser, AI conversations can be stored in a chat history allowing for multiple threads that users can continue over time.

Microsoft is also opening up Bing so developers and other third parties can build on top of it.

Source: Axios

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) , is on strike, after six weeks of negotiation with a number of major entertainment companies including Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Disney.

The matter of contention is, none other than..AI.

The Writers Guild, which represents thousands of members who write content for film, TV, news and online media, demanded that literary material such as  screenplays, teleplays, outlines is not written by AI. 

Second the guild says it is imperative that “source material cannot be something generated by an AI. One screenwriter explained, ” It is possible that a studio uses AI to generate ideas, claim those ideas as source material and then hires a writer to polish it at a lower rate”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the big streaming platforms rejected that proposal, telling the guild that there will be annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.

John August, a screenwriter known for writing the films Charlie’s Angles and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, told Vice that, “the idea that our concerns could be addressed by an annual meeting is absurd and honestly offensive. Everyone watching AI can tell you that these large language models are progressing at an incredible rate. AI-generated material isn’t something that’s going to become a factor in a few years. It’s here now.”

But August also believes that producers want to find another way around simply treating artists as gig workers. “They want to be able to hire us for a day at a time, one draft at a time, and get rid of us as quickly as possible. I think they see AI as another way to do that.”

The guild believes that the AMPTP is following in the footsteps of media companies overblowing the capabilities of AI and restructuring significantly.

But the guild further argues that citing efficiency in being able to reduce staff and rely on the AI is an oversimplification that only perpetuates exploitation of workers from countries who are tasked to train, moderate and upkeep many of the world’s largest AI models

Meanwhile, generative AI systems continue to face a number of copyright issues from writers and artists who claim that the models  were trained on copyrighted data without permission. Getty Images, for instance, filed a lawsuit against Stability AI for the same reasons.

Source: Vice

In yesterday’s episode, we discussed the endless challenges Meta keeps facing.

But the latest particularly irked the company.

On Wednesday, the FTC alleged that Facebook breached a 2020 privacy order by continuing to give app developers access to users’ private information that Meta claimed it cut off. 

More alarmingly, the FTC  accused Facebook of misleading parents on who could connect to chat with minors and misrepresented who had access to private youth data.

So in an unprecedented move, the FTC proposed a ban on Meta making money off minor’s data across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

The FTC also seeks to prohibit Meta from launching new products on any of its platforms without written compliance confirmation from the Commission.

A Meta spokesperson told Ars Technical that the FTC’s proposed changes are a “political stunt”. He added, “Let’s be clear about what the FTC is trying to do: usurp the authority of Congress to set industry-wide standards and instead single out one American company while allowing Chinese companies, like TikTok, to operate without constraint on American soil. FTC Chair Lina Khan’s insistence on using any measure—however baseless—to antagonize American business has reached a new low.”

Facebook maintains that the privacy concerns raised by the FTC have already been discovered, fixed and publicly disclosed.

But the FTC maintains that an independent assessor found that Facebook’s new privacy program had several weaknesses, some of which posed great risks to the public.

Meta’s spokesperson revealed that the company “will vigorously fight this action and expect to prevail.”

Source: Ars Technica

Qualcomm’s earnings forecast, released on Wednesday, looked grim as the smartphone industry continues to suffer from a decline in demand.

The company said its revenue and profit forecast accounted for economic headwinds and weaker global sales in handsets.

CEO Cristiano Amon told investors on a conference call that “we have not seen evidence of meaningful recovery and are not incorporating improvements into our planning assumptions.”

The company also said that the smartphone industry would take longer to use up excess chips before fresh orders flow in.

The smartphone market continues to suffer as consumers face curbed spending power from persisting inflationary pressures.

The Covid-19 restrictions in China have not helped either, as sales for both Apple and its Android rivals slid.

Qualcomm also faces stiffer competition, especially for high end smartphone chips, from Taiwan’s MediaTek.

Shares of the chip designer fell nearly 7 per cent in extended trading after the forecast was out.

Source: Reuters

IBM chief, Arvind Krishna, said in an interview on Monday that remote work could impair your careers.

He says he is not forcing IBM’s employees to come back to the office, but those who do not, will not be favoured for promotions, especially for managerial positions.

He said during the interview, “Being a people manager when you’re remote is just tough because if you’re managing people, you need to be able to see them once in a while. It doesn’t need to be every minute. You don’t need to function under those old ‘Everybody’s under my eye’ kind of rules, but at least sometimes.”

These comments further spark the ongoing post-pandemic debate on whether remote work is better than being in the office. But with layoffs rising and job openings declining, workers are concerned that working from home could affect their job security.

About 80 percent of IBM’s employees work from home at least some of the time. And, working from home is, in fact, the most common in the technology and professional services sectors that IBM competes in.

Yet, Krishna, who became CEO, right after the pandemic hit, said, “people make a choice to work remotely, but it need not be “a forever choice — it could be a choice based on convenience or circumstance.”

Source: Bloomberg

Researchers from the University of California delved deep into OpenAI’s GPT-4 and found that they’re trained on text from copyrighted books.

GPT-4 seemed to have memorized titles such the Harry Potter children’s books, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games books, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Fahrenheit 451, A Game of Thrones, and Dune, among others.

The researchers are not claiming that ChatGPT or the models upon which it is built contain the full text of the cited books – LLMs don’t store text verbatim. But rather the idea is that the model has memorized the associated text.

The copyright implications are however hard to avoid, especially if the models produce passages that are substantially similar or identical to copyrighted works they have ingested.

The scientists noted that it did have a large bias for sci-fi.

And interestingly, yes, it has read the story where the AI takes over the world – the Terminator.

Here’s what it thinks.

In “The Terminator,” an advanced AI system called Skynet becomes self-aware and launches a nuclear attack on humanity in an effort to eradicate the human race. The only hope for humanity is a small group of resistance fighters led by a man named John Connor, who must travel back in time to prevent the creation of Skynet.

The book and subsequent movie franchise have had a significant impact on popular culture and have helped to shape the way that many people think about the potential dangers of advanced AI technology.

It calls it “a classic example of science fiction”.

And certainly it knows the difference between fact and fiction – right?

However, it’s worth noting that sometimes the distinction between fiction and non-fiction can be blurry. Some works of literature, such as historical fiction or creative non-fiction, blend elements of both genres. In such cases, it may not always be clear-cut whether a piece of content is fiction or nonfiction, and it may require careful consideration and analysis to determine which genre it belongs to.

Well, that was re-assuring.  Not.

Source: The Register

That’s the top tech news for today.  We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.

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I’m your host, James Roy.  Have a Fantastic Friday!

The post Hashtag Trending May 5-Microsoft ditches waitlist for release of AI features, Facebook challenges FTC allegations; ChatGPT has read the Terminator first appeared on IT World Canada.

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