News, insights, and information that you need to know about what happened in Tech this week...
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1. ChatGPT v Google: Which is the best at Search?
In an unscientific, but entirely reasonable test, the online language learning platform Preply, put Google’s Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT against each other in a head to head test of which one could do the best Search.
The test was done in January 2023 and the results are summarised in the charts below. Basically, Preply compared the responses of ChatGPT and Google against a set of questions, rating them based on factors such as clarity, detail, and actionability. The findings were broken down into 3 categories;
- Google performed better on basic questions, winning seven out of 12 responses, but ChatGPT was superior in intermediate and advanced questions, winning fifteen out of 21 and four out of 7, respectively.
The report also took into account the stakes, objectivity, and time sensitivity of each question, with ChatGPT winning in almost every case except for time-fluid questions, where Google performed better.
Here's The Thing: Search is a more complex process than it appears on face value. Look at the Preply questions above to understand the context, because for many Searches, the variables of context, credentials, relevancy, and timing are the key factors. Google take these variables into account in its Search engine, whereas ChatGPT doesn't. ChatGPT was far better at giving a Search response when the question was a static and historical fact that isn't open to debate and opinion. That's because it's already read a dozen Wikipedia entries on how to make to make money and can summarise a meaningful response. Where as Google can only provide a list of links for you to read yourself. Bottom line is that, underneath the presentation layer (plain English text versus a bunch of ad sponsered, read yourself links), the Large Language Models that power generative AI tools like ChatGPT, are not suited to Search.
Survey of attitudes towards AI taken in February 2023 in the USA
- Among all U.S. adults, 63% expressed at least some concern over the accuracy of results in search engines that use AI. More than 2 in 3 said they are concerned with the possibility of misinformation in search results, and about 3 in 5 are worried about bias.
- The public’s top concern regarding AI systems more broadly is personal data privacy, with 3 in 4 adults expressing at least some concern, including nearly half who say they are “very concerned” about the issue. Seven in 10 adults said they are worried about the spread of misinformation, and an equal share said they’re concerned about foreign powers’ potential use of AI against U.S. interests.
- The only area that did not draw concern among a majority of respondents is job loss in their given industry — though a 49% plurality still reported at least some concern about AI’s impact on their field. Another 2 in 3 said they were concerned about job loss across all industries as a result of AI.
- Microsoft said they will be adding reporting and tools to Bing Webmaster Tools to help publishers understand how Bing Chat users interact with their sites.
- AI Tool reveals how celebrities' faces have been photoshopped. ****This AI tool can reverse Photoshop.
- Microsoft has been secretly testing its Bing chatbot ‘Sydney’ for years.
- GitHub Copilot for business is now available. ****GitHub Copilot is the world’s first at-scale AI developer tool and it’s being offered to every developer, team, organisation, and enterprise.
2. OpenAI, TikTok, Adobe and the BBC are amongst ten firms that agree voluntary principles about generative AI
A group of 10 companies, including OpenAI, TikTok, Adobe, the BBC, and the dating app Bumble, have signed up to a new set of guidelines on how to build, create, and share AI-generated content responsibly. The recommendations ask for greater transparency from both technology builders, such as OpenAI, and creators and distributors of digitally created synthetic media, such as the BBC and TikTok, regarding what the technology can and cannot do, and for disclosure when people might be interacting with this type of content.
The voluntary recommendations were developed by the Partnership on AI (PAI), an AI research nonprofit, in consultation with over 50 organisations. PAI’s partners include big tech companies as well as academic, civil society, and media organisations. The first 10 companies to commit to the guidance are Adobe, BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, Bumble, OpenAI, TikTok, Witness, and synthetic-media startups Synthesia, D-ID, and Respeecher.
“We want to ensure that synthetic media is not used to harm, disempower, or disenfranchise but rather to support creativity, knowledge sharing, and commentary,” says Claire Leibowicz, PAI’s head of AI and media integrity.
One of the most crucial aspects of the guidelines is a pledge by the companies to investigate and include ways to notify users when they’re interacting with something that’s been generated by AI. This could include watermarks or disclaimers, or traceable elements in an AI model’s training data or metadata.
Here’s The Thing: Whilst it’s fair to say that legislation is lagging when it comes to regulating the use of AI, its definitely on its way. The rapid speed and growth in generativeAI tools is acting as an accelerant to catch the market up. The European Union, for example, is looking to include generative AI in its upcoming AI law, the AI Act, new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
So, whilst the self-policing actions of the 10 companies is welcome, the reality is that voluntary guidelines rarely work. To stop generative AI becoming a wild west, legislation is going to be required, sooner rather than later.
- Here’s an interesting article on how the BBC are using AI.
- Snapchat is the latest company to jump on the chatbot bandwagon with the debut of My AI as an experimental feature for its subscription service.
- OpenAI-backed startup brings chatbot technology to first major law firm
3. If you think NFTs are so yesterday, think again
Online reporting from Axios found that NFTs are racking up $500 million in monthly sales volume. At its peak in 2022, the NFT markets were turning over 8 times that at around $4 billion a month, but the point is that the market hasn’t gone to zero. More than this, the NFT market, as Axios define it, is looking only at the trading activity of these digital collectables.
What’s more important, IMHO, is the other activity going on with NFTs by consumer brands. This is less about speculative trading and more about the utility of non-fungible tokens as a ownership certificates that can unlock a range of benefits and entitlements.
- Starbucks are rolling out Odyssey, a programme to introduce NFTS into its Rewards loyalty system that serves 30 million customers. Odyssey NFT holders will get digital rewards and special experiences.
- Spotify is piloting a new NFT playlist feature that allows Web3 communities to curate exclusive music experiences, creating a sense of belonging among members. This is achieved by connecting users' Web3 wallets on Spotify to gain access to the NFT-based playlists.
- Fashion house Prada releases a monthly NFT Collection called Time Capsule. It’s what’s called “phytigal” (a mashup of physical and digital). As well as a digital asset, NFT owners also get exclusive access to the “Prada Crypted” community and closed Discord chats.
- Luxury yoga brand, Alo Yoga have paired their latest collection with NFTs that unlock benefits such as access to exclusive events, personal training sessions, and styling advice. This is part of Alo Yoga's customer loyalty strategy to gain more exclusivity.
- Spanish fashion retailer, Zara launched an exclusive and limited edition NFT collection for Valentine’s Day that unlock unique features to dress a virtual reality avatar
Brand Strategy Collection case studies
- Unlocking the Potential of Metaverse for Real Estate Brand Strategy
- Unlocking the Potential of NFTs: The New Frontier of Brand Engagement
- Brand Strategy: How airlines are using emerging tech for customer engagement
- Snapple use ChatGPT to increase customer engagemenWhat are Diesel up to with NFTs, Web3 & the Metaverse?
- What Are Consumer Brands Doing In Web3, Blockchain and the Metaverse?
- What Are Adidas Doing In web3, the Metaverse and NFTs?
- Budweiser Joins Zed Run In The Metaverse
- 5 Use Cases for Immersive Technology and the Metaverse from MWC2023
4. New YouTube CEO is bullish and upbeat on the future of NFTS and Web3
Web3 enthusiasts are watching closely as Neal Mohan takes over as the CEO of YouTube, replacing Susan Wojcicki, who announced her resignation recently. Last year, the Mohan published a blog post that said YouTube was exploring ways to incorporate Web3 technology, with suggestions that included making the platform more immersive and integrating NFTs in some way.
Mohan wrote that he believes NFTs and blockchain technology can help "creators build deeper relationships with their fans."
Mohan specifically mentioned how NFTs could allow creators and fans to collaborate in new ways and could be a way for fans to "own unique videos, photos, art, and even experiences from their favorite creators." As for the metaverse, Mohan noted that it was still in its early stages, but that YouTube would be working to bring more interactions to games to make them more immersive.
YouTube is one of the most popular websites globally. From September to November last year, YouTube recorded 74.8 billion visits per month, second only to its parent company Google in terms of usage.
Here's The Thing: YouTube are not the only social media platform with an interest in Web3.
- Twitter announced it was expanding its Tweet Tiles feature to NFTs late last year. The feature allows users to share a marketplace listing for their NFT. Twitter partnered with four marketplaces for the new feature: Rarible, Magic Eden, Flow, and Jump.trade.
- Meta lined up a group of digital artists to sell NFTs on Instagram. The feature allowed creators to mint NFTs on Polygon and sell them via Instagram. Instagram also expanded its Digital Collectibles feature, allowing people in 100 countries to showcase NFTs on the platform.
- Little Red Book, a social media platform in China that is similar to Instagram, announced it is integrating the Conflux blockchain into its network of over 200 million active monthly users. Now users can showcase Conflux-minted NFTs on their profile page.
5. Meta have another go at launching an AI system
Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post on Monday that Meta is creating a new product group focused on generative AI. The new product group will bring together a number of teams working on generative AI across the company, with the goal of building “delightful experiences” around the technology across all of Meta’s different products. This came at the same time that Meta introduced a new large language model called LLaMa (Large Language Model Meta AI) to support AI researchers.
In the short term, the new Meta AI group will focus on building “creative and expressive tools,” while over the longer term, they will work on developing “AI personas” that can help people in a variety of ways. The team will be exploring experiences with text, such as chat in WhatsApp and Messenger, with images, such as creative Instagram filters and ad formats, and with video and multi-modal experiences.
“We have a lot of foundational work to do before getting to the really futuristic experiences, but I’m excited about all of the new things we’ll build along the way,” Zuckerberg wrote in his statement.
Here’s The Thing: The pivot to the Metaverse has so far been a huge drag on the business. Zuckerberg is pumping around $1 billion a month into the quest for virtual reality (excuse the pun!) That’s a lot of profit that would go straight to the bottom line if Meta was to adjust course (again.) And who would blame him!
He knows that Meta has to expand its focus beyond social networking and into new areas. The metaverse is all about virtual and augmented reality but there’s also e-commerce, NFTs, and now generative AI. Which makes the most sense…because what does AI need the most and what does Facebook have in bucket loads? Data
It’s a road Meta have been down before (see the Galactica cock-up and what Blenderbot thought of the Zuck) which likely explains why the new Meta AI is NOT a chatbot and is not yet openly accessible by the public (unlike ChatGPT.) But, with their massive chest of user data and the advertising cash cow that is Facebook and Instagram, Meta is well-positioned to compete against Google and Microsoft.
By opening up this new AI product group, Zuckerberg is showing serious intent about making AI a key part of Meta’s future.
Meta is working towards fully fledged AR Glasses for 2027
Meta has shared its latest augmented and virtual reality hardware roadmap with employees, and according to The Verge, it's planning to launch its first full-fledged AR glasses in 2027. While the company intends to release other AR glasses before then, the device it's launching in four years' time is the same one Mark Zuckerberg believes could become Meta's "iPhone moment." That is, he thinks it could shake up the industry and could become as popular as the iPhone.
- Meet the first-ever artificial intelligence editor at the Financial Times.
- The rumours about Apple's VR headset keep getting worse
🛠️ Tools, Tips and Classified
- How to create unique content with ChatGPT and QuillBot
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- Seven generative AI tools for creating content, blogs, videos and social media.
- Tana is the new notes app that combines elements of Notion for organising info and ideas.
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6. Twitter has laid off another 200 employees, or about 10% of its remaining workforce (down from 7000+ when Musk took over)
Remember the Twitter engineer who made such a big thing of sleeping in the office post Elon Musk’s takeover and call for an “extremely hardcore” work ethic? A kiss-ass stunt that seemed to get them a promotion as a result? That was Esther Crawford, who was put in charge of Twitter Blue Subscription and the coming payments feature by Musk after demonstrating her loyalty.
Well, that hasn’t gone so well and she’s been fired, along with a couple of hundred of her colleagues the New York Times reported on Sunday. The cuts reportedly hit product managers, data scientists, and engineers who worked on machine learning and site reliability, which helps keep Twitter’s various features online.
Zoë Schiffer, managing editor at Platformer, first confirmed that product manager Esther Crawford was among those Twitter let go over the weekend. Also gone is Martijn de Kuijper, the founder of the now-closed down Revue newsletter platform that Twitter acquired in 2021.
“Waking up to find I’ve been locked out of my email,” he tweeted. “Looks like I’m let go.”
Here's The Thing: This latest round of layoffs is the eighth one since Musk assumed ownership of Twitter. The workforce at Twitter was close to 7,500 pre-Musk and is now down to less than 2,000. As of January, the company’s daily revenue was reportedly down 40% year-over-year. It’s no wonder that the app has become buggy and unreliable.
I remain firm and bullish on my 2023 Prediction, that Musk will walk away from Twitter empty handed.
🦤 Dodo Corner
- Politiwoops, a service that tracked deleted tweets from politicians, has been shutdown - by Twitter. The Propublica project that has tracked and archived more than half a million deleted tweets from politicians since 2012, is no longer able to track them. Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, the platform has disabled the function they used to track deletions, and the new method that Twitter says should identify them appears to be broken. So much for free speech.
- The Information reports that Elon Musk has approached artificial intelligence researchers in recent weeks about forming a new research lab to develop an alternative to ChatGPT. Musk has repeatedly criticised OpenAI for installing safeguards that prevent ChatGPT from producing text that might offend users. Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but has since cut ties with the startup, suggested last year that OpenAI’s technology was an example of “training AI to be woke.” He’s such a plonker.
7. Hollywood 2.0: How the rise of AI tools like Runway are changing filmmaking
When making the movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, the visual effects team used artificial intelligence tools from Runway rather than human effort, because the AI was better at it. You can see the results here…
Here’s The Thing: This is an automation trend that’s running right across the movie industry, from deepfakes to AI generated scripts. Last year, South Park ran an entire show using a deepfake Donald Trump. The Late Show… uses AI almost on a daily basis to translate hours of work.
- Talking of deepfakes, read this “How I Broke Into a Bank Account With an AI-Generated Voice.”
8. Mobile World Congress 2023 kicks off in Barcelona with a focus on Metaverse
Eighty thousand people are expected to attend the annual MWC this week in Barcelona to see the latest in tomorrow’s technology, gadgets and promises of what might come next. The show is still underway as I put this week’s newsletter to bed, but what struck me from the first couple of days was the emphasis and focus on immersive technologies, aka the metaverse.
Here’s The Thing: For many, mention the word “metaverse” and they think kids, games and legless cartoon avatars. And envision a brick stuck to their face. However, that misses the point. Because there are plenty of use cases emerging in what can only be described as the industrial metaverse. I’ve written an article about it here for the Brand Strategy Collection, where I list real life examples in five different sectors of how immersive technology is being used.
- A real-life two-hour court case was held entirely in the metaverse, with a judge in Colombia holding a court hearing in Meta's Horizon Workrooms.
- Venture capitalist Sheel Mohnot and attorney Amruta Godbole got married at Taco Bell's in the virtual world of Decentraland, allowing invited guests and members of the public to take part in the festivities.
- Xiaomi shows off its new wireless AR glasses that are controlled by hand gestures (like in Minority Report.)
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9. Metaverse Fashion Week is approaching
MVFW is in its second year and is scheduled for March 28th to run for 3 days in Decentraland. The line-up has just been announced and includes a space dedicated to the late fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Through the tribute, entitled ‘Dear Vivienne’, the digital design community will pay homage to the British designer through an immersive installation that draws inspiration from her punk fashion designs.
Like last year, the virtual events will feature the virtual storefronts of major consumer brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Dundas and DKNY. Each brand will showcase their own occasions, such as exhibitions, digital product drops, art galleries and social spaces. Other notable brands attending the virtual fashion show include
- Adidas, which will host a space selling the brand’s first collection of three-striped digital apparel called “Virtual Gear”. All Virtual Gear NFT holders will receive an exclusive 3D twin of their Virtual Gear piece for their Decentraland avatar to wear inside the virtual world.
- Coach, which will be present at a newly created Fashion Plaza for emerging digital fashion opportunities, and
- Diesel, which is teaming up with HAPE to throw an interactive virtual party.
- Digital fashion mall Threedium will also be open like last year, this time hosting stores by Pinko, PwC and Clarks, which will launch a Clarks Arcade where visitors can play branded video games.
Here's The Thing: A striking part of this year’s MVFW is its emphasis on education and competitions. Augmented reality (AR) platform Over has partnered with Decentraland for a wearable design competition, for which the winners will be showcased in a hybrid runway at an event in Milan. Meanwhile, the annual Fashion Future Awards will focus on Chinese creators and Vogue Singapore will announce the winners of its From Blockchain to Love Chain digital fashion competition. The Institute of Digital Fashion will also be present, displaying an emblem highlighting the unsustainable consumption of physical fashion.
10. TikTok is banned from public service phones in the European Union and in Canada
This week, following the lead set by the United States, the European Commission told staff not to install TikTok on their phones and the Canadian government banned the app from all government-issued mobile devices. Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau saying this could just be the beginning of further action. The reason given in both cases, yet again, is fear over TikTok being used to spy by the Chinese Communist Party.
Meanwhile, in the US, the senior-most Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said he opposed a bill that would grant President Biden the power to ban TikTok. The opposition to the proposed bill by a leading Democrat shows there may not be widespread bipartisan support for Republican-led efforts to ban TikTok.
Here’s The Thing: This is inconsistent nuts. if you’re going to ban TikTok for it’s surveillance ability then surely you have to also ban Facebook, Google and Apple, to name just the big guns. The point is that they are all collecting far more data than they need in an effort to better understand what makes you tick, so they can hold onto your attention for just one second longer.
For me, a far greater concern is “content recommendations.” The opaque nature of the algorithms prevents anyone from knowing why they got what they got in their news feed. If the CCP were to want to use TikTok for anything, it would be to influence the content that Western citizens are seeing to promote whatever agenda they had. Which is not a lot different to what happened in 2016 when the Trump and Brexit campaigns masterfully used Facebook to promote their own agendas to influence an outcome.
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11. Spotify is testing a new NFT service called "token-enabled playlists”
This new feature will let holders of exclusive NFTs connect their digital wallets and listen to curated music via a gateway controlled by the NFT. A handful of NFT communities have been selected to trial the feature, including Universal Music Group’s metaverse band Kingship, gaming ecosystem Overlord, NFT character community Fluf, and Kevin Rose’s Moonbirds.
The feature will let members of those communities connect their crypto wallets, such as MetaMask, Trust Wallet, Rainbow, Ledger Live, or Zerion, to the Spotify app. From there, the NFT that unlocks the playlist will be authenticated, and they’ll be able to start listening. Holders of Kingship's key card NFTs can access a token-gated playlist featuring songs from iconic artists like Queen, Missy Elliott, Snoop Dogg, and Led Zeppelin. For now, this experience is only available to Android users in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.
Source: Spotify is testing playlists that could be unlocked by NFT holders
In Other Tech News
- It looks like the US Department of Justice will try to stop Adobe’s $20 billion acquisition of Figma. There’s no great surprise here, it’s a simple case of maintaining market competition.
- Meanwhile, the FTC has said that they will not challenge Amazon from buying the One Medical chain of health clinics. Again, no surprise here. Arguably, this deal will be great for Americans as Amazon bundle healthcare into Prime.
- And whilst we’re on the US tech reg front, there was no surprise that the FTC will take no further action to stop Meta from buying the VR fitness app, Within. The FTC’s case was blocked in court recently and that’s the end of the matter.
- The UK Post Office just announced that it was hacked so badly that it wasn’t able to send any outbound international shipping throughout February, explaining why none of my wife’s birthday cards arrived here in Spain.
- Crochet enthusiasts asked ChatGPT for patterns. The results are ‘cursed’
- Bluesky, the decentralised Twitter alternative backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has arrived on the Apple App Store as an invite-only social network.
- OnePlus will launch its first foldable smartphone later this year. This is not just any old Android mobile phone, this is a OnePlus that is a gravity-defining achievement of both low-priced and premium phone.
- Payments giant Mastercard paused crypto push amid industry meltdown. Although, **Visa**'s crypto strategy remains intact despite crypto winter. The US payment giant has denied a Reuters report that it is looking to slow down partnerships with crypto companies.
NFT Paris 2023
For the second year in a row, Paris hosted the largest NFT conference in Europe. The purpose of the event is to bring together the technical community with consumer brands to discuss the future of this nascent technology. For me, what was interesting is the level of support that even got from the French Government, a signal that France is supporting tech companies and paving their way to become a leader in the Web3 space.
Attending the event was Brigitte Macron (wife of French president Emmanuel Macron), Rima Abdul Malak (Minister of Culture), and Jean-Noël Barrot (Minister for Digital Economy).
Here’s a flavour of what happened in tweets:
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