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Apr 20, 2023 20 min read

🕙 Wiser! Tech: what's happening in tech 21/4/23

The news, insights and information you need to know about.

🕙 Wiser! Tech: what's happening in tech 21/4/23
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w/AI


AutoGPT is all the rage

AutoGPT is exploding in popularity. It’s an AI-powered tool that supercharges GPT-4 by fully automating workflows. AutoGPT is a self-prompting agent that can manipulate files, browse the web, and complete tasks on your TODO list. It is flexible, remembers previous responses, and is open-source. AutoGPT is a major stepping stone towards full automation and AGI.

Developers have used AutoGPT to:

Play with it here.


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The AI Dilemma

“50% of AI researchers believe there’s a 10% or greater chance that humans go extinct from our inability to control AI” - Tristan Harris, The AI Dilemma

You should watch this. I’m a big fan of Tristan Harris and the way he explains the ethical issues from our growing use of technology. In this presentation, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin make sense of how generative AI works, discuss its capabilities and pose some of the catastrophic risks that AI pose to a functional society.

The issue they get to is that tech companies are now caught up in a race to build and deploy as quickly as possible, but without adequate safety measures or any sense of where this is headed and the consequences (intended or unintended).

Here’s The Thing: some of the biggest threats from AI to humanity include:

  • AI systems surpassing human intelligence and control
  • The use of AI in autonomous weapons and warfare
  • AI systems being used for malicious purposes, such as cyber attacks or deepfakes
  • AI systems perpetuating and amplifying biases and discrimination
  • Job displacement and economic inequality caused by automation
  • AI systems being used for surveillance and loss of privacy

And we (humanity, society, Linkedin readers) have no idea where this rapid, unprecedented race to deploy AI is going to land. Or if any of these threats will ever materialise. Without any guardrails in place, it’s possible that some or all of them could.

So, where do you stand on this? Are you with those who are calling for a slowing down, even a pause, in AI development whilst we take stock. Or on the Sam Altman side of the argument, putting AI out there to see what happens?

Watch it The AI Dilemma here:


Click here...

w/BigTech


Google’s AI search engine 🚂

Google is developing an AI-enhanced search engine called Magi that will offer a more personalised search experience using a conversational approach and learning from previous searches. Google is also working on several other AI tools, including a Duolingo competitor, an AI image generator, and a Chrome chatbot. This push to integrate AI with search comes after Microsoft integrated ChatGPT into Bing and Samsung announced that it may make Bing the default search provider on its phones.

According to a report by The New York Times, Google will be releasing new AI-powered search tools next month, with even more features to come in the fall. The new features will be available exclusively in the US, and will initially be released to a maximum of one million users. The tools are being developed under the codename "Magi," and it's not yet clear exactly what they will offer, but they will likely build on the conversational promise of Google's experimental Bard chatbot.

These new tools are part of Google's efforts to meet the threat posed by new systems like Microsoft's Bing chatbot and OpenAI's ChatGPT, which many believe could one day replace traditional search engines like Google. However, the report suggests that Google's position is so threatened that Samsung is considering replacing Google with Bing as the default search engine on its mobile devices. This deal is worth an estimated $3 billion in annual revenue to Google, though it's not clear how seriously Samsung is considering the switch.

In addition to the Magi project, Google is also planning a more radical rebuild of its search engine. However, there's "no clear timetable on when it will release the new search technology," according to the report.

Google is reportedly also developing a range of other AI tools, including an AI image generator called GIFI, a language learning system called Tivoli Tutor, and a feature called Searchalong that would integrate a chatbot into Google's Chrome browser to answer questions related to the current web page.

This is all very similar to Microsoft's Bing AI sidebar for its Edge browser, which I’ve been using for a few weeks now. I’m impressed with Edge as a browser and it feels fresh and responsive compared to the Brave browser I’ve used for years.

Here’s The Thing: the Bing AI search is only a cosmetic layer on the search engine. It gives the appearance of being the oracle of wisdom, but all it is doing is using AI to read and summarise the web search results for you. The top page returned is still the top page returned. How the page at the top of the search results is picked is still opaque.

Which means that the answer Bing AI gives you may not be the best answer for you. Having said that, it’s a darn sight easier to read the AI summary inside the search engine than have to open a page and read the ling version yourself.

Source: The Verge


w/BigTech


Google to deploy generative AI to create sophisticated ad campaigns

Google's plan to introduce generative artificial intelligence into its advertising business over the coming months is a move that could revolutionise the industry. The technology will allow the tech giant to create novel advertisements based on materials produced by human marketers, including imagery, video, and text. By using generative AI, the company aims to create more sophisticated campaigns resembling those created by marketing agencies. The company has called generative AI a "world of creativity" in its internal presentation titled "AI-powered ads 2023."

The integration of Google's latest generative AI, which powers its Bard chatbot, will enable it to produce far more sophisticated campaigns. However, concerns have been raised that text produced by AI chatbots has the potential to spread misinformation. Google has acknowledged these concerns and plans to put firm guardrails in place to prevent such errors, known as "hallucinations," when rolling out its new generative AI features in the coming months.

The AI will remix the material supplied by advertisers to generate ads based on the audience it aims to reach, as well as other goals such as sales targets. This will allow Google to create highly targeted and personalised ads that are more effective at converting new customers. The technology will be integrated into Performance Max, a program Google has offered since 2020. The program uses an algorithm to determine where its ads should run and how marketing budgets should be spent, as well as producing simple ad copy. The program has already been successful in helping businesses control costs and increase revenue.

The advertising industry is facing significant headwinds, as businesses seek to control costs and increased restrictions on using personal data for marketing purposes. Google's advertising revenue slipped 4% in the final quarter of last year, leaving its parent company, Alphabet, with overall revenue growth of just 1%. The largest social media platforms, which rely on advertising for the majority of their revenues, are racing to use the latest automation technologies to draw in clients.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, launched a similar offering to Performance Max last year called Advantage+. It also plans to use generative AI in its ads systems by the end of the year. The competition between tech giants to capitalise on generative AI has swept to prominence in recent months by creating highly sophisticated material such as text and images in response to human inputs.

In summary, Google's deployment of generative AI in its advertising business is a significant move that could change the industry for good. The technology will allow the company to create highly targeted and personalised ads that are more effective at converting new customers. However, there are concerns about the spread of misinformation, and Google has acknowledged these concerns by planning to put guardrails in place to prevent such errors. The technology will be integrated into Performance Max, a successful program that has already helped businesses control costs and increase revenue. Other tech giants, such as Meta, are also racing to use the latest automation technologies to draw in clients.

Source: FT

Further Reading


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Apple launch the Savings Account as they take one step closer to being a bank

Apple are one step closer to being a bank. The latest product is the Apple Savings Account, which has been added to the tech giant's growing lineup of financial products. These include Apple Pay, Apple Card, and Apple Pay Later.

In classic Apple fashion, they’ve designed the experience around the customer, with the sign-up process being quick and easy, taking less than a minute to set up the account on the user’s iPhone. Once setup, Apple users can seamlessly transfer their Apple Cash balance, deposit additional funds from linked bank accounts, and start earning interest right away.

The key takeaways from the Apple Savings Account are:

  • You have to have an iPhone. The savings account is only available to Apple Card holders through the Apple Wallet, with no minimum balance or monthly fees. You can earn a whopping 4.15% APY, and the maximum balance limit is $250,000.
  • The account is backed by Goldman Sachs and insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000.
  • Daily Cash earned through purchases is automatically deposited into the account, and you can deposit additional funds from linked bank accounts or Apple Cash balance.

Here’s The Thing: for a generation that has become accustomed to digital currencies like Apple Cash, Robux, and Acorns, traditional bank accounts may seem outdated. However, with the Apple Savings Account offering a higher APY than most American banks, it's a smart choice for those looking to earn more on their savings.

It's possible that Apple will add more features to the savings account in the future, such as purchase rounding and extending the account to those under 18, similar to Apple Card Family. Only time will tell.



w/AI


Seven Leaders in Generative AI

1/ Midjourney: working on what are arguably the best text-to-image tools shaking up the creative industry. Currently at version five. Founded 2021. Valued at $1 billion+. 11-50 employees.

2/ HuggingFace: AI community promoting open source contributions. Acts as a hub of models for Natural Language Processing, computer vision, and other AI fields. Used by 5k+ orgs. Founded 2016. Valued at $2 billion. 51-200 employees.

3/ Cohere: building secure LLMs for developers and big companies. Powering Spotify, HyperWrite, etc. Founded 2019. Valued at $6 billion. 51-200 employees.

4/ Eleuther: non-profit AI research group following in OpenAI’s footsteps, building LLMs and training text-to-image tools. Founded 2020 from a Discord group. Valuation unknown. 36 employees.

5/ Stability AI: creators of Stable Diffusion. Working on breakthrough AI models for text-to-image tools, language, code, and video. Founded 2019. Valued at $4 billion. 100 employees.

6/ Anthropic: AI research company building reliable and easily steerable AI systems. Creators of ChatGPT competitor Claude. Working on deep learning research and LLMs. Founded 2021. Valued at $5 billion. 100 employees.

7/ OpenAI: private research lab currently leading the AI movement. Creators of DALL-E & ChatGPT. Founded 2015. Valued at $29 billion. 375 employees.

(source: BotEatsBrain - daily AI newsletter)

P.S. this made me laugh...


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Porsche steps up Metaverse collaboration with Microsoft

Porsche Cars North America has announced a collaboration with Microsoft to use HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365 Guides to "revolutionise skilling, training, and customer experiences". Microsoft revealed the collaboration ahead of Hannover Messe 2023, along with the news that Windows 11 will be coming to HoloLens 2, and that Dynamics 365 Guides will have new features.

Porsche Cars North America is using Microsoft technology to drive its cloud transformation initiatives, which aims to improve the efficiency and consistency of the company's automotive services in the US. Windows 11 will be a free upgrade to HoloLens 2 in H1 of this calendar year as part of Microsoft's strategic commitment to HoloLens 2, mixed reality, and the industrial metaverse.

Microsoft says 3D drawings don't need to be attached to a machine or surface, so users can apply them anywhere, providing more flexibility when illustrating complex processes to frontline workers in the field. Microsoft maintains that the industrial metaverse is revolutionising industries. Cutting-edge technologies like cloud and edge computing, digital twins, and machine learning simulations are enabling organizations to better understand, predict, and interact with the physical world.

Industries ranging from manufacturing to healthcare are embracing new capabilities such as remote collaboration, 3D visualisation, and AI-based predictions to reap the benefits. Mixed reality is at the forefront of this technological revolution, helping organisations bring together digital information and physical systems in innovative ways. HoloLens 2, a Microsoft industrial metaverse technology, delivers immersive experiences that enable real-time collaboration and empower frontline workers.


w/NFTs


Starbucks’ NFT loyalty programme is the gift that keeps on giving

It seems like Starbucks are close to taking their NFT loyalty rewards scheme out of beta and into full blown production. Starbucks sent an email to Odyssey beta testers on Monday, with the subject line, "We're Getting Closer," suggesting an upcoming public rollout. Basically, the scheme works like this: you buy coffee from Starbucks and earn NFTs as a reward on the app. One of these free NFTS was recently sold for $2k, indicating that the value of Starbucks’ collectibles can transcend from physical mugs to digital tokens.

And that enthusiasm has translated into the digital realm, with the company reporting "unprecedented demand" for the mobile app. When Starbucks dropped a separate NFT collection back in March, it sold out at $100 a piece and is now averaging $690 on the secondary markets.

Here’s The Thing: the more users there are earning NFTs, then the more NFTs will be circulating and traded. And the more NFTs are traded, the more royalties Starbucks will earn…because unlike in the physical world, every time there’s a secondary sale of a Starbucks collectibale NFT, the coffee chain receives a fee (as well as retaining a direct relationship with the new owner.)

All for something that cost them almost $0 to make and they can give away for free to encourage more in-store purchases. It’s the customer engagement gift that keeps on giving!

Starbucks expand loyalty program with NFTs
Starbucks has one of the largest and most successful customer loyalty programs on the planet, driving around 50% of its business. The latest strategy is to expand customer engagement with NFTs directly into the Rewards program.

Learn how consumer brands are using emerging technologies to build new and loyal customer engagement and create new markets.

w/Web3


Don’t call the latest NFT Collection from Nike a collection of NFTs

Nike has launched a new range of virtual sneakers called Our Force 1, which are quickly becoming popular with collectors. The sneakers, which celebrate 50 years of Nike design, do not exist physically, but are part of a digital collection that harks back to the company's inception and that wild 1970s Nike manifesto. Interestingly, Nike is not accepting cryptocurrency as payment for its Our Force 1 digital sneakers, which are priced at $19.82 and will be stored in a wallet secured to Nike's platform, so they cannot be traded elsewhere. Nike is not calling these digital sneakers NFTs, although they sure sound like Web3 shenanigans to us. If this works, expect more brands to launch 'non-NFT' collections.

The Our Force 1 launch comes in two parts, the Classic Remix sneaker boxes with designs from 1982 to 2006, and the New Wave boxes that mimic designs from 2007 onwards. The launch is about bragging rights and collectability, with fans excitedly waiting for the drop and Nike anticipating around 330,000 people signed up.

In February, Nike announced that four Our Force 1 designs created by its community will be included in the NFT drop. Nike designers worked closely with these fans to bring them to virtual life. Nike's previous CryptoKicks NFT collection, created by RTFKT, connected NFT sneakers to limited real-life editions that soared in value to around $14,000.

Ron Faris, GM of Nike Virtual Studios, said in a press release: "We are exploring new ways to tell stories and create relationships while removing the barriers and limitations of physical products. With more members choosing to express themselves across physical and digital worlds, .Swoosh is the marketplace of the future."

If you're interested in the Our Force 1 digital sneakers, they will be available at Swoosh. Don't call them NFTs, though.

Source: Creative Bloq


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In Other Tech News

  • Microsoft is removing Twitter from the company's social media management tool. That tool lets people draft and schedule their tweets alongside content for other social media platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn.
  • The U.S. House Financial Services Committee recently published a draft of new crypto legislation. Proposals include pausing stablecoins backed by other cryptocurrencies and commissioning a study on the impact of U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC).
  • FalconX, an institutional crypto trading platform, will launch a bot to help crypto investors who use its platform. The bot, named Satoshi, will be powered by ChatGPT.
  • AI’s first hit song, featuring fake versions of Drake and The Weeknd, has been removed from streaming services after it racked up 600k Spotify plays and 15 million views on TikTok.
  • Amazon Fashion is leveraging Snapchat’s augmented reality Shopping Lenses to enable the app’s users to virtually try-on thousands of eyewear brands and styles available from the Amazon Fashion store, per details shared with Marketing Dive. Snapchatters will also be able to purchase and share their glasses across the platform. Brands on Amazon can leverage their Amazon AR assets to showcase styles to Snapchat users. The eyewear activation is the first virtual try-on experience to come out of a growing partnership between Amazon and Snapchat parent Snap, as the companies noted they plan to expand into additional verticals in the future.
  • Snapchat is introducing AR Lenses powered by generative AI, the company announced at its Snap Partner Summit today. To start, the platform is rolling out a new “Cosmic Lens” that turns you and your surroundings into an immersive, animated sci-fi scene.
  • Walmart is working on tech that can hyper-inspect your groceries. The company filed a patent for automated food selection using “hyperspectral sensing,” which essentially uses special imaging to select the freshest produce for your online orders without using human labor.
  • The man-child known as Elon Musk of Twitter has just threatened to sue Microsoft by replying to this tweet, accusing Microsoft of illegally using Twitter's data to train its AI model. The threat follows reports of Microsoft dropping Twitter from its advertising platform. Remember, that he said that same of Substack a week back, accusing them of downloading Twitter data. To date, there has been no evidence or explanation as to how any third party could do a mega-download of Twitter data.
  • Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in an interview Wednesday that a ban of TikTok, as some U.S. lawmakers have proposed, would benefit his company, which operates the photo-messaging app Snap. Spiegel was answering questions from journalist Kara Swisher at a Snap developer’s conference in Santa Monica, Calif. Wednesday. In answer to Swisher’s question about a potential TikTok ban, Spiegel said “we’d love that.” He later conceded a ban would raise longer-term concerns about singling out one technology company with regulations, but said, “in the short term, that is something that would help us out.”
  • Mercari, the secondhand goods marketplace, has debuted Merchat AI, a shopping assistant that uses the artificial intelligence software ChatGPT. With Merchat AI, shoppers can ask the chatbot questions regarding the products they want, such as “What should I buy my mom for Mother’s Day?” or “Find me a large turquoise ombre tumbler.” From there, they can select the product recommendations the chatbot provides or ask for more options, according to the announcement.
  • Men’s Wearhouse unveiled Wedding Wingman, a digital tool that helps grooms and groomsmen pick their wedding attire, according to a company press release. After answering questions, the tool recommends wedding looks based on the results. Options then can be saved to a virtual closet, and shoppers can schedule an in-store appointment to get fitted by a consultant. The tool also allows grooms track whether the groomsmen participating in their wedding party have obtained their outfits and reminds those who haven’t done so.
  • Fashion brands Gucci and Vans have launched a scavenger hunt between their two worlds on Roblox, the first time two fashion brands of that size have done so. “Gucci Town x Vans World” will allow users to navigate obstacles and explore both digital spaces. The collaboration demonstrates how brands can drive engagement with digital spaces and how metaverse platforms can work toward interoperability in a way that could increase adoption.
  • Apple has opened its first retail store in India this week, 25 years after Apple first entered the Asian markets. The first retail store opened in Mumbai with plans to open another one in New Delhi this week. This is important for Apple as it is expanding its manufacturing capacity in India to produce 25% of all iPhones by 2025. Apple has exported more than $5 billion worth of smartphones from India in the last financial year. However, the challenge for Apple is that its products and services are still relatively very expensive in India compared to other markets, and Android dominates the smartphone market with 97% share.
  • The metaverse is no place for kids, according to a group of more than 70 advocates for children's rights and online privacy. Those concerned are asking Facebook's parent company, Meta, to abandon its plans to attract young teens onto its Horizon Worlds metaverse platform because, they say, doing so will likely expose minors to sexually explicit and homophobic content.
  • Australia now has more Bitcoin ATMs than all of Asia.
  • Unlike most celebrity promoters, Taylor Swift did perform her due diligence on FTX.

Further Reading

Duolingo’s use of GPT4 for personalised customer experience
🔐 Premium: At Duolingo, humans and AI work together to create a high-quality learning experience. Human experts design the course curriculum and raw content, while AI algorithms, and now GPT-4, create interactive exercises and personalise the learning experience for customers.
Stable Diffusion copywrite issues are a legal minefield
🔐 Premium: The copyright lawsuits against Stable Diffusion are a complex challenge for the AI industry. The courts have never ruled on the copyright implications of generative AI, and the outcome of these lawsuits could have far-reaching consequences for the entire industry.
Ikea are using drones to improve efficiency and cost costs
Ikea is leading the way in inventory management and supply chains with autonomous drones to scan and count inventory. This article examines Ikea’s use of drones for supply chain optimisation and the benefits of using drones for inventory management.
The US won’t ban TikTok like China has
🔐 Premium: Will the USA ban TikTok? I don’t think so. For all their bluff and bluster, posturing and prodding, the US Gov is not going to ban the app that half of America spends more time on than the res of social media combined.
Unlocking the potential of Metaverse for Real Estate Brand Strategy
Leveraging the metaverse for real estate brand strategy can be a powerful tool to help agents create immersive and interactive experiences for potential customers. Learn how real estate agents are using the emerging technology of the metaverse to create a successful brand strategy.
7 AI Creation Tools To Save Time and Be More Productive
The widespread use of generative AI has exploded in 2022. First, with the release of GPT-3, followed by DALL-E and Stable Diffusions, there are now countless content creation and productivity tools utilising AI. Here are 7 AI tools I use the most.
Wiser! Top 10 Technology Predictions 2023
From 2023 being the year of AI to NFTs becoming a tech for customer engagement, from Elon Musk walking away from Twitter empty-handed to Meta pivoting again, these are my Top 10 Wiser! Technology Predictions for 2023.

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