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Joe Biden starts to campaign on AI

On May 8, Joe Biden spoke at Gateway Technical College in Racine, Wisconsin. The president was bragging.

Six years after his predecessor, Donald Trump, visited the same city to boast of Taiwanese tech company Foxconn’s $10 billion plan to bring a LCD manufacturing plant to Racine — that never materialized — Biden chose the same site for a new high-tech manufacturing project of his own. Microsoft will invest $3.3 billion to build a new data center to support artificial intelligence, a project that the company says will bring 2,000 permanent jobs and 2,300 union construction jobs to Wisconsin.

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The Humane AI Pin, an innovative wearable device that features a camera and a projector and can be worn as a chest pin or an accessory, is being exhibited at the SK Telecom pavilion during the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona, Spain, on April 2, 2024.

(Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Reuters)

Who needs an AI device?

Most AI companies are focused on software (such as chatbots and voice-cloning applications), or infrastructure (chips, cloud hosting, and data centers). The ones that have tried to build an iPhone for the AI age have … not delivered.

That makes sense. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets handle most of our digital needs. What else do we want in a platform? Aside from smartwatches and wireless headphones, people aren’t too interested in wearing tech.

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Hello? Yes. This is Scott’s AI voice speaking.

There’s a voice on the internet that sounds just like me. In a way, it is me.

ElevenLabs, a startup software company, uses artificial intelligence to simulate natural-sounding language. If you need a realistic voiceover for a television commercial, short film, or an audiobook, ElevenLabs lets you use one of the human-ish voices in its library. While this technology isn’t ready to put voice actors out of business just yet — there are some definite hiccups — the technology is surprisingly effective.

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FILE PHOTO: OpenAI logo is seen near computer motherboard in this illustration taken January 8, 2024.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Newspapers fight back, file suit against OpenAI

Eight major newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital sued ChatGPT maker OpenAI on Tuesday in federal court, alleging copyright infringement. The group includes major regional newspapers, such as the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, and the Orlando Sentinel.

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Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind Technologies and developer of AlphaGO, attends the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes, Britain, November 2, 2023.

REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool

Hard Numbers: Google’s spending spree, Going corporate, Let’s see a movie, Court-ordered AI ban, Energy demands

100 billion: AI is a priority for many of Silicon Valley’s top companies — and it’s a costly one. Google DeepMind chief Demis Hassabis said that the tech giant plans to spend more than $100 billion developing artificial intelligence. That’s the same amount that rival Microsoft is expected to spend in building an AI-powered supercomputer, nicknamed Stargate.

72.5: The free market is dominating the AI game: Of the foundation models released between 2019 and 2023, 72.5% of them originated from private industry, according to a new Staford report. 108 models were released by companies, as opposed to 28 from academia, nine from an industry-academia collaboration, and four from government. None at all were released through a collaboration between government and industry.

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The G42 logo.

Taidgh Barron/ZUMA Press Wire via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Microsoft’s big Gulf investment, Amazon’s ambitions, Mammogram-plus, Adobe pays up, Educating Don Beyer

1.5 billion: Microsoft has announced a deal to invest $1.5 billion in G42, an artificial intelligence firm based in the United Arab Emirates that recently cut ties with Chinese suppliers that had raised US security concerns. Washington and Abu Dhabi relations have been strained over the UAE’s ties to Chinese tech companies. But this deal – which grants Microsoft a minority stake in the company – could signal a new era of relations with the US.

33: Amazon is talking about artificial intelligence – like, a lot. In his recently published annual letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy mentioned AI 33 times. The company invested $4 billion in Anthropic, which makes the Claude chatbot, and will host Anthropic on Amazon Web Services. Jassy said the company wants to build AI models more so than applications (think GPT-4 instead of ChatGPT) and sell directly to enterprise clients.

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Google's Gemini home page displayed on a smartphone in a photo illustration.

Jonathan Raa/Sipa USA via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Pay for Google?, Indonesian investment, Amazon walks out on AI, Scraping YouTube

175 billion: Google said it made $175 billion in revenue from its search engine and related advertising last year, but is it ready to risk the golden goose? The company is reportedly considering charging for premium features on its search engine, including AI-assisted search (its traditional search engine would remain free). We’ve previously tested Perplexity, one of the companies trying to uproot Google’s search dominance with artificial intelligence, and you can read our review here.

200 million: The chipmaker Nvidia is teaming up with Indonesian telecom company Indosat to build a $200 million data center for artificial intelligence in the city of Surakarta, according to Indonesia’s communications minister. This news comes weeks after AI played a central role in the country’s presidential election, and it represents a major investment from one of the world’s richest tech companies in a key emerging market as Indonesia seeks to modernize its economy.

1,000: Amazon’s Just Walk Out in-store AI system for cashier-less grocery store checkout relied heavily on more than 1,000 contractors in India manually checking that the checkout transactions were accurate. Now, Amazon has announced it’s ditching the technology, which was being used in 60 Amazon-branded grocery stores and two Whole Foods stores.

1 million: One OpenAI team reportedly transcribed more than 1 million hours of YouTube videos to train its GPT-4 large language model. The company built a speech recognition tool called Whisper to handle the massive load, a move that may have violated YouTube's terms of use. YouTube parent company Google is a major rival to OpenAI in developing generative AI. Google hasn’t filed suit yet, but legal action could eventually come.

That robot sounds just like you

First, OpenAI tackled text with ChatGPT, then images with DALL-E. Next, it announced Sora, its text-to-video platform. But perhaps the most pernicious technology is what might come next: text-to-voice. Not just audio — but specific voices.

A group of OpenAI clients is reportedly testing a new tool called Voice Engine, which can mimic a person’s voice based on a 15-second recording, according to the New York Times. And from there it can translate the voice into any language.

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