Weekly AI Briefing #23

Sam Altman's "Sacking", Apple's move into AI + Aaron Levie's bullish view on AI

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Another week and another drama for Sam Altman and OpenAI with former board member, Helen Toner, dishing up some (questionably accurate) dirt on Sam and more detail on his sacking last November.

Toner remains resolute that her and OpenAI’s board did right in firing Altman last year and that he has form in being fired, most notably from Y Combinator. To set the record straight, Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, tweeted that the claim was bogus and that he, with his wife Jessica, simply asked Altman to pick between OpenAI and YC.

One of the more interesting things to come out of this tell-all, however, is Toner’s claim that the board found out about ChatGPT from Twitter - probably not best-practice board management from Sam.

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Quick Sync

OpenAI said it has recently started training its “next frontier model” that it expects will deliver the “next level of capabilities” on its mission to build artificial general intelligence (AGI). OpenAI did not indicate when this model will be released and training AI systems can take months and even years. FT

Elon Musk's AI startup, xAI, raised US$6 billion in a Series B funding round that included some of Musk’s favourites: Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding. Fortune

Amazon is struggling to maintain its leadership in AI despite significant investments. AWS's growth has slowed and it's falling behind competitors like Microsoft and Google. CEO Andy Jassy and new AWS leader Matt Garman are focusing on enhancing generative AI capabilities and revitalising Alexa, but have they squandered their early lead? Spyglass

OpenAI launched its US$175 million startup fund focused on early-stage startups. OpenAI

Apple held talks with both Google and OpenAI about integrating their chatbots into iOS 18, but it looks like OpenAI won out. The pair plan to announce the news at Apple’s developer conference, WWDC. The Information

Speaking of Apple, new research shows it leads big tech in acquisitions with 30+ AI startup purchases over the last decade. Google comes in second place with 21 acquisitions. CB Insights

Source: CB Insights

One last thing (about Apple) according to sources of The Information, as part of its upcoming AI roll out, Apple intends to process data from AI applications inside a virtual black box. The concept, known as "Apple Chips in Data Centers" (ACDC) internally, would involve only Apple's hardware being used to perform AI processing in the cloud. Apple Insider

Google announced new AI-powered features for its Chromebook Plus line of devices, such as a writing assistant, a wallpaper creator and easy access to Google’s Gemini chatbot. TechCrunch

The European Union has taken the wraps off the structure of the new AI Office, the ecosystem-building and oversight body that’s being established under the bloc’s AI Act. European Commission


Source: The Information

Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud-content provider, Box, on why he is “insanely bullish on AI”. In short, because traditionally only 10% of company data is structured and easily managed, AI now allows us to interact with 90% of unstructured data and turn it into a valuable resource. X

The Economist on how big tech’s capex splurge may be irrationally exuberant. The Economist

A nuanced and informative opinion piece by Tyler Austin Harper on the “big AI risk nobody is seeing” - in short, tech companies are racing to build AI products that replace what it is to be human. Another way of saying what we’ve always said - that AI is best used to augment how we work, not to do our work for us. The Atlantic, Superficial Blog

Industry Insights

ChatGPT is by far the most widely recognised generative AI product, however frequent use is rare, with just 1% using it on a daily basis in Japan, rising to 2% in France and the UK, and 7% in the USA. Many of those who say they have used generative AI have used it just once or twice, and it is yet to become part of people’s routine internet use. AI, like any new technology, succeeds only when users know how and when to use it best - which is why we put so much effort into how we deploy our agents. Reuters Institute

A very well maintained tracker of AI partnership deals, like that between OpenAI and NewsCorp. Link

AI Adoption

PwC becomes OpenAI’s largest customer and first reseller, aiming to roll out ChatGPT to over 100,000 internal staff. PwC

Asset managers are increasingly using artificial intelligence to guide investment decisions, track the habits of portfolio managers and identify moneymaking opportunities. FT

Longer Reads (& Listens)

A thorough report by McKinsey on the State of AI in Early 2024. Some great insights but probably the most interesting thing - we’re now writing reports in half-year increments such is the pace of AI. McKinsey

Workers want more say in AI use in workplaces. RN Breakfast

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