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  • Amazon's $100B bet, OpenAI's legal woes, and robots deployed in retail

Amazon's $100B bet, OpenAI's legal woes, and robots deployed in retail

Plus NVIDIA gets into trouble in France

Silicon Valley's New Power Player: The Scale AI Story

Alexandr Wang, the 27-year-old co-founder and CEO of Scale AI, has rapidly ascended to the upper echelons of Silicon Valley through a combination of technical prowess, business acumen, and strategic networking. Growing up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Wang excelled in academic competitions before dropping out of MIT to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. He co-founded Scale AI in 2016, initially focusing on data labeling for autonomous vehicle companies before pivoting to defense contracts and generative AI services. Under Wang's leadership, Scale AI has grown dramatically, projecting $1 billion in sales for 2024 and reaching a valuation of $13.8 billion. Despite his success, Wang has become a polarizing figure in tech circles due to his ambitious nature, some controversial business practices, and his penchant for high-profile social events. As Scale AI continues to expand in the competitive AI industry, Wang faces challenges including diversifying the company's customer base, improving corporate governance, and addressing concerns about data quality and contractor treatment..

  • French Antitrust Regulators Preparing Nvidia Charges, Sources Say - French antitrust regulators are preparing charges against Nvidia for alleged anti-competitive practices in the graphics card market, sources indicate. The investigation focuses on whether Nvidia abused its dominant position to stifle competition. This move follows increased scrutiny of tech giants in Europe. Nvidia has yet to comment on the potential charges. The outcome could have significant implications for Nvidia's operations and the broader tech industry.

  • Amazon, Built by Retail, Invests in Its AI Future - Amazon plans to invest over $100 billion in data centers over the next decade, shifting focus from its retail warehouses to cloud computing and AI infrastructure. This surge in investment is driven by the growing demand for AI, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) expanding rapidly to meet this need. Despite being the largest online retailer, Amazon's AI ambitions are set to become a critical growth pillar. This strategic pivot underscores Amazon's commitment to leading in AI and cloud computing technologies.

  • Amazon Is Investigating Perplexity Over Claims of Scraping Abuse - Amazon Web Services (AWS) is probing Perplexity AI for potentially breaching its rules by scraping content from websites against their wishes. AWS confirmed the investigation following a WIRED report, which revealed that Perplexity, valued at $3 billion and backed by Jeff Bezos's family fund and Nvidia, might be extracting data from sites that utilize the Robots Exclusion Protocol to block such actions. Perplexity's AI search chatbot has been implicated in scraping and plagiarism activities. AWS requires adherence to the robots.txt standard, which Perplexity allegedly violated by using an AWS-hosted server to crawl forbidden sites. Perplexity's CEO offered responses that obfuscated the identity of a third-party crawler, and the company's spokesperson later claimed standard procedure and adherence to AWS terms, except in rare user-triggered instances. Digital Content Next, a trade association, contends that Perplexity's practices may be violating digital content principles.

  • Meta changes its label from 'Made with AI' to 'AI info' to indicate use of AI in photos - Meta is rebranding its photo labeling from "Made with AI" to "AI Info" following user feedback about confusion over AI involvement in photo editing. The new label aims to better indicate that a photo may use AI-powered tools rather than being entirely AI-generated. The underlying technology for detecting AI use remains unchanged, relying on technical metadata. This adjustment seeks to provide clearer context for users and aligns more closely with their expectations.

  • The Center for Investigative Reporting is suing OpenAI and Microsoft - The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIF) is initiating legal proceedings against Microsoft and OpenAI for purported copyright infringement. CIF, along with The New York Times and several other media entities, accuses the tech firms of unauthorized use of their journalistic content to enhance AI products without permission or compensation. CIR asserts that this conduct is not only unfair but also undermines the value of journalists' work, disrupting revenue and reader relationships. The legal confrontation builds on the actions of other publishers and authors, underlining a growing challenge to OpenAI and Microsoft's operations involving journalistic content. OpenAI has commented on the collaboration with the news industry, while Microsoft and OpenAI have not immediately responded to the lawsuit.

  • Robinhood snaps up Pluto to add AI tools to its investing app - Robinhood has acquired AI-powered research platform Pluto Capital, Inc. to enhance its investment app with advanced AI features. Pluto's technology will help Robinhood users quickly identify market trends, optimize portfolios, and receive personalized investment recommendations. Pluto founder Jacob Sansbury will join Robinhood to accelerate AI integration, utilizing large language models to process real-time financial data. This acquisition aims to democratize access to sophisticated financial tools, offering users improved investment strategies and real-time updates.

  • What, if anything, is AI search good for? - Google's AI Overviews feature and the technology by AI search startup Perplexity faced significant setbacks, as Google mistakenly proposed absurd solutions to user queries, and Perplexity was accused of plagiarizing content. AI's inability to differentiate between reliable and unreliable information sources, referred to as the "hallucination problem," has proved to be a fundamental challenge undermining its trustworthiness. Critics, including publishers and music labels, have expressed their concerns about AI infringing on copyrights. While generative AI was anticipated to revolutionize web searches, experts now suggest that traditional search methods will remain necessary, as AI has yet to achieve the reliability and discernment required to entirely supplant conventional search engines.

  • Apple stock is thriving thanks to AI. Will it last? - Apple has experienced a remarkable turnaround in 2024 with marked improvements in its stock performance following the launch of its AI initiative, "Apple Intelligence," at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10. The company's stock has climbed 13% since last month and 24% over three months. Analysts are optimistic, forecasting Apple to reach a $4 trillion market cap, propelled by expectations of dominance in AI-powered smartphones and bridging alliances with AI leaders like OpenAI and Google. However, skepticism looms regarding the sustainability of Apple's momentum, considering the palpable AI bubble risks, potential privacy issues, competitive threats from Google's AI advancements, and the timeline for AI-driven financial returns.

  • Agility’s humanoid robots are now working for Spanx - Agility Robotics, supported by Amazon, is integrating its humanoid robots, known as Digit, into the workforce at a Georgia Spanx factory for logistics tasks. GXO Logistics, impressed by a trial run, has deployed a small fleet of Digit robots to transfer tote boxes onto conveyors. The specific number of robots is undisclosed but is evidently modest. Meanwhile, Amazon has doubled its fleet of Digits, finding them beneficial for safer and faster operations. Tesla’s humanoid robot, Optimus, is also making waves in the industry, with plans to deploy a significant number by next year, focusing on automating repetitive tasks and purportedly enhancing job quality for humans.

  • A new index is using AI tools to measure U.S. economic growth in a broader way - Zeta Global Holdings, led by CEO David A. Steinberg, has introduced the Zeta Economic Index, an AI-powered tool designed to assess the U.S. economy's health and stability. It operates by analyzing a vast array of consumer behavior signals across eight sectors, such as automotive, dining, financial services, and retail sales. The index provides predictive insights, aiming to offer a 30-day preview of economic trends, supplementing traditional data with unique transactional and behavioral details from 240 million Americans. Initial readings in June presented an "active" economy at 66 and a "stable" status at 66.1, suggesting positive economic conditions.

  • China AI Startups Head to Singapore in Bid for Global Growth - Chinese AI startups are relocating to Singapore for better access to global investors, advanced technologies, and a business-friendly environment. Driven by geopolitical tensions and US trade sanctions, these companies aim to bypass restrictions on sophisticated tech and avoid regulatory challenges in China. Singapore offers easier access to capital, supportive government policies, and a stable political climate, making it an attractive hub for AI entrepreneurs seeking global expansion.

  • Amazon Hires Top Executives from AI Startup Adept for AGI Team - Amazon has hired key executives and team members from Adept AI Labs, including co-founder and former CEO David Luan, to enhance its artificial general intelligence (AGI) initiatives. This move aims to leverage Adept's technology in developing autonomous AI tools to improve Amazon's software workflows. Adept will continue operating independently with a focus on product development, while Luan and his team will integrate into Amazon's AGI autonomy team, led by Rohit Prasad. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

  • OpenAI Hires Zapier Revenue Chief to Lead Sales Strategy - OpenAI has appointed Giancarlo Lionetti, former chief revenue officer at Zapier, to lead its sales strategy. This move comes as OpenAI's enterprise software sales have surged. Lionetti, with prior roles at Atlassian, Confluent, and Dropbox, joins amid significant growth in OpenAI's sales team, which has expanded from 10 to 200 members in the past year. The company recently hired a CFO and CPO to enhance its focus on both consumer and enterprise products. OpenAI's business AI sales have outpaced Microsoft's similar offerings.

  • Apple’s Devices Are Lasting Longer, Making AI Strategy Even More Critical - As Apple's hardware innovation pace slows, the company is focusing on AI and software to drive growth. Apple's devices are designed to last longer, reducing the need for frequent upgrades. This shift necessitates leveraging AI capabilities, such as Apple Intelligence, to attract users to newer models. The company aims to enhance its AI features and potentially monetize them through subscriptions, similar to iCloud. This strategic pivot towards AI and services is crucial for sustaining Apple's revenue amidst declining hardware sales.

Awesome Research Papers

  • Mitigating Skeleton Key, a new type of generative AI jailbreak technique | Microsoft Security Blog - The blog discusses a type of generative AI attack called "Skeleton Key," where attackers use multi-turn strategies to make AI models ignore their safeguard guardrails. Once compromised, models can't discern between regular and malicious requests. Microsoft has observed that Skeleton Key affects several generative AI models and has shared its findings with other providers. To combat this, Microsoft has updated the large language models powering their services, including Copilot AI, with Prompt Shields and other measures. They provide guidance on mitigation, such as input filtering, precise system messaging, output filtering, and abuse monitoring. Microsoft advises customers to employ these strategies in their AI deployments and offers tools on Azure to assist in defending against such jailbreak attacks.

  • Scaling Synthetic Data Creation with 1,000,000,000 Personas - The proposed methodology introduces a persona-driven approach for synthesizing diverse data using a large language model (LLM). A massive collection termed Persona Hub has been created, containing 1 billion unique personas sourced from the web, representing approximately 13% of the global population. These personas, functioning as knowledge carriers, enable the generation of varied synthetic data across different contexts. The utility of Persona Hub is demonstrated through its application in generating quality mathematical and logical problems, user prompts, knowledgeable texts, game non-player characters (NPCs), and tools. This technique shows promise for significantly advancing the field of synthetic data generation, with implications for LLM research and development.

  • TextGrad: AutoGrad for Text - TextGrad is an innovative system designed for optimizing complex AI models through automatic differentiation via text, akin to backpropagation in deep learning. It employs a PyTorch-like API to streamline the use of large language models (LLMs) in various real-world problems. TextGrad allows for the automatic improvement of "reason step by step" prompts, providing textual feedback to earlier components within a system to fine-tune their functionality. It has demonstrated efficacy in multiple domains, such as improving PhD-level question answering performance and solving difficult programming problems on platforms like LeetCode. Moreover, it has shown promise in scientific applications including drug discovery and radiotherapy treatment planning, by integrating LLMs with domain-specific computational tools. The researchers behind TextGrad suggest that it represents a significant tool for training AI systems as the field evolves beyond individual models towards optimizing integrated, compound systems.

Baidu unveils Ernie 4.0 Turbo in a ‘significant upgrade’ to its AI chatbot - Baidu Inc. introduced an enhanced AI model, Ernie 4.0 Turbo, building on the former Ernie 4.0 and boasting a user base of 300 million. The model enhances performance with quicker responses and improved reasoning. A mobile version of the chatbot gained over 1 million users within its first day, indicating rapid adoption. Following this, Baidu released PaddlePaddle 3.0, an AI framework supporting 14 million developers and aiding in the creation of 950,000 AI models. This development is especially timely given OpenAI's recent decision to restrict API access from China, prompting Chinese firms like Baidu to attract local developers to their AI platforms.

RouteLLM: An Open-Source Framework for Cost-Effective LLM Routing - RouteLLM is a systematic approach to LLM routing intended to optimize for cost-effectiveness without sacrificing response quality. It relies on a dual-model system, routing simpler queries to less capable, cheaper models and complex queries to more advanced, expensive models like GPT-4. This framework is based on preference data, and enhancements have been made through data augmentation techniques. Four types of routers were trained and evaluated on benchmarks like MT Bench and MMLU, achieving significant cost reductions (up to 85%) while maintaining up to 95% of GPT-4's performance. The approach generalizes to various model pairs without retraining. RouteLLM's implementation, the learned routers, and datasets have been released on GitHub and HuggingFace, presenting a scalable and more cost-efficient alternative to commercial LLM routing solutions.

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