IIya Sutskever, OpenAI’s Former Chief Scientist, Launches New AI Company

IIya Sutskever, one of OpenAI’s co-founders, has launched a new company, Safe Superintelligence Inc. (SSI), just one month after formerly leaving OpenAI, TechCrunch reported.

Sutskever, who was OpenAI’s longtime chief scientist, founded SSI with former Y Combinator partner Daniel Gross and ex-OpenAI engineer Daniel Levy.

At OpenAI, Sutskever was intregral to the company’s efforts to improve AI safety with the rise of AI systems “superintelligent”AI systems, an area he worked on alongside Jan Leake, who co-led OpenAI’s Superalignment team. Yet both Sutskever and then Leigh left the company dramatically in May after falling out with leadership at OpenAI over how to approach AI safety. Leike now heads a team at rival AI shop Anthropic.

Sutskiver has been shining a light on the thornier aspects of AI safety for a long time now. In a blog post published in 2023, Sutskever, writing with Leike, predicted that AI with intelligence exceeding that of humans could arrive within the decade — and that when it does, it won’t necessarily be benevolent, necessitating research into ways to control and restrict it.

Iyla Sutskiever, Daniel Gross, and Daniel Levy posted  the following on June 19, 2024:

Safe Superintelligence Inc.

Building safe super intelligence (SSI) is the most important technical problem of our time.

We have started the world’s first straight-shot SSI lab, with one goal and one product: a safe super intelligence.

It is called Safe Superintelligence Inc.

SSI is our mission, our name, and our entire product roadmap, because it is our sole focus. Our team, investors, and business model are all aligned to achieve SSI.

We approach safety and capabilities in tandem, as technical problems to be solved through revolutionary engineering and scientific breakthroughs. We plan to advance capabilities as fast as possible while making sure our safety always remains ahead.

This way, we can scale in peace.

Our singular focus means no distraction by management overhead or product cycles, and our business model means safety, security, and progress are all insulated from short-term commercial pressures.

We are an American company with offices in Palo Alto and Tel Aviv, where we have deep roots and the ability to recruit top technical talent.

We are assembling a lean, cracked team of the world’s best engineers and researchers dedicated to focusing on SSI and nothing else.

If that’s you, we offer an opportunity to do your life’s work and help solve the most important technical challenge of our age.

Now is the time. Join us.

The Verge reported: Last year, Sutskever led the push to oust OpenAI Sam Altman. Sutskever left OpenAI in May and hinted at the start of a new project. Shortly after Sutskever’s departure, AI researcher Jan Leike announced his resignation from OpenAI, citing safety processes that have “taken a backseat to shiny products.” Gretchen Krueger, a policy researcher at OpenAI, also mentioned safety concerns when announcing her departure.

In my opinion, it sounds like some of the people who were working on OpenAI have decided to create an entirely new company. Whether that decision was done out of frustration, or because they wanted to branch out on their own, it appears they are looking for other people to join them.

U.S. Sues Adobe For “Deceiving” Subscriptions That are Too Hard To Cancel

The US government is suing Adobe for allegedly hiding expensive fees and making it difficult to cancel a subscription. In the complaint filed on Monday, the Department of Justice claims Adobe “has harmed consumers by enrolling them in its default, most lucrative subscription plan without clearly disclosing important plan terms,” The Verge reported.

The lawsuit alleges Adobe “hides” the terms of its annual, paid monthly plan in the “fine print and behind optional textboxes and hyperlinks.: In doing so, the company failed to properly disclose the early termination fee incurred upon cancellation “that can amount to hundreds of dollars,” the complaint says.

When customers do attempt to cancel, the DOJ alleges that Adobe requires them to go through an “onerous and complicated” cancellation process that involves navigating through multiple webpages and pop-ups. It then allegedly “ambushes” customers with an early termination fee, which may discourage them from cancelling.

Customers encounter similar obstacles when attempting to cancel their subscriptions over the phone or via live chats, the DOJ alleges. The complaint claims “subscribers have had their calls or chats either dropped or disconnected and have had to re-explain their reason for calling when they re-connect.” The lawsuit alleges that these practices break federal laws designed to protect consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission posted:“FTC Takes Action Against Adobe and Executive for Hiding Fees, Preventing Consumers from Easily Cancelling Software Subscriptions”

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against software maker Adobe and two of its executives, Maninder Sawhney and David Wadhwani, for deceiving consumers by hiding the early termination fee for its most popular subscription plan and making it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions.

A federal court filed by the Department of Justice upon notification and referral from the FTC charges that Adobe pushed consumers toward the “annual paid monthly” subscription without adequately disclosing that cancelling the plan in the first year could cost hundreds of dollars. Wadhwani is the president of Adobe’s digital media business, and Sawhney is an Adobe vice president.

According to the complaint, when consumers purchase a subscription through the company’s website, Adobe pushes customers to its “annual paid monthly” subscription plan, pre-selecting it as a default. Adobe prominently shows the plan’s “monthly” cost during enrollment, but it buries the early termination fee (ETF) and its amount, which is 50 percent of the remaining monthly payments when a consumer cancels in their first year. Adobe’s ETF disclosures are buried on the company’s website in small print or require consumers to hover over small icons to find the disclosures.

Adobe posted: “Adobe’s statement Regarding Federal Trade Commission Complaint”

“Subscription services are convenient flexible and cost effective to allow users to choose the plan that best fits their needs, timeline, and budget. Our priority is to always ensure our customers have a positive experience. We are transparent with the terms and conditions of our subscription agreements and have a simple cancellation process. We will refute the FTC’s claims in court.” – Dana Rao, General Counsel and Chief Trust Officer.

In my opinion, if your company is being targeted by the FTC, it is because the FTC is aware that your company is not treating its customers well. Adobe needs to do better than that.

US Congress Pushes for DJI Drone Ban Amid CCP Spying Concerns #1748

DJI, a major drone manufacturer, may soon face a ban in the US as the Countering CCP Drones Act progresses through Congress. This bill, driven by concerns about Chinese Communist Party spying, aims to limit Chinese-built technology in the US market. DJI, holding 70% of the US drone market, has been recognized for its superior technology and innovation. However, the US government is pushing to open the market for domestic drone companies by targeting DJI. The bill’s passage could significantly impact the drone industry, given the lack of comparable US-made alternatives.

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Apple’s Slow Rollout Of Intelligence Features Will Stretch Into 2025

Apple will gradually roll out its new Intelligence features over several months, seeking to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued other AI systems. When it comes to Apple Inc’s new artificial intelligence offerings, the company is taking it slow, Bloomberg reported.

The Apple Intelligence service — unveiled to much fanfare last week – won’t become available for developers to try out until later this summer. That means it isn’t part of the first beta releases of iOS 18, iPadOS, and macOS Sequoia. And when the software ultimately launches in the fall, it will arrive as a preview, signaling to users that it’s not quite ready for prime time. It will only work on a subset of Apple’s devices and only in American English. In some cases, users may even have to join a waitlist to use features.

The keynote presentation at last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference also didn’t reflect the exact features that will be arriving in the fall. Instead, Apple essentially gave a road map of what’s coming in late 2024 and the first half of 2025.

The rollout strategy marks an important shift for Apple. For years, the company unveiled features at WWDC for release in the fall, but they sometimes ultimately had to delay features. This time around, Apple is telegraphing to users — via its website, online presentations and briefings with journalists — that its latest technology won’t follow a strict timeline.

Engadget reported: Just how thin can a Macbook get? According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple’s mission is to make the thinnest product ever won’t stop at the iPadPro – the company also has plans for a skinnier Macbbook Pro, Apple Watch, and, as The Information also reported last month, iPhone.

Engadget also reported that Gurman says he too has been told the slimmed-down iPhone could come as early as 2025 with the introduction of the iPhone 17 line. There’s no timeline yet on the rest of the products named in the report. The upcoming thin iPhone is expected to be pricier than the current iPhone Pro Max, and have a screen sized somewhere between that of the Pro Max and the standard iPhone.

Apple Insider reported although iOS 18 will be arriving in the fall as usual, many Apple intelligence features are on a slower rollout schedule. 

Users should expect only a handful of the many features unveiled as part of Apple Intelligence to be available when the new updates arrive. Even those that are available on release day will be noted as “previews,” with further features arriving late in 2024 or as late as early 2025.

To be clear, a number of the main AI features highlighted in the WWDC presentation are likely to be available in the initial OS updates this fall. This would include prioritizing notifications, and the ability to summarize long texts, emails, and webpages.

Also scheduled to be available as of the official release will be Genmoji image generation and Grammerly-like writing improvement tools. Transcription capabilities already seen in the Podcasts app now will spread to other voice recordings, and voicemail transcription will be improved.

In my opinion, it might be a good thing for Apple to slowly roll out new features. Doing so could give the company time to make changes to things that need more work.

Meta Pauses AI Models Launch In Europe Due To Irish Request

Meta Platforms will not launch its Meta AI models in Europe for now after the Irish privacy regulator told it to delay its plan to harness data from Facebook and Instagram users, the U.S. social media company said on Friday, Reuters reported.

The move by Meta came after complaints and a call by advocacy group NYOB to data protection authorities in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Spain to act against the company.

At issue is Meta’s plan to use personal data to train its artificial intelligence (AI) models without seeking consent, although the company has said it would use publicly available and licensed online information.

Meta on Friday said the Irish privacy watchdog had asked it to delay training its large language models (LLM’s) using public content shared by Facebook and Instagram adult users.

“We’re disappointed by the request from the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), our lead regulator, on behalf of the European DPAs … particularly since we incorporated regulatory feedback and the European DPAs have been informed since March,” the company said in an updated blogpost.

The Irish Data Protection Commission wrote:

The DPC’s Engagement with Meta On AI

The DPC welcomes the decision by Meta to pause its plans to train its large language model using public content shared by adults on Facebook and Instagram across the EU/EEA. This decision followed intensive engagement between the DPC and Meta. The DPC, in co-operation with its fellow EU data protection authorities, will continue to engage with Meta on the issue.

The Verge reported Meta is putting plans for its AI assistant on hold in Europe after receiving objections from Ireland’s privacy regulator, the company announced on Friday.

In a blog post, Meta said the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) asked the company to delay training its large language models on content that had been publicly posted to Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Meta said it is “disappointed” by the request, “particularly since we incorporated regulatory feedback and the European [Data Protection Authorities] have been informed since March,” Per the Irish Independent. Meta had recently begun notifying European users that it would collect their data and offered an opt-out option in an attempt to comply with European privacy laws.

According to The Verge, Meta said it will “continue to work collaboratively with the DCP.” But its blog post says that Google and OpenAI have “already used data from Europeans to train AI” and claims that if regulators don’t let it use users’ information to train its models, Meta can only deliver an inferior product.

“Put simply, without including local information we’d only be able to offer people a second-rate experience. This means we aren’t able to launch Meta AI in Europe at the moment.”

In my opinion, I don’t think it should be legal for companies (like Meta and others) to scrape data off of social media platforms and feed it to their AI. It will never be ok to scrape other people’s posts – unless Meta pays a significant amount of money to the users they are stealing from.

GDPR vs Google: Privacy Sandbox Under Fire #1747

Privacy campaigner noyb has filed a GDPR complaint against Google’s Privacy Sandbox, alleging it results in unwanted tracking. Despite being introduced to eliminate third-party cookies, the Privacy Sandbox tracks users within the browser. Noyb claims Google’s implementation lacks informed consent and misleads users into enabling first-party tracking under the guise of privacy protection. Google’s stance is that their Privacy Sandbox APIs offer significant privacy improvements, but the issue has drawn regulatory attention and criticism.

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WhatsApp Adds New Features To The Calling Experience

WhatsApp updated the video calling experience across devices on Thursday by introducing screen sharing with audio support and a new speaker spotlight feature.  It’s also increasing the limit for video call participants to up to 32 people, TechCrunch reported.

In August last year, WhatsApp introduced screen sharing for video calls. The instant messaging app has now enhanced that experience by enabling support to share audio alongside your screen. This will let you watch videos with your contacts on a WhatsApp call.

The other significant update that WhatsApp has made to its video calling is the expanded limit, which allows users to have up to 32 people on a single video call across devices. Before this update, WhatsApp had a 32-participant limit on mobile devices, while users on Windows and macOS could add up to 16 and 8 participants, respectively.

WhatsApp posted the following on its blog:

Since we brought Calling to WhatsApp back in 2015, we’ve continued to improve it with the introduction of group calls, video calls, and multi-platform support.

Today, we have several updates that will make calls across your devices even bigger and better, rolling out over the next few weeks:

Screen sharing with audio: Ideal for watching videos together, now when you share your screen, you can share your audio too.

More participants: Now you can have up to 32 people on a video call across all your devices.

Speaker spotlight: Easily see who’s talking with the speaker automatically highlighted and appearing first on the screen.

We also remain relentlessly focused on audio and video quality, for clearer calls no matter where you are. We recently launched Low codec which improves call reliability. Calls made on mobile devices benefit from improved noise and echo cancellation, making it easier to have calls in noisy environments, and video calls have higher resolution for those with faster connections. 

Engadget reported WhatsApp is upgrading its video-calling chops. The Meta-owned platform is enhancing its calls with a new screen-sharing feature, a higher participant count and a speaker spotlight to try and make the platform a more viable competitor to Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet.

Screen sharing could be handy for watching videos together, sharing content that isn’t easily sharable or troubleshooting your parents’ devices. It also allows for audio sharing, so you can easily chat with others while looking at their screen.

WhatsApp also expanded its participant count to 32 people on video calls. The new cap applies to all platforms. It’s a significant boost from the previous limit of eight people, first rolled out in 2020 as pandemic lockdowns kicked into full gear.

In my opinion, the WhatsApp update that can include 32 people might be good for those who want to speak with family members or close friends. That said, having 32 people to talk with at the same time might be chaotic for some.