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Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Facebook introduced an AI text-to-speech system (TTS) that produces a second of audio in 500 milliseconds. According to Facebook, the system, which is used with a new approach to data collection, powered the creation of a British accent-inflected voice in six months, versus over a year required for other voices. The TTS is now used for Facebook’s Portal smart display brand. The system can be hosted in real time via ordinary processors and is also available as a service for other apps, including Facebook’s VR. Read more

Executive Spotlight: A Talk With Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.

For the third week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview leaders from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had an opportunity to speak with Tony Driscoll, SVP of emerging technology strategy & data services at Warner Bros. Technology. Previously with AT&T, Driscoll is currently responsible for his studio’s strategies involving emerging trends and tech-driven innovation opportunities. He also works in close coordination with the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab. Warner Bros. has been using various technologies for remote collaboration since the offices began closing due to the pandemic in early 2020. We caught up with Tony at his home office. Read more

Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

At Microsoft’s Build 2020 developer conference, the company debuted a supercomputer built in collaboration with, and exclusively for, OpenAI on Azure. It’s the result of an agreement whereby Microsoft would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to develop new technologies for Microsoft Azure and extend AI capabilities. OpenAI agreed to license some of its IP to Microsoft, which would then sell to partners as well as train and run AI models on Azure. Microsoft stated that the supercomputer is the fifth most powerful in the world. Read more

Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

Marc Andreessen and other Silicon Valley venture capitalists are behind Clubhouse, an audio-based social media app that allows them to meet virtually. Still in beta, the invite-only app counts celebrity MC Hammer and activist DeRay Mckesson among its first members. According to sources, Andreessen Horowitz also beat out other venture firms to invest in Clubhouse, agreeing to infuse $10 million and pay $2 million to buy shares from the app’s existing shareholders. With the financing, Clubhouse is now valued at almost $100 million. Read more

E-Commerce: Facebook Reveals AI-Powered Shops Feature

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced updates to Shops, a new version of an existing Facebook feature that lets retailers upload product catalogs to their Facebook page or Instagram profile. Users can access Shops on the retailer’s page or, by clicking on an ad, will land on the retailer’s Facebook-located Shop. Zuckerberg stated that Shops will eventually be available on Messenger and WhatsApp as well. The company relies on several AI systems, including GrokNet, which can “segment, detect and classify images.” Read more

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