Meta Tests Image-Generating Social Chatbot on Its Platforms

Meta is testing a new large language chatbot, Meta AI, on social platforms in parts of India and Africa. The chatbot was introduced in late 2023, and began testing on U.S. WhatApp users in March. The test is expanding to include more territories and the addition of Instagram and Facebook Messenger. India is reported to be Meta’s largest social market, with more than 500 million Facebook and WhatsApp users, and has big implications as the company scales up its AI plans to compete against OpenAI and others. The Meta AI chatbot answers questions and generates photorealistic images. Continue reading Meta Tests Image-Generating Social Chatbot on Its Platforms

U.S. and UK Form Partnership to Accelerate AI Safety Testing

The United States has entered into an agreement with the United Kingdom to collaboratively develop safety tests for the most advanced AI models. The memorandum of understanding aims at evaluating the societal and national defense risks posed by advanced models. Coming after commitments made at the AI Safety Summit in November, the deal is being described as the world’s first bilateral agreement on AI safety. The agreement, signed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and UK Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, envisions the countries “working to align their scientific approaches” and to accelerate evaluations for AI models, systems and agents. Continue reading U.S. and UK Form Partnership to Accelerate AI Safety Testing

OpenAI Voice Cloning Tool Needs Only a 15-Second Sample

OpenAI has debuted a new text-to-voice generation platform called Voice Engine, available in limited access. Voice Engine can generate a synthetic voice from a 15-second clip of someone’s voice. The synthetic voice can then read a provided text, even translating to other languages. For now, only a handful of companies are using the tech under a strict usage policy as OpenAI grapples with the potential for misuse. “These small scale deployments are helping to inform our approach, safeguards, and thinking about how Voice Engine could be used for good across various industries,” OpenAI explained. Continue reading OpenAI Voice Cloning Tool Needs Only a 15-Second Sample

Spotify Testing Paid Subscription Learning Courses in the UK

Spotify is launching a test for video-based learning courses in the United Kingdom. Users are invited to test two-free classes before deciding whether to subscribe to a course series, studying topics from DJing to Microsoft Excel. The company has partnered on content with educational tech companies BBC Maestro, PLAYvirtuoso, Skillshare and Thinkific on series averaging $25 to $100 per course (£20 to £80). Topics are organized into four main categories: make music, get creative, learn business and healthy living. Pricing is the same for premium and free members. No word on when the test might expand beyond the UK. Continue reading Spotify Testing Paid Subscription Learning Courses in the UK

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla Team on Speedometer 3.0

The Apple WebKit team introduced the initial version of the Speedometer benchmark in 2014. Since then, it has become an industry-wide tool for gauging browser optimization and performance, even as some stakeholders complained that having been developed in the Apple ecosystem, it could not help but exhibit systemic biases that favored Safari. So, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla joined Apple to create Speedometer 3.0, “a new governance benchmark” that aims for neutrality across the architectures used by Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla’s Firefox. Continue reading Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla Team on Speedometer 3.0

TikTok Tests Feature Designed to Streamline In-App Shopping

In its continuing effort to expand in-app shopping activity, TikTok is testing an option to allow users to automatically identify products in their uploads — a march toward making all objects shoppable. The test lets select users toggle to “Identify Similar Objects” within a video. When activated, the AI-powered ISO highlights matching products that can be purchased in-app. TikTok has been exploring the feature for deployment in the United States this past year. TikTok parent ByteDance has for some time been using the in-stream shopping feature in the platform’s Chinese sister platform, Douyin. Continue reading TikTok Tests Feature Designed to Streamline In-App Shopping

TikTok Tests a Feature That Tags Videos with Shopping Details

TikTok is testing a feature designed to make all posts shoppable as it goes all-in on creating what the company hopes will be a multi-billion-dollar U.S. e-commerce business. The new technology uses machine learning to identify objects in a video then prompts viewers to “find similar items on TikTok Shop” using links and in-app search. The ByteDance-owned social platform is also reportedly planning to launch multiple live-streaming studios in cities including Los Angeles where creators can go to stream shopping-themed content. The facilities are expected to be able to host multiple studios servicing dozens of creators per day. Continue reading TikTok Tests a Feature That Tags Videos with Shopping Details

YouTube TV Expands NBA League Pass Choices in Multiview

To the appreciation, if not delight, of sports fans, Google is allowing YouTube TV subscribers to exercise more choice in what games to watch in their multiview windows. YouTube TV offers the option of watching up to four different sporting or news events simultaneously on a single screen. However, it doesn’t allow endless free choice, but presents combination options. Users complained and Google responded by serving up more multiview combinations to choose from, but stopped short of generating customizable multiplex streaming feeds for each user. Continue reading YouTube TV Expands NBA League Pass Choices in Multiview

YouTube Premium Testing GenAI Tools for Long-Form Video

YouTube is testing artificial intelligence features with YouTube viewing Premium customers and the long-form video experience. Paid subscribers on mobile platforms who opt-in can participate in the two experimental tests for AI-assisted functions that include help with the comments section and a chatbot tool that lets viewers get answers to questions about videos and recommendations for related content. To help viewers “dive deeper into content” without interrupting playback, a conversational “Ask” icon will appear beneath videos in progress, inviting questions or letting viewers select suggested prompts. Responses include answers and related content recommendations. Continue reading YouTube Premium Testing GenAI Tools for Long-Form Video

X to Launch Paid Tiers in Next Move Toward ‘Everything App’

Elon Musk’s X social media service will soon launch two new monthly subscription tiers, a $16 X Premium+ plan with no ads, and a budget-priced $3 option with “most” of the same features “but no reduction in ads.” Musk had for some months been discussing new paid subscription options as part of an effort to fight spam and bots on the platform. In November, the company began offering an $8 monthly X Premium subscription (formerly Twitter Blue) that includes blue check verification and the promise of some boosted post exposure. Musk is also envisioning a digital wallet with financial services, business applications to compete with LinkedIn, and a news wire service. Continue reading X to Launch Paid Tiers in Next Move Toward ‘Everything App’

Amazon Introduces New Robots to Improve Fulfillment Speed

Amazon now has more than 750,000 robots that relieve warehouse employees from some intensely repetitive tasks. Just in time for the holiday shopping rush, the company is adding a new robotic technology, Sequoia, which is already operating at a fulfillment center in Houston, Texas. Amazon says Sequoia is a complete “reimagining” of how inventory is stored and managed, resulting in a 75 percent improvement in how inventory is identified and housed, and also improves employee safety. Amazon is also expanding its robot workforce with the addition of a bipedal robot called Digit, from Agility Robotics. Continue reading Amazon Introduces New Robots to Improve Fulfillment Speed

YouTube Shorts Adds Creator Tools Including Collab and Q&A

More than 2 billion logged-in users around the world are watching YouTube Shorts each month. To help creators keep them engaged, YouTube is releasing six new tools to improve creativity. Assists for remixing, adding stickers and effects, going live and more are coming to the platform, which has also begun testing a mobile-first live experience designed to help live creators get noticed in the main Shorts feed. One unusual new feature, Collab, lets creators display a Short in a side-by-side frame with other YouTube or Shorts videos. Collab lets users select from a variety of split-screen layout options. It will debut on iOS with Android to follow.  Continue reading YouTube Shorts Adds Creator Tools Including Collab and Q&A

Twitter Community Notes Aim to Curb Impact of Fake Images

Twitter is emphasizing crowdsourced moderation. The launch of Community Notes for images in posts seeks to address instances where morphed or AI-generated images are posted. The idea is to expose altered content before it goes viral, as did the image of Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga puffy coat in March and the fake image of an explosion at the Pentagon in May. Twitter says Community Notes about an image will appear with “recent and future” posts containing the graphic in question. Currently in the test phase, the feature works with tweets featuring a single image. Continue reading Twitter Community Notes Aim to Curb Impact of Fake Images

TikTok Embraces AI with Tako Chatbot, Now in Limited Tests

TikTok is floating a trial balloon of its own AI chatbot, named Tako, now testing in select markets. Tako invites users to ask questions about TikTok videos and is also designed to help with discovery and recommendations. Tako’s public testing was first reported by Israeli app intelligence firm Watchful. TikTok subsequently confirmed testing in the Philippines and said Tako tests were live in some other global markets, but said the chatbot is not yet deployed in the United States. Unlike Microsoft’s Bing Chat, Google’s Bard and Snap’s My AI, Tako seems hyperfocused on TikTok content. Continue reading TikTok Embraces AI with Tako Chatbot, Now in Limited Tests

Baidu Rushes Ernie Launch to Meet China’s Chatbot Demand

China’s Baidu is racing to meet the March 16 deadline to debut Ernie Bot, which it hopes will be the Eastern equivalent to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Teams have been working around the clock. In addition to programming duties, staff has been reaching out to borrow compute time on high-powered processors that Chinese companies can no longer purchase at their discretion due to U.S. sanctions. Ernie is still being trained ahead of its highly anticipated launch. Baidu intends to roll out its chatbot in stages, first to a limited pool of public users who can provide test feedback, observers say. Continue reading Baidu Rushes Ernie Launch to Meet China’s Chatbot Demand