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Apple Cancels Work on Electric Car, Shifts Team to Generative AI

OpenAI claims New York Times paid someone to 'hack' ChatGPT

In today’s email:

  • 💸 Tumblr and WordPress to Sell Users’ Data to Train AI Tools

  • 👥 Klarna says its AI assistant does the work of 700 people after it laid off 700 people

  • 📟 This tool uses Raspberry Pi and AI to block noisy neighbors’ music by hacking nearby Bluetooth speakers

  • 🧰 12 new AI-powered tools and resources. Make sure to check the online version for the full list of tools.

Top News

Apple Inc. has decided to cancel its decade-long effort to develop an electric car, a project known internally as Titan. The decision was announced internally by Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Vice President Kevin Lynch, shocking the nearly 2,000 employees involved. The company plans to shift many of these employees to its artificial intelligence division to work on generative AI projects, under the leadership of executive John Giannandrea. This marks the end of one of Apple's most ambitious projects, which aimed at producing a fully autonomous electric vehicle with advanced features such as a limousine-like interior and voice-guided navigation.

The project, which began around 2014, faced numerous challenges, including leadership changes and strategic shifts. Despite years of effort and significant investment, Apple struggled with the development of self-driving technology and the design of the vehicle. The company had even tested its system on public roads using Lexus SUVs and conducted secretive tests on a large track in Phoenix. However, facing a cooling market for electric vehicles and internal concerns over profitability and feasibility, Apple's senior executives decided to wind down the project, moving towards a focus on generative AI and other technological areas.

The cancellation of the electric car project reflects a strategic pivot for Apple, emphasizing the potential long-term profitability of AI over entering the competitive and capital-intensive automotive industry. This decision aligns with broader industry trends, as automakers adjust their strategies in response to changing demand and challenges in the electric vehicle market. Apple's move away from automotive manufacturing to concentrate on AI and its existing products, like the newly launched Vision Pro headset and the enhancement of its CarPlay software, signals the company's ongoing commitment to innovation and its ability to adapt to evolving market dynamics.

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Tumblr and WordPress are on the brink of finalizing deals to provide user data to AI firms OpenAI and Midjourney, as reported by 404 Media. Automattic, the parent company of both platforms, allegedly prepared to include sensitive data not intended for the deal, such as private posts and content from suspended or deleted blogs. An internal Tumblr post highlighted concerns over the inclusion of this private or partner-related content, prompting a review of what data should have been excluded. Automattic has since responded, stating that only public content from those who haven't opted out will be shared, emphasizing their commitment to user control and opt-out preferences.

In response to privacy concerns, Automattic announced the development of a new opt-out tool, designed to allow users to prevent their data from being used in AI training by third-party crawlers. This tool is part of Automattic's effort to ensure that users have control over their data, with the company planning to regularly inform AI partners of any new opt-outs, requesting the removal of content from future training datasets. Automattic's AI head, Andrew Spittle, emphasized the company's intention to advocate for the exclusion of past content based on current user preferences, expressing confidence that AI partners would comply with these requests.

The evolving landscape of AI data training has positioned website user data as a valuable asset, with companies like Google and Reddit also entering agreements to leverage user-generated content for AI development. Automattic's move to strike deals with AI companies highlights the growing importance of such data in enhancing AI models, while also underlining the challenges and responsibilities of managing user privacy and consent in the digital age.

OpenAI has countered a lawsuit from The New York Times Company, which accused the AI organization and its supporter Microsoft of scraping NYT articles to train its language models, a move alleged to circumvent the newspaper's paywall. OpenAI's defense claims the evidence presented by the NYT involves the newspaper engaging in extensive efforts to "hack" ChatGPT, using deceptive prompts to extract content verbatim from the articles, an act OpenAI insists violates its terms of use. The company also refuted the idea that its products are used to bypass paywalls, stating such a use case is not feasible in practical scenarios.

The dispute has sparked discussions on the ethical and legal implications of AI's use of copyrighted material for training purposes, with OpenAI arguing that the instances of verbatim text generation cited by the NYT required tens of thousands of attempts, suggesting a deliberate attempt to exploit a bug in their system. OpenAI's legal team has asked the court to dismiss the case, emphasizing their commitment to addressing any exploited vulnerabilities and denying the misuse of NYT's copyrighted works.

On the other side, the NYT's legal representation has dismissed OpenAI's hacking allegations as "bizarre," arguing that their actions were aimed at uncovering evidence of copyright infringement by OpenAI. The case highlights concerns over AI's consumption of copyrighted content and the measures companies take to monitor and control user interactions with their models. The unfolding legal battle may set precedents for how AI companies use copyrighted material in training their algorithms and the responsibilities they bear in preventing misuse of their technologies.

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