(#49) Open AI's ongoing corporate thriller; Microsoft wins the AI B2B; Uber tries new things, and trends for market platforms
SpaceX weighs spinning off Starlink via IPO as soon as 2024
In a startling turn of events, OpenAI, a key player in the AI world, finds itself in the throes of a boardroom drama that reads like a corporate thriller. The non-profit foundation that controls OpenAI made a bold move last Friday by dismissing its CEO, Sam Altman, citing a lack of transparency in his dealings with the board. This decision, shrouded in ambiguity and devoid of clear ethical violations, has sent ripples through the AI community.
But the plot thickens.
Onto the update:
Open AI’s ongoing drama (as of Wednesday, 22 Nov)
So, is this the greatest (free) marketing campaign of all time? As of today, 22 Nov 2023, it seems that Sam Altman, Open’s AI CEO, has returned to the company. There are many questions:
1/ You can’t fire a person, especially the CEO, on some whims and no solid proofs
2/ Open AI has a really weird structure:
3/ Some board members are not that independent.
4/ Microsoft invested close to $10 bn in Open AI is weird that they found the firing from the internet. Why they don’t have a board member, at least? Or being consulted, at least.
Microsoft’s Ignite 2023 Conference
Here are the most six important takeaways from the event:
1/ Rebranding of Bing Chat Enterprise to Copilot. The updated Copilot will offer enhanced capabilities, including data protection for commercial data used within the chatbot for organizations using Microsoft’s Entra cloud-based identity management service.
2/ Expansion of Copilot across Microsoft products. Microsoft is expanding the Copilot feature across various products, including Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, GitHub, Viva, Service, and Sales. Each version of Copilot is tailored to specific functions, such as assisting contact center agents or helping sales staff prepare for customer meetings.
3/ Copilot for System Administrators. Copilot will also be available for system administrators, with an upcoming update adding Copilot to the Edge for Business management interface. This will assist admins with policies and extension recommendations for the workplace browser.
4/ New Features in Copilot for Microsoft 365. Copilot is set to receive new features, such as the ability to summarize meeting transcripts, organize notes on a whiteboard, and interactively engage with meeting notes post-meeting. It will also support plugins and connectors from third-party vendors.
5/ Introduction of Copilot Studio, a tool for creating and customizing additional copilots. It will offer access to Azure features, including speech recognition and sentiment analysis, and integration with Power Platform connectors and Power Automate workflows.
6/ Work trend index findings on Copilot Usage. The Microsoft Work Trend Index revealed positive feedback from early Copilot users, with 70% reporting increased productivity and 77% expressing reluctance to give it up. Users found information 27% faster and caught up on missed meetings almost four times faster with Copilot. LINK
One main conclusion: Microsoft is probably the best-positioned company to take advantage of the AI revolution in the B2B environment.
Uber as a household service
Uber is testing a service that lets you hire drivers for household tasks. Somebody realized that most of a driver’s activity happens between 8 - 10 AM, 12 - 2 PM, and 5 - 7 PM (during weekdays). Most of the time being idle, drivers need something to do and to generate revenue. Probably there are also other services and market platforms for that, but it’s worth trying it. LINK
EVs and better batteries
Northvolt, a Swedish company, has announced this week a breakthrough in battery technology:
“Northvolt today announced a state-of-the-art sodium-ion battery, developed for the expansion of cost-efficient and sustainable energy storage systems worldwide. The cell has been validated for a best-in-class energy density of over 160 watt-hours per kilogram at the company’s R&D and industrialization campus, Northvolt Labs, in Västerås, Sweden.
Northvolt’s validated cell is more safe, cost-effective, and sustainable than conventional nickel, manganese and cobalt (NMC) or iron phosphate (LFP) chemistries and is produced with minerals such as iron and sodium that are abundant on global markets. It is based on a hard carbon anode and a Prussian White-based cathode, and is free from lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite. Leveraging a breakthrough in battery design and manufacturing, Northvolt plans to be the first to industrialize Prussian White-based batteries and bring them to commercial markets.” LINK
This is another reason to be optimistic about the future considering the bad parts of lithium-ion batteries: cost, aging, temperature sensitivity, safety, environmental impact, limited resources, transportation restrictions, charge and discharge rates, maintenance, and others.
Succession at The Estée Lauder
Have the family members seen the HBO Original? Because their succession might end badly. Things are not going according to the plan for the company. From luck of innovation to lack of vision, it seems somebody needs some help. LINK
CEO vs CFO priorities
1/ Growth focus shifts between years
2/ Cost management gains emphasis for CEOs
3/ Technology and workforce stability
4/ Environmental sustainability is not a top priority
5/ Differences in operational focus
Five trends for 2024 from the MIT Platform report
1/ The integration of artificial intelligence
2/ The growth of circular platforms
3/ Varied platform regulations
4/ Connected manufacturing
5/ The increasing power of influencers and the creator economy. LINK
Every time I travel, I make it a point to purchase print magazines, though I'm acutely aware that in the next 5 to 10 years, many of these publications may cease to exist.
The reality is that even the kiosks selling them seem to earn more from selling sandwiches and drinks rather than from magazines and newspapers. This change is largely due to the internet revolutionizing our information consumption, which I believe is for the better.
In this context, I view ChatGPT as akin to the Model T of AI: a pioneering innovation that's setting the stage for future developments in the field. Just as the Model T transformed the automotive industry, ChatGPT is reshaping our interaction with technology and information.
12 must-reads for 12 months of gen AI breakthroughs, by McKinsey. LINK
How does Stable Diffusion work? LINK
Forward diffusion of a cat image. (Source: stable-diffusion-art.com)
AI personal assistant
Fabric introduced an AI-powered workspace and home for all your information “so you can use it in a Dropbox-esque way,”, said one of their software developers. LINK
Bill Gates has another blog on “AI is about to completely change how you use computers”. Basically, every one of us will have a personal AI assistant in 5 years. LINK
How cancer-linked ‘forever chemicals’ got inside everyone. LINK
Innovation has kept the world's biggest cranberry business afloat. LINK
OpenAI’s Board approached Anthropic about a merger. LINK
Cocktails are sandwiches now. LINK
SpaceX weighs spinning off Starlink via IPO as soon as 2024, although Elon denies it. LINK
The end of China’s economic miracle
Those reading this newsletter probably know by now that I’m pessimistic about China’s future. Here are 10 reasons why:
1/ Aging population
2/ Debt burden
3/ Economic decoupling
4/ Technological stagnation
5/ Environmental challenges
6/ Political and social unrest
7/ Overreliance on real estate
8/ Inefficient state-owned enterprises
9/ Regulatory uncertainties
10/ Global economic shifts. LINK
2024 investment management outlook, by Deloitte. LINK
Robots to outnumber people 15:1 at UPS’s new warehouse. LINK
Binance's Zhao ‘CZ’ pleads guilty, steps down, and accepts a personal fine (besides the one got by the company - ie. $4.3 bn). It is clear by now that there is an ongoing purge against the entities dealing with crypto. Why? Mainly regulation. LINK
Only six people in the world have ever beaten this level in Super Mario. LINK
The stealthy sailboat-submarine drones. LINK
You probably know 611 people. LINK
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