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Tech Giants investing bn in startups due to generative AI FOMO

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Due to regulatory challenges, tech giants have reduced their acquisition activities but are still pouring billions into promising ventures. Amazon’s recent $2.75 billion investment in AI startup Anthropic exemplifies this trend, showcasing the ongoing rush towards AI investments among major tech players. Anthropic is the developer behind the AI model Claude, which competes with GPT from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, and Google’s Gemini. Along with Meta and Apple, they’re all racing to integrate generative AI into their vast portfolios of products and features to ensure they don’t fall behind in a market that’s predicted to top $1 billion in revenue within a decade.

In 2023, investors pumped $29.1 billion combined into nearly 700 generative AI deals, an increase of more than 260% in value from the prior year, according to PitchBook. A significant chunk of that money was strategic, in that it came from tech companies rather than venture capitalists or other institutions. Fred Havemeyer, head of U.S. AI and software research at Macquarie, said a fear of missing out is one factor driving their decisions.

“They definitely don’t want to miss out on being part of the AI ecosystem,” Havemeyer said. “I definitely think that there’s FOMO in this marketplace.” The hefty investments are necessary because AI models are notoriously expensive to build and train, requiring thousands of specialized chips that, to date, have largely come from Nvidia. Meta, which is developing its own model called Llama, has said it’s spending billions on Nvidia’s graphics processing units, one of the many companies that’s helped the chipmaker bolster year-over-year revenue by more than 250%.

Whether going the building or investing route, there are a finite number of companies that can afford to play in the market. In addition to developing the chips, Nvidia has emerged as one of Silicon Valley’s top investors, taking stakes in a number of emerging AI companies, partly as a way to make sure its technology gets widely deployed. Similarly, Microsoft, Google and Amazon sometimes offer cloud credits as part of their investments. In the Amazon-Anthropic deal announced on Wednesday, the two companies said they’ll work closely together in a variety of ways.

Anthropic will be using Amazon Web Services for its computing needs as well as Amazon’s chips. Anthropic’s models will be distributed by Amazon to AWS customers. Earlier this month, Anthropic launched Claude 3, its most powerful model and one that it says lets users upload photos, charts, documents and other types of unstructured data for analysis and answers.

Microsoft got into the business of generative AI investing earlier, putting $1 billion into OpenAI in 2019. The size of its investment has since swelled to about $13 billion. Microsoft heavily uses OpenAI’s model and offers open source models on its Azure cloud. Alphabet is playing the part of builder and investor. The company has refocused much of its product development on generative AI, and its newly rebranded Gemini model, adding features into search, documents, maps and elsewhere. Last year, Google committed to invest $2 billion in Anthropic, after previously confirming it had taken a 10% stake in the startup alongside a large cloud contract between the two companies.

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Huge discounts on ACs, refrigerators, coolers & fansp: Flipkartannual sale

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Flipkart on Tuesday announced its annual week-long summer sale starting from April 17 to April 23, 2024, offering a wide selection of cooling.

Flipkart has announced the 6th edition of Super Cooling Days 2024, a week-long annual sale event offering exciting deals on cooling home appliances. The sale, scheduled from April 17 to April 23, 2024, aims to provide customers with a wide range of products at affordable prices to combat the intense summer heat. Super Cooling Days 2024 will showcase an extensive selection of cooling appliances, including Air Conditioners (ACs), Refrigerators, Air coolers, and Fans from leading brands such as Samsung, LG, Whirlpool, Haier, Godrej, and IFB.

The sale will feature India’s biggest refrigerator store, offering various types of refrigerators with the latest technology and prices ranging from Rs 9,990 to Rs 2,00,000. ACs starting from Rs 25,000 In the AC category, customers can choose from a premium store featuring a variety of brands with prices ranging from Rs 25,000- to Rs 65,000. The sale will also offer an extensive range of Inverter ACs for different room sizes, with features like Wi-Fi connectivity and energy-efficient ratings. ACs, Air coolers starting from Rs 1,299 Flipkart will offer a vast array of ceiling fans ranging from Rs 1,299 to Rs 15,000, along with energy-efficient BLDC fans at Rs 1,999 and various Table, Pedestal, and Wall Fans.

Air coolers, including Personal coolers starting at Rs 3,999 and Desert coolers from Rs 6,499, will also be available to cater to diverse cooling needs. Deals and payment options To make the shopping experience more rewarding, Flipkart will provide multiple deals and payment constructs, including a New Customer offer, Tap & Win, and offers on SuperCoins.

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Telegram on Track for 1 Billion Users, Founder Predicts Massive Growth

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Durov, Telegram’s sole owner, emphasized the app’s impressive growth, boasting 900 million active users and a versatile platform for seamless communication.

The Telegram messaging app, hailed as one of the most popular social media platforms in Ukraine and Russia, is poised to exceed 1 billion active monthly users within the next year, according to its founder Pavel Durov. In a rare interview with US journalist Tucker Carlson, Durov expressed his optimism about the app’s meteoric rise, likening its growth to that of a “forest fire.”

Durov, who fully owns Telegram, shared his insights during the interview, highlighting the app’s remarkable trajectory. With currently 900 million active users, Telegram has emerged as a ubiquitous platform for communication, offering users the ability to send and receive messages, make calls, and share files seamlessly.

Emphasizing Telegram’s commitment to neutrality, Durov stressed that the app aims to remain a “neutral platform” and avoid entanglement in geopolitical issues. This stance aligns with Durov’s personal experiences, as the Russia-born entrepreneur fled his homeland in 2014, citing government interference in his company.

Despite its massive user base, Telegram faces stiff competition from Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp, which boasts over 2 billion monthly active users. However, Telegram’s rapid ascent suggests its potential to challenge established players in the social media landscape.

Reports have surfaced indicating Telegram’s intention to pursue a US listing once the company achieves profitability. This strategic move could further solidify Telegram’s position as a formidable contender in the global market.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Telegram has emerged as a pivotal tool for both governments and citizens seeking unfiltered information about the conflict. Major media outlets, government entities, and public figures in both countries utilize Telegram to disseminate news and engage with their audiences.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy leverages the platform to share daily video addresses, while the Ukrainian armed forces utilize Telegram to provide updates on battlefield developments and warn of impending air raids. Similarly, the Kremlin utilizes Telegram to announce President Vladimir Putin’s activities, while Russia’s opposition leverages the platform to rally support.

However, Telegram’s growing influence has not been without controversy. Critics argue that the platform has become a breeding ground for misinformation and manipulation. In response to these concerns, a bill was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament in March, proposing stricter regulation of Telegram and other social networks. Moreover, the Kremlin has urged Durov to exercise greater vigilance, following allegations that Telegram was used to facilitate the recruitment of gunmen responsible for an attack on a concert hall outside Moscow in March.

This incident underscores the challenges associated with managing a platform of Telegram’s scale and reach. Despite these challenges, Telegram’s exponential growth and widespread adoption underscore its significance in the global social media landscape. As the app continues to expand its user base and influence, it remains to be seen how regulators and stakeholders navigate the complex dynamics of information dissemination and user privacy in the digital age.

Telegram’s ascent to becoming a powerhouse in social media has been propelled by its commitment to user privacy and encryption. Unlike many other platforms, Telegram offers end-to-end encryption, ensuring that users’ communications remain private and secure. This feature has garnered praise from users concerned about data privacy and surveillance, further contributing to Telegram’s popularity.

Moreover, Telegram’s open-source nature allows developers to create a plethora of third-party apps and bots, expanding the platform’s functionality and versatility. From productivity tools to entertainment options, Telegram’s ecosystem continues to evolve, offering users a wide array of features tailored to their needs.

The platform’s versatility extends to its role in facilitating communication during times of crisis. During emergencies, such as natural disasters or political unrest, Telegram’s ability to provide real-time updates and coordinate relief efforts has proven invaluable. Its decentralized infrastructure and robust encryption make it a preferred communication channel for activists, journalists, and citizens seeking to disseminate information securely.

However, Telegram’s rapid growth has also raised concerns about its potential misuse for nefarious purposes. The platform has been criticized for enabling the spread of fake news, hate speech, and extremist propaganda. In response, Telegram has taken steps to curb misinformation and illegal activities, including implementing AI-powered content moderation tools and banning channels promoting violence or hate speech.

Despite these efforts, the platform continues to grapple with the challenge of balancing free expression with the need to maintain a safe and responsible online environment. As Telegram approaches the milestone of 1 billion monthly active users, the company faces mounting pressure to address these issues effectively while preserving its core principles of privacy and neutrality.

Looking ahead, Telegram’s trajectory as a leading social media platform appears promising. With its commitment to innovation, user privacy, and decentralization, Telegram is well-positioned to continue shaping the future of digital communication. As the platform expands its reach and influence, stakeholders must work collaboratively to address the challenges and opportunities that accompany its growth, ensuring that Telegram remains a force for positive change in the global social media landscape.

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YouTube expands crackdown on Ad-blocking Mobile Apps

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Following its crackdown on ad-blocking browser extensions, YouTube has extended its enforcement efforts to third-party adblocking applications. In a recent blog post update, the Google-owned video streaming platform announced, “We are enhancing our enforcement measures against third-party apps that contravene YouTube’s Terms of Service, particularly ad-blocking apps.”

YouTube cautioned that individuals utilizing third party apps to block ads in the free tier might encounter buffering problems during video playback or encounter an error message stating, “The following content is not available on this app.” The video streaming platform said that its terms do not allow third-party apps to turn off ads as it prevents creators on its platform from being rewarded for viewership.

YouTube has already started blocking YouTube videos from various third-party mobile apps such as AdGuard. YouTube said that it will only allow third-party apps to use its API when they follow its API’s “Terms of Services”. It added, if an app is found violating its terms, YouTube will take appropriate action to protect the “platform, creators and viewers”.

For watching videos without ads, YouTube suggests subscribing to YouTube Premium, which offers adfree streaming along with additional content. YouTube initially started the crackdown on ad-blockers in June, last year, as an experiment. It later started restricting content for viewers who were using an adblocking browser extension on the web version of the platform.

The streaming platform started displaying a warning message that “adblockers violate YouTube’s terms of service”. YouTube mandated users to disable the ad-blocker to continue watching videos on the platform.

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Elon Musk: New X users may face annual posting fee

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Elon Musk revealed that new users could face fees for posting content on the social platform X (previously known as Twitter). In response to a user inquiry on the platform, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX clarified that introducing “a modest fee for new user write access” is essential in addressing the ongoing challenge posed by bots. Regrettably, instituting a nominal fee for new user write access is the sole method to deter the continual barrage of bots. Current AI (and troll farms) can pass “are you a bot” with ease.

Musk was responding to a tweet made by the X Daily News which had posted a notice by the platform stating that new accounts are required to pay a “small annual fee” before being able to “post, like, bookmark, and reply”. The notice added that this was to “reduce spam” and “create a better experience for everyone.” Users can, however, continue to follow accounts for free. “The onslaught of fake accounts also uses up the available namespace, so many good handles are taken as a result,” Musk explained in his response.

Musk also highlighted that current AI can easily bypass traditional bot detection measures. “Current AI (and troll farms) can pass ‘are you a bot’ with ease,” he said. Emphasizing that this measure targets new users exclusively, Musk clarified that after a probationary period of three months, users would regain free write access. This announcement follows the platform’s decision last October to charge new unverified users in New Zealand and the Philippines a fee of $1 per year. Recently, X initiated a massive purge of spam accounts, resulting in some users losing followers. The platform has been grappling with an influx of spam and porn bots in recent months, prompting Musk to initiate the purge.

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Google plans second-Gen foldable device in Pixel 9 series

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As per Report Google is gearing up to introduce its next-generation foldable smartphone within the Pixel 9 series. According to Android Authority, a prominent consumer technology news platform, Google is anticipated to modify its naming convention to encompass both foldable and non-foldable devices within the 2024 Pixel lineup.
As outlined in the report, the forthcoming Pixel Fold, previously expected to be labeled as “Pixel Fold 2,” is likely to debut as the “Pixel 9 Pro Fold.” This adjustment in naming strategy is poised to have broader implications beyond mere rebranding. The inaugural Pixel Fold was unveiled at the 2023 Google I/O Developers Conference, internally referred to as a “Mid-Year” release rather than a flagship device. Nevertheless, should Google integrate the Fold series into its mainstream Pixel range, there is speculation that the company may treat the device akin to its other flagship smartphones.
It is also likely that the company would make the “Pixel 9 Pro Fold” available in more markets, including India. The “Pro” suffix also suggests that the next-generation Pixel Fold would carry some of the hardware and features from the Pixel 9 Pro smartphone. The upcoming Pixel Fold smartphone would likely be powered by the upcoming Tensor G4 chipset, which is expected to power the entire Pixel 9 series. For reference, the first-generation Pixel Fold was powered by the Tensor G2 chip.
Apart from the next-generation foldable, Google is reportedly planning to launch a new smaller sized “Pro” model in the Pixel 9 series. According to news reports, the smaller Pixel 9 Pro would boast a display of the size of the vanilla Pixel 9 model. It would be joined by a “Pro XL” model, which would have a bigger display. If true, the Pixel 9 series would encompass four models – the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, Pixel 9 Pro XL, and Pixel 9 Pro Fold. The Pixel 9a may join the series on later dates, but there is no confirmation or news on its existence as yet.

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Microsoft invests $1.5 bn in UAE’s G42 AI firm, secures minority stake

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Announced yesterday (15 April), the deal will give Microsoft a minority stake in the company that is currently the leading AI firm in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to a statement released on Tuesday, Microsoft is set to invest $1.5 billion in G42, an artificial intelligence company based in the United Arab Emirates. This investment will provide the US tech giant with a minority stake in G42 and a position on its board of directors. Under the partnership, G42 will run its AI applications and services on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to deliver advanced AI solutions to global public sector clients and large enterprises. Microsoft President Brad Smith, who will take a seat on G42’s board, said “We will combine world-class technology with world leading standards for safe, trusted, and responsible AI, in close coordination with the governments of both the UAE and the United States.”

The firms will work together to bring advanced AI and digital infrastructure to countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. The partnership comes amid Washington’s efforts to hobble Beijing’s technological advances, with the US adding four Chinese companies to an export blacklist for seeking to acquire AI chips for China’s military. G42 had divested its investments in China and began the lengthy task of pulling out Chinese hardware amid US concerns over its relationship with Chinese businesses. Microsoft and G42 will support the establishment of a $1 billion fund for developers to boost AI skills in the UAE and broader region. The partnership stipulates several safeguards for the AI technologies shared with G42.

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