Zoom goes two for two – getting on the wrong side of customers and employees. Social media misinformation could be solved with the right incentives. The U.S. government offers a multi-million dollar prize for AI solutions to cybercrime and yes, once again, Google appears to say it has a god given right to your data.
These are the top tech news stories on today’s Hashtag Trending.
I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.
Zoom, the video conferencing giant that became a household name during the pandemic, has announced its decision to bring its employees back to the office. The company believes in a “structured hybrid approach” and has stated that employees living within 50 miles of an office should come in at least two times a week. This move by Zoom is in line with other major companies like Amazon and Disney, who have also scaled back their flexible working policies. While Zoom had previously mentioned that employees could work remotely indefinitely, the new policy will be implemented in August and September, with variations depending on the country. Despite this change, Zoom emphasized its commitment to hiring the best talent, irrespective of their location. The company recently inaugurated a new office in London and has around 200 employees in the UK. This shift in policy is seen as a way for Zoom to better utilize its own technologies and to stay competitive, especially with rivals like Microsoft enhancing their video tools.
Sources include: BBC
The U.S. Defence Department is investing $18.5 million to motivate American cybersecurity experts to develop innovative AI solutions for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure and government systems. This initiative was announced by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) during the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. The two-year challenge, named AIxCC, (I don’t know who comes up with these names) is seeking AI-driven cybersecurity tools. Major AI players like Anthropic, Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI are offering their models to participants vying for a piece of the $18.5 million prize pool. The competition aims to harness AI’s potential to bolster cyber defenses, especially given the increasing threats from cyber adversaries using AI. The contest will span two years, culminating in events at the 2024 and 2025 DEF CON hacking conferences. The grand prize stands at $4 million. Notably, winners will be required to make their AI systems publicly accessible for free.
Sources include: Axios
And Zoom found itself in more hot water after its terms of service hinted that it might use customer calls to train its AI. This revelation led to a swift backlash, with users voicing their concerns and some even considering jumping ship to other platforms. In response, Zoom’s chief product officer, Smita Hashim, clarified in a blog post that the company won’t use audio, video, or chat content to train its AI models without user consent. The terms now state, “we will not use audio, video, or chat customer content to train our artificial intelligence models without your consent.” However, some experts believe that the clarification might not fully safeguard user calls based on the specific language used in Zoom’s terms. This incident underscores the growing concerns around data privacy and how it’s used in AI training, as seen with other companies facing similar challenges.
Sources include: Business Insider
IBM Partners with Meta to Launch Llama 2 on WatsonX AI Platform
IBM is taking a significant step in the AI realm by hosting Meta Platforms’ AI language program, Llama 2, on its enterprise AI platform, WatsonX. This collaboration aims to provide businesses with enhanced AI capabilities, tapping into the strengths of both Meta’s Llama 2 and IBM’s WatsonX. While the details of the partnership and its offerings are yet to be fully unveiled, this move is a step forward for IBM that was an early pioneer of AI but has until now been eclipsed by others like OpenAI, Microsoft, Google and even Meta.
Sources include: Reuters
Google has suggested to Australian authorities that its AI systems should be allowed to train on any data without any copyright restrictions, unless the content creators specifically opt-out. The tech giant argues that for generative AI to be truly effective, it requires vast amounts of data. Instead of paying for this data, Google believes it should be freely accessible. The company’s stance is that publishers should have the responsibility to opt-out if they don’t want their data used for AI training. This means content creators would need to be aware of and actively refuse the use of their data. Critics argue this could lead to situations where, by the time a publisher opts out, their data might have already been extensively used.
Sources include: Apple Insider
Social media platforms, by design, reward users for sharing content that grabs attention, even if it’s not (or maybe especially if it’s not) accurate. This structure has led to the rampant spread of misinformation. However, a study by researchers from Purdue University suggests that tweaking the reward system can change user behavior. By offering financial rewards (small ones) for sharing accurate content and penalizing the spread of misinformation, they found that users began to share more fact-based information. This wasn’t about changing user goals but their online experiences. The study also revealed that the current reward system on platforms like Facebook inadvertently promotes the spread of misinformation. The researchers argue that social media platforms can still maintain user engagement while promoting accuracy. By introducing response buttons to indicate trust and accuracy, platforms can use crowdsourcing to identify and amplify truthful content. This approach not only tackles the misinformation problem but also aligns with the platforms’ business models.
Sources include: Nieman Lab
Those are the top tech news stories for today. Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”
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