Hashtag Trending Jul.13- OpenAI’s GPT-4 shows signs of being lazier and less intelligent; KPMG and Microsoft team up on AI; China espionage groups compromise U.S. govt emails

OpenAI’s GPT-4 AI Model shows signs of being lazier and less intelligent, KPMG and Microsoft collaborate to accelerate adoption of AI in audit and tax services, China-based espionage group compromises U.S. government emails.

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These and more top tech news stories from Hashtag Trending and Tech News Day. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada, and Tech News Day in the US. 

OpenAI’s latest AI language model, GPT-4, seems to have encountered challenges with its intelligence and work ethic. GPT-4, which amazed the world with its speed and ability in natural language processing capabilities, may be showing signs of being, as some people have called it, “lazier” and “dumber” compared to its predecessors.

Users have been complaining in the user forums and online. One developer who uses GPT-4 to help him code functions on his website was quoted as saying, “It’s like driving a Ferrari for a month and then suddenly it turns into a beaten-up old pickup.”

Christi Kennedy wrote in OpenAI’s developer forum and she was more brutal in her comments.  “It’s braindead vs. before,” she wrote. “If you are really using it fully, you see it’s obviously much dumber.” 

While the root cause of this decline is not certain, some are claiming that it reflects a major restructuring of the AI system. According to Sharon Zhou, CEO of Lamini, a startup that helps developers build custom large language models, GPT-4 may be undergoing a shift to an approach called a Mixture of Experts. In this new model, the system is broken into many parts and when it gets a new question, GPT-4 knows where to route that question. 

Right now, this is just rumour. But Oren Etzioni, founding CEO of the Allen Institute for AI, says that “the speculations are roughly accurate, but I don’t have confirmation.” 

So why would OpenAI do this? The answer may simply be costs. OpenAI founder Sam Altman once called the costs of running ChatGPT “eye-watering” in one interview.

This new model would use only a fraction of the network to compute an answer for any question, enabling more parameters without an increased computation cost.  

Experts say that this model can have excellent performance, but it would need to be trained and tuned.

So the reports on lower performance could well be related to training this new model and structure.  If that is true, then, according to some experts, the new model will learn, adapt and regain its prior performance. 

Sources include: Business Insider

KPMG, one of the world’s leading professional services firms, has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft aimed at advancing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in audit and tax services. The collaboration intends to leverage Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and AI technologies to enhance KPMG’s capabilities and provide more accurate and efficient services to clients.

Through this partnership, KPMG plans to develop AI-powered tools and solutions that can automate manual processes, improve data analysis, and enhance risk assessment in audit and tax functions. 

The application of AI in audit and tax services has the potential to revolutionize these domains by automating repetitive tasks, analyzing vast amounts of data more effectively, and mitigating risks. It enables professionals to focus on higher-level analysis and strategic decision-making.

The collaboration between KPMG and Microsoft reflects the growing trend of integrating AI into professional services, particularly in industries like auditing and taxation. 

Sources include:  Axios

A China-based espionage group has successfully compromised the Microsoft email accounts of two dozen U.S. government agencies, raising significant concerns about national security. The group, known as Hafnium, is believed to have successfully gained unauthorized access to sensitive information.

The breach, discovered by cybersecurity experts, reveals the extent of the espionage campaign carried out by Hafnium. The group has exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange servers to infiltrate systems and steal data. This breach not only poses a threat to the affected agencies but also raises concerns about the potential misuse of compromised information for espionage purposes.

The incident highlights the persistent and evolving cybersecurity threats faced by governments and organizations. The U.S. government is expected to respond by strengthening cybersecurity defenses and implementing measures to mitigate future attacks but the successful compromise of U.S. government emails by a Chinese based espionage group emphasizes the ongoing risks posed by state-sponsored cyber attacks. 

The exploitation of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange servers highlights the critical need for timely security updates and patches. Organizations have to prioritize regular maintenance and updates to ensure their systems remain resilient against emerging threats.

Sources include:  CNBC

The use of encryption technology is facing legal threats as concerns over privacy escalate in the European Union (EU), United States (US), and United Kingdom (UK). Lawmakers in these regions are grappling with the balance between privacy and law enforcement access to encrypted communications, raising debates about the need for backdoors and access mechanisms.

The EU has been considering legislation that would require tech companies to provide access to encrypted messages in order to combat terrorism and other serious crimes. The US and UK are also exploring similar avenues, with proposed laws that would grant law enforcement agencies the ability to access encrypted data under certain circumstances.

Critics argue that such legislation could weaken the overall security of encrypted systems, making them more vulnerable to hackers and surveillance. They believe that encryption is vital for protecting individual privacy and securing sensitive information.

The ongoing legal discussions surrounding encryption highlight the complex challenge of balancing privacy rights and public safety concerns. Striking the right balance is crucial to protect citizens’ privacy while also enabling effective law enforcement. The outcomes of these debates will have significant implications for the future of encryption and digital privacy.

Sources include: Axios

And speaking of privacy, three major tax preparation firms, HR Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer, have reportedly sent “extraordinarily sensitive” information on tens of millions of taxpayers to Facebook’s parent company, Meta, over a span of at least two years, according to a group of congressional Democrats. The data shared with Meta was allegedly used to create targeted advertising and train Meta’s algorithms.

The Democrats’ report calls for federal agencies to investigate and potentially take legal action concerning the wealth of taxpayer information shared with Meta by the tax preparation companies. The data was collected through Meta’s Pixel code, installed on the tax firms’ websites to improve their own marketing campaigns. In return, Meta gained access to the data to develop targeted algorithms for users.

The report reveals that personal and financial information, including details about taxpayers’ income sources, deductions, and exemptions, was made accessible to Meta through the tax software used by taxpayers. The information collected included filing status, income, refund amounts, names of dependents, approximate federal tax owed, button clicks on tax preparers’ websites, and names of text entry forms.

The lawmakers behind the report, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, are urging federal agencies to investigate and potentially prosecute the companies involved, citing potential billions of dollars in criminal liability. 

Sources include:  APNews

And that’s the top tech news stories for today. 

Links to all of the stories can be found in the text version of this podcast at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a special weekend interview episode called Hashtag Trending, the Weekend Edition.  You can find us on Google, Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. We’re also on YouTube five days a week with a video newscast only there we are called Tech News Day.

We love to hear your comments.  Find me on Linked In, Twitter or on Mastodon at  technews.social and as I’ve said, god forbid, I might even be on Threads by the end of the week.

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I’m your host Jim Love. Have a Thrilling Thursday!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Lovehttp://www.itworldcanada.com/
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO of a great company - IT World Canada - Canada's leading ICT publisher.

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