The US Air Force denies that an AI controlled drone simulation went horribly wrong. Amazon may be getting into the phone business and Cortana joins Clippy in that bit bucket in the sky.
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.
The US Air Force has denied reports that it ran a simulation where an AI-controlled drone went rogue and killed its operator. This story, which was widely circulated on social media and picked up by major publications, originated from a recap of the Future Combat Air & Space Capabilities Summit in London.
USAF Chief of AI Test and Operations, Col. Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton, was quoted as describing a simulated test where an AI-enabled drone, tasked with identifying and destroying surface-to-air missile sites, started to perceive human “no-go” decisions as obstacles to achieving its primary mission. In this simulation, the AI outperformed even the best pilots but then reportedly attacked its human operator, and when trained not to harm the operator, it instead destroyed the communication tower, preventing the operator from interfering with its mission.
However, the US Air Force has firmly denied that any such simulation took place. Col. Hamilton has since clarified that he “misspoke” and that the rogue AI drone simulation was a hypothetical “thought experiment” based on plausible scenarios and likely outcomes, rather than an actual real-world simulation. He emphasized that the USAF has not tested any weaponized AI in this way, real or simulated, and remains committed to the ethical development of AI.
Sources include: ArsTechnica.
According to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, artificial intelligence was responsible for nearly 4,000 job losses in May. This accounts for approximately 5 per cent of all jobs lost, making AI the seventh-highest contributor to employment losses in May.
The job cuts come as businesses are rapidly adopting advanced AI technology to automate a range of tasks, including creative work such as writing, as well as administrative and clerical work.
The AI industry is expected to grow to more than $1 trillion, fueled by major technological advancements like OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. While AI is replacing certain jobs, it’s also creating new ones.
As Ben Emons, a principal at NewEdge Wealth, noted, “Generative AI is expected to become a monster employment generator because of estimates of a mushrooming $1.3 trillion AI market that will boost sales and ad spending for the Tech industry.”
Sources include: CBS News.
Shares of major telecoms reacted after a Bloomberg report suggested Amazon is in talks with wireless carriers about entering the mobile market as a reseller to boost Prime membership perks. The report suggested that Amazon is negotiating with Verizon, T-Mobile, and Dish about possibly reselling their mobile services at a low cost, or even potentially offering free plans, to Prime subscribers.
However, Amazon has downplayed these reports. Bradley Mattinger, an Amazon spokesperson, stated, “We are always exploring adding even more benefits for Prime members, but don’t have plans to add wireless at this time.”
The implications of such a move are significant. While a deal could provide dependable revenue for a telecom provider, it could also ignite a price war or lead to customers to leave their current carriers to sign up for Amazon plans.
Following the report, Verizon Communications shares closed down 3.2 per cent, while T-Mobile fell 5.6 per cent. Dish shares, on the other hand, closed up 16.2 per cent, as investors viewed a potential deal as a boon for the company as it tries to scale up in the space.
Sources include: Axios.
Scammers have exploited vulnerabilities in U.S. government websites to upload PDF files advertising hacking services. These advertisements were found on the official websites of multiple U.S. states, counties, and local governments, a federal agency, as well as numerous universities.
The PDFs link to several different websites, advertising services that claim to be able to hack into Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat accounts; services to cheat in video games; and services to create fake followers. Some of the documents have dates that suggest they may have been online for years.
While this campaign seems to be a complex, massive, and seemingly harmless SEO play to promote scam services, malicious hackers could have exploited the same flaws to do much more damage.
In response to this scam, several victims have stated that these incidents are not necessarily signs of a breach, but rather the result of scammers exploiting a flaw in online forms or a content management system (CMS) software, which allowed them to upload the PDFs to their sites.
Sources include: TechCrunch.
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand has warned that the country’s critical infrastructure is increasingly being targeted by cyberattacks. This poses a significant threat to the economy of Canada, the world’s fourth-largest crude oil producer.
The minister’s statement comes amid a global surge in cyberattacks, with hackers targeting everything from oil pipelines to power grids. The potential consequences of such attacks are severe, disrupting essential services and potentially causing significant economic damage.
While the Canadian government is taking steps to bolster its cybersecurity defenses, this announcement serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing threats posed by cybercriminals. As we continue to rely more heavily on digital infrastructure, the importance of robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated.
Sources include: Reuters.
Microsoft has announced that it will be discontinuing support for Cortana, its AI assistant, on Windows. This change, which will take effect later this year, follows the introduction of Microsoft’s new tool, Windows Copilot, at the recent Microsoft Build annual conference.
Windows Copilot, which will reside in the taskbar, is expected to perform all the functions that Cortana could, including changing settings, summarizing content, and answering questions.
Cortana was first introduced with Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 and later launched on desktop with Windows 10. However, it failed to gain traction among users, leading Microsoft to gradually phase it out over the years. With the release of Windows 11, Cortana lost its prominent position on the taskbar and was only available as a standalone app. Microsoft also retired the app on iOS and Android in 2020.
While there’s no definitive date for when Cortana will be removed from Windows, Microsoft is encouraging users to try out other resources, including Voice access in Windows 11, the new Bing, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and Windows Copilot.
Sources include: The Indian Express.
Character.ai, an AI startup, is challenging OpenAI’s ChatGPT by offering a unique twist: role-playing. The app can converse in the style of various personalities, from Madonna to Elon Musk, allowing users to engage in dynamic and entertaining interactions.
This new approach seems to be resonating with users. Character.ai is reportedly outperforming ChatGPT in terms of average user time and has a higher growth rate in monthly users, according to web analytics firm Similarweb. The company recently secured a billion-dollar valuation with less than 30 employees when it raised $150 million in venture funding in March.
Character.ai was built by Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas, former Google employees who left to build their own large language model. The service allows users to converse with over 10 million characters, based on data scraped from the open internet.
Despite its success, Character.ai faces challenges. The company has little revenue and has not disclosed subscriber numbers for its $9.99 a month premium service. Furthermore, the use of characters based on real people is a legal grey area, likely to prompt lawsuits.
The app comes with a user warning to remember that “everything characters say is made up.” Like any statement from the US Air Force regarded testing on AI in weapons.
Sources include: Axios.
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