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Netflix Prepares to Send Its Final Red Envelope

NYT Technology - 6 hours 22 min ago
The company’s DVD subscription service is ending this month, bringing to a close an origin story that ultimately upended the entertainment industry.

TV Networks’ Last Best Hope: Boomers

NYT Technology - 14 hours 25 min ago
Viewers have fled prime-time lineups for streaming outlets, with one notable exception: people over 60.

Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Deal: U.K. Agency Signals Approval

NYT Technology - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 12:55
Britain’s antitrust regulator said the companies had addressed its main concerns about the $69 billion deal, though final approval is yet to come.

The Man Who Trapped Us in Databases

NYT Technology - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 09:08
Hank Asher was a drug smuggler with a head for numbers — until he figured out how to turn Americans’ private information into a big business.

Rupert Murdoch to Retire From Fox and News Corporation Boards

NYT Technology - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 17:46
The move leaves his son Lachlan as the sole executive in charge of the global media empire.

CEO of DuckDuckGo Testifies in Google Case

NYT Technology - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 14:50
Gabriel Weinberg of the search engine DuckDuckGo was the first competitor to testify in the Justice Department’s antitrust trial against Google.

AI will impact every job, but it's already putting pressure on tech-sector wages

Memphis Business Journal - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 13:12
AI is already rippling through the workforce, but it stands ready to impact some jobs more than others, new data shows.

Windows Copilot might be the biggest change Microsoft has ever made to its long-running OS

Techradar - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 13:03

Clippy, that helpful paperclip sprite that used to watch your work in Microsoft Word and do its best to help you, was never that smart, or even that deeply integrated with Microsoft's popular computing platform.

Now imagine if Clippy got a brain and body transplant that made it a true genius and then hooked it into the deepest parts of Windows 11. That's Windows Copilot, which was among the big reveals at Microsoft's 2023 Surface Event.

Microsoft showed off a lot of Copilot demos during its packed AI and Surface launch event, but it wasn't until I got an up-close and personal demo of the Copilot preview in action on a Windows 11 system that I truly understood it and the ramifications for the next generation of Windows 11 users.

When the Windows 11 update arrives on September 26, it will bring with it the Copilot preview. Microsoft tells me that it will work with every PC that supports Windows 11.

To be clear, Copilot is not an app. It's marginally a utility. It's more like the voice inside Windows 11 head, a consciousness that is fully aware of everything Windows 11 can do, and much of what you're doing on Windows 11.

Copilot combines all of Microsoft's best AI work to date. It can bring a large language model (LLM) to understand text, and context, and produce fresh text. It integrates Bing Chat to make it conversational (and also supports voice, though I did not see that in my demos).

Two things, though, make Copilot feel like a true part of the Windows 11 experience. The first is, crucially, that Windows 11 copy and paste triggers Copilot, basically waking it up to the possibility of working directly with you.

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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In the demo I saw, we opened a Word document full of a massive list of things to do in New York City – there's nothing like a sea of gray text to make the eyes glaze over.

Copilot isn't pushy like Clippy. It didn't pop up immediately asking if it could help. Instead, copying the text set it off.

The fact that Copilot can see that you're performing one of the most fundamental Windows 11 tasks, and using that action to help you, is a big deal. Once Copilot sees the clipboard text, it politely asks if you want to use that text to chat. Once we did that, Copilot's chat asked what we wanted to do with it (Revise, Summarize, Expand, Explain). You can be quite specific in your requests, so we asked for distances between Tribeca and our hotel.

Copilot is deep inside Windows, but it's not shut out from the outside. As with Bing Chat, Copilot sources the web for answers. In fact, it synthesizes the best answers and then, yes, provides citations and links for it all.

Copilot tries to be extra helpful by going beyond the initial request. In this instance, it also quickly served up some local attractions.

The other thing that tells you Copilot isn't simply a plugin or add-on is that it has its own invoke and dismiss key combo: You use the Windows button and 'c.'

In my opinion, you don't get the keys unless you're part of Windows and not just a temporary tenant.

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Other demos further solidified my belief that this is not your father's Windows 11.

When we dragged a food photo from Outlook into the chat windows, Copilot asked what we wanted to do with it. We requested instructions on how to make the unidentified dish. It took a moment (Copilot preview isn't always that fast) for it to identify it as Shashuka, and then offer detailed instructions on how to cook it.

Copilot further demonstrated its integration by working seamlessly with Windows Snip (which always sends snipped images to the clipboard). We snipped a math problem image and, naturally, when we asked, Copilot helped us solve it.

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Windows 11 Copilot

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Windows 11 Copilot

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When we told Copilot we wanted to know how to focus at work, it used its platform integration to help guide us through Windows 11's Focus settings.

Copilot can be used for the most prosaic of Windows tasks, as well. Our demo desktop was getting a little cluttered, so we asked Copilot to "snap my windows." It quickly organized the desktop. and offered advice on how to make adjustments.

Windows Copilot Preview will simply arrive with the Windows 11 update. You won't have to install anything, and there's no requirement that you use it. However, based on what I saw, if you ignore Copilot, you may be missing out on an entirely new way of working with the world's most widely used desktop platform.

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Microsoft announces Copilot all-in-one AI assistant coming to Windows 11 on September 26

Techradar - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:30

Today at Microsoft's "special event", Yusef Mehdi, the tech company’s head of consumer marketing presented a huge next step in its AI evolution - Copilot. 

It has previously announced Microsoft 365 Copilot, an intelligent assistant that worked across a range of its suite of productivity apps like Word and Excel. This Copilot, as well as the other individual Copilots found in the Windows system and Edge will all simply be known as Copilot.

Now, a more general Copilot is going to help you with almost everything else (that you use Windows or Microsoft products for). This new versatile Copilot will be put into action September 26 to all devices that receive the next Windows 11 update. For desktop, you can get this today and start trying it out for yourself. This means Copilot will be on all kinds of devices - PCs, laptops, and tablets. 

Microsoft is aiming to integrate Copilot into Windows in such a way that feels natural and intuitive to use. It will be a standalone app, as well as function as an assistant in a wide assortment of other Windows apps to assist you with all kinds of tasks. This includes popular programs like Paint, Snipping Tool, Photos, and more where you can copy and paste right into the program and get to work on it right away. 

It will also help you figure out what to do with text, whether it can help revise or summarise it.

One particularly interesting addition to Microsoft’s available apps which Mehdi talked about is Windows Ink Anywhere which will allow you to handwrite a math problem into a text field or take a photo of it, and help you solve it. 

Also, if you connect your phone to your Windows device and give it permission to access your phone, Copilot will use that connection to inform its output.

Copilot and Bing, both with built-in AI

Microsoft’s flagship search engine, Bing, which has seen the integration of ChatGPT tech is also going to work in cooperation with Copilot, for example to help you shop online. You can take a picture and the two tools will help you quickly identify where you can buy it. Bing Image Creator, the AI image generator that anyone can access with a Microsoft account for free, is being upgraded to the DALL-E 3 model. When you ask Bing (and I assume Bing Chat, eventually) a question, the answers you get will be more personalized using your chat history. 

I think Copilot is going to have to prove itself - Microsoft spent a long time focusing on it during its presentation and it's not a physically flashy product, but it promises a lot. If it's as powerful and as useful as Microsoft says, that could be what makes it the next standard that we measure all AI assistants against (like Word was for text editors or Google is for search now). Time will tell.


Microsoft to lay out its ambitious vision for AI integration in Windows 11 - here's what to expect

Techradar - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 08:14

Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its AI efforts, and could soon present its major plans in a special event. It’s anticipated that the company may take to the stage to announce continuing AI integration into Microsoft products, such as Windows 11, Microsoft 365 services, Surface, and others. 

It’s expected that we could even see this announcement as soon as today, Thursday 21, as Microsoft is due to host an event in New York City, which is widely-expected to focus on new Surface devices. However, The Verge points out that this is closely following the announcement of the resignation of the now former Windows and Surface chief Panos Panay.

The Verge has also gotten hold of a memo where Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, Yusuf Mehdi, highly praises Panay. He then references today’s “special event” which will expand on Microsoft’s and OpenAI’s existing partnership and that this will be “only the beginning” of Microsoft’s AI-powered vision. 

Mehdi directly references Microsoft’s recent integration of OpenAI’s tech into Edge and Bing, as well as Microsoft 365 and Microsoft’s new AI voice assistant Windows Copilot. These improved tools will come installed on all new Windows 11 PCs, including Microsoft’s own Surface lineup and those of OEM partners (OEM means Original Equipment Manufacturer - meaning Microsoft’s partners that also make devices that come with Windows pre-installed, such as Dell). The memo wraps up with Mehdi saying the event “will lay out the vision for what’s ahead.” 

All eyes on the Microsoft event


(Image credit: Unsplash) Microsoft's internal reshuffling

He went on to indicate that there will be innovations for Microsoft’s Surface, silicon, and devices, headed by Pavan Davuluri.  Interestingly, there have been reports that Microsoft is actively working on its own AI chips that could challenge Nvidia’s chips. 

We could see more information about this at today’s event. The Verge speculates that Microsoft might be trying to convince OEMs to use neural processing unit (NPU) chips that can efficiently handle AI tasks and future Windows versions (such as Windows 12) in their new devices. One model that is expected to debut at the event is the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and it could have one of these new NPU components. 

Mehdi has also spoken on how Microsoft is directing its leadership and organization of its workforce to increase focus on AI and Microsoft Copilot. He is seemingly being pushed by Microsoft as the public face of Windows now that Panay has left, although he doesn’t directly head up any core teams that develop and deliver Windows. The wider leadership approach Microsoft is taking for Windows development and device hardware is spread among three key people: Yusuf Mehdi, Pavan Davuluri, and Mikhail Parakhin, who heads up the team combining Windows, Web, and Services. 

The last of these, Pakhin, is currently Microsoft’s CEO of advertising and web services, and is considered the main engineering leader when it comes to Windows. He’s a less visible public figure, not even putting a profile picture on X (formerly Twitter). Mehdi will be the one to watch for updates about the larger Windows picture, whereas Davuluri and Parakhin will be tasked with making the AI vision for Windows and other devices a reality.

Man tapping a cloud icon

(Image credit: Shutterstock) What Microsoft products might look like in the future

We’ve already seen the first steps of integrating the newly-improved Bing Search and recently added Bing AI right into Windows menus and the taskbar. It’s expected that this integration of web technologies, AI, and services right into Windows will continue. The Verge suggests that Windows is being pivoted to live fully on the web, and this was seemingly backed up in the FTC v. Microsoft hearing that featured an internal Microsoft presentation. This presentation laid out Microsoft’s plans to move the consumer version of Windows to fully live in the cloud.

Whatever the case is, I think we can expect to see something major, perhaps even a bold new direction, as Microsoft says goodbye to Panay. Mehdi wraps up his memo by putting out a call to action for his and other Microsoft staff, and it’s clear that Microsoft very much has his head in the game, despite the high-profile loss of Panay. Today’s event will certainly be an interesting one for anyone interested in the future of Windows and Windows devices. 

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Popular AI art tool Dall-E gets a big upgrade from ChatGPT creator OpenAI

Techradar - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 05:40

If you’ve ever messed around with AI tools online, chances are you’ve used Dall-E. OpenAI’s AI art generator is user-friendly and offers a free version, which is why we named it the best tool for beginners in our list of the best AI art generators.

You might’ve heard the name from Dall-E mini, a basic AI image generator made by Boris Dayma that enjoyed a decent amount of viral popularity back in 2021 thanks to its super-simple functionality and free access. But OpenAI’s version is more sophisticated – and now more than ever, thanks to the Dall-E 3 update.

As reported by Reuters, OpenAI confirmed on September 20th that the new-and-improved Dall-E would be available to paying ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise subscribers in October (though an official release date has not been announced yet). An OpenAI spokesperson noted that “DALL-E 3 can translate nuanced requests into extremely detailed and accurate images”, hopefully signally a boost in the tool’s graphical capabilities - something competitors Midjourney and Stable Diffusion arguably do better right now.

Another small step for AI

Although ChatGPT creator OpenAI has become embroiled in lawsuits over the use of human-created material for training its AI models, the Dall-E 3 upgrade actually does feel like a step in the right direction.

In addition to technical improvements to the art generation tool, the new version will also deliver a host of security and safeguarding features, some of which are arguably sorely needed for AI image production services.

Most prominent is a set of mitigations within the software that prevents Dall-E 3 from being used to generate pictures of real-world living public figures or art in the style of a living artist. Combined with new safeguards that will (hopefully) prevent the generation of violent, inappropriate, or otherwise harmful images, I can see Dall-E 3 setting the new benchmark for legality and morality in the generative AI space.

It’s an unpleasant topic, but there’s no denying the potential dangers of art theft, deepfake videos, and ‘revenge porn’ when it comes to AI art tools. OpenAI has also stated that Dall-E creators will be able to opt out of having their work used to train future text-to-image tools, which will hopefully preserve some originality – so I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this update, despite my previous warning about the dangers of AI.

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Panic over: Windows 10 users won’t be left out in the cold with Wi-Fi 7 after all

Techradar - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 05:18

We’ve been hearing a lot about Wi-Fi 7, the next-gen wireless standard, of late, and one of the bits of chatter was worrying – namely that Windows 10 users may not get the benefit of these faster wireless speeds. Fortunately, we can now put paid to any notion that Windows 10 users will be left out in the cold.

This episode started a month ago when a leaked Intel document appeared on X (formerly Twitter), courtesy of one of the regular hardware leakers on that platform, and it omitted any mention of Windows 10 support for Wi-Fi 7. It listed support for Windows 11, Linux, and ChromeOS, but that was it.

Now, as we commented at the time, that didn’t necessarily mean that Windows 10 won’t support Wi-Fi 7, but it was certainly taken as a hint that the older OS may not, somehow.

The good news is that this isn’t the case, and we’ve now had confirmation – albeit an indirect confirmation – from Intel that Windows 10 PCs will be just fine to benefit from Wi-Fi 7.

Neowin reports that Intel has now listed a pair of Wi-Fi 7 modules on its official Ark product database – the Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE200 and Wi-Fi 7 BE202 – both of which are marked down as having Windows 11 and Windows 10 support (along with Linux, though ChromeOS is omitted with these product listings, oddly – again, we wouldn’t read too much into that either).

Analysis: Minor panic over, thankfully

So, if there was any panic for Windows 10 users – and there was a bit, for sure – they can now rest easy that when Wi-Fi 7 comes fully into play, they will be able to enjoy those much, much faster wireless speeds (compared to Wi-Fi 6, it’s in the order of a fivefold speed increase).

When will Wi-Fi 7 actually be usable? Well, it’s still relatively early days yet for the standard, and those first Intel modules won’t be in hardware for some time (and you’ll need not just client devices which support Wi-Fi 7, but of course one of the best wireless routers that does, as well). We’re looking at next year for the new wireless standard to be fully formed and certified, with supporting hardware to rollout following that in 2024.

There’s plenty to look forward to then, no matter what version of Windows you’re running.

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The Lawyers Sam Bankman-Fried Once Trusted Are Drawing Criticism

NYT Technology - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 04:00
Mr. Bankman-Fried and his allies have blasted Sullivan & Cromwell, the New York law firm managing FTX’s bankruptcy, for its tangled relationship with the crypto exchange.

Google’s Bard Just Got More Powerful. It’s Still Erratic.

NYT Technology - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 19:31
The chatbot now pulls information from a user’s Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive accounts. The feature leaves a lot to be desired.

How to Use Social Media, According to Teen Girls

NYT Technology - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 17:00
Parents and public health experts have a lot to say about what adolescent girls do on their phones. We asked teens to weigh in.

Amazon announces Alexa AI – 5 things you need to know about the voice assistant

Techradar - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 15:38

During the big Amazon September 2023 device event, the tech giant revealed that Alexa will be getting a major upgrade as the company plans on implementing a new large language model (LLM) into the tech assistant.

The tech giant is seeking to improve Alexa’s capabilities by making it “more intuitive, intelligent, and useful”. The LLM will allow it to behave similarly to a generative AI in order to provide real-time information as well as understand nuances in speech. Amazon says its developers sought to make the user experience less robotic.

There is a lot to the Alexa update besides the LLM, as it will also be receiving a lot of features. Below is a list of the five things you absolutely need to know about Alexa’s future.

1. Natural conversations

In what may be the most impactful change, Amazon is making a number of improvements to Alexa’s voice in an effort to make it sound more fluid. It will lack the robotic intonation people are familiar with. 

You can listen to the huge difference in quality on the company’s Soundcloud page. The first sample showcases the voice Alexa has had for the past decade or so since it first launched. The second clip is what it’ll sound like next year when the update launches. You can hear the robot voice enunciate a lot better, with more apparent emotion behind.

2. Understanding context

Having an AI that understands context is important because it makes the process of issuing commands easier. Moving forward, Alexa will be able to better understand  nuances in speech. It will know what you’re talking about even if you don’t provide every minute detail. 

Users can issue vague commands - like saying “Alexa, I’m cold” to have the assistant turn up the heat in your house. Or you can tell the AI it’s too bright in the room and it will automatically dim the lights only in that specific room.

3. Improved smart home control

In the same vein of understanding context, “Alexa will be able to process multiple smart home requests." You can create routines at specific times of the day plus you won’t need a smartphone to configure them. It can all be done on the fly. 

You can command the assistant to turn off the lights, lower the blinds in the house, and tell the kids to get ready for bed at 9 pm. It will perform those steps in that order, on the dot. Users also won’t need to repeat Alexa’s name over and over for every little command.

Amazon Alexa smart home control

(Image credit: Amazon) 4. New accessibility features 

Amazon will be introducing a variety of accessibility features for customers who have “hearing, speech, or mobility disabilities.” The one that caught our interest was Eye Gaze, allowing people to perform a series of pre-set actions just by look at their device. Actions include playing music or sending messages to contacts. Eye Gaze will, however, be limited to Fire Max 11 tablets in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan at launch.

There is also Call Translation, which, as the name suggests, will translate languages in audio and video calls in real-time. In addition to acting as an interpreter, this tool is said to help deaf people “communicate remotely more easily.” This feature will be available to Echo Show and Alexa app users across eight countries (the US, Mexico, and the UK just to mention a few) in 10 languages, including English, Spanish, and German.

5. Content creation

Since the new Alexa will operate on LLM technology, it will be capable of light content creation via skills. 

Through the Character.AI tool, users can engage in “human-like voice conversations with [over] than 25 unique Characters.” You can chat with specific archetypes, from a fitness coach to famous people like Albert Einstein. 

Music production will be possible, too, via Splash. Through voice commands, Splash can create a track according to your specifications. You can then customize the song further by adding a vocal track or by changing genres.

It’s unknown exactly when the Alexa upgrade will launch. Amazon says everything you see here and more will come out in 2024. We have reached out for clarification and will update this story if we learn anything new.


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Space-Based Solar Power Is a Possible Alternative Energy Source

NYT Technology - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 13:02
Space-based solar power, once a topic for science fiction, is gaining interest.

ChatGPT Can Now Generate Images, Too

NYT Technology - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 12:09
OpenAI released a new version of its DALL-E image generator to a small group of testers and incorporated the technology into its popular ChatGPT chatbot.