Emerging Technologies

8 things you need to know about AI this month

A Microsoft logo on an office building in New York City, US.

Microsoft has recently announced a further multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI. Image: REUTERS/Mike Segar

Kay Firth-Butterfield
Senior Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
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Artificial Intelligence

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  • This monthly round-up brings you some of the key artificial intelligence (AI) stories from the past four weeks.
  • Top Stories: Google steps up AI activities; Microsoft unveils AI-powered Bing; US and EU to cooperate on using AI; Microsoft invests more in ChatGPT owner; BuzzFeed soars on reports of plans to use OpenAI.

1. Google steps up AI activities

Google is launching an AI chatbot called Bard and increasing use of artificial intelligence in its search engine. It has also invested $300 million in AI start-up Anthropic, as it looks to secure a position at the forefront of generative AI following the rapid rise of ChatGPT and talk of Microsoft preparing to reveal its own AI plans.

Bard is a conversational AI service that Google will initially make available to test users. Once it has received and acted on feedback, it will launch Bard publicly in the coming weeks, says Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google's parent company Alphabet.

The AI features that Google is adding to its search engine will combine online material to answer complex queries, rather than sticking with its current approach of presenting text from a single source on the internet.

2. Microsoft unveils AI-powered Bing and Edge search engines in response to Google

On 7 February, Microsoft announced it would be rolling out an intelligent chatbot to live alongside the result of it's Bing search engine. This AI would be able to summarize web pages, compare different sources of information, compose emails, and more.

"This technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category," said Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella.

According to Microsoft executives, the new Bing will help users refine their search queries, as well as provide more relevant, up-to-date results.

Microsoft's new Bing search engine is live in limited preview on desktop computers and will be available for mobile devices in coming weeks.

3. US and European Commission join forces to accelerate AI use

The United States and European Union have agreed to speed up and enhance the use of artificial intelligence to improve agriculture, healthcare, emergency responses, climate forecasting and the electricity grid.

The deal will allow the exchange of data that will be fed into a common AI model. It is described by a senior US administration official as the first sweeping AI agreement between the United States and Europe. "The US data stays in the US and European data stays there, but we can build a model that talks to the European and the US data because the more data and the more diverse data, the better the model," the official says.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says the collaboration "will drive responsible advancements in AI to address major global challenges".

4. Microsoft to invest more in OpenAI as tech race heats up

Microsoft has announced a further multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI, deepening ties with the start-up behind the chatbot sensation ChatGPT.

Having recently talked of a revolution in AI, Microsoft is now building on a bet it made on OpenAI nearly four years ago, when it dedicated $1 billion for the start-up co-founded by Elon Musk and investor Sam Altman.

Microsoft has now announced "the third phase" of its partnership "through a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment", including additional supercomputer development and cloud-computing support for OpenAI.

5. OpenAI and Microsoft ask court to drop AI coding case

The proposed class-action case has been filed by a group of anonymous copyright owners who say the tech companies trained GitHub's Copilot system – which suggests lines of code for programmers – without complying with open-source licensing terms.

Open-source software can be modified or distributed for free by any users who comply with a licence, which normally requires attribution to the original creator, notice of their copyright and a copy of the licence, according to the lawsuit.

The tech firms say the allegations are not outlined specifically enough – as they do not identify particular copyrighted works they allegedly misused or contracts that they breached – and that the Copilot system made fair use of the source code.

6. BuzzFeed soars on reports of Meta deal, plans to use OpenAI

Shares in BuzzFeed jumped on 26 January following reports of a deal with Meta Platforms, and suggestions that the digital media firm plans to use artificial intelligence to personalize and enhance its online quizzes and content.

BuzzFeed's stock soared after a Wall Street Journal report said it would use ChatGPT creator OpenAI for its content. But BuzzFeed told Reuters: "We are not using ChatGPT – we are using OpenAI's publicly available API (application programming interface)."

The stock had already risen earlier that day following another Wall Street Journal report that said Meta is paying BuzzFeed millions of dollars to bring more creators to Facebook and Instagram.

Have you read?

7. ChatGPT owner launches 'imperfect' tool to detect AI-generated text

OpenAI, the creator of the popular chatbot ChatGPT, has released a software tool that can identify text generated by artificial intelligence.

The AI classifier – a language model trained on the dataset of pairs of human-written and AI-written text on the same topic – aims to distinguish text that is written by AI. It uses a variety of providers to address issues such as automated misinformation campaigns and academic dishonesty, the company said.

In its public beta mode, OpenAI acknowledges the detection tool is very unreliable on texts under 1,000 characters, and AI-written text can be edited to trick the classifier.

OpenAI is also trialling a subscription package for ChatGPT priced at $20 per month. Subscribers will receive access to ChatGPT during peak times, faster responses and priority access to new features and improvements.

8. AI uncovers unknown play by Spanish great in library archive

AI technology used to transcribe anonymous historic works at Spain's National Library archives has uncovered a previously unknown play by one of the nation's greatest authors, Felix Lope de Vega.

The National Library said experts later confirmed that the Baroque playwright and one of the most prominent names of the Spanish Golden Age wrote "La Francesa Laura" (The Frenchwoman Laura) a few years before his death in 1635.

The original manuscript of
The original manuscript by Felix Lope de Vega. Image: Reuters/Juan Medina

Researchers from Vienna and Valladolid universities used AI to transcribe 1,300 anonymous manuscripts and books at the library, saving years of human effort, and also tried to discover their authorship by checking each work against a selection of words used by different writers.


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