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New AI product launches from Nvidia.  Nvidia's just announced a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) chips and software, named Blackwell, set to ship later this year. The chipmaker's move is aimed at securing its spot as the go-to supplier for AI companies. In the wake of the AI boom sparked by OpenAI's ChatGPT, Nvidia's server GPUs have become must-haves for AI models, with tech giants like Microsoft and Meta splashing billions on them. Blackwell promises a significant performance upgrade, offering 20 petaflops in AI performance versus the H100's 4 petaflops. Nvidia also introduced a revenue-generating software, NIM, simplifying AI deployment and making Nvidia less of a chip provider and more of a platform provider.

CEO Jensen Huang also unveiled Project GR00T, aiming to develop humanoid robots that learn from visual content.  And there’s more…Huang also showcased the Jetson Thor computing platform, which is designed to interact naturally with us humans. These tech advances are already finding real-world applications, with Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover planning to include Jetson Thor in their vehicles.  More here and here.

Musk ditches Lemon deal.  Elon Musk has called off a partnership with former CNN anchor Don Lemon, just hours after recording an interview with him for Lemon's new show on X, the social media platform owned by Musk. Lemon was set to host a new show on X, but Musk axed the deal, stating it lacked authenticity. Despite Musk's self-proclaimed advocacy for free speech, he's shown little patience for critics and has suspended several on X. The show will go on though, with Lemon planning to publish the interview with Musk on YouTube and other platforms.  More here.

TikTok's uncertain future.  The US House of Representatives passed a bipartisan (!) bill that could potentially ban TikTok. The bill demands that ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, divests from the app or faces a ban. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Chew, expressed his disappointment and vowed to fight for the platform. Despite the controversy, President Joe Biden has indicated he would sign the bill. If enforced, the bill could prevent app stores and internet-hosting companies from supporting TikTok. Stay tuned for the Senate's decision.

InstaTok.  TikTok's throwing a curveball at Instagram by launching its own photo sharing platform. The app, dubbed "TikTok Photos", is a clear play at Instagram's turf. Currently, TikTok users can post photos as videos, but it seems TikTok isn't satisfied with that. The new platform will allow users to sync their TikTok posts with TikTok Photos, giving them an additional platform to reach their audience. No word yet on when it'll launch or where, but Android and iOS users can definitely look forward to it.

Ready Player One goes meta.  Ready Player One author Ernest Cline is stepping into the metaverse with "Open," a third-person battle royale game launched by Readyverse Studios, co-founded by Cline and blockchain tech firm Futureverse. This game-show styled experience lets players duke it out using various gaming techniques in a Ready Player One themed biome, among others. Nostalgic items from the novel make an appearance, enhancing the immersive experience. Open is currently under development for PC, but eager players can sign up for early access. More here.


Apple partners with Google on AI?  Apple might be partnering up with Google to bring Gemini AI-powered features to iPhones. This move could give Google a leg up, as they're already the go-to search engine on iPhones. Apple's also flirting with OpenAI for AI tech licensing, aiming to roll out AI features in their iOS updates later this year. With competitors like OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google already ahead in the AI game, Apple's feeling the heat. Even though they're working on their own AI tools, it seems they haven't made as much progress as they'd hoped.  More here.

Musk open sources Grok.  Elon Musk's AI firm, xAI, has thrown down the gauntlet, releasing the base model weights and network architecture of Grok-1, its AI language model. The move seems to be a direct challenge to OpenAI's closed models. Grok-1, with its whopping 314 billion parameters, is a formidable competitor to OpenAI's ChatGPT. While the released model isn't fine-tuned for specific tasks, it's still a significant move in the AI realm. Musk's taunting OpenAI to release its models openly is heating up the AI wars.

Stability AI goes 3D.  Stability AI is shaking things up with the launch of Stable Video 3D (SV3D). This new AI video tool renders 3D video, taking the company's generative model portfolio to the next level. SV3D builds on the previous Stable Video Diffusion model, allowing users to create and transform multi-view 3D meshes from a single image. It's a game-changer for industries like gaming and e-commerce, where immersive experiences are key. And the best part is it’s available for commercial use with a Stability AI Pro Membership.

Game on.  Google DeepMind's latest invention is SIMA, an AI buddy that's learning to play video games just like you. Don't worry, it's not here to beat you at your favorite games but to play along. Trained on games like No Man’s Sky and Goat Simulator, SIMA (Scalable, Instructable, Multiworld Agent) is still in research and isn't gunning to replace existing game AI. It's more of a team player, blending natural language instruction with understanding 3D worlds and image recognition.

Microsoft is giving it away.  Microsoft is giving its Copilot AI chatbot a power boost. The tech giant has announced that all free Copilot users can now access GPT-4 Turbo for free. This was previously only available to Copilot Pro subscribers, who pay $20 a month. The upgrade means users can have a single text prompt that can be as long as 300 pages. Microsoft also revealed this week that Copilot Pro users can now access Copilot GPT Builder, a tool that lets users create their own custom chatbots.


Venture Capital shuffle.  The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) is trimming its venture capital allocation range from 15-30% to 5-25%. Despite VC being a top performer in LACERA's private equity portfolio, the move is reportedly to increase investment flexibility. Experts reckon this isn't a sign of waning LP interest in venture capital, but more a one-off situation. While some LPs might invest smaller amounts due to VCs raising smaller funds, many will stick with familiar, established funds.

The future of the Web: predictions.  The World Wide Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, shared his future predictions on the web's 35th birthday. He anticipates personal AI assistants that work for us, akin to doctors, lawyers, and bankers. He also predicts we'll have full control of our data, owning it through a data store or "pod," rather than surrendering it to tech giants. Berners-Lee also foresees a shift towards virtual and mixed reality, with seamless experiences across devices. Lastly, he suggests that a Big Tech company might be forced to break up due to regulation.  More here.

Teens and screen time.  A recent study by Pew Research Center dived into how teens and parents handle screen time. Turns out, 72% of teens feel peaceful without their smartphone but 44% also feel anxious. Parents aren't innocent either, with half admitting to snooping on their teen's phone. Moreover, 46% of teens say their parents are often distracted by their phone when they're trying to have a conversation. The study also found that 39% of teens have tried to cut back on their screen time.

Appy New Year.  As we welcome 2024, it's time to tackle those New Year’s resolutions.  Whether it's saving money, getting fit or just being happier, there’s an app for that!  Gola lets you track your goals, while PocketGuard helps manage your finances.  For fitness freaks, SmartGym offers AI-powered workouts and AppBlock keeps your screen time in check.  If you're cutting back on alcohol, Sunnyside offers a judgment-free zone.  And for bookworms, Bookly helps you hit your reading goals.  So, dust off that WalkingPad and let's get cracking on those resolutions, folks!  More here.

Breaking free from social platforms.  David Pierce, a Vergecast co-host, predicts a new era for social media, where interconnected social ecosystems like Mastodon, Bluesky, and Pixelfed, will replace the likes of Twitter and Facebook.  This decentralized world will be powered by ActivityPub, allowing posts to be separated from their platforms. Pierce believes the future lies in POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere.  Here, users own their content and syndicate it across various platforms.  Though hurdles exist, like managing engagements and cross-posting, Pierce believes the poster's paradise isn't far off.


Third time's a charm?  SpaceX is going for round three, as the colossal Starship rocket is set to orbit once more, bright and early Thursday morning, thanks to the green light from U.S. regulators. The previous two test flights? Well, let's just say they ended with a bang (and not the good kind). But SpaceX isn't deterred! They've made some hardware tweaks and are ready to show off new tricks like fuel transfer demos and in-space engine burns. This test is a big deal for SpaceX and NASA’s moon-landing Artemis program.  More here.

2024's Sci-Fi/Fantasy buffet.  Get ready to geek out on a mash-up of long-awaited content and outlandish surprises, thanks to COVID-related delays and Hollywood strikes.  Forget big franchise disappointments, we're in for quirky, creative, original works like an apocalypse musical and a clone living forever.  Apple TV is upping its game with sci-fi shows like "Constellation", "Murderbot", and "Dark Matter."  "Dune: Prophecy" on Max and "Alien" on FX are sure to intrigue.  Bong Joon-ho's "Mickey 17" and Alex Garland's "Civil War" promise to be mind-boggling.  Let's not forget "The End", a musical about a rich family living in a post-apocalyptic bunker.  More here.

Beam me up, AI.  Star Trek fans have been using AI to upscale the beloved series Deep Space 9 for modern TVs, and it's not half bad. The show, which has not been officially remastered, was originally broadcast in the '90s and is now available in a quality that leaves much to be desired. But fans have been turning to AI tools to upscale and denoise the series, creating versions that look pretty decent on a 4K screen. While this is a painstaking and costly process, it demonstrates the capabilities and limitations of AI upscaling.  It might be time for Paramount to take note and give DS9 the remastering it deserves.  Check out the vid here.

Grand Theft Auto VI early trailer.  Rockstar Games, in a bid to counter a leak, dropped the trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI a tad earlier than planned.  Set to hit PS5 and Xbox Series X | S in 2025, the game is a "new vision" for the franchise, says founder Sam Houser.  The trailer gives us a sneak peek into the state of Leonida, home to Vice City, and possibly introduces us to new protagonist Lucia.  Speculation is rife about a TikTok-meets-Instagram style platform being integrated into the game. More here.

Silencing the Crunch.  Doritos, the PepsiCo-owned snack brand, has developed an AI tech solution to mute the sound of its chip crunch for gamers.  Yes, for real.  After research indicated that 35% of UK adult gamers found the crunching sound distracting, Doritos created a free software, "Doritos Silent", that features AI trained to detect and mute the crunch noise.  The AI, developed with US company Smooth Technology, can purportedly detect over 3 million kinds of crunches.