5 things about AI you may have missed today: Demand raised for crackdown against deepfakes, AI-focused Amazon cuts jobs

Today, November 18, marked a day of shocking developments in the artificial intelligence space. In the first incident, the cofounder of OpenAI, Sam Altman, was sacked from the position of CEO of OpenAI by the company’s board of directors. In the fallout of the decision, company president Greg Brockman also resigned from his position. In other news, Amazon announced it is trimming jobs at its Alexa voice assistant unit, citing shifting business priorities and a greater focus on generative artificial intelligence. This and more in today’s AI roundup. Let us take a closer look.

Amazon to cut jobs to focus on AI

Amazon is reducing jobs in its Alexa voice assistant unit, citing changes in business priorities and a higher emphasis on generative AI, said a report by Reuters. The job cuts impact several hundred employees working on Alexa, with the company indicating a shift in efforts to align with business priorities and customer preferences, particularly in the realm of generative AI, mentioned the report. The announcement was made via email by Daniel Rausch, Vice President of Alexa and Fire TV, who mentioned the discontinuation of some initiatives as a result of these strategic shifts. The exact number of affected employees was not disclosed.

Billionaire group to create AI research labs

Billionaires Eric Schmidt, Xavier Niel, and Rodolphe Saade have revealed plans to establish Kyutai, a nonprofit AI research lab based in Paris, according to a report by Forbes. The lab aims to contribute to Europe’s efforts to rival Silicon Valley in AI development. Modeled after OpenAI, Kyutai will operate as a nonprofit and adopt an open-source approach. The lab has recruited scientists with backgrounds from Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and Meta, signaling a collaboration between former Silicon Valley executives and established European business leaders.

BJP MLA urges law minister to bring stricter regulations against deepfakes

Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Rajeshwar Singh has called for a robust legal framework and stringent regulations to address the threat of deepfake and forged videos, reports PTI. In a letter to Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Singh, a former Enforcement Directorate officer and lawyer, highlighted the potential of such manipulated content to cause social, political, and economic unrest in India. He pointed to instances where misuse of AI tools and smart software posed risks to fundamental rights, women’s dignity, political stability, press freedom, and societal well-being.

Govt to summon top social media platforms

The Government, expressing serious concerns about ‘deepfake’ videos, is all set to meet with social media platforms to address the issue. Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw emphasized that the safe harbor immunity clause would not apply if platforms fail to take sufficient measures to remove deepfakes. Notices have been issued to companies on this matter, and while responses have been received, the government urges platforms to adopt a more proactive approach in dealing with such content, the minister said.

“Maybe in the next 3-4 days, we’ll call them for brainstorming on that and make sure that platforms make adequate efforts for preventing it (deepfakes), and for cleaning up their platforms,” PTI quoted Vaishnaw as saying.

Sam Altman sacked from OpenAI

In a shocking turn of events, Sam Altman has been fired from his position as the chief executive officer (CEO) of OpenAI, as per an announcement by the company today, November 18. The reason behind laying him off was given as not being “consistently candid in his communications with the board”. As per the announcement, the decision was taken after a deliberative review process, however, the board found that it had lost confidence in him to lead the company. After the news of Altman being let go surfaced, president and cofounder of the company Greg Brockman has also resigned from his position. Altman was one of the earliest backers of the company when it launched in 2015.

The official communication from OpenAI said, “The board of directors of OpenAI, Inc., the 501(c)(3) that acts as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities, today announced that Sam Altman will depart as CEO and leave the board of directors”.

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