OpenAI releases GPT-4, Google announces plans to infuse AI in Workspace tools and do the best coders really have potty mouth?
Welcome to Hashtag Trending for Wednesday, March 15th
I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US – here’s today’s top tech news stories.
OpenAI announce the release of GPT-4, the next generation AI engine for ChatGPT.
But truth is that GPT-4 has actually been hiding in plain sight. Microsoft confessed yesterday that its new Bing has, in fact, been running on GPT-4 all along. Other early users include Duolingo, Morgan Stanley, Khan Academy and the government of Iceland.
GPT-4 became available to OpenAI’s paying users via ChatGPT Plus (with a usage cap), and developers are now able to sign up on a waitlist to access the API.
OpenAI says GPT-4 “surpasses ChatGPT in its advanced reasoning capabilities.” For example, it says that while ChatGPT could score in the 10th percentile on the bar exam taken by lawyers, GPT-4 can score in the 90th percentile.
GPT -4 can also accept and generate longer entries – up to 25,000 words. And it can generate captions and other information with an image as a starting point.
The bigger question remains whether GPT-4 will have its predecessors’ unpredictable and sometimes bizarre behaviours.
But OpenAI acknowledged that even the new engine has its limitations, incorporating societal bias and having the tendency to “hallucinate,” or make up convincing sounding but false information.
They say GPT-4 is 82 per cent less likely to respond when asked for content it doesn’t allow and 40 per cent more likely to produce factual responses than GPT-3.5 in internal testing.
Microsoft, in the meantime, continues to find new opportunities to build generative AI into its business products, including Office apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
What Microsoft can’t seem to find is good use of its ethical AI team.
Silicon Valley blog the Platformer reported that Redmond cut its entire ethics and society team as part of its latest round of layoffs that affected 10,000 employees.
In fairness, the ethics and society team was not very large, with only about seven people remaining after a reorganization in October. Some were transferred to other teams and on March 6, John Montgomery, corporate vice president of AI, told the remaining members that they’d be eliminated. Members of the team told Platformer they believed they were let go because Microsoft had become more focused on getting its AI products shipped before the competition, and was less concerned with long-term, socially responsible thinking.
Source: Axios and TechCrunch
Google is not yet conceding the AI market to Microsoft, It announced a suite of upcoming generative AI features for its various Workspace apps, including Google Docs, Gmail, Sheets, and Slides.
Some features include new ways to generate, summarize and brainstorm text with AI in Google Docs, options to generate full emails in Gmail, and developing bullet points or even AI imagery, audio and video for presentations in Slides.
The new features on Docs and Gmail will be made available to trusted testers in the U.S. this month.
Google said that the other features will then be made available to the public later this year.
According to the Verge, out of all the new features, the AI writing and brainstorming tools in Docs and Gmail seem the most potentially useful.
Alphabet wants you to think of the new features as a “magic wand”, capable of drafting a marketing blogs, training plans or other text, with just one simple command. It can even revise its tone at users’ discretion.
But it has the same risks as Bing’s Sydney – “hallucinating” or spewing nonsense or hateful content.
In fact, in its press release yesterday, Google offered a standard disclaimer, saying, “Sometimes the Al gets things wrong, sometimes it delights you with something offbeat, and often times, it requires guidance.”
Thomas Kurian, Chief Executive of Google Cloud, making the announcement didn’t disclose how much the upgraded Workspace might cost businesses or consumers.
The failed Silicon Valley Bank and the subsequent potential banking crisis might be good news for bitcoin and other crypto currencies.
The price of Bitcoin jumped 30 per cent since the evening of March 10, when the first news of SVB’s failure happened to around $26,000 as of yesterday afternoon.
Kurt Wuckert Jr., historian at CoinGeek said that “Bitcoin plays into the narrative of the place to store your money in a crisis.”
Some might think that history repeats itself. Crypto saw its biggest single-month gain in history in the wake of the Cypriot Financial Crisis in early 2013, during which the second-largest bank in the country issued a levy on bank deposits and took a portion of uninsured depositors’ assets
However, a study published recently by a New York economist questioned the connection, saying that bitcoin does not always react to macro events in a systematic or even a logical manner.
Stefan Rust, CEO of inflation data aggregator Truflation, contended, “What drove early adoption was remittances and purchases, so much so that people spent 10,000 BTC to buy a pizza”
Ah, those winter evenings when we warm ourselves in gentle glow of the — domain controller?
Deep Green, a UK cloud startup, is offering to install its edge server hardware physically for organizations to provide free heat, so that it can reduce its own location and cooling costs.
The company deploys a mini datacenter with the IT equipment immersed in a liquid cooling fluid with a heat exchanger to transfer the heat energy on to where it is needed.
The facility has already been deployed to Exmouth Leisure Center in southwest England, where the waste heat from a dozen servers is being used to warm the swimming pool. According to a report in The Register, this is expected to reduce the pool energy requirements by 62 percent, saving them over £20,000 or $24,000 US a year while also reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
The company installs the kit for free, and also covers the electricity and maintenance costs of the infrastructure.
Deep Green plans to deploy more of this technology in Bristol and Manchester in the near future.
Such schemes, but on a larger scale, have been deployed previously by Microsoft in Finland last year, and by Netherlands datacenter company Bytesnet.
But smaller installations like Deep Green’s offer to revamp the energy use of local communities that tend to get under the radar with their carbon footprint.
But don’t expect you can use the scheme to get your home electric bill down: Deep Green confirmed to The Register that it is “business only.”
Source: The Register
Now here’s a question that we really want the answer to. Do good coders swear more? A study for an undergrad bachelor thesis seems to suggest they do.
According to undergraduate student Jan Strehmel from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, curses mean quality code.
To measure how swear words affect quality of code, Strehmel used a program called SoftWipe, developed by his supervisor’s lab, to measure adherence to coding standards, such as the use of quality checks and a simple code structure.
Strehmel pulled around 3,800 examples of code containing swear words, along with 7,600 examples of code that did not, from GitHub. SoftWipe revealed that on average, code containing swearing scored about half a point higher on its 10 point scale of code quality than code that did not.
Strehmel’s supervisor, Bioinformatician Alexandros Stamatakis, appears to think that maybe it is past cursing that helped him to become a full professor!
Psychologists have long known that swearing can relieve pain, increase physical performance, and help people shape their personas. But the link between swearing and code quality has not been examined before, and the suggestion that there’s a connection is a “very exciting, interesting idea,” according to Benjamin Bergen from the University of California San Diego—author of the book, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves.
Bergen in fact makes it a point to swear once during every college lecture he teaches to increase engagement.
But programmers may include profanity to amuse or shock people who read their code—and if they expect their code to be read, they may put extra effort into it.
Software engineer Greg Wilson, however worries about the impact that profanity can have if it appears directed at junior programmers, however. Aggressive language has been cited as one factor that discourages people—especially those from groups that are marginalized in STEM—from continuing to work in software engineering.
But we don’t want abuse, but if it makes better code, and it encourages you to comment your code, for all I care you can tell me to put it where subroutine don’t shine.
Source: Ars Technica
And on a closing note, we want to say goodbye to a familiar face. Or interface. Canada’s Kijiji marketplace – where 20 years ago we found apartments, bought and sold things – that familiar app was, for many, an astonishing replacement for newspaper buy and sell ads. It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was functional, easy to understand and easy to use.
But now that it’s time to put that old warrior into retirement. After all these years, there is a new interface and a new look for this old friend.
But for those of us with a sentimental attachment, Kijiji is offering to sell a limited, print copy of the original Kijiji marketplace for only $1. Even in its well-deserved retirement, it’s still helping us find a bargain.
Those are the top tech news stories for today
Links to these stories can be found in the article posted on itworldcanada.com/podcasts. You can also find more great stories and more in-depth coverage in itworldcanada.com or in the US at Technewsday.com
Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a daily newscast and we have a special weekend edition with an interview featuring an expert in some aspect of technology that is making the news.
We’re always happy to hear from you, you can find me on LinkedIn, Mastodon, Twitter or just leave a comment under the article for this podcast at ITWorldCanada.com/podcasts.
I’m your host Jim Love – Have a Wonderful Wednesday!