Google gets its mojo working and threatens Open AI’s dominance: Hashtag Trending for Friday February 2nd, 2024

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Gemini Pro looks poised to give OpenAI some real competition for a change, TikTok loses access to a huge amount of popular music, there is finally a fix for the Pixel phone storage bug (but you’re probably not going to like it), and the US Senate hearings on social media are like social media itself, high on emotion, light on accuracy, and big on theatrics…

All this and more in this anti-social edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US.

The competition between Google and OpenAI intensifies with the global rollout of Gemini Pro on Bard.

Some reports are saying that this new Gemini Pro release potentially surpasses OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Gemini Pro, now integrated into Bard, will be accessible in over 40 languages across more than 230 countries. And unless I’m severely mistaken, Canada still appears to be left off the list. Although you can reach it with a VPN, I can only access it this way.

The Gemini upgrade introduces a text-to-image generation feature powered by the Imagen-2 model, which is touted to outperform OpenAI’s Dall.E2. In my brief test before we went to air, it was impressive and fast. But in an equally quick test of the writing ability of Bard versus OpenAI, ChatGPT is still ahead of Bard in terms of the flow of its prose. And it might just be me, but Bard seems to always give a great description and a bit of an overstatement of its own abilities. I did an earlier test of Bard versus ChatGPT, and Bard rated itself as superior on a task it didn’t complete. I’ll be testing on the weekend and I’ll update you all on Monday.

To ensure ethical use and distinguish AI-generated images from human-created art, Bard will use SynthID to embed digitally recognizable watermarks in the images it generates.

Bard’s Gemini Pro upgrade includes features that directly compete with ChatGPT Pro’s integration of GPTs. Google’s strategic releases, including the ‘Help me Write’ feature in Google Chrome and the integration of Gemini capabilities in Samsung’s new Galaxy AI smartphones, highlight its aggressive push in the generative AI domain.

Additionally, Google’s Lumiere, a text-to-video generation model, may have an edge over OpenAI, which has yet to release a similar offering.

Google seems to have gotten their mojo back and are actually releasing generative AI features and not just doing videos and announcements. Bard recently secured the second position on the HuggingFace Chat Bot Arena Leaderboard surpassing GPT-4.

All of this makes OpenAI’s response, potentially with the release of GPT-5, eagerly awaited as the competition heats up.

Google’s new offering positions it as a formidable contender in the generative AI space. But something tells me that OpenAI will not simply just roll over and play dead.

Sources include: Analytics India and

TikTok users are facing the loss of access to songs from popular artists like Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, and boygenius, all part of the Universal Music Group (UMG) roster.

This development follows the collapse of contract negotiations between TikTok and UMG. As a result, TikTok has started muting videos featuring songs from these artists.

The dispute centers around compensation and rights issues. UMG accuses TikTok of not compensating artists and songwriters adequately, not protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and failing to address online safety issues. UMG’s stance is that TikTok’s compensation accounts for only a small fraction of total revenue, despite music being a core part of the TikTok experience.

UMG also raised concerns about AI-generated recordings flooding the platform, which they believe dilutes the royalty pool for artists. Additionally, UMG pointed out issues with problematic content on TikTok, including sexualized images of artists like Billie Eilish.

TikTok, on the other hand, has criticized UMG for putting “greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” The platform argues that it has reached artist-first agreements with other labels and publishers, and that UMG’s actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters, and fans.

This situation has led to shock and disappointment among TikTok users, particularly fans of the affected artists. Some users have even joked about moving to Instagram Reels as an alternative. The dispute highlights the ongoing challenges in the digital music industry, particularly around rights, compensation, and the use of AI-generated content.

Sources include: Devdiscourse

Google has released a fix for a major storage bug affecting Pixel phones, but the solution is far from user-friendly. The issue, which emerged after the January 2024 Google Play system update, locked some Pixel owners out of their phone’s local storage, rendering the devices nearly useless. Google’s response, posted on the Pixel Community Forums, requires users to manually intervene using developer tools and a command-line interface.

The process to fix the bug involves several technical steps: enabling Android’s Developer Options, downloading Google’s “SDK Platform-Tools” zip file, connecting the phone in the correct mode, and executing specific commands through a terminal. The commands involve uninstalling certain media components using the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), a tool typically used by developers for testing and debugging.

While this method promises no data loss for those who haven’t already wiped their devices, it poses a significant challenge for average users. The instructions are complex and require a level of technical expertise that many may not possess. Additionally, issues with ADB driver installation on Windows can further complicate the process, leading to errors and difficulties in running the necessary commands.

This situation highlights the challenges of addressing software issues in consumer electronics, where solutions may require technical skills beyond the average user’s capabilities. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of automatic updates and the need for more accessible solutions for resolving such critical issues.

Sources include: ArsTechnica

I have no idea what to report about the recent US Senate hearings that brought the leaders of social media companies in for what can only be described as theatre.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Zuckerberg fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I have no idea what was gained by senators accusing him of being responsible for the suicides of children and pointing to the grieving parents.

Zuckerberg, caught off guard, was forced to apologize – but aside from humiliating him, there was theatre – no substantive discussion.

Robert F. Kennedy Junior attempted to be “cool” with a specific phrase that he’d picked up, which one of the CEOs had never heard.

One senator, Tom Cotton, repeatedly asked TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew if he’d ever been a member of the Chinese communist party, and Chew had to tell him multiple times that Chew is Singaporean, not Chinese.

Short of saying, “you all look alike,” it’s hard to imagine how a senior US legislator could be any more racist or rude – you can take your pick which one.

And as for substantive discussions about deep fakes or real proposals about what can actually be done? I heard nothing.

If I missed it, I’ll stand corrected but once again, but I thinkit was Seth Myers who gave the best analysis – these guys didn’t look like they could operate their garage door opener.

Which makes for a good line, but the fact is that there are real issues in social media that require if not legislation, then at least some agreement or regulation.

But nothing will happen if it’s all political theatre, with a bunch of legislators who aren’t willing to engage in substantive discussions.

Sources include: MSNBC, YouTube highlights and several stories including Axios and one in The Register

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a daily news show and every Saturday, we have an interview show called the Weekend Edition.

We love your comments. Please let us know what you think. You can reach me at or leave a comment under the show notes at

I’m your host Jim Love, thanks for listening and have a thrilling Thursday.

The post Google gets its mojo working and threatens Open AI’s dominance: Hashtag Trending for Friday February 2nd, 2024 first appeared on IT World Canada.


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