Hashtag Trending Feb. 20- OpenAI’s new offering Sora; Zuckerberg says tech layoffs may continue in 2024; Reddit to sell user generated content to large unnamed AI company

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Reddit will sell user generated content to an unnamed AI company, Mark Zuckerberg says that tech layoffs were a “natural response” and may continue in 2024, and the U.S. continues to invest in chip production, OpenAI launches Sora, its new text to video marvel.

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And I’ve finally seen it – the first mention of a “Chief AI Officer” 

All this and more on “Oh My God, Kill me now” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US.  

Someone at Google has to be saying, “are you kidding me?”  Google launched its new Gemini AI offerings which were supposed to be a quantum leap and a real threat to OpenAI’s dominance, particularly since Google was claiming supremacy in the multimedia arena.

Then, last week Open AI announced Sora. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a text to AI model that can generate a one minute video that will blow your socks off. It’s incredible in terms of its realism and the way that it has solved so many problems of existing AI generated videos. 

But apparently Sora has sparked a significant debate within the AI community, particularly around the model’s understanding and simulation of physics. Critics, including prominent figures from Meta, Google, and the broader AI research community, have raised concerns about whether Sora’s generative capabilities truly grasp the complexities of the physical world.

AI scientist Gary Marcus and others have criticized not just the accuracy of the videos generated by Sora but also questioned the underlying AI model’s approach to video synthesis. Meta’s Yann LeCun and Google have pointed out that creating realistic-looking videos does not necessarily mean the system understands physical reality. 

LeCun contrasts Sora with Meta’s V-JEPA model, which analyzes interactions between objects in videos, suggesting a deeper level of understanding beyond mere generation.

The debate extends to the very foundation of Sora, which uses a transformer architecture similar to GPT models. OpenAI believes this foundation can simulate the real world, aiding in the quest for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). However, critics argue that Sora’s current capabilities might not fully capture the nuances of physics, with some describing its output as lacking real-life accuracy.

Despite these criticisms, proponents of Sora, like NVIDIA’s senior research scientist Jim Fan, defend the model’s approach. Fan suggests that Sora learns a physics engine implicitly through massive video data, challenging the reductionist view that the model merely manipulates pixels without understanding. This perspective highlights a broader debate about what it means for AI to “learn” or “understand” concepts like physics.

As the AI community continues to explore these questions, Sora represents a significant moment akin to the “GPT-3 moment” of 2020, showcasing the potential and limitations of current AI technology. While skeptics and supporters alike debate Sora’s understanding of physics, the model’s development and the discussions it sparks are crucial steps toward more sophisticated AI systems capable of simulating and interacting with the real world.

This ongoing debate not only underscores the challenges in developing AI models that can accurately model physical reality but also highlights the collaborative and competitive nature of AI research, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with each new advancement.

Source: Analytics India Magazine, [OpenAI Sora Ignites Physics Debate](https://analyticsindiamag.com/openai-sora-ignites-physics-debate/).

Reddit has entered into a significant agreement with an unnamed large AI company, allowing the use of its vast user-generated content for AI training purposes. This deal, reportedly worth $60 million annually, is part of Reddit’s broader strategy to enhance its value ahead of a much-anticipated Initial Public Offering (IPO). 

This is part of an emerging trend where companies are formalizing arrangements to give access and utilize web data for AI model training and receive compensation for it

Traditionally, AI firms like OpenAI have trained their sophisticated language models by scraping data from the web, often without explicit permission from content creators or website owners. 

However, as scrutiny over data usage practices intensifies, there’s a shift towards securing formal agreements that grant AI companies legitimate access to valuable data sources. 

For instance, Apple was reported to be in talks last year with several media companies, negotiating deals worth at least $50 million to use archived news articles for AI training.

The Reddit deal marks a significant step in this direction but also ventures into more contentious territory by focusing on user-generated content. While Reddit’s terms and conditions may legally permit such use, the reaction from the platform’s user base remains to be seen, especially considering the platform’s history of user and moderator protests against decisions perceived as prioritizing revenue over community interests.

This development comes on the heels of Reddit’s controversial decision to restrict access to its API, which had a devastating impact on popular third-party client apps. The move sparked widespread backlash from the Reddit community, many of whom took actions to try to sabotage ad sales on their content.

We eagerly await the reaction from the Reddit community.

Source: 9to5Mac, [Reddit user content being sold to AI company in $60M/year deal](https://9to5mac.com/2024/02/19/reddit-user-content-being-sold/).

In a recent discussion on the Morning Brew Daily podcast, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, shared insights into the tech industry’s wave of layoffs in 2024, attributing it largely to a natural recalibration following the pandemic-era hiring surge. 

According to Zuckerberg, many companies, including Meta, expanded their workforce significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by a temporary boom in ecommerce and remote work. However, as the world began to return to pre-pandemic norms, these companies found themselves overstaffed and financially strained, leading to widespread layoffs.

Zuckerberg emphasized that the layoffs were a response to the overexpansion during the pandemic rather than a direct result of technological advancements like artificial intelligence. 

Despite the growing focus on AI and automation, which has led companies like SAP and Cisco to announce layoffs amid AI development efforts, Zuckerberg clarified that AI did not play a major role in Meta’s decision to reduce its workforce. Instead, the goal was to create a leaner, more agile company capable of doing its best work.

Meta underwent four rounds of layoffs between November 2022 and May 2023, affecting thousands of employees, particularly within its metaverse unit. 

The tech sector’s layoffs in 2024, while not as extensive as those in 2023, have nonetheless impacted thousands of workers globally. With more than 39,000 job cuts reported in just January and February, the industry is bracing for potentially more layoffs as companies like Google also signal intentions to further reduce headcount.

Zuckerberg’s comments may be a realistic and even more mature understanding of running a company like Meta, but they confirm the modern ethos that employees are dispensable. I say this not as a moral judgement but as a fact. As we move into a world where the impact of AI and automation have yet to be felt in the future workforce it is a sobering fact. 

Source: ITPro, [Mark Zuckerberg: Tech layoffs in 2024 have been a natural response to pandemic-era overhiring](https://www.itpro.com/business/business-strategy/mark-zuckerberg-tech-layoffs-in-2024-have-been-a-natural-response-to-pandemic-era-over-hiring).

The Biden administration has announced a significant investment in the semiconductor industry, providing $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries to bolster domestic production of computer chips in New York and Vermont. This move, part of the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, represents a strategic effort to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing sector, which is crucial for a range of technologies from military equipment to consumer electronics.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted the importance of the chips produced by GlobalFoundries, noting their role in powering advanced military equipment, electric vehicles, and enabling faster internet connections. The funding aims to support the construction of a new advanced chip factory in Malta, New York, enhance production at an existing Malta plant in collaboration with General Motors, and revitalize a facility in Burlington, Vermont.

These projects are expected to create 1,500 manufacturing jobs and 9,000 construction jobs over the next decade. Additionally, GlobalFoundries will dedicate $10 million to worker training and extend a $1,000 annual child care subsidy to construction workers, underscoring the company’s commitment to supporting its workforce.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a key architect of the CHIPS and Science Act, emphasized the critical role of semiconductor technology in the U.S. economy and national security. 

In a world where Taiwanese companies control over 50 per cent of chip production and 20 per cen of chips are produced in Taiwan, the ever present tension between China and the island nation it claims as its own may have a lot to do with the U.S.’s new emphasis on building chip production in the U.S.. 

Source: AP News, [Biden admin providing $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries to make computer chips in New York and Vermont](https://apnews.com/article/computer-chips-biden-new-york-schumer-globalfoundries-fe69bb214354695769dd615de4f9c221).

Okay, I’m sorry, No I’m not, but I’m Canadian and we pretty much have to say that. I saw this as a title of a recent white paper. “Does your business need a “chief AI officer.”  

Spoiler alert. The answer is no. We don’t need another “chief” anything. This is just out of control. 

Look. We have a Chief Information Officer – a real C level job. And you can call it a Chief Technology or Chief Information Officer, I don’t care. Well, actually I do. Because for years, we’ve worked to bring the person in charge of technology and its strategic use in the business to a seat at the board room table. 

We’ve worked to raise not the person, but the idea that technology and its application is as strategic as finance, marketing, human resources or operations. 

And then we couldn’t resist. We had a chief digital officer, and a chief information security officer and then a chief data officer and now somebody is talking about a chief AI officer. 

The problem is that when every title that touches technology is a “chief” something or other, it cheapens the real C level. 

No other area in the company does this. You don’t have a chief compensation officer in HR. You don’t have a chief spreadsheet officer in finance, you don’t have a chief robotics officer in manufacturing. Or maybe somebody has tried something, but they probably got laughed out of the room when they did. 

It seems like everybody is trying to invent a new C level position in IT every year. And they promote it, they hype it – and frankly, the people who try to fill these roles probably go nuts. The expectation of trying to be a C level executive is something many are totally unprepared for.

If you think this is a “diss” to any of these people, you’ve got me wrong. I have immense respect for people who have specialized skills and knowledge. I think they should be well compensated and well respected in their domain of expertise. And that should occur no matter where they are on the org chart. 

But the Achilles heel of IT has always been the hype. The latest technology, the latest threat, the latest this and that…  

What is needed at the C level is a strategic viewpoint linking technology to the future of the business and its business results. 

If companies lose that, they lose a lot. So if you have five or six C levels vying for a seat at the executive table, what they all get the capital “c” in their title replace with a small case “c”.  And if we aren’t careful, that includes the real capital C of the CIO or CTO (take your pick). 

And if we lose that, we lose our champion at the board room table. Nobody benefits from that. Not those who work in technology and IT a digital world, not the company and not its shareholders. 

So knock it off with the new C level titles. And get behind one key place at the executive table. 

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with daily newscast and a weekend interview show that we creatively called – the weekend edition. 

We love to hear from you. Send us a note at jlove@itwc.ca or drop us a comment under the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts – look for Hashtag Trending. 

Thanks for listening and have a Terrific Tuesday!

 

The post Hashtag Trending Feb. 20- OpenAI’s new offering Sora; Zuckerberg says tech layoffs may continue in 2024; Reddit to sell user generated content to large unnamed AI company first appeared on IT World Canada.

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