Open AI snubs Microsoft on GPT-4o launch: Hashtag Trending, Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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OpenAI snubs Microsoft in latest offering. A new study finds that top tech companies lost a significant amount of very senior people when they insisted on return to office. Waymo’s milestone of 50,000 rides per week earns them a federal – investigation.

All this and more on this “that’s gotta hurt” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host, Jim Love, let’s get into it.

It turns out that OpenAI’s new GPT4o had an impact that went far beyond the amazing functionality that it displayed. Shares of a translation company took a bit a nose dive, but the real target was, of course, OpenAI’s competition.

Clearly, this launch was aimed at taking the air out of Google’s sails. While ChatGPT had led in terms of adoption and usage of text-based AI, Google was counting on its lead in multi-modal functionality.  Ooops.

But another company took a subtle shot from OpenAI – Microsoft. If you watched the demo yesterday, it was done on an iPhone (no surprise) but the laptop that the new OpenAI app was launched on was a Mac.  That’s no accident. Despite Microsoft putting 10 billion in investment into OpenAI, new app is only being launched on the Mac.  A Windows version is not expected until much later this year. Ouch.

The desktop ChatGPT app was built using Apple’s SwiftUI framework – but only for Macs.

When asked why the Windows app was not ready for this launch, OpenAI’s CTO Mira Murati gave a blunt rationale – saying quote “we’re just prioritizing where our users are.” Suggesting their data shows the OpenAI desktop user base skewing heavily toward macOS over Windows.

Some hope may lie in OpenAI posting new job openings for Windows engineers, potentially to build that dedicated ChatGPT app. As it stands now though, Windows users will have to wait behind Mac owners to get the full native desktop ChatGPT experience OpenAI has prioritized.

Along with Apple’s CEO announcing a partnership with OpenAI to bring ChatGPT to Apple platform, this scenario that surely must give Microsoft pause, as they work to ensure their massive OpenAI investment doesn’t leave Windows as an afterthought in the generative AI revolution.

Sources include: Windows Central

And Waymo, fresh on the heels of its milestone achievement of averaging more 50,000 rides per week finds itself the subject of a federal investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a defect probe into crashes involving Waymo’s autonomous vehicles operating in parts of California and Arizona.

According to NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, the probe stems from reports of 22 incidents where a Waymo self-driving car was the sole vehicle in a collision, or exhibited driving behavior potentially violating traffic laws.

Specific examples cited include crashing into stationary objects like gates or chains, hitting parked cars, and cases where the Waymo vehicle appeared to disobey traffic signals or control devices.

While Waymo touts its “proud” safety record over tens of millions of autonomous miles driven, these recurring incidents raised enough red flags for federal investigators to take a closer look at potential defects in the system.

The probe comes as NHTSA has been actively scrutinizing the safety and capabilities of self-driving car technology across multiple companies.

Separate investigations are already underway into reported cases of sudden unexplained braking in Amazon’s Zoox autonomous vehicles, as well as whether Tesla has adequately addressed failures with its driver-assist Autopilot software.

For Waymo, which just announced reaching over 50,000 paid rides per week across its autonomous taxi services, any findings of safety deficiencies could prove damaging both financially and to public perception.

The self-driving car movement has long pledged their AI-powered systems will be safer than human drivers. But as the technology expands to more public roads, one preventable crash after another keeps subjecting it to heavy scrutiny from regulators.

Waymo says it is cooperating fully with NHTSA’s investigation as the pressure mounts to prove these autonomous systems are truly fail-safe and ready for ubiquitous deployment.

Sources include: Axios

A new study is shedding light on an unintended consequence of big tech companies pushing employees to come back to the office full-time – losing their most experienced and valuable talent.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Michigan examined personnel moves at Apple, Microsoft and SpaceX in the months after each company implemented return-to-office mandates in 2022.

What they found was a spike in departures among senior-level employees who instead chose to leave rather than give up remote or hybrid work flexibility.

At Microsoft, the share of senior talent as a portion of its total workforce declined over 5 percentage points after the return-to-office policy took effect.

For Apple, it was a 4 percentage point drop in that senior employee ratio.

And at SpaceX, which had a strict full-time in-office requirement, a staggering 15 percentage points of its senior staff headed for the exits.

The data indicates these veteran staffers were staying several months less on average than they would have without return-to-office being mandated. And in many cases, they took their skills and experience directly to competitors.

The findings suggest that despite leaders like Tim Cook and Elon Musk touting the benefits of in-person collaboration, top tech talent wasn’t buying it – opting out even if it meant leaving prestigious roles.

As one researcher put it, these policies had a “negative effect” on workforce tenure and seniority that companies should have carefully weighed against employee preferences.

Now both Microsoft and Apple pushed back on the study’s conclusions regarding attrition rates. But the universities say the resume data doesn’t lie.

The study reinforces how heavily the return-to-office debate has played out in the tech sector, with companies trying to re-establish pre-pandemic norms despite many workers’ newfound desire for flexibility.

Whether it’s driven by productivity, recruitment or simply personal lifestyle reasons, senior staffers demonstrated a willingness to vote with their feet and jump ship over the issue.

For companies set on these mandates, they may have to brace for replacing some of their most seasoned and skilled personnel as the future of office work gets determined.

Sources include:  Washington Post

But at least one of these companies has found a way to monetize these return to work policies.

Microsoft is aiming to make hybrid and flexible office work a bit less fraught with a new AI-powered service called Places.

As more companies push return-to-office mandates or hybrid schedules, Places is designed to help coordinate when employees actually come into the workplace by sharing that data within teams.

The Places app allows workers to input which days they plan to be on-site, view when colleagues are scheduled, and even set “priority” office days if needed. It integrates with Outlook calendars and Microsoft Teams to centralize that office attendance data.

But in typical Microsoft fashion, Places won’t just be another workplace app. The company plans to deeply tie it into their flagship Copilot AI assistant.

Using natural language, employees will be able to ask Copilot to analyze the Places data and suggest optimal days to come into the office based on who else will be there and available for facetime.

It’s Microsoft’s AI-infused answer to the friction and morale hits many companies have seen with heavy-handed return-to-office policies. Rather than just mandating attendance, Places lets employees negotiate those hybrid schedules with input from Copilot’s machine learning.

Of course, Places itself will be layered into Microsoft’s paid Teams Premium subscription when it rolls out later this year. Another way for the company to add value to that AI-centric offering.

While the technology seems somewhat niche, it speaks to Microsoft’s belief that solutions blending workplace software, collaboration data, and AI assistants are key to easing the hybrid office transition.

Instead of fighting pandemic-era work flexibility, Places represents their approach to better enabling it – reinventing how, when and why we commute to a physical workspace in the AI era.  And the fact that it adds another few dollars a month into the every growing extra monthly charges for AI addons to software – bonus!  Ca-ching.

Sources include: The Register

And that’s our show for today.

Show notes are posted at our new home at technewsday.com or .ca either works and you can even play the latest or past episodes on our home page.  We’re also on You Tube with our experimental video show, getting ready for bigger and better video over the summer.

We love your comments and suggestions. You can reach us at editorial@technewsday.ca

I’m your host, Jim Love, have a Wonderful Wednesday.

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