Who is the real competition for OpenAI? Hashtag Trending for Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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Claude 3.5 is giving OpenAI a real run for its money.  It’s a war of the bots – companies are fighting back against harvesting of data from their sites. Too big to fail – nope. Amazon bricks their business robot Astro. And advanced technology helps to solve the mystery of an analogue computer that is over 2,000 years old.

All this and more on the “you thought COBOL punch cards were old technology?” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, let’s get into it.

If you were amazed by what OpenAI put into their latest 4o model, you might be forgiven if you wondered if Google would ever catch them. But it’s not Google that they have to worry about. Anthropic, a company that was started by a former executive of OpenAI, Dario Amodei has come up with a release of their Claude AI – version 3.5 that gives some very serious competition and according to many some superiority in some aspects.

For some time, Claude has been the favourite of those who use AI for writing. It tends to be more human in its text. It’s not a huge difference but if you paid careful attention it was at least marginally better in some aspects of writing.

But the 3.5 model is getting raves, not just for writing. The new version of Claude 3.5 Sonnet has introduced some new features.  Here’s some of the features they’ve announced:

  1. Interactive infographics: Transforms complex data and financial reports into easy-to-understand visuals.
  2. Audio visualizers: Creates visual representations synced to audio files.
  3. Design recreation: Generates code from website screenshots, streamlining development.
  4. Game development: Can create simple and complex games with minimal input.
  5. Animated diagrams: Brings concepts to life with interactive, step-by-step visuals.
  6. Multi-purpose interface: Allows users to generate presentations, designs, and code alongside chat.
  7. Document transformation: Converts long documents into concise slide presentations.
  8. Image editing: Offers tools for modifying images through simple prompts.

Of all of these new features, and there is a lot to process and we’re just starting to test it all out, but the code generation in particular is getting rave reviews in terms of the quality of code and usefulness. YouTube is flooded with videos of people creating video games with a few text prompts.

How much of this is “announcement” and how much is up and running has yet to be shown. For now, we’re depending on the announcements. We’ll keep you up to date on the results of our testing.

There’s a link to one of the many You Tube videos, one we found particularly helpful in walking through the new functions.  You can find it in the show notes.

Sources include:  YouTube

“A new ‘bot vs. bot’ conflict is emerging on the internet, centered around AI data harvesting. AI companies are aggressively scraping web content to train their models, while content owners are fighting back with AI-powered tools to protect their intellectual property.

The traditional remedy for companies was to change file called robots.txt that directed bots as to what they could and couldn’t access. Many AI bots have found ways around that.

AI companies argue that ‘open web’ content is fair game, while content owners disagree.

So companies are fighting back. Some have made changes to their sites to frustrate scraping programs, but clever approaches are being developed to beat those, with some complaining that Perplexity.ai is reaching areas of their site that it should not go to.

Recently, companies like Cloudflare are joining in. Cloudflare introduced a new service that blocks AI bots from harvesting clients’ content.

No doubt there will be more offerings like this and equally those who will try to find ways around them. Until we reach a consensus about AI development needs and intellectual property rights, and resolve the legal and ethical implications, we can expect this arms race or maybe an open out war to continue.

Sources include:  Axios

Amazon has announced it’s discontinuing its Astro for Business robots, a $2,350 device launched just 8 months ago for small and medium-sized businesses. This abrupt end to the product line underscores the challenges of bringing innovative technologies to market, even for tech giants.

The Astro robot, initially introduced in 2021 as a home device, was pivoted to the business market in late 2023. It offered features like autonomous patrolling of spaces up to 5,000 square feet with HD cameras and night vision. However, despite these capabilities, Amazon is now refunding customers and encouraging them to recycle the devices.

This development comes amidst broader challenges in Amazon’s device division.  The company has seen the departure of key executives and is facing financial pressures in its Alexa business unit.  Last year there were rumours about whether Amazon’s self-check-out was able to deliver the results it promised.

And while we are focused on Amazon, even Apple appears to be backing down on its recent Vision Pro product.

It’s a reminder that even well-resourced tech firms can struggle to find product-market fit as technology in robotics, virtual reality and AI advances so rapidly.

Looking ahead, Amazon says it will refocus on developing Astro for the home market, potentially incorporating generative AI capabilities. However, given the extended development time – over two and a half years and counting – and the sudden end of the business version, potential customers may be wary of investing in future iterations.

Sources include: ArsTechnica

They say the best time to plant a tree is a decade ago, the second-best time is today.  And sometimes that can apply to software as well.

After 41 years, Windows Notepad is finally getting spell-check and autocorrect.  It’s like your grandparents suddenly learned how to use emojis. This update, which was quietly rolled out to Windows 11 users, is now getting some attention as it gets rolled out to all users.

If you were thinking, ‘What’s the big deal? Every other text app has had this for ages.’ And you’d be right. But it’s somehow nice to see Notepad finally catch up with the times.

And they’ve thought it through.  You can toggle it on or off for specific file extensions. So, if you’re coding and don’t want red squiggles under every line, you’re still covered.

Hopefully that will also placate those who are grumbling about feature creep. After all, Notepad’s simplicity was part of its charm.

But quietly, under Windows 10 and 11, Notepad has had a lot of upgrades.  The first set included fixes to line wrapping and numbering and has since included improvements to find and replace, included some dark mode, auto-save / session restore, and even new a tabbed interface for handling multiple files as well as performance improvements on larger files. Spell check is just the most recent addition.

While some might bemoan the loss of a simple editor, with Wordpad now officially dead and gone in Windows 11, Notepad may be a worthy replacement.  And after all of the recent problems with security issues and then the backtrack on Rewind, Microsoft deserves a minor victory.

Sources include: Tom’s Hardware

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have used advanced modern computing and physics to solve the mystery of the the Antikythera mechanism, a 2,000-year-old mechanical computer discovered off the Greek coast.

Using Bayesian analysis, a statistical method often employed in modern business intelligence, the team was able to reconstruct the full design using the portion of the existing device that survived.  The analysis says the ring likely contained 354 holes, corresponding to a lunar calendar. While we have known that the Greeks studied astronomy, now know that they had a clear understanding of a celestial calendar based on lunar cycles.

But that’s not the end of applying cutting-edge technology to this ancient puzzle. Dr. Joseph Bayley, a research associate at the university, adapted techniques from gravitational wave detection – typically used in advanced astronomical research – to analyze the mechanism’s precision.

The results revealed an astonishing level of craftsmanship, with holes positioned at a radial variation of just 0.028mm. This precision was astonishing, given the fact that was crafted by hand more than two thousand years ago.

But it’s also a great example of how cross-disciplinary approaches and the application of advanced analytics can unlock new insights, even in seemingly unrelated fields. It’s a reminder for us in businesses to look beyond our own sector or vertical for innovative solutions and methodologies.

This ancient device also serves as a humbling reminder of human ingenuity that existed long before the digital age.

Sources include: Interesting Engineering

And that’s our show for today.

Hashtag Trending is on summer hours. We will have 3 daily news shows a week, with a weekend interview show we call the Weekend Edition.  And we’ll hopefully have one more week off in the summer before we come back to a full schedule on Labour Day.

Show notes are at technewsday.ca or .com  – either one works.

We love your comments.  Contact me at editorial@technewsday.ca

I’m your host Jim Love, have a Terrific Tuesday.

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