Meta Unveils Next-Gen AI Emu Video and Emu Edit

The realm of generative AI is witnessing rapid advancements, with 2023 marking a significant stride in the domain. Meta, formerly Facebook, has introduced Emu, a groundbreaking foundational model for image generation, at this year’s Meta Connect event. This technology underpins numerous AI experiences across Meta’s app family, notably in Instagram’s AI image editing tools. These tools enable users to transform photos by altering their visual style or background. Moreover, the Imagine feature in Meta AI facilitates the generation of photorealistic images within messages or group chats.

Breakthroughs in Video Generation: Emu Video

Emu Video emerges as a pivotal development, utilizing the Emu model for text-to-video generation. This innovative approach, based on diffusion models, offers a simple yet efficient method for creating high-quality videos. The process involves two phases: initially generating images from text prompts and subsequently creating videos conditioned on both text and images. This factorized methodology allows for efficient training of video generation models. Emu Video’s superiority is evident, as it only requires two diffusion models to produce 512×512 videos at 16 fps, a stark contrast to previous methods requiring multiple models. Human evaluations have shown a strong preference for Emu Video, with its performance outshining previous technologies in both quality and adherence to text prompts.

Revolutionizing Image Editing: Emu Edit

Meta’s Emu Edit represents a paradigm shift in image editing, focusing on precise pixel-level alterations. This tool enables intricate editing tasks such as local and global modifications, background adjustments, and color and geometric transformations. Emu Edit stands out by ensuring that only pixels relevant to the editing instructions are altered, maintaining the integrity of the untargeted portions of the image. To train Emu Edit, Meta has developed an extensive dataset comprising 10 million synthesized samples, each including an input image, an editing task description, and the targeted output image. The model exhibits exceptional performance in terms of instruction faithfulness and image quality.

The Future of Generative AI at Meta

These advancements in generative AI hint at a future where creative expression is more accessible and diverse. Emu Video and Emu Edit could potentially revolutionize how people create and share media. They offer tools for everyone from professional artists to casual users, enabling new forms of expression and creativity. While they are not substitutes for professional creators, they provide a platform for enhanced self-expression and creative exploration.

Media reports emphasize the streamlined process of Emu Video and the precise pixel-level editing capability of Emu Edit. The technology’s simplicity and efficiency are highlighted, along with its potential to revolutionize video and image editing. However, Meta approaches the deployment of these AI solutions cautiously, given the rigorous scrutiny from regulators. Meta has clarified that its AI capabilities will not be available for marketing or political campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. Nevertheless, the platform’s basic advertising regulations currently do not specifically address AI.

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Xbox Teams with Inworld AI for Game Dev AI Tools

Xbox and Inworld AI have announced a multi-year alliance aimed at infusing game development with the transformative capabilities of Generative AI. This partnership promises to arm game creators with cutting-edge tools to design intricate narratives and dialogues, catalyzing a new era of interactive gaming experiences.

Unveiled by Haiyan Zhang, General Manager of Gaming AI at Xbox, on November 6, 2023, the collaboration is a strategic move towards leveraging the advanced capabilities of AI, specifically AI Large Language Models like OpenAI’s GPT, which powers both ChatGPT and Bing Chat. Reflecting on the journey from rudimentary AI in classics such as Ms. Pac-Man to today’s sophisticated AI-driven environments, Zhang underscored the boundless possibilities AI brings to game development.

The partnership is poised to harness Inworld AI’s specialized knowledge in generating AI models for character development and Microsoft’s avant-garde cloud-based AI offerings, such as the Azure OpenAI Service. It also draws on the profound insights of Microsoft Research and the innovative prowess of Team Xbox, aiming to revolutionize game development tools that are both accessible and ethically responsible.

Central to this alliance are two pivotal tools designed to bolster the creative process for game designers:

An AI Design Copilot: This innovative aid serves as a creative catalyst, enabling game designers to translate initial prompts into fully-fledged scripts, dialogue trees, quests, and more. It’s a tool that promises to widen the horizon for creative storytelling in games.

An AI Character Runtime Engine: Tailored for seamless integration with game clients, this engine is set to breathe life into games by generating on-the-fly narratives, quests, and dialogues, creating a bespoke player experience that evolves with each interaction.

Xbox’s vision with this partnership extends beyond technological advancement; it is about cultivating an ecosystem where game development is democratized, ethical AI practices are the norm, and inclusivity is a given. The company aligns with Microsoft’s established AI principles and Responsible AI Standard, reinforcing its commitment to conscientious AI development.

The collaboration between Xbox and Inworld AI marks a pivotal step in Xbox’s ongoing mission to empower game creators. It’s a commitment to innovation that seeks to simplify complexities in game development, enhance player immersion, and provide developers with the means to push the boundaries of interactive entertainment.

As Xbox continues to integrate AI into the fabric of game design, the industry watches with anticipation for the next breakthroughs that will emerge from this exciting partnership.

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Google Unveils IP Indemnity for Generative AI Users

On October 13, 2023, Google Cloud’s VP Legal, Neal Suggs, and VP of TI Security & CISO, Phil Venables, unveiled an industry-first two-pronged intellectual property (IP) indemnity initiative aimed at safeguarding users of its generative AI services from potential legal ramifications concerning copyright infringements. This decisive step manifests Google’s committed approach toward ensuring its customer’s legal security amidst the evolving generative AI landscape, aligning itself with the likes of Microsoft and Adobe who have previously announced similar protective measures.

The indemnity scheme is bifurcated into two distinct segments – Training Data Indemnity and Generated Output Indemnity, each addressing different aspects of IP concerns that may arise from utilizing generative AI technologies provided by Google Cloud.

Under this provision, Google reassures its users against any third-party IP claims arising from the training data employed to develop generative models utilized by Google’s AI services. This isn’t a novel protection but a reinforcement of Google’s ongoing commitment towards indemnifying users against IP infringement allegations related to the training data.

Extending the protective umbrella, this segment covers the output generated by customers while using Google’s AI services. In essence, if the generated content, produced in response to customer inputs, triggers any third-party IP claims, Google vows to assume the legal responsibility, provided the users haven’t intentionally infringed upon others’ rights.

This initiative emanates from a proactive stance to mitigate the risks associated with the burgeoning field of generative AI. The products encompassed under this indemnity include Duet AI in Workspace and Google Cloud, Vertex AI Search, Vertex AI Conversation, Vertex AI Text Embedding API, Visual Captioning on Vertex AI, and Codey APIs. However, the Bard search tool was notably absent from this list.

The indemnity structure is not just a protective shield but also an invitation for open discourse with customers to understand and address other potential use-case-specific coverage necessities.

Similar to Google, Microsoft has also pledged to assume legal onus for their respective enterprise users. 

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Visa Announces $100 Million Fund for Generative AI in Commerce and Payments

On October 2, 2023, Visa Inc., a global leader in payment solutions, announced a $100 million fund dedicated to generative artificial intelligence (AI). The fund is designed to invest in startups and established businesses that are at the forefront of developing generative AI technologies and applications, particularly those that have potential applications in commerce and payments.

Visa Ventures, the corporate investment division of Visa, will be responsible for overseeing the fund’s investment activities. Established in 2007, Visa Ventures has a history of backing innovative projects in the payment and commerce sectors. David Rolf, Head of Visa Ventures, expressed enthusiasm about the initiative, stating, “Generative AI has the potential to be one of the most transformative technologies of our time. We are excited to expand our focus to invest in some of the most innovative and disruptive venture-backed startups in the fields of generative AI, commerce, and payments.”

The Capabilities of Generative AI

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can produce a wide array of content, from text and images to audio and synthetic data. The technology has already shown its capabilities through major AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, which can generate text that closely resembles human writing. This opens up new avenues for how AI can be utilized in various sectors, including commerce and payments.

Visa’s Long-standing Commitment to AI

Visa has been a pioneer in the adoption of artificial intelligence technologies. As early as 1993, the company implemented AI-based systems for risk and fraud management. In 2022, Visa Advanced Authorization, the company’s real-time fraud monitoring system, was credited with preventing approximately $27 billion in fraudulent activities. Last year, Visa also launched VisaNet +AI, a suite of AI-based services aimed at helping financial institutions tackle challenges related to daily settlement operations.

Beyond its investments in AI, Visa has also been exploring other technological frontiers. The company has shown a positive stance on the incorporation of blockchain technology, particularly Bitcoin, into payment systems. Jack Forestell, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Visa, believes that generative AI holds significant promise in reshaping the financial landscape.

The $100 million fund is a significant step in Visa’s broader strategy to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving technological landscape. It not only reinforces the company’s leadership in AI but also signals its intent to be at the forefront of future innovations that could redefine commerce and payments.

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a16z: Top 50 Generative AI Revealed; ChatGPT, CharacterAI, Bard, Poe, QuillBot Rank Top 5

Generative AI (GenAI) has been making waves in the consumer space, with ChatGPT leading the charge. Nine months post its release, ChatGPT became the fastest consumer application to achieve 100 million monthly active users. But how are consumers engaging with other GenAI products? A recent analysis by Olivia Moore from a16z provides insights into this burgeoning field.

A Surge in New GenAI Products

According to SimilarWeb data from June 2023, 80% of the top 50 GenAI web products didn’t exist just a year ago. This indicates a rapid evolution in the GenAI space, with many new entrants. Interestingly, while big tech has made its presence felt with products like Bard (Google) and Clipchamp (Microsoft), 48% of the companies on the list are bootstrapped, having received no external funding.

ChatGPT’s Dominance

ChatGPT accounts for a staggering 60% of the monthly traffic to the top 50 GenAI products, translating to approximately 1.6 billion monthly visits and 200 million users as of June 2023. This places ChatGPT as the 24th most visited website globally. However, CharacterAI is emerging as a strong contender, capturing about 21% of ChatGPT’s scale, especially on mobile platforms.

GenAI Categories in Focus

General LLM chatbots, including ChatGPT, Bard, and Poe, dominate the GenAI space, accounting for 68% of the total consumer traffic. However, AI companions like CharacterAI and content generation tools such as Midjourney are gaining traction. Within content generation, image generation tools lead with 41% traffic, followed by writing tools at 26%.

The Competitive Landscape

While some early “winners” in the GenAI space have emerged, many product categories remain open for innovation. The traffic difference between the top two players in most categories is less than 2x, suggesting ample opportunities for new entrants.

Organic Growth and Monetization

GenAI products have witnessed significant organic growth, with the majority having no paid marketing. Remarkably, 90% of the companies on the list have already started monetizing, primarily through subscription models. The average GenAI product earns $21/month from users on monthly plans.

The Shift to Mobile

While most consumer AI products have started as browser-first, the trend is slowly shifting towards mobile. Currently, only 15 of the top 50 GenAI companies have a live mobile app. However, with consumers spending more time on mobile than desktop, a shift towards mobile-first GenAI products is anticipated.

In conclusion, the GenAI space is evolving rapidly, with ChatGPT setting the pace. As the technology matures, it will be interesting to see how consumer engagement and product offerings change. 

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Digital Transformation in Finance and Accounting Accelerated by Pandemic, ISG Reports

Finance and accounting departments globally are undergoing a digital transformation, aiming to streamline and automate processes, as highlighted in the 2023 ISG Provider Lens™ global Finance and Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) Services report. The push for digitalization was notably accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdowns, which necessitated a shift from traditional methods to accommodate remote work requirements.

The research indicates a growing reliance on external providers to assist in formulating digital strategies. Robert Stapleton, a partner at ISG, mentioned, “Organizations are creating connected finance teams with the technology to collect and analyze larger data sets for long-term decision-making.” This technological empowerment has positioned CFOs to play more strategic roles within their organizations.

The report also sheds light on the challenges businesses face due to disruptions since the pandemic, such as inflation and supply-chain issues. To navigate these challenges, many are turning to new operational methods and technologies. Notably, there’s a surge in the adoption of tools like SAP S/4HANA, generative AI, blockchain, and the metaverse. Recognizing the potential vulnerabilities of integrating these new technologies, there’s an emphasized focus on bolstering cybersecurity measures.

A significant shift in the FAO sector is the preference for outcome-based contracts, where both risks and rewards of digital transformation are shared between companies and FAO providers. Jan Erik Aase, global leader at ISG Provider Lens Research, stated, “FAO providers are becoming strategic partners that collaborate with clients in addition to delivering services.”

Furthermore, the report explores the importance of global delivery models for FAO services and emphasizes the need for clear strategies surrounding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.

The comprehensive 2023 ISG Provider Lens™ report evaluates 28 providers across four key areas: Procure to Pay (P2P), Order to Cash (O2C), Record to Report (R2R), and Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A). Leading firms such as Accenture, Capgemini, and Cognizant have been recognized as leaders in all quadrants.

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Google Introduces Generative AI Features to Enhance Search Experience

On August 15, Google unveiled a transformative series of updates to its iconic search engine. These changes, rooted in advanced generative AI technologies, are set to redefine the paradigms of online content discovery and comprehension.

The tech giant’s commitment to innovation is evident in the enhancements made to the Search Generative Experience (SGE), a feature that had its initial beta launch earlier in 2023.

The realm of programming, both for newcomers and seasoned professionals, is ever-evolving. Recognizing the challenges and the continuous learning curve associated with coding, Google’s SGE now offers AI-generated overviews tailored for a multitude of programming languages and tools. These aren’t just basic summaries; they’re also intended to provide practical advice, solutions to frequently asked how-to queries, and even code samples for typical activities.

This update’s inclusion of color-coded syntax highlighting is among its most prominent features. Google hopes to make the code more legible and intelligible by separating code components like variables, keywords, and comments using unique colours, hence lessening the cognitive strain on developers.

But Google’s ambitions with generative AI don’t stop at coding. With the proliferation of information on the internet, navigating through vast amounts of data has become a challenge for many. Addressing this, Google, under its Search Labs initiative, has rolled out an experimental feature named “SGE while browsing.”

Although it’s currently available on the Google app for Android and iOS, plans are underway to introduce this feature to Chrome on desktop platforms. The primary goal is to revolutionize the way users engage with long-form content on the internet. By offering an AI-generated list of key points on selected web pages, users can quickly grasp the essence of articles. The “Explore on page” option is another gem, allowing users to identify and jump to specific sections that answer particular questions, making the process of information retrieval both efficient and user-centric.

Yet, as with most technological advancements, Google’s foray into deeper AI integration has its detractors. Some researchers and tech pundits have expressed reservations, suggesting that an over-dependence on AI-curated search results might inadvertently stifle individual critical thinking and independent thought processes. This debate underscores the broader challenges of balancing AI assistance with human autonomy in the digital age.

In tandem with these developments, Google’s recent update to its privacy policies on July 1 is also noteworthy. The revised policies grant Google the latitude to utilize publicly available data more extensively for AI training, signaling the company’s unwavering focus on refining and expanding its AI capabilities.

In conclusion, Google’s latest updates, while promising a more streamlined and enriched user experience, also open up discussions on the ethical and practical implications of AI’s pervasive role in our digital interactions.

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Opera Browser Launches AI Prompt Feature

The latest version of the Opera browser, Opera One, now includes a new generative AI integration known as AI Prompt. This in-browser AI feature provides users with contextual prompts for web pages or highlighted text. According to Opera, the AI-enhanced version of Opera One will automatically enable the AI features for all users. The browser will also provide quick access to other AI tools like ChatGPT and ChatSonic in the browser’s sidebar.

The Opera One update page lists several examples of how generative AI can be used while browsing. These examples include shortened long texts for more accessible reads, explanations of complex ideas, and content creation like tweets. Currently, the AI-enhanced version of Opera One is released under early access. The company has called its updated browser a Web3, “future proof” platform.

Back in December, Opera launched a suite of security tools aimed at protecting users from malicious Web3 actors. The tools, known as Web3 Guard, are integrated into the original Opera browser and help detect harmful decentralized applications (DApps) and seed phrase phishing attacks, among other features.

The latest AI integration by Opera falls in line with major trends in the emerging technology industry. Internet and tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and more have all recently made AI-integration related-announcements since the beginning of the year.

Moreover, Elon Musk has reportedly purchased thousands of GPUs for an upcoming Twitter AI project. The Twitter CEO later said he will also be launching a truth-seeking AI platform to be called TruthGPT, which will seek to understand the nature of the universe.

As AI becomes more pervasive in major industries across the world, Opera’s latest AI integration is an example of how technology is advancing to make the browsing experience more accessible and efficient. With the introduction of AI Prompt, users can expect more personalized and helpful interactions with the content they view online.

Opera’s AI Prompt feature is just one of the many ways that AI is being integrated into everyday life. With AI becoming more mainstream, it is likely that more applications and tools will be developed to make use of this powerful technology. Opera’s move to a Web3, “future proof” platform is indicative of the increasing importance of AI and other emerging technologies in the digital landscape. As more companies invest in AI, it is likely that we will see even more innovative and transformative uses of this technology in the future.


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Alibaba Enters AI Race with Tongyi Qianwen Chatbot

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has announced its own version of a chatbot assistant, called Tongyi Qianwen. The new product is expected to be rolled out in the near future and will be integrated with Alibaba’s vast ecosystem of tech businesses, including the workplace messaging app, DingTalk, and the voice assistant smart speaker, Tmall Genie.

Tongyi Qianwen will be able to communicate in both English and Mandarin, and its initial task scope will include turning conversations into written notes, writing emails, and drafting business proposals. Alibaba’s new product draws comparisons to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which was released in November 2022 and was later integrated into Microsoft’s internet browser, Bing.

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, has made global headlines due to its ability to provide sophisticated information responses in a casual chat-like manner, mimic different writing styles by command and ultimately help users create all kinds of texts, from academic research to movie scripts.

Notably, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Chinese tech behemoth, Baidu, have also announced their versions of AI chatbots, named Bard and Ernie, respectively.

Alibaba’s entry into the AI race with Tongyi Qianwen is significant as it further underscores the growing trend towards chatbots and AI assistants in the technology industry. However, the main intrigue surrounding Alibaba’s new product is whether Tongyi Qianwen could work on more creative tasks like its American counterpart, ChatGPT.

Moreover, Alibaba’s entry into the AI race also brings attention to the Cyberspace Administration of China’s guidelines for chatbot developers. According to article four of its guidelines, once made open for public feedback on April 11, such content should “reflect the core values of socialism, and must not contain subversion of state power.” The guidelines also require chatbot developers to ensure that AI-generated content is “accurate” and doesn’t “endanger security.”

In conclusion, Alibaba’s new product, Tongyi Qianwen, is another significant step in the AI race and highlights the growing trend towards chatbots and AI assistants in the technology industry. It will be interesting to see how Tongyi Qianwen compares to its American and Chinese counterparts in terms of functionality and creative capabilities. Additionally, as the use of AI and chatbots becomes more widespread, ensuring the accuracy and security of AI-generated content will continue to be an important issue for the technology industry and society as a whole.


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