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Weekly AI Recap: News Corp partners with OpenAI, UK plans to open AI safety offices in SF


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

May 24, 2024 | 6 min read

Also, Scarlett Johansson is ‘shocked, angered and in disbelief’ following OpenAI’s first public demo of GPT-4o.


OpenAI has been signing content deals with a number of major news organizations. / Adobe Stock

News Corp and OpenAI sign content deal

News Corp – owner of news powerhouses like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Barron’s and The Daily Telegraph – has entered into a multiyear licensing agreement with OpenAI, the companies jointly announced on Wednesday.

OpenAI recently signed similar content deals with Dotdash Meredith and The Financial Times.

The deal gives OpenAI permission to use content from News Corp-owned publications in order to train large language models. ChatGPT users will also begin seeing content from those publications in response to relevant queries.

“We believe an historic agreement will set new standards for veracity, for virtue and for value in the digital age,” News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said in a statement. “We are delighted to have found principled partners in Sam Altman and his trusty, talented team who understand the commercial and social significance of journalists and journalism. ”

Thomson said the organizations “are jointly committed to creating and delivering insight and integrity instantaneously.”

The financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported that it could be worth over $250m over a five-year period.

UK government’s AI safety taskforce to open San Francisco office

The UK’s AI Safety Institute (AISI), charged with assessing the risks posed by new AI systems, is opening a second location in San Francisco – the heart of the US tech industry.

The November launch of the AISI – coinciding with the AI Safety Summit, which was hosted in the UK and resulted in the so-called Bletchley Declaration – bolstered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ambition to make the country a hub for AI research and safety.

“This expansion represents British leadership in AI in action,” Michelle Donelan, the UK’s secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, said in a statement. “It is a pivotal moment in the UK’s ability to study both the risks and potential of AI from a global lens, strengthening our partnership with the US and paving the way for other countries to tap into our expertise as we continue to lead the world on AI safety.”

The Institute’s new San Francisco office is slated to open this summer.

Scarlett Johannson responds to OpenAI

Actor Scarlett Johansson responded earlier this week to the first public demo of OpenAI’s new GPT-4o, a model capable of interacting with users in a variety of human-like voices – one of which, according to some, sounds a lot like the Avengers actress.

In her statement, Johansson claimed that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had contacted her on two separate occasions in the period leading up to the public debut of GPT-4o, asking if she’d be willing to provide the voice for the model. She declined both times, and said she was “shocked, angered and in disbelief” when she heard the “eerily similar” nuances in the vocals of Sky, GPT-4o’s new disembodied voice.

Not long after Johansson’s statement was published on X by NPR journalist Bobby Allyn, Altman wrote in his own statement that the company had decided to pause the use of Sky “out of respect for Ms. Johansson.”

OpenAI also claimed in a blog post that the voice of Sky had been provided by another voice actor, a claim that was later supported by reporting from The Washington Post, which also found that the actor had been hired months before Altman first reached out to Johansson.

Snap teases plans for upcoming AI and ML investments

Snapchat owner Snap Inc. plans to invest more heavily in AI and machine learning. The investments will primarily be aimed at building more robust and entertaining user experiences, along with more personalized ad campaigns for brands looking to reach their audiences on Snapchat.

Snap has been overhauling its ad business in recent years, an effort driven in part by pandemic-era economic pressures along and user tracking changes implemented across Apple devices. Since 2022, “Snapchat has largely focused on improving its lower-funnel ad offerings and measurement capabilities for advertisers,” Minda Smiley, a senior analyst specializing in the social media industry at eMarketer, told The Drum.

The changes seem to be paying off. At the end of the first quarter of 2024, Snap reported double-digit revenue growth for the first time in more than six consecutive quarters.

Google unveils new AI features for advertisers

At a press event in New York City this week, Google execs demoed a variety of new AI-powered ad features introduced during the company’s annual Google Marketing Live (GML) event.

One of the new capabilities places ads above, within and below relevant response summaries generated by Google’s experimental Search Generative Response feature. Another allows marketers to generate short and simple video animations based on a single image of a product.

Each of the new features unveiled at this week’s GML event signals the tech giant’s ongoing effort to become the leading creative force in AI, a mission that was kickstarted in late 2022 when the company was caught off guard by the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

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