About Hard Fork
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Warning: This episode contains some explicit language. Google’s new artificial intelligence model ‘Gemini’ is out. It’s advertised as America’s next top A.I. model. Kevin and Casey ask, is it really better than OpenAI’s GPT-4? Then, by some estimates millions of people pre-ordered Tesla’s Cybertruck, but has Elon Musk’s recent behavior soured people on the brand? And finally, more A.I. news you may have missed. Additional Reading: Google is chasing ChatGPT with the launch of Gemini. Even if people cancel their Cybertruck pre-orders, it could still be massively successful. A new A.I. development may help fight wine fraud. Amazon’s new enterprise chatbot had a “severe hallucinations” problem. OpenAI blocked a prompt that would cause ChatGPT to regurgitate its training data. Mountain Dew’s latest marketing stunt had an A.I. watching Twitch streams.
Warning: This episode contains some explicit language. The drama at OpenAI is not over. Kevin and Casey take stock of new information they’ve gathered since last week, and look at how other artificial intelligence companies are trying to capitalize on the debacle. Then, why people are still buying cryptocurrency even after Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, and its founder pleaded guilty to money laundering violations. And finally, three ways A.I. is ruining web search. Or is it? Today’s guest: David Yaffe-Bellany covers crypto for The New York Times. Additional Reading: Casey has new details from the OpenAI board fight. Changpeng Zhao, the Binance founder, agreed to pay a $50 million fine and step down from his role as chief executive.
In yet another head-spinning twist at OpenAI, Sam Altman was reinstated as the company’s chief executive on Tuesday night, a mere five days after the OpenAI board had fired him. The board will be overhauled and a new set of directors, including Bret Taylor and Lawrence Summers, will join. Today, we discuss how Altman returned to the top seat — and whether the OpenAI news will ever slow down. Additional Reading: Late Tuesday night, Sam Altman was reinstated as OpenAI’s chief executive.
Last week, we interviewed Sam Altman. Since then, well, everything has changed. The board of OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT, fired Altman as chief executive on Friday. Over the weekend, it looked as if he might return. On Sunday night, Microsoft hired Altman to lead a new A.I. venture. Who knows what will happen next. Today, an update on a crazy weekend in tech, and our interview with Sam Altman. Today’s Guest: Sam Altman is the former chief executive of OpenAI. Additional Reading: On Sunday, Microsoft hired Sam Altman after OpenAI had fired him. Kevin breaks down the winners and losers from the OpenAI rift.
Sam Altman, the chief executive of Open AI, was pushed out of the company by its board of directors on Friday. The news was a complete shock to much of the company’s employee base and to its largest corporate partner, Microsoft. Silicon Valley insiders are scrambling to get answers on exactly what happened and why the board’s decision seemed so abrupt. We rundown what we know and the many things we still don’t.
The tech start-up Humane launched a new device, an A.I. pin meant to be worn on our clothing. Might this be the device that replaces the iPhone? It’s the question on Silicon Valley’s mind. The pin allows users to take phone calls, catch up on messages and get answers to questions, all without ever looking at a screen. Then, why YouTube is bucking the trend on deepfakes. Plus: We eat a Thanksgiving meal made with meat that was grown in a lab. Today’s Guest: Joshua March is the chief executive of SCiFi Foods, the lab-grown meat company. Additional Reading: Humane says it’s artificial intelligence pin can replace screens. Is the pin the start of the next generation of hardware? Casey on YouTube’s latest approach to deepfakes.
Warning: this episode contains some explicit language. OpenAI has unveiled a new way to build custom chatbots. Kevin shows off a few that he’s built – including a custom Hard Fork bot, and a bot that gives investment advice inspired by his late grandpa. Then, we talk to Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, about the agency’s approach to regulating A.I., and whether the tactics she’s used to regulate big tech companies are working. And finally, a Bored Ape Yacht Club event left some attendees' eyes burning, literally. That, and Sam Bankman-Fried’s recent fraud conviction has us asking, how much damage hath the crypto world wrought? Today’s guest: Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission Additional reading: OpenAI’s new tools allow users to customize their own GPTs. Lina Khan believes A.I. disruption demands regulators take a different approach than that of the Web 2.0 era. More than 20 people reported burning eye pain after a Bored Ape Yacht Club party in Hong Kong.
President Biden’s new executive order on artificial intelligence has a little bit of everything for everyone concerned about A.I. Casey takes us inside the White House as the order was signed. Then, Rebecca Tushnet, a copyright law expert, walks us through the latest developments in a lawsuit against the creators of A.I.-image generation tools. She explains why artists may have trouble making the case that these tools infringe on their copyrights. And finally, it’s time again for HatGPT. We get a taste of the tech headlines you may have missed from the week. Today’s guest: Rebecca Tushnet, professor of law at Harvard Law School. Additional reading: Casey’s debrief on his trip to the White House. Kevin’s breakdown of the executive order. A judge found many of the claims in a lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney and DeviantArt to be “defective.”
Dozens of state attorneys general has sued Meta, alleging the company knowingly created features that induce “extended, addictive, and compulsive social media use” among teenagers and children. In a country without wide-reaching internet regulations, are lawsuits the way to reign tech companies in? Then, for our first episode on YouTube, we talk with YouTuber and tech reviewer Marques Brownlee about how the platform has changed, and the future tech he’s excited about. And finally, A.I. image generators are getting scary good. Casey tells us what he’s been using them for. Today’s guest: Marques Brownlee is a YouTuber who covers tech. Additional reading: Meta is accused of using features to lure children to Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe to Hard Fork on YouTube. The latest A.I. image generators show how quickly the tech is advancing.
A.I. models are black boxes. You input a prompt and the model outputs nearly anything: a sonnet, an image or a legal brief riddled with lies. Today, a look at three ways that researchers are unlocking that black box in hopes of bringing transparency to A.I. Then, Marc Andreessen’s techno-optimist manifesto has left us asking, Is he OK?! Plus: decoding a 2,000-year-old ancient scroll with the help of A.I. Today’s Guest: Brent Seales is a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky. Additional Information: Kevin Roose on learning more about how A.I. works. Marc Andreessen’s 5,000-word manifesto Using A.I. to decode a scroll that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
As the Israel-Hamas war broke out, misinformation and fake imagery surged on X, the platform formerly known at Twitter. Can Meta’s Threads fill the real-time news hole that X created? Should it? Then, Kevin debriefs us on his reporting on Manifold Markets, where Silicon Valley Rationalists bet on the likelihoods of different events. Plus: The company digitizing smell. Today’s Guest: Alex Wiltschko is the founder of Osmo, a company trying to digitize smell. Additional Reading: Casey Newton on how the war in Israel may change Threads. Some tech insiders believe betting can change the world. The company Osmo put out a research paper showing that an A.I. model it had created was performing better than the “average human panelist” in predicting odor. We want to hear from you.
The antitrust trial against Google has led to some of tech’s biggest players testifying in court, and things have gotten spicy. The New York Times reporter Cecilia Kang tells us the wildest moments in the trial so far. Then, A.I. is jumping off the screen and into your wardrobe. Has the personal assistant of the future finally arrived? Or a dystopian panopticon? Plus: happy first birthday, Hard Fork! Kevin and Casey share some lessons learned. Today’s guest: Cecilia Kang covers technology and regulation for The Times. Additional reading: Microsoft’s chief executive told the court the internet is really the “Google web.” A.I. wearables like the Ai Pin from Humane are turning heads on the runway. OpenAI is in talks with Jony Ive to build the “iPhone of artificial intelligence.”
ChatGPT can now hear, see and speak — and that’s just the start of the deluge of A.I. news this week. Kevin and Casey unpack the lightning-speed updates. Then, Meta’s next-generation headset, Quest 3, is here. Is there still hope for the metaverse? And: An interview with a prompt engineer. Yes, that’s a real job. Today’s Guest: Riley Goodside is a prompt engineer at Scale A.I., a San Francisco start-up. Additional Reading: Kevin Roose on ChatGPT, which can now see, hear and speak. Spotify announced a new A.I.-powered voice-translation feature. Meta announced the release of the Quest 3 headset.
Today’s Guests: Kashmir Hill is a Times business reporter covering technology and privacy. Additional Reading: Google unveiled new features for its A.I. chatbot, Bard. Kashmir Hill’s “Your Face Belongs to Us” tracks the rise of Clearview AI, a facial recognition start-up.
Is Google allowed to spend billions of dollars to make its search product the default browser? That is the question at the center of U.S. et al. v. Google — the most important tech trial of the modern internet era — and Kevin and Casey disagree on the answer. Then, a conversation with the journalist who spent the last two years shadowing Elon Musk. Today’s guest: Walter Isaacson is a writer and author of the forthcoming biography “Elon Musk.” Additional reading: Google’s antitrust lawsuit against the U.S. government brings the first major tech trial since U.S. v. Microsoft which began in 1998. “Elon Musk,” by Walter Isaacson.
This week: How tech executives’ favorite place to take their pants off turned into a muddy hellscape. We talk to one executive who couldn’t just call a helicopter to escape. Then, Jonathan Greenblatt, C.E.O. of the Anti-Defamation League, on how his organization went from having a “productive” meeting with X’s C.E.O., Linda Yaccarino, last week to being threatened with a lawsuit by Elon Musk on Monday. Plus, Kevin and Casey answer your questions. Additional Information: Burning Man left behind a sea of “moop” in the desert. Research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups found that hate speech had increased on Twitter after it was purchased by Elon Musk. Snapchat’s My AI freaked users out after the chatbot appeared to go rogue.
A group of tech titans is gobbling up land north of San Francisco with aspirations to alleviate the Bay Area’s housing crisis, promote innovation, and experiment with new forms of governance. It’s not the first time ultra-wealthy people have tried to build the place of their dreams. Will this time be any different? Then, note-taking apps claim to make us smarter. Usually, they don’t. Casey Newton, a productivity cult member, on how A.I. could change that. Plus, Kevin and Casey play HatGPT. Additional Information: Tech billionaires want to build a new city. A political fight is coming. Casey takes a look at note-taking platforms and why they usually don’t live up to their promise. An Air Force program is embracing A.I. in aerial combat. The S.E.C. took action against a NFT project YouTube will waive content violation warnings if the creators in violation attend a class. Google Meet’s new A.I. program will take notes for users in real time. A smart contact lens can be charged with human tears.
Are New York City’s new rules for short-term rentals like Airbnb effectively a ban? And will they accomplish what proponents want them to? Then, The New York Times tech reporter Erin Griffith on Silicon Valley’s mad dash for GPUs. And finally, we take stock of the A.I. songs of the summer and discuss YouTube and Universal Music Group’s plan to make synthetic voices profitable. On Today’s Episode: Erin Griffith is a New York Times journalist based in the San Francisco bureau, where she reports on technology start-ups and venture capital. Additional Information: New York City’s new regulations for short-term rentals go into effect soon. Start-ups are on a “desperate hunt” for GPUs. (There’s even a song about it.) Creators are using A.I. voices to imitate Freddie Mercury, Johnny Cash, Eric Cartman from “South Park,” and others. Google and YouTube have different approaches to compensating creators whose work is used to train A.I. tools.
When Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in December, he was confined to his parents’ house — but he was left free to roam the internet. Today, the New York Times reporter David Yaffe-Bellany talks about how access to the cyberworld allowed Mr. Bankman-Fried to violate his bail terms and land himself in jail. Then, how universities can manage a generative A.I. world. Plus: another look at autonomous vehicles. On Today’s Episode: David Yaffe-Bellany, a cryptocurrency and financial technology reporter for The New York Times. Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who is experimenting with generative A.I. in the classroom. Additional Information: Sam Bankman-Fried was sent to jail after violating his bail terms. The court dispute over his bail focused on a New York Times article that described writings by Caroline Ellison, an FTX executive who had also dated Mr. Bankman-Fried. A driverless car got stuck in wet concrete in San Francisco this week.
Users are protesting Zoom’s liberal data-collection policy. Authors are shutting down websites that scrape their work. And, in a concession to users, OpenAI is allowing websites to opt out of web scraping. The era of A.I. backlash has begun. Then, street activists are deterring self-driving cars by placing traffic cones on the hoods of vehicles. Plus: How Reddit has squashed the Reddit Revolt. Today’s Guests: Adam Egelman and Mingwei Samuel are organizers with Safe Street Rebel, an activist group trying to get cars off the streets. Additional Reading: The publication StackDiary exposed that Zoom’s updated terms of service permitted the training of artificial-intelligence models on user content. Benji Smith took down his website prosecraft.io, a database that contained the works of over 25,000 books, after authors discovered that their works were being used to power the website without their consent.