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Spooked Google invests $300 million in artificial intelligence start-up Anthropic

Google has invested around $300 million in artificial intelligence start-up Anthropic, making it the latest tech giant to invest in the field of generative AI. The investment involves Google taking a 10% stake in the start-up and providing computing resources from its cloud computing division.

The move highlights the growing influence of big tech companies in the AI industry, which need access to cloud computing platforms to handle large AI models. This investment follows Microsoft’s $1 billion cash-for-computing investment in OpenAI three years ago, which led to the creation of ChatGPT, a highly advanced chatbot.

Both OpenAI and Anthropic are working in the field of generative AI, which involves creating computer programs that can write scripts and create art in seconds. While Microsoft has sought to integrate OpenAI’s technology into its own services, Google’s relationship with Anthropic is limited to being its tech supplier.

Anthropic was founded in 2021 by a group of researchers who left OpenAI after a disagreement over the company’s direction. The start-up has developed an intelligent chatbot called Claude, which rivals OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Google’s investment was made by its cloud division, run by former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian, in an effort to catch up with Microsoft’s lead in the AI market. The cloud division is also working with other start-ups to secure a bigger foothold in AI.

Anthropic and Google declined to comment on the investment or the extent of Google’s involvement in the start-up’s business. The company has raised over $700 million before Google’s investment, with its biggest investor being Alameda Research, a crypto hedge fund.

The Future of Internet Search: Here is a preview of Microsoft Bing’s ChatGPT integration

Microsoft Bing is about to revolutionize the way we search the internet with its ChatGPT integration. This integration, dubbed the “new Bing,” will allow users to ask questions in a conversational way and receive a personalized search experience.

Owen Yin, a design student, has posted a preview of the changes.

Powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4, the new Bing will replace the traditional search bar with a large text box, where users can ask their questions using 1000 characters. The AI will then interpret the question and conduct multiple searches related to the request, compiling the results into a summary. Bing will also cite its sources and allow users to verify the claims.

Not only will the new Bing provide information, but it will also be able to perform complex tasks, such as generating meal plans or travel itineraries based on personal requirements. Additionally, the new Bing will have a new level of creativity, allowing users to ask it to write poems, stories, or complete other creative tasks.

Interaction with the new Bing will feel like chatting with a chatbot, with the AI being able to carry on a conversation with users and even ask follow-up questions. The traditional search results page will still be available and users can toggle between search and chat from the toolbar.

The new Bing with ChatGPT integration will bring a new level of convenience and creativity to the internet search experience. It will act as a personal research assistant, planner, and creative partner, making finding information on the internet easier and more enjoyable than ever before.

Access to the new Bing will be available through a waitlist at bing.com/new. However, due to the scale of the servers, there may be delays in granting access.

Google will reveal new search experiences based on LaMDA next week

Google LamDA event

During its earnings call last night, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed that Google will bring the power of language models to businesses, developers and Alphabet’s own internal operations. Sundar also revealed that Google will make these language models available in the coming weeks and months, starting with LaMDA, so that people can engage directly with them.

Now, Google has announced an online event scheduled for next week. The event will be about “Search, Maps and beyond,” and will be livestreamed on YouTube on February 8th.

We’re reimagining how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need. Join us to learn how we’re opening up greater access to information for people everywhere, through Search, Maps and beyond.

Google is expected to finally reveal its OpenAI ChatGPT competitor at this event. Google Search users will be able to use it as a companion to search.

Microsoft reiterates commitment to HoloLens 2 and the broader Mixed Reality program

Microsoft Hololens

Microsoft Hololens

Yesterday, Microsoft reiterated commitment to HoloLens 2 and the broader Mixed Reality program. Following Microsoft’s broad layoffs which was announced last month, there has been several rumors floating around the internet about the future of HoloLens 2 and Mixed Reality at Microsoft.

As part of the layoffs, Microsoft laid off the entire Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK) team and AltspaceVR team. Based on these unfortunate decisions by Microsoft, many questioned company’s future Mixed Reality strategy.

Yesterday, Microsoft published a blog post explaining the context and insights on the Mixed Reality program at Microsoft. Find the summary of the blog post below.

  • Microsoft will continue to produce and support HoloLens 2, inclusive of monthly software updates.
  • Microsoft will continue to update Dynamics 365 Guides and Remote Assist to address the needs of those customers.
  • In the case of the Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK), Microsoft will continue the open-source approach and it hopes to see increased contributions from others across the Mixed Reality space.
  • Microsoft is committed to maintaining compatibility between MRTK and HoloLens 2, including through continued open-source contributions to MRTK when needed to ensure developers using MRTK can continue to build for and deploy to HoloLens 2.
  • Microsoft is investing in richer and more immersive collaboration experiences in the metaverse with Microsoft Mesh.
  • Microsoft will make use of the learnings from AltspaceVR in Microsoft Mesh.
  • Regarding Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program, Microsoft recently contracted with the U.S. Army to revise the IVAS product design to address soldier feedback.

I think this blog post from Microsoft has provided clarity to the community around Microsoft’s commitment to HoloLens and Mixed Reality. While Microsoft remains committed to HoloLens 2, what about HoloLens 3 or the future of Mixed Reality hardware at Microsoft? I hope Microsoft will share more details in the future.

DARPA Accelerates Quantum Computing by Collaborating with Microsoft, other Commercial Partners

Microsoft Azure Quantum Computer

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is collaborating with commercial partners to advance the development of quantum computing. Under its Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) program, three companies were selected to explore novel approaches to viable, fault-tolerant quantum computers.

Atom Computing, Microsoft, and PsiQuantum were chosen for their unique approaches to quantum computing. Atom Computing uses large arrays of optically-trapped atoms to build highly scalable quantum computers. Microsoft is developing an industrial-scale quantum system based on a topological qubit architecture. PsiQuantum is utilizing silicon-based photonics to create an error-corrected quantum computer.

In the first phase of the US2QC program, the selected companies will present their design concepts for a utility-scale quantum computer. The concepts will then be evaluated by a DARPA-led team of experts, with a focus on the components and sub-systems necessary to construct and operate the computer as intended.

Joe Altepeter, US2QC program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, explains the goal of the program: “The goal of US2QC is to reduce the danger of strategic surprise from underexplored quantum computing systems…We offered to collaborate by funding additional experts to join their team and provide rigorous government verification and validation of their proposed solutions to determine its viability. The ultimate outcome of the program is a win-win — for U.S. commercial leadership in this strategically important technology area and for national security to avoid being surprised.”

The US2QC program is expected to last five years, with four phases to be completed. The collaboration between DARPA and the commercial partners is aimed at finding the fastest way to achieve utility-scale operation in quantum computing, which would greatly benefit both commercial and national security interests.

New HP Pro x360 Fortis: A Durable and Powerful Windows 11 Laptop for On-the-Go Learning and Work

HP has launched the newest addition to its Fortis PC portfolio, the HP Pro x360 Fortis, designed to help students and workers collaborate better no matter where they are. This 11-inch laptop comes with a durable design, powerful performance, and interactive features to support learning and work from home, school, or on-the-go.

With Intel N100 and N200 processors, the HP Pro x360 Fortis provides smooth and fast performance for demanding tasks. It also features an Intel Wi-Fi 6E WLAN module for reliable internet connectivity, even in crowded networks. Additionally, the laptop has undergone military-grade testing to withstand accidental bumps and spills, making it ideal for students and workers who are always on-the-go.

The HP Pro x360 Fortis comes with a 360-degree hinge and an interactive touchscreen, making it easy to switch between laptop and tablet modes. The laptop also has an optional HP Slim Rechargeable Pen for taking notes, drawing, and editing, providing students and workers with a choice of input methods.

With Windows 11 reimagined for the new era of digital learning, the HP Pro x360 Fortis is expected to be a great device for educators and students. The laptop provides powerful tools for learning, collaborating, and creating in a secure and trusted environment, making it an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable and versatile device for work and learning.

The HP Pro x360 Fortis is available this month for $479 and can be found on the HP website. Get your hands on this durable and powerful laptop today and take your work and learning to the next level.

Microsoft brings the power of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 to Viva Sales

Microsoft Viva Sales OpenAI GPT-3

Microsoft Viva Sales OpenAI GPT-3

Following the Microsoft Teams Premium announcement yesterday, Microsoft today announced the preview of new AI capabilities powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 in Viva Sales. The new AI capabilities will allow sellers to easily reply to customer emails through AI-generated email reply suggestions. 

Viva Sales will make use of data from both the Microsoft 365 Graph and the connected CRM (Dynamics 365 or Salesforce) to build suggested replies using GPT-3.5.

When responding to an email, Viva Sales provides sellers in-the-moment suggested responses based upon categories such as “make a proposal”, “reply to an inquiry,” or “suggest your own”. The seller simply selects the option to suit their needs and a reply is generated for the seller to review, edit to their liking, and send.

Microsoft highlighted that the new AI-generated email replies add to efficiency gains Viva Sales already offers sellers by automating CRM data entry and AI-powered conversational intelligence capabilities.

You can learn more about Viva Sales here.

Microsoft announces availability of Azure Load Testing, a fully managed load-testing service

Microsoft Azure Load Testing

Microsoft Azure Load Testing

Microsoft today announced the general availability of Azure Load Testing, a fully managed load-testing service that will allow anyone to create tests quickly without knowledge of load-testing tools. You can even upload your existing Apache JMeter scripts. Once testing is done, you can get actionable insights into performance, scalability, and capacity and support continuous improvement through automated continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows.

If you use Azure Load Testing for Azure-based applications, it collects detailed resource metrics to help you identify performance bottlenecks across your Azure application components.

With Azure Load Testing developers can catch issues closer to code authoring time as part of their developer workflows saving them valuable time and energy.

Here’s how Azure Load Testing works:

  • Azure Load Testing test engines abstract the required infrastructure for running a high-scale load test.
  • The test engines run the Apache JMeter script to simulate a large number of virtual users simultaneously accessing your application endpoints.
  • When you create a load test based on a URL, Azure Load Testing automatically generates a JMeter test script for you.

Performance problems often remain undetected until an application is under load. To prevent such problems, developers can use Azure Load Testing to harden their apps.

 

Watermarking for Azure Virtual Desktop will help you prevent sensitive information leaks

Watermarking in Azure Virtual Desktop

Watermarking in Azure Virtual Desktop

Microsoft recently announced the preview of Watermarking in Azure Virtual Desktop. Watermarking in Azure Virtual Desktop will allow you to protect sensitive information leaks by enabling watermarks to appear as part of remote desktops.

When you enable watermarking, QR code watermarks will be displayed on remote desktops. The QR code will contain the connection ID of a remote session that admins can use to trace the session.

There are some key things when it comes to watermarking:

  • Once watermarking is enabled on a session host, only clients that support watermarking can connect to that session host. If you try to connect from an unsupported client, the connection will fail and you’ll get an error message that is not specific.
  • Watermarking is for remote desktops only. With remote apps, watermarking is not applied and the connection is allowed.
  • If you connect to a session host directly (not through Azure Virtual Desktop) using the Remote Desktop Connection app (mstsc.exe), watermarking is not applied and the connection is allowed.

You can find more information about watermarking in Azure Virtual Desktops in the link below.

Microsoft Teams Premium with AI-powered capabilities now available for $7 per month

Microsoft Teams Premium

Microsoft Teams Premium

Microsoft today announced the general availability of Microsoft Teams Premium subscription. Microsoft Teams Premium includes several new AI-powered features including Intelligent recap, live translations for captions, meeting guides, AI-generated tasks, advanced webinars features and more. You can now try Teams Premium for free for 30 days or buy before July 1, 2023, for just $7 per user per month—30 percent off the standard $10 pricing.

Microsoft Teams Premium features:

  • With intelligent recap in Teams premium, you’ll get automatically generated meeting notes, recommended tasks, and personalized highlights to help you get the information most important to you, even if you miss the meeting.
  • AI-generated chapters divide the meeting into sections so it’s easy to pick and choose the content most relevant to you. This is available today for PowerPoint Live meeting recordings.
  • Available today, personalized timeline markers—that only you can see—call out when you joined or left a meeting in the meeting recording, so you can quickly click and listen in on what you missed.
  • Soon, these personalized meeting highlights will expand to include speaker timeline markers that show you who spoke during the meeting, when they spoke, and allows you to jump to that moment.
  • With AI-generated notes automatically created and powered by GPT-3.5. Follow-up is easy with AI-generated tasks and action items automatically suggested for you.
  • AI-generated chapters for PowerPoint Live and personalized timeline markers for when you leave and join a meeting are available today. The additional intelligent recap capabilities shared here will be available in the second quarter of 2023.
  • With live translations (for captions) now available in Teams Premium, you get AI-powered real-time translations from 40 spoken languages.
  • Branded meetings let everyone see the logo and colors of your company when you join the meeting, and allow your brand colors to be infused in the meeting itself.
  • During the meeting, Teams Premium users can enable brand-approved organization backgrounds and organization together mode scenes, so that what makes your company and your people unique will shine through in every part of the meeting.
  • Now with Teams Premium, IT admins can create customized meeting templates—like a client call, brainstorming meeting, or help desk call— to automatically include the correct settings, reducing the time and thought process it takes to create and get the meeting right.
  • With the now available custom user policy packages, IT can save time by creating a customized bundle of policies for users with similar roles in the organization.
  • With advanced meeting protection available today in Teams Premium, you can easily upgrade safeguards for confidential business meetings without hampering the meeting experience. New meeting options, like watermarking to deter leaks and limiting who can record, give you additional protections to keep the discussion private.
  • IT-enabled users can apply end-to-end encryption (E2EE) option to the meeting.
  • For Microsoft 365 E5 customers with Teams Premium can now enable Microsoft Purview Information Protection sensitivity labels for Teams meetings.
  • With Teams Premium, it’s now easy to connect with customers and manage the end-to-end customer experience with Virtual Appointments in Teams, saving you time and money on additional add-on or point solutions. You can delight customers with a seamless join experience that allows external attendees to join virtual, branded lobby rooms through text messages or email on any device browser—without them having to download an app.
  • Your scheduling administrators are empowered to set up and manage scheduled and on-demand virtual appointments in one location with advanced capabilities like appointment queuing.
  •  Teams Premium includes webinars to easily host these events while also saving you time and money—no need for add-on solutions or working across different platforms. Webinars allow presenters to join the virtual green room so that preparation before the webinar is seamless.