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    The lightning onset of AI—what suddenly changed? An Ars Frontiers 2023 recap / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 23:31 · 1 minute

Benj Edwards (L) moderated a panel featuring Paige Bailey (C), Haiyan Zhang (R) for the Ars Frontiers 2023 session titled

Enlarge / On May 22, Benj Edwards (left) moderated a panel featuring Paige Bailey (center), Haiyan Zhang (right) for the Ars Frontiers 2023 session titled, "The Lightning Onset of AI — What Suddenly Changed?" (credit: Ars Technica)

On Monday, Ars Technica hosted our Ars Frontiers virtual conference. In our fifth panel, we covered "The Lightning Onset of AI—What Suddenly Changed?" The panel featured a conversation with Paige Bailey , lead product manager for Generative Models at Google DeepMind, and Haiyan Zhang , general manager of Gaming AI at Xbox, moderated by Ars Technica's AI reporter, Benj Edwards .

The panel originally streamed live, and you can now watch a recording of the entire event on YouTube. The "Lightning AI" part introduction begins at the 2:26:05 mark in the broadcast.

Ars Frontiers 2023 livestream recording.

With "AI" being a nebulous term, meaning different things in different contexts, we began the discussion by considering the definition of AI and what it means to the panelists. Bailey said, "I like to think of AI as helping derive patterns from data and use it to predict insights ... it's not anything more than just deriving insights from data and using it to make predictions and to make even more useful information."

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    Google never agreed it wouldn’t copy Genius’ song lyrics, US official says / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 20:19 · 1 minute

Google never agreed it wouldn’t copy Genius’ song lyrics, US official says

Enlarge (credit: maxshutter | iStock / Getty Images Plus )

After song lyrics website Genius sued Google in 2019 for allegedly breaching its terms of service by copying its lyrics transcriptions in search results, the United States Supreme Court invited the US solicitor general, Elizabeth Prelogar, to weigh in on how the US viewed the case. The question before Prelogar was whether federal copyright law preempted Genius' terms of service, which prohibits any of its website visitors from copying lyrics for commercial uses.

Yesterday, Prelogar responded, filing a brief that sided with Google. She denied that Genius' case was a good vehicle to test whether copyright law preempted state-law contract claims and recommended that the court deny Genius' petition to review the case.

The key issue was that Genius' terms of service may not be a valid contract, because website visitors don't have to directly agree to the website's terms and may not even be aware they exist. Because of this, Prelogar said it was unclear whether any court would find that Google—or any visitor to Genius' site—ever agreed to not copy the lyrics. Reviewing Genius' arguments, Prelogar said that the Supreme Court should not review the case because "there is little indication that any other court of appeals would reach a different outcome in this case."

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    Google bans Downloader app after TV firms complain it can load a pirate website / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 19:13

Screenshot of the Google home page displayed on Downloader, an Android app with a built-in browser.

Enlarge / The Downloader app that was suspended from Google Play. (credit: Elias Saba )

The Google Play Store suspended an app that combines a web browser with a file manager after a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint pointed out that the app is capable of loading a piracy website—even though that same pirate website can be loaded on any standard browser, including Google Chrome.

The free app , which is designed for Android TV devices and is called Downloader, had been installed from Google Play over 5 million times before its suspension on Friday, an Internet Archive capture shows. The suspension notice that Google sent to Downloader app developer Elias Saba cites a complaint from several Israeli TV companies that said the app "allows users to view the infamous copyright infringing website known as SDAROT."

Saba provided us with a copy of the suspension notice.

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    Google Is Not Deleting Old YouTube Videos / Schneier · Thursday, 18 May - 20:18

Google has backtracked on its plan to delete inactive YouTube videos—at least for now. Of course, it could change its mind anytime it wants.

It would be nice if this would get people to think about the vulnerabilities inherent in letting a for-profit monopoly decide what of human creativity is worth saving.

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    Google to pay $8M settlement for “lying to Texans,” state AG says / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 May - 20:23

Google to pay $8M settlement for “lying to Texans,” state AG says

Enlarge (credit: Manuel Augusto Moreno | Moment )

Google has agreed to an $8 million settlement with Texas over deceptive ads promoting its Pixel 4 smartphone, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced today.

At issue was Google's trustworthiness as an advertiser after the tech giant "hired radio DJs to record and broadcast detailed testimonials about their personal experiences with the Pixel 4," but then "refused to provide the DJs with a phone for them to use," Paxton said.

The tech giant had previously settled claims from the Federal Trade Commission and six other states for approximately $9 million , and Paxton seemed proud that his "settlement recovers $8 million for the State of Texas alone."

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    Google Bard hits over 180 countries and territories—none are in the EU / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 May - 18:09

The Google Bard logo at Google I/O

Enlarge (credit: Google)

On Wednesday, Google detailed the evolution of its Bard conversational AI assistant, including PaLM 2 and expanded availability . The list of 180 supported countries and territories excludes Canada and all of the European Union's (EU) 27 member states. As the world grapples with how to juggle the explosive growth of generative AI chatbots alongside user privacy, there's suspicion that the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is at the center of the omission.

Google's I/O event this week included flashy announcements around AI developments and expanding Bard access with added Japanese and Korean language support. However, some people quickly noticed that EU countries and The Great White North were not part of the news. This could change, as Google's support page says the company will "gradually expand to more countries and territories in a way that is consistent with local regulations and our AI principles ."

In the meantime, Google hasn't explained why it's not yet bringing Bard to the EU, Canada, or any other excluded geography. However, the EU features more stringent data protection and user privacy policies than Google's homeland. And the EU's AI regulatory landscape is on the brink of transformation.

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    The AI race heats up: Google announces PaLM 2, its answer to GPT-4 / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 May - 19:20

The Google PaLM 2 logo.

Enlarge (credit: Google)

On Wednesday, Google introduced PaLM 2 , a family of foundational language models comparable to OpenAI's GPT-4 . At its Google I/O event in Mountain View, California, Google revealed that it already uses PaLM 2 to power 25 products, including its Bard conversational AI assistant.

As a family of large language models (LLMs), PaLM 2 has been trained on an enormous volume of data and does next-word prediction, which outputs the most likely text after a prompt input by humans. PaLM stands for "Pathways Language Model," and " Pathways " is a machine-learning technique created at Google. PaLM 2 follows up on the original PaLM , which Google announced in April 2022.

According to Google, PaLM 2 supports over 100 languages and can perform "reasoning," code generation, and multi-lingual translation. During his 2023 Google I/O keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that PaLM 2 comes in four sizes: Gecko, Otter, Bison, Unicorn. Gecko is the smallest and can reportedly run on a mobile device. Aside from Bard, PaLM 2 is behind AI features in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

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    Google jumps into the AI coding assistant fray with Codey and Studio Bot / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 May - 22:47

A mock-up made by Google depicting an AI assistant inside Android Studio

Enlarge / Android Studio will get a dedicated helper chatbot called Studio Bot. (credit: Google )

During today's I/O presentation, Google announced Studio Bot, an AI assistant that Android developers can use to help write and debug code.

Built on Codey and the revised PaLM 2 large language model, Studio Bot is only available to US developers for now and is in its "very early days," Google said. It's part of Android Studio, Google's official integrated development environment (IDE) for Android devs.

This is distinct from another Codey-based project that is meant to compete directly with GitHub's Copilot at completing and generating in-line code.

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