There have been two big stories in the IT world over the past couple of weeks. The biggest one concerns OpenAI and its three-day boardroom drama. In a nutshell, the board voted Sam Altman and other members out of the company. The next day, Microsoft picked them up and anyone else who wanted to head over to a new division. That same day, 700-plus employees of OpenAI signed a letter saying they would go if a rogue board member did not quit and bring Sam Altman back. On the third day, Sam was back and three board members were gone.
- The details behind this are somewhat spicier. A number of employees, many ex-employees, have written letters to the board and others claiming Altman was dangerous and a terrible boss. There have been a number of articles on this info. Altman is a marketing person and drove the change from open source to paid platform. He has also been pushing as fast as possible to a monetised general AI, and according to some, without any concern for safety.
- Soon after that began, commentary on Q*, being the name given to general AI-like processing, started to appear. After some digging, Q* is described as a system leveraging optimal sets of choices. It is behaving somewhere at around the grade-school level in some subjects, particularly maths, but it is not true general AI, yet. Is it close? Perhaps. There is a focus on AI now generating the next versions of AI, eg ChatGPT 5. If you want to know more about this, search for and read "Orca 2: Teaching Small Language Models How To Reason", from Nov 21. Elon Musk, an original founder of OpenAI, has also been asking questions around this. Someone like Altman is not an Isaac Asimov, so there are no three laws of robotics protecting humans. Hopefully, Open AI co-founder Ilya Sutskever has some of this in hand.
- The second story is the Elon Musk X versus Media Matters saga. Media Matters created an X (Twitter) account, then scoured X for any poster they considered far right. They then followed these sites and also some sites of major companies. The next apparent step was to continually refresh the feed until an ad from a business was matched with a post from the far-left-identified individual. Media Matters then took snapshots of this and notified the business their ads were appearing against, by their definition, an unsavoury poster.
- As result organisations like IBM, Lionsgate, Apple, Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, NBC, Comcast, Sony and Ubisoft, eagerly and with no due diligence, pulled their advertising from X. Using logs proving this methodology, Musk promptly sued Media Matters for fraudulent activities. Since the early 2000s, Media Matters has been known for its aggressive criticism of conservative journalists and media outlets. Most of its stories have been easily debunked. This is just the latest in a long string of made-up or self-created stories with Twitter, now X, becoming a target once Musk took it over.
- Following on from my earlier article, how many people are sick of the "you can download this application for free" marketing ploy. Sure, the download is free and you may be able to use it for Seven, 14 or 30 days for free, but then you have to pay. There is nothing free about such applications other than you are free to uninstall them after the time period and start looking for a truly free alternative. Another example is "our app is in beta testing", so you download it only to find that at the end of the beta test you now have to pay, even if you provided some feedback. This is the lamest version of the "free software" marketing hook.
- For those outside China it's time to talk about TikTok, in particular the so-called Western World. Inside China, the platform presents educational subject matter. The latest concern over TikTok in the West is the letter from Osama Bin Laden that was released a couple of weeks ago. China is using TikTok to experiment on the minds of the world's young people outside China. I've already covered how much a platform can affect the decision-making of those that use it, eg Google.
- In other AI news, Grok is X's new AI and will be available to their premium members by the time you read this. Fans of Robert A. Heinlein will understand where the name comes from. Also, if you want to summarise longer text, take a look at Claude 2.1.
- YouTube is pushing out their ban on watching videos if you have any kind of ad-blocker present. The simple solution is to install a YouTube downloader and watch it at your leisure, or even simpler, stop watching YouTube.
- France has banned the Apple iPhone 12 after tests showing it exceeded the European radiation limits. Apple needs to either fix this or recall all their currently sold units across Europe. Apple responded with "the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards". Note the use of the word "global" here, not specifically EU.
James Hein is an IT professional with over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at email@example.com.