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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
May 26, 2024
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.

Leaks for Motorola’s upcoming Razr release look nothing like the classic foldable phones. I have to be honest: I don’t want it unless it’s the classic flip phone with the sleek buttons.

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • The Scarlet Johansson and OpenAI drama
  • Nvidia revenue hits $26B
  • Meta‘s new AI council causes a stir

How OpenAI is Breaking Trust in AI

OpenAI didn’t even get to fully roll out its newest voice capabilities for ChatGPT before allegations about where one voice in particular, Sky, came from began. Soon after the AI company demoed its new voice tech at a product showcase last week, Scarlett Johansson released a statement condemning Sky, which she claims resembles her own voice without her permission. The actress said OpenAI chief Sam Altman came to her in September 2023 to ask if his company could harness her voice in its new tech, but she declined for personal reasons. In the same hour that OpenAI demoed Sky, Altman posted the word “her” on X, which people quickly linked to a 2013 film of the same name in which Johansson voices an operating system.

Everything went downhill after Johansson’s statement took over headlines. She also shared that she hired legal counsel to investigate OpenAI’s process of creating Sky’s voice.

OpenAI responded by saying it would pause the use of Sky while it addressed these issues, which many, including myself, took as an admission of guilt. Still, the AI leader detailed in a blog how it chose the five voices–Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper, and Sky–for ChatGPT. The blog has since been updated with an apology from Altman and more details about his interactions with Johansson. The company declared that it had signed a contract with an unnamed voice actress for Sky well before Altman reached out to Johansson to allegedly be the sixth voice of ChatGPT. After Johansson declined last year, Altman spun the block on May 10 to see if she would reconsider, which was three days before OpenAI demoed its new tech.

I’m calling major BS, as I’m sure many of us are, but my biggest concern is how irresponsible Altman has been in this debacle. The amount of attention and lack of responsibility in this case opens up concerns about OpenAI as a responsible tech company, which makes it more difficult for the development of AI as a whole.

Nvidia Reports $26B in Revenue as Shares Surpass $1K for the First Time

AI chipmaker Nvidia shared its latest earnings report after the bell on Wednesday, showing that it generated $26 billion in revenue. That’s up 18% from the previous quarter and up 262% from the same time last year. The company’s Data Center division generated $22.6 billion of that revenue, up 23% from the previous quarter and up 427% year over year. Nvidia shares surpassed $1,000 in after-hours trading earlier this week and held above that threshold through Thursday. The company’s AI tech is still in high demand, and it continues to see growth across the board.

Nvidia also announced a 10-for-1 forward stock split that goes into effect on June 7. This means each investor will receive nine additional shares for each one they already own. If investors want to maintain equivalent ownership as they had with a single share before the split, they would need to purchase 10 shares after the split happens. Nvidia is doing a stock split to lower its trading price to a more reasonable range and increase liquidity.

Nvidia projects that its revenue for the current quarter will be in the $28 billion range.

Microsoft Unveils New AI-Powered PCs

I guess Microsoft couldn’t wait until its annual Build conference from May 23 to 25 to announce some new devices and tech before the event.

The company unveiled a new generation of Windows PCs earlier this week at a special presentation on its campus in Redmond, Washington. Coined Copilot+PCs, the Big Tech giant is dubbing this class of computers the “fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built.” Thanks to a new infrastructure that combines the central processing unit, graphics processing unit, and neural processing unit, the new devices are equipped to run generative AI processes locally. Microsoft worked closely with AI chipmakers AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm, and laptop manufacturers, including ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, and Samsung, to make the new computers possible.

Microsoft also unveiled a new Surface laptop and Surface Pro tablet. Copilot+ PCs will be available on June 18 and start at $999.

  • Earlier this week, Meta announced an AI advisory council comprised of four white men who will periodically meet with the Big Tech company’s management to offer guidance on tech advancements. It’s a shame Meta missed a big opportunity to hone in on diversity, especially since this new group followed the disbandment of its Responsible AI division last November.
  • Sonos will release its first-ever pair of wireless headphones, coined Sonos Ace, on June 5. The headphones will be available in black and white and retail for $449. They will have noise cancellation, spatial audio, and a home theater mode.
  • Despite the drama, OpenAI announced some good news this week. The AI leader inked a five-year deal with News Corp, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Barron’s, which is reportedly worth roughly $50 million a year. Current and archived content from all of the publishers’ major publications, which includes over 15 brands, will be accessible via OpenAI products.
  • TikTok announced the TikTok Change Makers Program, a global social impact program for creators and non-profits leveraging TikTok to create change in their communities. The six-month program will support 50 creators through building engagement, providing dedicated tools, reaching new audiences, and more. Elsewhere, The Information reported that TikTok plans to lay off a “large percentage” of employees from its operations and marketing divisions.

Now, that was fast. The company behind the Humane Ai Pin is shopping around for a buyer after receiving really bad reviews for its debut wearable product. Despite a lack of interest in the Ai Pin, I’m going to bet that Humane will find a new parent company by the end of the year or pivot its business model.