There were overlapping developments in technology this week. Major announcements came from OpenAI, Meta, and Spotify. There were also reports of overheating in the recently-launched iPhone 15 devices. Net neutrality is also back in the headlines. Here are the top in tech for week 39 of 2023, running from Monday, 25th September to Sunday 1st October.
1. IPhone 15 devices overheat, one week after launch
A series of reports compiled by Forbes indicate that the new iPhone 15 smartphones are overheating when charging. The devices, which debuted on September 12, could reach up to 116F (46C). This is one of several other complaints about the iPhone 15 series. Customers have complained about the phone’s titanium housing. They say it is potentially more fragile and prone to scratches.
Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo found that the overheating problem came from design choices. He believes that Apple chose to prioritize a lightweight housing over the thermal system. He also dispelled the speculation that the overheating problem comes from the device’s chipset, the A17 Pro. It is the fastest iPhone processor to date.
Kuo suggests that a temporary solution to the overheating problem would be through a software fix, not a device recall. However, this approach would require Apple to reduce the chipset’s power to manage its heating capacity. Unfortunately, such an update could slow down the device’s performance. So far, there is no official response from Apple.
2. Two major ChatGPT updates
First, OpenAI announced new voice and image recognition features into ChatGPT. Users can now choose from five AI-generated voices to interact with the platform. The voices come from professional performers who collaborated with OpenAI.
Users can also transcribe speech in the English language with ChatGPT. The transcription feature is powered by Whisper, which is OpenAI’s speech recognition system. Voice-related features will be available on iOS and Android ChatGPT apps.
Regarding image recognition, users will be able to upload multiple images to ChatGPT. The mobile ChatGPT apps will have a drawing tool for users to focus on specific parts of their images. This feature works with various image sources, including photos captured on the go. It also works with documents containing images and screenshots.
For now, only paying subscribers (Plus and Enterprise) can use these new features. They may be rolled out in future for the free version of ChatGPT.
Two days later, OpenAI announced that ChatGPT will be able to access the internet. This means that its information will no longer be limited to September 2021. Users can ask ChatGPT for news and current affairs. This feature uses the Bing extension to provide links to sources.
ChatGPT internet access was disabled in July this year. Content owners raised concerns that the AI model could access subscription-based articles for free. OpenAI has fixed this issue. The browsing feature will now be available for GPT-4 subscribers.
3. Spotify’s AI-generated podcast translations
On the same day that OpenAI revealed its voice update, Spotify announced that it will use those same features on its platform. The aim is to create an alternative to traditional dubbing. Spotify will train AI with the voice of the podcast host, then use it to translate the episodes. It will create podcasts that sound authentic in languages like German, Spanish, and French.
Spotify’s Vice President of Personalization, Ziad Sultan, embraced OpenAI’s new technology. He said that using groundbreaking AI voice generation “unlocks the potential of human creativity.” The company hopes to give global listeners access to a wider range of podcasts. The first AI-translated episodes include samples from Armchair Expert and Lex Friedman Podcast. Free and premium users will be able to listen to pilot episodes in the coming weeks.
Earlier this year, Spotify launched its AI DJ feature to personalize music recommendations. It uses OpenAI technology to generate facts and commentary about the music on the platform. The AI podcast feature is part of Spotify’s mission, which is to use innovative technologies to transform the listening experience.
4. FCC deadlock on net neutrality broken
The swearing-in of Commissioner Anna Gomez to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a significant move toward restoring net neutrality. As the fifth FCC commissioner, Gomez breaks the deadlock that has stalled the agency’s decisions. She now brings a Democratic majority to the FCC, fulfilling President Biden’s plans that began in 2021.
Net neutrality is the policy governing internet traffic. It ensures that all internet service providers (ISPs) don’t manipulate access to any lawful website. Net neutrality principles are that:
- ISPs cannot block access to any legal content, applications, or devices
- ISPs cannot throttle internet speed for lawful content, applications, or devices
- ISPs cannot favor some content or devices over others for any reason, e.g., giving ISP affiliates faster speeds.
To show their support for this move, Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, also issued their statement. The group highlighted the “monopoly power and abuses” of Big Telecom and Big Tech companies. It argued that the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) gives telecom companies greater power. The group urged the FCC to withstand the resistance from tech giants and protect American rights.
5. Meta launches own AI experiences featuring celebrity characters
Meta introduced 28 new AIs to operate in WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram across devices. The AIs, or artificial intelligence characters, are played by famous personalities including Tom Brady, Naomi Osaka, and Snoop Dogg. For example, Tom Brady plays a sports debater named Bru. Snoop Dogg plays Dungeon Master, so users can choose their own adventure. These AIs have various personalities and specializations, such as cooking and fitness. All the AI characters have background stories and profiles on Instagram and Facebook. They will also appear on Meta smart glasses and Quest 3 in future.
The new chatbots are part of Meta AI, the company’s generative language learning model (LLM). Founder Mark Zuckerberg said that they are still a work in progress. He also indicated that the AIs will be more about entertainment rather than answering queries.
US-based users will use the new chatbots first, with a global rollout expected in the coming weeks and months. This announcement came on the same day that OpenAI restored internet access for ChatGPT. This signals the rivalry and competition between AI players today.