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June 14, 2024 21 mins

Elon Musk says he'll ban Apple products from his company following the announcement that Apple is partnering with OpenAI. Plus, Microsoft recalls Windows Recall before it can launch next week. And much more! 

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to tech Stuff, a production from iHeartRadio. Hey there,
and welcome to tech Stuff. I'm your host, Jonathan Strickland.
I'm an executive producer with iHeart Podcasts and How the
tech are you. It's time for the tech news for
the week ending Friday, June fourteenth, twenty twenty four. For

(00:26):
all you gamers out there, this past weekend and following
week was an absolute smorgas board of video game trailers
as well as commercials for like gaming hardware, though no
new consoles. I'm sad to say so. While E three
is really most sincerely dead, we had Jeff Keeley's Summer

(00:47):
Games Fest, we had the Ubisoft Forward Event, the PC
Gaming Show, and the Xbox Showcase, and I'm probably missing
a couple in there. Soon we're gonna have Nintendo Direct
that has not yet happened. In fact, last I checked,
they had not even mentioned what date that is going
to happen on, but most people are expecting it to
happen next week anyway. Tons of games have been announced,

(01:10):
though not very many in the category of Triple A titles,
apart from some of the Ubisoft stuff, like they had
an Assassin's Creed title that kind of thing. It's been
a rough few months for the games industry, largely because
of layoffs and shutdowns. I'm specifically looking at you, Microsoft,
But if you'd like to hear more about what was

(01:31):
announced over the last few days, well, there's like tons
of resources. You know. You could go to Polygon or
ign just go to YouTube and do a search on
these sorts of things, or you can listen to a
show like the Besties podcast. And I don't have any
connection with any of those things, by the way, I
don't work with them, and I don't know them. I
just I'm just a fan as well. So check those out.

(01:52):
But now let's get to some tech news. Apple held
its Worldwide Developers Conference or WWDC this week, and as
I'm sure everybody anticipated, AI was foremost on the menu.
When it came to keynotes and presentations. CEO Tim Cook
took the stage and showed off how an AI boosted
serie could do more complex tasks with features like emails, messages,

(02:17):
and even third party apps. Not everyone is happy with
Apple's recent decisions regarding AI. More on that in a second,
but investors they were happy as a clam Apple saw
its stock price go up enough to the point where
the company bumped Microsoft off the top of its most
Valuable Corporations list. Now Apple once again stands triumphant as

(02:39):
the most valuable company in the world with evaluation of
good golly like three point twenty nine trillion dollars. But
back to the WWDC, Apple's version of AI stands for,
of course, Apple Intelligence. Apple announced it was incorporating the
GPT four oh large language model into its products so

(03:00):
that the AI can help assist with specific user needs.
Now this means that Apple has entered into a sort
of partnership with open Ai, which you might recall is
also working very closely with Microsoft because Microsoft initiated a
ten billion dollar investment in open Ai. According to just
Weatherbed of The Verge, Apple isn't handing out bucket loads

(03:22):
of cash the same way Microsoft is, but rather, quote
believes the exposure it's giving chat GPT is payment enough
end quote. That's kind of funny. I've always said, you know,
you can't live off exposure, but you sure can die
from it anyway. Weatherbed says that Apple is reportedly in
talks with other companies that have AI models, and the

(03:43):
plan appears to be that Apple users will actually have
options when it comes to whichever AI overlord they want
to use, so those who prefer Google's Gemini AI could
use that instead, for example, assuming a deal between Apple
and Google through Apple set some expectations early with the
AI talk, saying that these enhanced features will only be

(04:06):
available on some hardware, mostly the newest and highest ended
stuff like the iPhone fifteen Pro and the iPhone fifteen
Pro Max models or Max and iPads that have at
least an M one or later chip in them. Also,
it will only work if the language on the device
is set to English. Apple's presentation largely focused on context

(04:30):
of use, meaning that let's say you launch an app
and that you then ask that some information that's on
a different app get incorporated into the one you're using.
The AI would then handle what you want. So let
me give you a hypothetical example. Let's say that I
open up a messenger app and I want to send
a link to a video that's in a different app, right, Like,

(04:52):
I've got YouTube open on a different in one of
the other apps, and I want to send a link
to the YouTube video I was just watching to a
friend of mine on message, and the AI would theoretically
be able to suss all that out and save me
the effort of figuring out how to do that myself,
like to go in through the share feature on YouTube
or whatever in order to pull the link and post

(05:12):
it to my friend. I could just do it very
quickly by asking the assistant to do it. Apple also
showed off an AI image generation feature called gen Moji,
and as that name suggests, it will let users generate
an emoji that otherwise does not exist, so that you
can suitably express whatever it is you're feeling without you know,
having to use words. I mean, you do have to

(05:32):
use words to generate the emoji in the first place,
but then you won't be using words for whomever is
on the receiving end of that, you know, custom made emoji.
I guess I don't actually understand any of this because
I was an English major. I still think writing actual
letters is cool. But anyway, Apple announced this and lots
more stuff at the WWDC this year, and it got

(05:54):
developers and investors really excited. But it's not all good
news for Apple. There's a growing anti trust lawsuit mounting
against the company here in the United States. It's led
by the US Department of Justice, and so far nineteen
states as well as the District of Columbia have joined. Nevada, Massachusetts, Washington,
and Indiana are the latest for states to get involved

(06:16):
in this lawsuit. And it pretty much follows an argument
that we have heard for years now in various variations.
So Apple maintains a tight ecosystem, largely in an effort
to maximize profits and to discourage competition. What's more, of
these lawsuits say that Apple pairs that strategy with a
decision to sell iPhones at higher prices, and this maximizes

(06:38):
their profit margins, all the while forcing partners to pay
hefty fees for the privilege of being allowed to play
within Apple's sandbox. Apple has responded by saying, uh uh no,
we don't. And plus, even if we did, that's not
the definition of anti trust because no court has ever
said that, so that could be a valid point. But
you know, the interesting thing about courts is that they

(06:59):
can make new interpretations of old laws. That's kind of
what they do. So we'll have to see how this
develops further. Meanwhile, in Japan, Apple will have to allow
third party app stores and payment providers on iOS devices
in order to comply with a new law passed by
Japan's parliament. Google will also have to obey this law

(07:19):
with its Android devices. And again, this follows a growing
trend of regulators and other government officials cracking down on
the walled garden approach that both Apple and Google have used.
The companies have long argued that their policies protect consumers
by preventing malicious actors from tricking people into downloading malware

(07:40):
or sharing personal information with the wrong party, a claim
that I think is only partly valid because both Google
and Apple have a history of allowing third party apps
that later turned out to be malicious. But we're seeing
more governments say I'm not buying it. You do this
so that you can maintain control over ecosystem and then

(08:01):
profit off of other people's work. So by that, I
mean Apple and Google both have a practice of collecting
a percentage of every in app transaction for most apps,
So regulators are saying this is kind of like the
mobs skimming off of profits of businesses that the mob
quote unquote protects. Now, I mentioned earlier that one person
in particular isn't happy about the Apple and open Ai

(08:24):
news and that happens to be our favorite Bunker's billionaire
Elon Musk. You know, there's some weeks that I managed
to do a whole news episode without talking about him
at all. But today we've got a few stories that
involve him, and I guess that's because I invoked his
name when I did an episode earlier this week about
the origins of Tesla. Anyway, Musk threatened to ban Apple

(08:47):
computers and Apple devices from his various companies in the
wake of the open Ai announcement. So if you recall,
once upon a time, Elon Musk was a co founding
member of the original incarnation of open ai, which at
that time was a non profit dedicated to developing responsible
and safe artificial intelligence. But then Musk stormed out of

(09:09):
that organization, or perhaps he was encouraged to leave, and
he says that his decision was due to open ai
turning to the dark side of the force and embracing
a for profit approach. More on that than just a bit. Anyway,
Musk has been in a pretty darn public tiff with
open ai ever since, and he's also building out his

(09:30):
own AI company, which of course is called Xai. Musk
has said that if Apple devices incorporate open AI into them,
which is what is now happening, then that would mean
the Apple devices would pose quote an unacceptable security violation
end quote. And yikes, that's got to be tough because,
of course, now Microsoft also has tight integration with open AI.

(09:51):
I mean, the company is launching the Copilot plus PC
line next week. So if Microsoft and Apple are both
working closely with open AI, and open ai cannot be trusted,
I guess that means everyone working for one of Musk's
companies is going to have to switch to a Google
Chrome computer or something. I mean, there's also Linux and such,

(10:15):
but you know, everyone switching I mean, I don't know.
I would imagine the boffins at SpaceX might need something
with a little bit more oomph than a Google Chrome computer. Anyway,
Will Musk actually put a ban on Apple devices in
place at Tesla and SpaceX and Eurolink and XAI and
x Perhaps I've given up predicting on what he will

(10:38):
and will not do. I imagine that if he does put
it in place, it won't apply to him. That seems
to be the way rules work in his world is
those are things for other people, Okay, We've got lots
more to cover, including some more Elon Musk news, But
before I get to all that, let's take a quick
break to think our sponsors. So related to Elon Musk say,

(11:09):
he had previously brought a lawsuit against open Ai. He
argued that open ai had violated the founding principles of
the original nonprofit and that the company was purposefully withholding
the most useful and advanced AI tools for high paying customers.
And that does seem to fly in the face of
the open part of open ai, right, Like, if you're

(11:30):
an open company, you're not withholding stuff for the folks
who just pay you more. But then open ai has
now published a blog post that included a bunch of
emails written by Elon Musk, and those emails indicated that
back when Musk was part of open ai, he not
only knew that open ai would need to generate an
enormous amount of money to pay for AI research and development,

(11:52):
but he also wanted to be the one to lead
those efforts. The emails show that Musk agreed that open
ai would not be able to just raise money from donations.
It would have to create a means of generating actual
revenue in order to survive. That's essentially what the for
profit arm of open Ai was founded on, although lots
of other folks have questioned as whether or not that

(12:13):
means the nonprofit arm is the prime beneficiary of all
that revenue. The blog post seems to say, Hey, Elon,
this thing you're complaining about, it's the same thing you
wanted to do. Whether that had any influence on the
decision or not, I can't say, but Elon Musk's lawyers
have now dropped the lawsuit not long after that blog
was published. Open Ai and Musk himself have remained fairly

(12:36):
quiet about all of that. Now, we're not done with
Musk just yet. Some former SpaceX workers have filed a
lawsuit against him for sexual harassment and retaliation. Gebby Delvall
of The Verge reports that eight former engineers are part
of this lawsuit, and they say that Musk quote knowingly
and purposefully created an unwelcome, hostile work environment based upon

(12:58):
his conduct of interge into the workplace, vile sexual photographs,
memes and commentary that demeaned women and or the LGBTQ
plus community, which is a big old yuck. The lawsuit
argues that Musk is responsible for creating and fostering a
hostile work environment at SpaceX one that encouraged a sexist

(13:19):
culture within the company. The lawsuit even claims that a
video featuring C suite executives appeared to mock situations involving
sexual misconduct, which is a big old' yikes. I mean, y'all.
One thing all iHeart employees have to do every year
is go through a training course about appropriate conduct. And
I cannot tell you how horrified I would be if,

(13:40):
in the course of that training we were to see
our company's executives acting out inappropriate scenarios while making jokes
about it. Of course, that does not happen here. It's
just unthinkable to me that it happens anywhere, let alone
it's SpaceX. Moving away from Elon, let's talk a little
bit more about Microsoft. The company has faced mounting criticism
regarding an unres least Windows eleven feature called Windows Recall

(14:03):
and If You Recall. This feature essentially takes snapshots of
what's going on on your PC and then keeps those
snapshots as a record. So hypothetically, if for some reason
you needed to know more about something you once did
on your PC in the past. You could search through
those snapshots for answers, but critics worried that the feature
would become a huge, juicy target for malicious actors. Microsoft

(14:27):
stress that all Windows Recall functions would just take place
on the native machines, meaning the information would not get
shared to the cloud or anything like that. But this
week the company also faced questioning from US Congress regarding
how Microsoft is handled, or rather failed to handle, various
security crises. So I'm guessing all of that convinced Microsoft

(14:47):
that maybe, just maybe, it would not be the best
time to release Windows Recall, even if the tool is
relatively secure, due to those concerns. So next week, on
June eighteenth, Microsoft still plans to launch its Copilot plus
PC program, in which new Windows PCs will have the
Copilot AI more tightly integrated into them, but the Windows
Recall feature will be absent. The company does say that

(15:10):
Windows Recall will get rolled out at some future date,
but did not give a timeline as to when that
will happen. Brandon viglia Rollo of The Register reports that
Weimo is responding to an incident that happened with one
of its driverless taxis back on May twenty first in Phoenix, Arizona.
So apparently that incident involved a Weimo vehicle driving into

(15:30):
a wooden telephone pole at around eight miles per hour. Now,
I'll remind you that wooden telephone poles are inanimate, and
they are stationary objects, and they're ones that you would
expect a driverless car to naturally avoid. Weimo claimed that
the problem came from quote a mapping and software issue
end quote. No one was harmed in the incident, so

(15:51):
that's good at least. But even though this was a
minor accident in the grand scheme of things, it comes
at a time when cities are scrutinizing driverless proms a
little bit more closely than they used to. Weaimo is
in the midst of a software recall on its automated
driver system, so we'll see whether or not this leads
to bigger headaches for driverless taxi efforts. In general, I

(16:14):
think there's a growing skepticism around those. Natalie Cratch of
The Wrap has an upsetting piece about the New York
Times as art department. So recently the newspaper reduced its
art production department by more than half, from sixteen positions
down to seven. The New York Times Guild alleges that
this move is in an effort to offload work that

(16:34):
would normally go to human artists to AI instead. This
is ryan line with the concerns many have expressed for
the creative industries as a whole that companies will favor
AI over human creatives. That's a huge problem for many reasons,
not the least of which is that it puts creatives
out of work. But also, you know, consider that the
training methods for image generating and image altering AI often

(16:58):
involved feeding countless exams samples of art and human created
work to the AI model. So it's entirely possible that
the stuff the AI does will at least in part,
be based off the work of the very human beings
who are laid off in the first place, which is
kind of like being fired and then replaced by a
really crappy copy of yourself. But a spokesperson for The

(17:20):
Times now has said that AI did not factor into
this decision at all, and that in fact, the employees
were offered a buyout and the whole decision to downsize
the department reflects a push to create a more efficient
process that doesn't need as many staff to do its work,
though some have said that that's because of the incorporation
of AI tools. So the story is still unfolding. And

(17:43):
then a story that makes me wonder how this actually works.
We have a piece by Takeshi Nhirabi of the Asian
Shimbun about a company using AI in order to protect
its customer service staff from angry customers. All right, so
the story goes that Soft Bank, which is a massive
conglomerate that's had a bit of a roller coaster of
a history in recent years, has rolled out an AI

(18:06):
tool that acts as a go between for staff and customers.
So the idea is that the AI receives the angry
calls of customers seeking a solution and turns them into
a calm and reasonable voice, or at least one that
doesn't turn into an intimidating, angry tirade. So you know,
a customer could be screaming, listen, you idiot, I'm telling

(18:28):
you that I need a solution, but the AI might
turn that into could you please help me resolve this issue?
Actually that's not true. According to the article, the AI
doesn't actually change the wording at all, So if someone
calls a staff an idiot, that idiot is still going
to get through in the message. But what it does
do is it changes the pitch and the tone of
the voice. So presumably the person on the other end

(18:52):
of the line, if they start getting no a bit heated,
the AI might start increasing the pitch of their voice
up to chipmunk levels, because you know, it's hard to
feel stressed out about a chipmunk being angry at you. Interestingly,
the developer said one of the challenges was figuring out
how much anger to leave in because obviously, if a
customer is getting angry, the staff member needs to know

(19:13):
about in order not to escalate matters further. And apparently
SoftBank hopes to make this tool a product it can
sell to other companies starting next year. Okay, some article
recommendations for y'all. First up is a piece by Kyle
Chaika in The New York Are titled is Google SEO
Gaslighting the Internet? So the article describes how some leaked
internal Google documents paint a very different picture of how

(19:35):
search works than what Google has said to the general public.
It's well worth a read. Next up is Ron Amadeo's
piece for Ours Technica titled the Google Pay App Is Dead,
which tells the story of how Google put to rest
yet another Google feature in favor of another one that
does pretty much the same thing. And this is like
the fourth time that's happened. And finally, Ashley Blanger has

(19:56):
another piece on Ours Technica. This one's titled Microsoft in
Damage Control Mode says it will prioritize security over AI.
Now I alluded to this earlier in the episode. Microsoft
has had to face questioning from Congress about some recent
security breaches that have affected thousands of government staff, and
the piece raises serious questions about whether the US government
has put too much faith and responsibility on the shoulders

(20:18):
of Microsoft, and whether Microsoft has behaved responsibly in the
wake of cybersecurity breaches. According to one whistleblower, Microsoft made
the conscious decision to not respond and to not reveal
certain attacks in an effort to avoid putting these lucrative
government contracts in jeopardy, which is a heck of an accusation,
so well worth a read. That's it. I hope you

(20:40):
had a great week. I hope you have an even
better weekend. And I'll talk to you again, really soon.
Tech Stuff is an iHeartRadio production. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio,
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