Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – February 18th

World’s leading tech companies vow to combat deceptive AI in elections – 2/17

On Friday, the leading tech companies signed an accord to express their joint commitment to fight deceptive AI in the upcoming elections. The accord’s signatories include Meta, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Adobe, OpenAI, Stability AI, Anthropic, Snap, X, and TikTok (among others).

The accord states that the companies will use technology to combat and counter deceptive artificial intelligence. It specifies the companies will target content that “deceptively fakes or alters the appearance, voice, or actions“ of the key figures in the election.

The companies announced The Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections at the Munich Security Convention. They agreed to eight commitments like “seeking to detect” and address the distribution of such content and ensuring transparency on these processes to the public. However, the accord specifies that each company will only apply these commitments “where they are relevant for services each company provides.“

Data provided by Clarity (a machine learning company) shows the number of deepfakes created has increased by 900% each year. The rise of AI-generated content led to concerns over election-related misinformation.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, OpenAI announced the launch of Sora, a new model for AI-generated videos. It can generate videos using still images, extend existing videos, or fill them in.

Jeff Bezos sells over $6 billion worth of Amazon shares – 2/15

According to a regulatory filing released this week, Jeff Bezos sold over $2.3 billion of Amazon shares. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Bezos sold around 12 million Amazon shares with an average share price of $169.50. It brings his total of sold Amazon shares to over $6 billion sold in February, or 24 million shares, according to the company. Earlier this month, Amazon announced Bezos plans to sell 50 million shares over the next year.

Bezos last sold Amazon shares in May 2021, when he stepped down as the CEO. He gifted $240 million worth of shares last year.

Bezos moved to Miami, Florida, from Seattle, Washington, in 2022. Experts speculated Bezos moved because the Washington state approved a new tax on large stock sales. However, Bezos claims the move was due to his parents moving to Miami to be closer to them and the Blue Origin space project.

According to Forbes, Bezos is the world’s third richest person, with a net worth of $191.4 billion.

Nvidia becomes third most valuable U. S. company – 2/14

Nvidia became the third most valuable company in the United States by surpassing Alphabet in the market capitalization this week. The news comes a day after Nvidia also surpassed Amazon in the market value. Nvidia is now only behind Apple and Microsoft.

The price of Nvidia shares rose 2% to $739 per share. It gives the company a market value of $1.83 billion. Over the past 12 months, Nvidia shares are up 221% because of high demand for AI server chip sales that cost more than $20,000 per piece. The company is now valued more than the tech companies that use its chips for their products. Before the recent AI boom, Nvidia was best known for consumer graphics processors.

Meanwhile, Google shares rose 55% over the past 12 months. The company also announced a new AI subscription service called Gemini Advanced at $20 per month.

X (former Twitter) assigned subscription perks to terrorist groups – 2/16

According to the campaigners from The Tech Transparency Project (TTP), X (former Twitter) granted subscription perks to terrorist groups and others banned from operating in the United States. Among others, X granted blue checks to members with ties to Hezbollah.

Users who pay $8 per month get a blue tick, which means they can share longer posts and have them promoted better. Previously, the blue tick was free and awarded to institutions and prominent individuals. It meant the company verified their identity. However, after Musk bought Twitter, he implemented the new subscription. Experts deemed it controversial as it led to numerous impersonators and issues with disinformation.

According to The Tech Transparency Project, X removed ticks from the accounts the report identified. The Tech Transparency Project stated: “The U.S. imposes sanctions on individuals, groups, and countries deemed to be a threat to national security. Elon Musk’s X appears to be selling premium service to some of them… A blue checkmark account that bears the name and profile image of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, also indicates it is ‘ID verified’, a service that X offers to premium subscribers as a way to prevent impersonation.“

According to the X’s safety team, the company and its subscription process are „adhering to legal obligations.“ They added: „Several of the accounts listed in the Tech Transparency Report are not directly named on sanction lists, while some others may have visible account check marks without receiving any services that would be subject to sanctions.“

The Tech Transparency Project replied that even though some of the names on the list are not organizations named on the sanctions list, entities under sanctions own them.


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