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Weekly AI Recap: Financial Times-OpenAI deal, Microsoft pours billions into Southeast Asia


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

May 3, 2024 | 6 min read

Plus, Google reportedly planning to pay News Corp – owner of The Wall Street Journal – up to $6mn annually to support the publisher’s AI efforts.

Financial Times

After signing a partnership with OpenAI, the FT’s CEO said the company remains “committed to human journalism.” / Adobe Stock

Financial Times signs content licensing deal with OpenAI

The Financial Times announced on Monday that it had entered into a strategic partnership with OpenAI.

Through the new licensing deal, OpenAI will gain access to the FT's content to train large language models; ChatGPT users will begin seeing quotes from, summaries of and links to FT articles. The AI company will also help to build new AI tools for the FT.

​​“The FT is committed to human journalism, as produced by our unrivaled newsroom, and this agreement will broaden the reach of that work, while deepening our understanding of reader demands and interests,” John Ridding, CEO of Financial Times Group, said in a statement. “Apart from the benefits to the FT, there are broader implications for the industry. It’s right, of course, that AI platforms pay publishers for the use of their material. OpenAI understands the importance of transparency, attribution, and compensation – all essential for us. At the same time, it’s clearly in the interests of users that these products contain reliable sources.”

A handful of other media powerhouses, including Axel Springer and the Associated Press, have inked their own licensing deals with OpenAI. The New York Times, however, has taken a different approach: the publisher sued OpenAI and Microsoft in December, claiming that their copyrighted content was illegally used to train GPT-4.

Microsoft to invest billions in Malaysian and Indonesian tech industries

Microsoft pledged on Thursday to invest $2.2bn to help develop Malaysia’s cloud computing and AI infrastructure.

The brand wrote in a blog post that the investment, which will be deployed over the next four years, will also be aimed at “creating AI skilling opportunities” for some Malaysians and establishing a national AI Center of Excellence to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure, along with other efforts.

“The investment demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to developing Malaysia as a hub for cloud computing and related advanced technologies, including generative AI. This will support the nation’s productivity, competitiveness, resilience, and economic growth,” the company wrote in the blog post.

Two days prior (April 30), the tech giant made a similar commitment to invest $1.7bn in Indonesia’s cloud and AI infrastructure.

The planned investments from Microsoft reflect a broader push among some leading tech companies to establish a more powerful presence in Southeast Asia, drawn in by the region's large population and growing cloud and AI sectors.

Google reportedly planning to pay millions annually to News Corp

Google will pay News Corp, parent company of The Wall Street Journal, between $5mn and $6mn annually to fund the media company's efforts to build “new artificial intelligence-related content and products,” The Information reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.

News Corp has denied the claim. “We absolutely do not have an AI content licensing deal with Google, though we do have a number of partnerships with Google across our businesses," a company spokesperson told Reuters following the publication of The Information’s report.

The new deal, according to The Information, builds upon a preexisting partnership between News Corp and Google which kicked off in early 2021.

Amazon announces general release of Q chatbot

Amazon Q, an AI-powered chatbot designed to help businesses manage internal data, was released to all Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers on Tuesday. The chatbot was first unveiled in November – one year to the day after OpenAI released ChatGPT – in a limited preview.

The chatbot has been marketed by Amazon as an automated business assistant that can, for example, help software engineers debug code and field employee questions about various company policies. In other words, it’s intended to handle some of the more mundane yet time-consuming tasks that most brands using AWS are routinely handling.

Daniel Faggella, CEO of AI research firm Emerj, makes the case that Amazon’s AI chatbot strategy appears to closely mirroring Microsoft’s: the latter recently integrated its Copilot AI assistant into its suite of Office 365 platforms. “This feels like more of a reach for Amazon than it does for Microsoft … [and] a little bit like an also-ran,” Faggella says. “It also seems like it’s a world that [Amazon] can’t not be a part of because so much of today’s work is going to be augmented and automated by artificial intelligence.”

CFTC names new chief AI officer

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a federal agency overseeing the US financial markets, announced on Wednesday that it had promoted Ted Kaouk to be its first-ever chief AI officer.

In October, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at giving the federal government more direct oversight of the private sector’s development and deployment of advanced AI models. Five months later, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidelines around federal agencies' use of AI, part of which mandated the designation of a chief AI officer – responsible for "[coordinating] the use of AI" – within each agency.

Kaouk’s new role at the CFTC will build upon his current position as the agency’s chief data officer and director of the division of data. He previously served as chief data officer and responsible official for AI at the US office of personnel management (OPM).

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