deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Microsoft Reports Outage for Teams, Outlook, Other Services

Microsoft said it’s seeing some improvement to problems with its online services including the Teams messaging platform and Outlook email system after users around the world reported outages Wednesday. 

In a status update, the tech company reported “service degradation” for a number of its Microsoft 365 services. 

Thousands of users reported problems with Teams, Outlook, the Azure cloud computing service and XBox Live online gaming service early Wednesday on the Downdetector website, which tracks outage reports. Many users also took to social media to complain that services were down. 

By later in the morning, Downdetector showed the number of reports had dropped considerably. 

“We’re continuing to monitor the recovery across the service and some customers are reporting mitigation,” the Microsoft 365 Status Twitter account said. “We’re also connecting the service to additional infrastructure to expedite the recovery process.” 

It tweeted earlier that it had “isolated the problem to a networking configuration issue” and that a network change suspected to be causing the problem was rolled back. 

It comes after Microsoft reported Tuesday that its quarterly profit fell 12%, reflecting economic uncertainty that the company said led to its decision this month to cut 10,000 workers. 

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

ChatGPT Bot Passes US Law School Exam

A chatbot powered by reams of data from the internet has passed exams at a U.S. law school after writing essays on topics ranging from constitutional law to taxation and torts.

ChatGPT from OpenAI, a U.S. company that this week got a massive injection of cash from Microsoft, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate streams of text from simple prompts.

The results have been so good that educators have warned it could lead to widespread cheating and even signal the end of traditional classroom teaching methods.

Jonathan Choi, a professor at Minnesota University Law School, gave ChatGPT the same test faced by students, consisting of 95 multiple-choice questions and 12 essay questions.

In a white paper titled “ChatGPT goes to law school” published on Monday, he and his coauthors reported that the bot scored a C+ overall.

While this was enough for a pass, the bot was near the bottom of the class in most subjects and “bombed” at multiple-choice questions involving mathematics.

‘Not a great student’

“In writing essays, ChatGPT displayed a strong grasp of basic legal rules and had consistently solid organization and composition,” the authors wrote.

But the bot “often struggled to spot issues when given an open-ended prompt, a core skill on law school exams”.

Officials in New York and other jurisdictions have banned the use of ChatGPT in schools, but Choi suggested it could be a valuable teaching aide.

“Overall, ChatGPT wasn’t a great law student acting alone,” he wrote on Twitter.

“But we expect that collaborating with humans, language models like ChatGPT would be very useful to law students taking exams and to practicing lawyers.”

And playing down the possibility of cheating, he wrote in reply to another Twitter user that two out of three markers had spotted the bot-written paper.

“(They) had a hunch and their hunch was right, because ChatGPT had perfect grammar and was somewhat repetitive,” Choi wrote.

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Ресурсів для нормального продовження і завершення опалювального сезону достатньо – Шмигаль

«Ми розуміли, що це буде найскладніша зима в нашій історії»

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

US, 8 States Sue Google on Digital Ad Business Dominance

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Alphabet’s GOOGL.O Google on Tuesday over allegations that the company abused its dominance of the digital advertising business, according to a court document.

“Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” the government said in its antitrust complaint.

The Justice Department asked the court to compel Google to divest its Google Ad manager suite, including its ad exchange AdX.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit is the second federal antitrust complaint filed against Google, alleging violations of antitrust law in how the company acquires or maintains its dominance. The Justice Department lawsuit filed against Google in 2020 focuses on its monopoly in search and is scheduled to go to trial in September.

Eight states joined the department in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, including Google’s home state of California.

Google shares were down 1.3% on the news.

The lawsuit says “Google has thwarted meaningful competition and deterred innovation in the digital advertising industry, taken supra-competitive profits for itself, prevented the free market from functioning fairly to support the interests of the advertisers and publishers who make today’s powerful internet possible.”

While Google remains the market leader by a long shot, its share of the U.S. digital ad revenue has been eroding, falling to 28.8% last year from 36.7% in 2016, according to Insider Intelligence. Google’s advertising business is responsible for some 80% of its revenue.

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Із порту Чорноморська вийшло судно з пшеницею для Ефіопії

У Мінінфраструктури зазначили, що це вже четверте судно, що вийшло з порту Чорноморськ в рамках програми Grain From Ukraine

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

AI Tools Can Create New Images, But Who Is the Real Artist?

Countless artists have taken inspiration from “The Starry Night” since Vincent Van Gogh painted the swirling scene in 1889.

Now artificial intelligence systems are doing the same, training themselves on a vast collection of digitized artworks to produce new images you can conjure in seconds from a smartphone app.

The images generated by tools such as DALL-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion can be weird and otherworldly but also increasingly realistic and customizable — ask for a “peacock owl in the style of Van Gogh” and they can churn out something that might look similar to what you imagined.

But while Van Gogh and other long-dead master painters aren’t complaining, some living artists and photographers are starting to fight back against the AI software companies creating images derived from their works.

Two new lawsuits —- one this week from the Seattle-based photography giant Getty Images —- take aim at popular image-generating services for allegedly copying and processing millions of copyright-protected images without a license.

Getty said it has begun legal proceedings in the High Court of Justice in London against Stability AI — the maker of Stable Diffusion —- for infringing intellectual property rights to benefit the London-based startup’s commercial interests.

Another lawsuit filed Friday in a U.S. federal court in San Francisco describes AI image-generators as “21st-century collage tools that violate the rights of millions of artists.” The lawsuit, filed by three working artists on behalf of others like them, also names Stability AI as a defendant, along with San Francisco-based image-generator startup Midjourney, and the online gallery DeviantArt.

The lawsuit said AI-generated images “compete in the marketplace with the original images. Until now, when a purchaser seeks a new image ‘in the style’ of a given artist, they must pay to commission or license an original image from that artist.”

Companies that provide image-generating services typically charge users a fee. After a free trial of Midjourney through the chatting app Discord, for instance, users must buy a subscription that starts at $10 per month or up to $600 a year for corporate memberships. The startup OpenAI also charges for use of its DALL-E image generator, and StabilityAI offers a paid service called DreamStudio.

Stability AI said in a statement that “Anyone that believes that this isn’t fair use does not understand the technology and misunderstands the law.”

In a December interview with The Associated Press, before the lawsuits were filed, Midjourney CEO David Holz described his image-making subscription service as “kind of like a search engine” pulling in a wide swath of images from across the internet. He compared copyright concerns about the technology with how such laws have adapted to human creativity.

“Can a person look at somebody else’s picture and learn from it and make a similar picture?” Holz said. “Obviously, it’s allowed for people and if it wasn’t, then it would destroy the whole professional art industry, probably the nonprofessional industry too. To the extent that AIs are learning like people, it’s sort of the same thing and if the images come out differently then it seems like it’s fine.”

The copyright disputes mark the beginning of a backlash against a new generation of impressive tools — some of them introduced just last year — that can generate new images, readable text and computer code on command.

They also raise broader concerns about the propensity of AI tools to amplify misinformation or cause other harm. For AI image generators, that includes the creation of nonconsensual sexual imagery.

Some systems produce photorealistic images that can be impossible to trace, making it difficult to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s AI. And while most have some safeguards in place to block offensive or harmful content, experts say it’s not enough and fear it’s only a matter of time until people utilize these tools to spread disinformation and further erode public trust.

“Once we lose this capability of telling what’s real and what’s fake, everything will suddenly become fake because you lose confidence of anything and everything,” said Wael Abd-Almageed, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Southern California.

As a test, The Associated Press submitted a text prompt on Stable Diffusion featuring the keywords “Ukraine war” and “Getty Images.” The tool created photo-like images of soldiers in combat with warped faces and hands, pointing and carrying guns. Some of the images also featured the Getty watermark, but with garbled text.

AI can also get things wrong, like feet and fingers or details on ears that can sometimes give away that they’re not real, but there’s no set pattern to look out for. And those visual clues can also be edited. On Midjourney, for instance, users often post on the Discord chat asking for advice on how to fix distorted faces and hands.

With some generated images traveling on social networks and potentially going viral, they can be challenging to debunk since they can’t be traced back to a specific tool or data source, according to Chirag Shah, a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington, who uses these tools for research.

“You could make some guesses if you have enough experience working with these tools,” Shah said. “But beyond that, there is no easy or scientific way to really do this.”

But for all the backlash, there are many people who embrace the new AI tools and the creativity they unleash. Searches on Midjourney, for instance, show curious users are using the tool as a hobby to create intricate landscapes, portraits and art.

There’s plenty of room for fear, but “what can else can we do with them?” asked the artist Refik Anadol this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he displayed an exhibit of his AI-generated work.

At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Anadol designed “Unsupervised,” which draws from artworks in the museum’s prestigious collection — including “The Starry Night” — and feeds them into a massive digital installation generating animations of mesmerizing colors and shapes in the museum lobby.

The installation is “constantly changing, evolving and dreaming 138,000 old artworks at MoMA’s Archive,” Anadol said. “From Van Gogh to Picasso to Kandinsky, incredible, inspiring artists who defined and pioneered different techniques exist in this artwork, in this AI dream world.”

For painters like Erin Hanson, whose impressionist landscapes are so popular and easy to find online that she has seen their influence in AI-produced visuals, she is not worried about her own prolific output, which makes $3 million a year.

She does, however, worry about the art community as a whole.

“The original artist needs to be acknowledged in some way or compensated,” Hanson said. “That’s what copyright laws are all about. And if artists aren’t acknowledged, then it’s going to make it hard for artists to make a living in the future.”

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

На російські нафтопродукти запровадять дві стелі цін

Представники країн погодилися, що такий підхід дозволить точніше встановлювати граничні ціни, оскільки він враховує широкий діапазон

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Дослідження: менш як 9% західних компаній вийшли з Росії після вторгнення в Україну

Дослідження показало, що американські компанії виявили більшу готовність залишити Росію, ніж інші західні фірми

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Google Parent Company To Lay Off 12,000 Workers Globally

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of tech giant Google, announced Friday it is laying off 12,000 workers across the entire company — cuts reflecting six percent of the company’s total workforce.

In an email to employees Friday, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said the company saw dramatic growth over the past two years and hired new employees “for a different economic reality than the one we face today.” He said he takes full responsibility for the decisions that led to where the company is today.

In his email, Pichai said the layoffs come following “a rigorous review across product areas and functions” to ensure the company’s employees and their roles are aligned with Google’s top priorities. “The roles we’re eliminating reflect the outcome of that review,” he said.

In the email, Pichai said U.S. employees to be laid off already have been notified, while it is going to take longer for employees in other countries because of different laws and regulations.

Google’s decision comes the same week other big tech companies, Meta Platforms Inc. – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Twitter Inc., Microsoft and Amazon, announced they were laying off thousands of employees.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters. 

 

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

FBI Chief Says He’s ‘Deeply Concerned’ by China’s AI Program

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that he was “deeply concerned” about the Chinese government’s artificial intelligence program, asserting that it was “not constrained by the rule of law.”

Speaking during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wray said Beijing’s AI ambitions were “built on top of massive troves of intellectual property and sensitive data that they’ve stolen over the years.”

He said that left unchecked, China could use artificial intelligence advancements to further its hacking operations, intellectual property theft and repression of dissidents inside the country and beyond.

“That’s something we’re deeply concerned about. I think everyone here should be deeply concerned about,” he said.

More broadly, he said, “AI is a classic example of a technology where I have the same reaction every time. I think, ‘Wow, we can do that?’ And then I think, ‘Oh God, they can do that.’”

Such concerns have long been voiced by U.S. officials. In October 2021, for instance, U.S. counterintelligence officials issued warnings about China’s ambitions in AI as part of a renewed effort to inform business executives, academics and local and state government officials about the risks of accepting Chinese investment or expertise in key industries.

Earlier that year, an AI commission led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt urged the U.S. to boost its AI skills to counter China, including by pursuing “AI-enabled” weapons.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Thursday about Wray’s comments. Beijing has repeatedly accused Washington of fearmongering and attacked U.S. intelligence for its assessments of China.

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Кулеба закликає переглянути стелю цін на нафту, аби скоротити доходи Росії

«Настав час переглянути обмеження ціни на нафту, оскільки поточна ринкова ціна на Urals нижча за 50 доларів США за барель»

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Tech Layoffs Mount as Microsoft, Amazon Shed Staff

Software giant Microsoft on Wednesday became the latest major company in the tech sector to announce significant job cuts when it reported it would lay off 10,000 employees, or about 5% of its workforce.

Microsoft’s job cuts come just as e-commerce leader Amazon begins a fresh round of 18,000 layoffs, extending a wave of other major cuts at Twitter, Salesforce and dozens of smaller technology firms in recent weeks.

The phenomenon of job losses in the tech sector has global reach but has been keenly felt in Silicon Valley and other West Coast tech hubs in the United States. The website layoffs.fyi, which tracks job cuts in the tech industry, has identified well over 100 tech firms announcing layoffs since January 1 across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In all, the website has counted more than 1,200 firms making layoffs since the beginning of 2022.

Changing environment

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared to suggest that retrenchment in the tech sector was a result of reduced consumer demand.

“During the pandemic, there was rapid acceleration,” Nadella said. “I think we’re going to go through a phase today where there is some amount of normalization in demand.”

He said the company would seek to drive growth by increasing its own productivity. The interview took place before Microsoft officially announced the layoffs.

One major focus of the layoffs, according to multiple media reports, was the division of the company that makes augmented reality systems, including the company’s HoloLens goggles and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, which until recently were being developed in cooperation with the U.S. Army.

Later in the day in an email to employees, Nadella wrote, “These are the kinds of hard choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain a consequential company in this industry that is unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t adapt to platform shifts.”

However, he signaled the company would continue hiring in areas such as artificial intelligence that management believes are strategically important.

Also on Wednesday, Doug Herrington, head of Amazon’s global retail business, said his company was restructuring to meet consumers’ demands but would continue to invest in areas where it saw the potential for growth, including its grocery delivery business.

Stronger, perhaps

Wayne Hochwarter, who teaches business administration at Florida State University, described the layoffs at Microsoft and Amazon as examples of businesses making adjustments to their workforces in the face of a changing business climate.

“I think they overestimated the trends in personal purchasing patterns, and they thought, ‘OK, we’re going to make sure we’re not shorthanded,’” he told VOA. “And then when things softened a little bit, they realized they had hired too many people.”

He also warned against reading too much into the latest layoffs.

“I don’t think the tech sector is going to heck in a handbasket,” he said. “They may have reevaluated where things are going to go, but I don’t see this as a catalyst for sending us into economic deterioration, or anything that’s going to put a crimp on the economy.”

Looking to the future, Hochwarter said, the workforce changes are “probably going to make them stronger companies.”

Weathering the storm

Margaret O’Mara, author of the book The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, told VOA that the current run of layoffs in the U.S. was just the latest chapter in a long cycle of booms and busts in the tech sector.

In some important respects, she said, it’s a story about more than just a misreading of trends in consumer preferences.

“It’s similar to other downturns, and there have been many — for every boom there was a bust — in that their macro[economic] conditions have shifted,” she said. “Tech is an industry that’s very much fueled by investment capital and the stock market.”

O’Mara said that over the last 10 years, with low interest rates and large amounts of cash flowing through the economy, conditions have been “extraordinary” for the growth of U.S. tech companies. As those conditions change, so does the amount of money investors want to put into tech firms.

However, O’Mara, a professor of American history at the University of Washington, said it was important not to look at conditions today as similar to the catastrophic dot-com bust of 2000.

“Tech is many orders of magnitude larger than it ever has been before,” she said. “We are talking about platform companies that are unlike the dot-coms, which were very young and very frothy, and it was easy for their value to collapse. They weren’t providing the essential services … fundamental to the rest of the economy.”

By contrast, she said, companies like Microsoft and Amazon have deep connections to the broader U.S. economy and should be able to withstand the current economic headwinds.

Difficult for H-1B visa holders

A disproportionate share of workers in the U.S. technology sector are non-citizens who hold H-1B visas, which allow companies to sponsor them. Layoffs are particularly difficult for visa holders — the overwhelming majority of whom are from India — because once their employment is terminated, they have just 60 days to find a new sponsor. Otherwise, they are required to leave the country.

Hochwarter said he thought companies would pull back on hiring H-1B visa workers, at least for the time being.

“My sense is that because that takes a great deal of effort and energy on the part of the employing organization, they’re probably going to start cutting down on those because they’re just not quite as needed,” he said.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh, speaking at Davos, bemoaned the state of U.S. immigration law, saying it denies the U.S. the workers it needs to drive economic growth.

“We need immigration reform in America. America has always been a country that has depended on immigration. The threat to the American economy long term is not inflation, it’s immigration,” he said. “It’s not having enough workers.”

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Україна експортувала 2,3 мільйона тонн харчів за перші два тижні року – уряд

Від початку повномасштабної війни з України виїхало 41,3 мільйона тонн сільськогосподарської продукції

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Україна домовилася із західними партнерами про додаткові обсяги газу – «Нафтогаз»

Україна домовилася із західними партнерами про додаткові обсяги газу, зокрема, резервування, необхідних для завершення цьогорічного опалювального сезону, повідомив у фесбуці голова правління НАК «Нафтогаз України» Олексій Чернишов за підсумками зустрічей на засіданні Всесвітнього економічного форуму у Давосі.

«В результаті цих та попередніх домовленостей маємо наступні новини: з Європейським банком реконструкції та розвитку домовилися про механізми фінансування закупівлі необхідних Україні додаткових обсягів газу; з нашими західними партнерами – ЄБРР, Норвегією, США, Німеччиною, Францією, Канадою та Великою Британією – про фінансування закупівлі; з провідними нафтогазовими компаніями – про резервування необхідних обсягів», – повідомив Чернишов.

Він подякував партнерам за підтримку України та енергетичного сектору, назвавши зустрічі у Давосі «конструктивними».

Наприкінці грудня минулого року група «Нафтогаз України» повідомила, що домовилася із західними партнерами про постачання додаткових обсягів газу, аби зробити проходження опалювального сезону «ще більш сталим».

Компанія заявляла, що для підтримки електрогенерації на тлі російських атак Україні потрібні трохи менше ніж 2 мільярди кубометрів газу.

Станом на початок року, за даними влади, в підземних сховищах газу України залишилося 11,7 млрд кубометрів газу.

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

No Progress on Netherlands Joining US Chip-Export Ban to China

In his meeting Tuesday with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to have made no progress persuading the Netherlands to support new U.S. restrictions on exporting chip-making technology to China, a key part of Washington’s strategy in its rivalry against Beijing.

During a brief appearance in front of reporters before their meeting, Biden said he and Rutte have been working on “how to keep a free and open Indo-Pacific” to “meet the challenges of China.”

“Simply put, our companies, our countries, have been so far just lockstep in what we’ve done, and our vision for the future. So today, I look forward to discussing how we can further deepen our relationship and securing our supply chains to strengthen our transatlantic partnership,” he added.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration will continue its efforts.

“We don’t push any of our allies or our partners. We consult with them closely, and they make their own decisions,” she said in a briefing to reporters on Tuesday.

ASML Holding NV, producer of the world’s most advanced semiconductor lithography systems required to manufacture the most advanced chips, is headquartered in Veldhoven, making the Netherlands key to Washington’s chips push against Beijing.

Ahead of Rutte’s visit, Dutch Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said the Netherlands is consulting with European and Asian allies and will not automatically accept the new restrictions that the U.S. Commerce Department launched in October.

“You can’t say that they’ve been pressuring us for two years and now we have to sign on the dotted line. And we won’t,” she said.

Rutte did not mention the semiconductor issue ahead of his meeting with Biden, focusing instead on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where the NATO allies have been working together to support Kyiv.

“Let’s stay closely together this year,” Rutte said. “And hopefully, things will move forward in a way which is acceptable for Ukraine.”

Tech supremacy

The battle for U.S. tech supremacy and Washington’s effort to cut off critical technology supplies to Chinese companies began under the administration of former President Donald Trump. Biden took it further by trying to consolidate allies behind the effort, including the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan — home to leading companies that play key roles in the industry’s supply chain.

Allies’ support is crucial, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). If they do not implement complementary export controls, the U.S. sanctions will cause Chinese buyers to “revise their shopping lists” and replace American devices and equipment with comparable foreign components.

There’s a clear strategic interest in diversifying the supply chain, but the reality is complicated, said Sujai Shivakumar, director of the Renewing American Innovation Project at CSIS.

“This is a major shift, and so, there needs to be coordination … because this impacts a very complex supply chain that spans the world,” Shivakumar told VOA. “It’s a major realignment. It’s a major rewiring. So, there are a lot of details within that broader strategic shift that [have] to be worked out.”

Fifteen percent of ASML’s sales are in China, and the company [has] “already sacrificed,” Peter Wennink, CEO of ASML, said in a December interview with NRC newspaper. He said that following U.S. pressure, the Dutch government has restricted the company from exporting its most advanced lithography machines to China since 2019.

Last week, Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who said he backs Biden’s attempt but did not agree to match the sweeping curbs targeting China’s semiconductor and supercomputing industries.

Like the U.S., Japan has launched an ambitious program to bring back cutting-edge semiconductor manufacturing domestically, part of the Kishida government’s broader strategy to respond to global supply chain disruptions and try to contain China.

U.S. officials say export restrictions on chips are necessary because China can use semiconductors to advance their military systems, including weapons of mass destruction, and to commit human rights abuses.

The October restrictions follow the U.S. Congress’ July passing of the CHIPS Act of 2022, which provides $52 billion to strengthen domestic semiconductor manufacturing, design and research, and reinforce America’s chip supply chains. The legislation also restricts companies that receive U.S. subsidies from investing in and expanding cutting-edge chipmaking facilities in China.

Beijing has invested heavily in its semiconductor industry as Washington has sought to cut it out of the semiconductor supply chain. In 2015, China laid out plans to invest $1.4 trillion in advanced technologies, aiming to achieve 70% self-sufficiency in semiconductors by 2025.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

SpaceX’s Starlink Becomes Crucial Tool in Ukrainian War Effort

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the military and private citizens started using Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink, which eventually became key to Ukraine’s resistance. From Kyiv, Myroslava Gongadze tells the story of one Ukrainian engineer who volunteers to support the technology and the soldiers who use it.

deputaty-zradnyky-600x337

Нафтогазова компанія Wintershall Dea оголосила про вихід із Росії

Wintershall Dea – найбільша нафтогазова компанія в Європі