#46. 🤖Inflection AI's Pi "personal intelligence" chatbot | ☀️solar geoengineering | 🚜Volvo's BEV 23-ton excavator
Plus: OpenAI's $540M loss | Bing Chat AI open to all | cheap renewables | Australia's wind woes | SF's AVs get in first responders' way | Kia's stunning EV9
🤖 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Inflection AI, a startup founded by former DeepMind leaders Mustafa Suleyman and Karén Simonyan, has launched Pi, a chatbot designed to provide a more conversational experience compared to other chatbots like OpenAI's ChatGPT. Pi, which stands for "personal intelligence," aims to offer active listening and engage users in back-and-forth dialogues while remembering their conversations to seemingly get to know them over time. Pi is intended to be more personal than AI products like GPT-4, Microsoft's Bing, and Google's Bard, without encouraging unhealthy parasocial relationships like those reported with Replika bots. The chatbot is currently available in English for global users.
Despite revenues pacing to hit hundreds of millions per annum, expenses are also set to grow. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is said to be aiming to raise up to $100 billion in the next few years to develop AI that can improve itself. OpenAI is also looking to acquire fresh data sets, some of which are not currently available on the internet. These data sets have become a point of contention, with companies like Samsung worrying about their proprietary data ending up in the ChatGPT data pool.
Microsoft is making its Bing GPT-4 chatbot available to all users, removing the waitlist and adding new features and plug-in support. After launching in private preview in February, Microsoft has been gradually opening access to Bing Chat. The latest update includes image and video results, Bing and Edge Actions, persistent chat and history, and plug-in support, which is expected to be a key addition for developers. Microsoft is partnering with OpenTable for restaurant bookings and WolframAlpha for generating visualizations. More details about developer extensions will be shared at Microsoft's Build conference later this month.
🌡️ CLIMATE CHANGE & CLEAN ENERGY
The inside scoop on solar geoengineering (short read)
Solar geoengineering is a field that focuses on reflecting sunlight back into space to counteract global warming. While academic groups have been attempting to research solar geoengineering for years, they have faced significant public opposition and roadblocks. Nonetheless, some individuals have recently carried out small-scale experiments including balloon launches containing several to several hundred grams of sulfur dioxide. These small-scale actions have led to increased attention on solar geoengineering and sparked a debate on its future. Some believe that these actions could prompt more DIY efforts and commercialization, while others think they could slow down geoengineering research due to potential restrictions.
Cheap Renewables Create an Entirely New Paradigm (medium read)
This article is rich with charts and graphs about the energy transition currently underway. This shift is characterized by exponential growth, led by China, with the 2020s being the decade of change. By 2030, renewables will dominate energy-producing and consuming technology sales, transforming the debate on energy and climate. The focus should be on speeding up the deployment of key renewables, such as solar, wind, electric vehicles, and heat pumps, in major markets like China, the United States, the European Union, and India.
Not Enough Wind In Australia’s Grid (long read)
Australia's energy grid needs more wind power to balance its solar generation and reduce reliance on expensive gas electricity generation. Although the country currently has 94 operational wind farms, with a capacity of 9,234 MW, more wind projects are in development, both onshore and offshore. The new federal government has opened up offshore wind development, with Victoria setting ambitious offshore wind capacity targets. Several offshore wind farm projects are due for completion in 2030, while onshore wind projects like the 1 GW MacIntyre wind farm are expected to be operational by 2024. The increased wind power capacity will help Australia transition to a greener energy grid.
🚗 AUTONOMOUS & ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Autonomous vehicles from Waymo and Cruise in San Francisco have reportedly caused problems for police and first responders during emergencies, according to Mission Local. In 15 different incidents, the driverless cars have either malfunctioned and caused traffic issues or obstructed emergency situations. Examples include an autonomous vehicle refusing to move for a firetruck on a narrow street and another approaching a fire scene, nearly impeding firefighting efforts. Despite concerns from emergency responders, the driverless cars are state-regulated, and local governments have limited say in their presence on city streets.
Volvo CE Introduces Battery-Electric 23-Ton Excavator (medium read)
Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has introduced its EC230 battery-powered 23-ton excavator, showcasing its capabilities at a trade show in New Orleans. With four 66-kilowatt lithium-ion battery packs, the EC230 is expected to achieve a 60-70% reduction in energy running costs compared to the diesel-powered EC220. It can work for four to five hours in general-purpose applications, and with a high-power fast charge on a lunch hour, it should last through a full eight-hour shift. Volvo CE has teamed up with WM (formerly Waste Management) for a pilot project to test the electric excavator at a WM facility on the East Coast. The excavator is planned to be commercially available in North America in 2024.
Kia's new three-row electric SUV, the EV9, has been spotted in testing without camouflage in the US. The EV9 is Kia's second dedicated electric vehicle and is built on the Hyundai Motor Group's 800V E-GMP platform. With dual electric motors, the SUV offers up to 379 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, available AWD, 7.8 inches of ground clearance, nearly 82 cubic feet of cargo space, and up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. The EV9 features a reimagined Kia "Tiger Face" front end with LED lights and offers customizable Star Map LED daytime running lights. The electric SUV is expected to go on sale in the US in Q4 2023, with assembly at Kia's West Point, Georgia facility beginning in 2024. Prices are anticipated to start around $55,000 to $60,000.
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