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  • #49. 🇪🇺 EU curbs ChatGPT | ⚛️ Microsoft's fusion power plant | 🔌 GM EU EV-only

#49. 🇪🇺 EU curbs ChatGPT | ⚛️ Microsoft's fusion power plant | 🔌 GM EU EV-only

Plus: Google Bard chatbot public release | Google Duet AI | ExxonMobile's clean energy | ocean power | Canada's EV buses | Ferrari's AV ambitions


Google has announced the public launch of Bard, its AI-powered chatbot, in English-speaking countries and territories. The news comes after two months of testing and the recent removal of the waitlist for Microsoft's Bing chatbot. Bard is part of a new wave of chatbots that use large language models (LLMs) and generative AI technologies to provide human-like text responses. These advanced chatbots are capable of a range of tasks such as writing poetry, answering philosophical questions, and offering tax advice. However, they are also prone to generating false information, which has raised concerns about misuse. Google has adopted a "bold and responsible approach" to develop Bard, limiting its initial language expansion to Japanese and Korean. Upcoming improvements include better citation of source material and the ability to handle images. Google also plans to offer an interface for developers to integrate Bard with Google apps and third-party apps.

Google has rebranded its AI features for its Workspace suite of apps as "Duet AI" to compete with Microsoft's integration of similar tools. The features of Duet AI, which include writing assistance in Docs and Gmail, image generation for Slides, and automatic meeting summaries for Meet, are still not widely available to the public. A new feature called "Sidekick," which can read, summarize, and answer questions on documents across Google apps, was also teased. Google has opened a previously private waitlist for access to these new tools via Workspace Labs, although the company did not specify when the features will be available to the general public. For now, the writing assistance feature will be coming to Gmail's mobile app, rebranded as "Help me write."

The European Parliament is set to vote on restrictions for AI applications, including ChatGPT, amidst concerns about potential abuses of the technology. The legislative body is working towards creating a law that curbs misuse while still allowing room for innovation. The European Union aims to be a global leader in regulating AI, and this move marks a significant step towards that goal. These efforts began two years ago with a proposal from the European Commission. As AI applications like ChatGPT and Midjourney have grown in popularity and use, the parliament has felt a greater urgency to address the issue. The potential regulation would identify "high risk" activities for AI and implement rules ensuring human control over AI, providing technical documentation, and establishing a system of risk management. MEPs are also pushing for protections against illegal content and copyrighted works used in AI training. The legislation would require users to be notified when interacting with a machine and applications that create images to state that their output was artificially generated. The proposed restrictions also aim to prevent public biometric identification by law enforcement and scraping of internet-posted photos for training algorithms without consent.



Microsoft and Helion Energy have teamed up to build the world's first fusion power plant, aiming to be operational by 2028. The plant will be in Washington state, and if successful, could provide a nearly limitless source of carbon-free power. Despite the technology's challenges, Helion has raised substantial venture capital, including from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. This development could significantly contribute to global clean energy efforts and the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

ExxonMobil is increasing investments in low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen, largely driven by pressures from shareholders and tax incentives from the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act. However, critics note that this spending only accounts for about 10% of the company's overall investment over five years, and ExxonMobil continues to project a future of increasing demand for fossil fuels. Despite the new focus on clean energy, ExxonMobil's strategy still includes expanding oil and gas production by 3% per year through 2027, drawing criticism for not aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement due to the substantial "scope 3" emissions from the use of its products.

Harnessing the power of oceans is a promising frontier in renewable energy, with the potential to tap into waves, tides, and ocean currents. The Biden administration's Ocean Climate Action Plan is driving attention towards marine energy, including an ambitious project off Oregon's coast called PacWave, which aims to generate up to 20 megawatts of power from wave energy by 2025. Other forms of marine energy include ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), which utilizes the temperature difference between deep and surface sea water to generate power. Tidal energy, a more predictable and mature form of marine energy, has seen successful implementations worldwide. While offshore wind energy remains the most productive source of marine power, developing technologies like floating wind turbines could significantly increase renewable energy production. However, challenges persist, including the unpredictable nature of waves, the harsh marine environment, and potential environmental and societal impacts.


General Motors (GM) plans to re-enter the European market as an exclusively electric vehicle (EV) brand. After selling over 20,000 EVs in Q1, GM surpassed Ford as the second-largest EV maker in the US and aims to expand its presence in Europe. GM's anticipated EV launches in the US include the Silverado EV, the Blazer EV, and the Equinox EV. In Europe, GM will initially focus on Nordic countries, with its first EV, the Cadillac Lyriq midsize luxury crossover, expected to launch this fall. GM exited the high-volume market in Europe after selling Opel/Vauxhall to the PSA group in 2017. Now, the company intends to use its expanding EV portfolio to reestablish its presence in the region.

Montreal and Quebec have approved a plan to purchase 1,229 electric buses for municipal transit systems, marking the largest electric bus acquisition project in North America. The Quebec provincial government will provide $1.1 billion for the project, with the federal government contributing an additional $780 million. As part of the agreement, a 25% Canadian content requirement has been stipulated, and final assembly of the vehicles must take place in Canada. The buses will be manufactured by Nova Bus, a part of the Volvo Group owned by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The buses will be delivered over a three-year period starting in 2025. Quebec aims to have 55% of buses on the road be electric by 2030 and every new bus purchase be 100% electric as of 2025.

Ferrari's CEO, Benedetto Vigna, has stated that the company has no interest in autonomous vehicle technology. This statement was made during the Financial Times Future of the Car Summit, reinforcing Ferrari's previous stance against building self-driving cars. Vigna explained that, of the four types of software used in a car cabin (performance, comfort, infotainment, and autonomous), Ferrari does not care about the last one. While the company plans to release its first luxury electric vehicle (EV) by 2025, it will continue to prioritize exclusivity, manufacturing fewer cars than the demand requires. This approach contrasts sharply with other car manufacturers such as Ford and Tesla, which are actively developing self-driving technology.


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