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  • #51. 🤩 OpenAI rolls out 70+ plugins & internet access | ⚡️ First permanent electric vehicle charging road | 👻 Ghost Autonomy's use of smartphone cameras for AVs

#51. 🤩 OpenAI rolls out 70+ plugins & internet access | ⚡️ First permanent electric vehicle charging road | 👻 Ghost Autonomy's use of smartphone cameras for AVs

Plus: Chatbots don't know "not" operators | the tragedy of a non-AI future | the scam of E-fuels, renewable gas, & carbon capture | Octopus Energy | Nuro lays of 30% | Tesla monitors yawns


Language models like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's Bard have advanced remarkably, but they still struggle with negation, effectively acting as if words like "not" were invisible. This failing is partly due to the models' design, which treats "stop words" like "not" as non-descriptive and often filters them out. Additionally, the models learn from training data that predominantly includes affirmative statements, creating a dearth of negative examples. Some researchers believe that improving negation understanding may require a shift in the way these models learn language, while others are exploring techniques such as adding an extra layer of language processing or altering training data. Meanwhile, some hope that even larger models with more diverse training data might eventually learn to handle negation independently.

OpenAI is launching over 70 third-party plugins for all ChatGPT Plus users, including a feature for Internet access, in a step toward enhancing the capabilities of its chatbot. The plugins range from shopping and search platforms to practical applications such as loading PDF content for discussion. This move is part of a broader trend in the tech industry, with competitors like Google and Microsoft also developing their chatbot platforms. The rise of chatbots could signify a significant shift in the digital landscape, possibly reducing the need for traditional website visits as tasks migrate to the chatbot ecosystem. However, questions around content creators' rights and copyright concerns in this emerging field remain unresolved.

This article (by yours truly) discusses the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and the fear of it being overly regulated by governments to the point of stifling its potential. The author presents AI as the most potent tool humanity has ever seen, capable of fostering unprecedented innovation and creativity in both science and art. AI, according to the author, will transform human limitations from binary to a matter of personal desire, thereby unleashing creativity and innovation across all strata of humanity. However, the author also acknowledges the risks associated with AI, comparing its advent to the discovery of E=MC², given its potential to bring about immense societal benefits alongside significant risks. The article concludes with a plea to temper AI's power to prevent governments from overly restricting it, thereby limiting its potential to revolutionize civilization.



E-fuels, renewable natural gas, and carbon capture technologies are being touted as sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, but this article argues they are nothing more than a façade, allowing industries to continue profiting from environmentally harmful practices. E-fuels, despite using renewable energy in production, offer just 16% energy efficiency, while renewable natural gas, largely methane, remains a potent greenhouse gas regardless of its source. The much-hyped carbon capture technology, which hasn't yet proven economically viable, is criticized as a diversion tactic by fossil fuel companies. The author advocates for electrification, citing its 77% efficiency, as the most sustainable solution for future transportation needs.

Sweden is constructing the world's first permanent electric road that will charge electric vehicles (EVs) as they drive. The 21 km stretch of road, due to be completed by 2025, is being developed by the Swedish transport administration, Trafikverket, though the exact charging technology has yet to be chosen. The road is located on a busy motorway used extensively for commercial transport. A study by Chalmers University of Technology suggests that with electric roads covering 25% of national and European roads, EV batteries could potentially be a third of their current size.

Octopus Energy, a UK-based renewable energy company, provides clean electricity to over 5.3 million customers, thanks to its $6.3 billion investment in renewable power plants. The company also offers an array of clean energy products and services, including smart EV chargers, heat pumps, and incentives for customers who shift their power usage during key periods. Its innovative approach and robust business model have enabled it to bypass the challenges faced by many cleantech startups. Additionally, the company's proprietary software, Kraken, is used by rival retailers, making Octopus both a competitor and a tool provider in the electricity market. Octopus Energy also pioneers numerous cleantech services, such as the Fan Club, which offers up to 50% off electricity to residents near local wind farms during windy periods. The company's vision is to build a system where the right amount of green energy is available at any given time and to encourage customers to use it when it's greenest.


Nuro, a self-driving vehicle startup valued at $8.6 billion, is laying off around 340 employees, equating to 30% of its current staff. This is the second round of layoffs in six months for the Mountain View-based company. The move was linked to broader macroeconomic conditions and a change in Nuro's business strategy, according to co-founders Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson. The company plans to focus more on artificial intelligence research and less on brand collaboration pilots and the production of its R3 vehicle. Affected employees will receive several benefits, including 12 weeks' salary and equity vesting through July. Despite the layoffs, the company still retains around 800 employees.

Ghost Autonomy, a Silicon Valley startup, is aiming to democratize autonomous driving by using affordable smartphone camera technology to achieve Level 3 autonomy. Instead of relying on expensive sensors and high-end computers, Ghost uses high-resolution cell phone cameras and a CPU costing roughly $45. This approach could bring autonomous driving to vehicles costing as little as $30,000. The company's software, Ghost OS, doesn't train AI to identify specific objects but instead recognizes when something is present and determines its position and movement. The system is designed to work collaboratively with the driver, ready to take over when needed. Ghost Autonomy expects to have something on the road by 2025.

Tesla is enhancing its in-car driver monitoring system, now tracking yawns, blinks, and other indicators of driver fatigue. Historically, Tesla has faced criticism for its driver monitoring methods under Autopilot and Full Self-Driving packages, which primarily relied on detecting torque on the steering wheel. Though Tesla started using cabin-facing cameras in 2021 to ensure the driver's attention, the recent addition of tracking yawns and blinks marks a significant step in their driver monitoring capabilities. It's currently unclear how Tesla plans to use this information. Some Tesla drivers hope that this development will reduce the frequency of safety alerts or "Autopilot nag".


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