May 19, 2023

 European Commission approves Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision

Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision has received approval from the European Commission (EC), following the UK’s earlier rejection of the deal. The EC had concerns about potential competition reduction in the console and PC video game market. However, after receiving commitments from Microsoft, the approval was granted, contingent on full compliance with the offered commitments. Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision would position it as the third-largest gaming company globally in terms of revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. Antitrust concerns revolved around Microsoft’s potential control over game distribution, leading to a diminished gaming experience on rival platforms and potentially limiting access to its own services.

While the UK primarily focused on the impact of the deal on cloud gaming, the EC shared similar concerns about the emerging market. To address these concerns, Microsoft offered remedies that included allowing consumers in the European Economic Area to stream all current and future Activision games via any cloud-based gaming service for the next 10 years. These commitments were considered sufficient by the EC to approve the deal. However, Europe plans to monitor Microsoft’s actions and their effects on competing gaming companies through an independent trustee.

The divergence in outcomes between the EU and the UK has drawn attention, with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick praising the European Commission’s thorough process and pledging to increase investment in the EU. In response to the EC’s decision, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stood by its own judgment, emphasizing that the merger would harm competition in cloud gaming. The CMA expressed concerns about Microsoft having the power to dominate the market and replace the current competitive landscape with a regulated one. With European regulators no longer an obstacle, Microsoft and Activision will focus on appealing the UK’s decision through the official process.
Source: TechCrunch

OpenAI CEO urges AI regulation

In a three-hour hearing before a Senate subcommittee, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, expressed his support for regulations in various areas concerning artificial intelligence (AI). He highlighted the need to address issues such as election misinformation, transparent AI-generated content, and the potential risks of AI being used to cause harm. Altman acknowledged the significant impact AI could have if it goes wrong, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures.

One area of particular concern for Altman is the potential influence of AI systems on voters leading up to the 2024 US elections. He expressed worry about the ability of these models to spread personalized disinformation. Altman voiced his enthusiasm for the creation of a new federal agency to examine the work of AI companies and proposed the issuance of licenses for compliant AI products. He emphasized the need for global impact and suggested that the US, through its control of microprocessors used in AI systems, could impose worldwide standards.

While Altman’s recommendations were met with some support, concerns were raised about the concentration of power in the AI industry and the potential stifling of innovation from startups and open-source software communities. Altman and lawmakers agreed that any new legislation should not impede smaller companies or hinder the vibrant innovation ecosystem. He proposed a two-tier system for regulation based on computing power usage and emphasized the importance of targeting AI programs with specific harmful capabilities.

Despite the debate surrounding industry self-regulation, there seemed to be bipartisan support for the implementation of AI regulations. Senator John Kennedy even jokingly offered Altman the position of heading the regulatory agency, which Altman declined. While the discussion highlighted the challenges and complexities of AI regulation, there was a consensus that proactive measures were necessary to ensure the responsible and safe development and use of AI technology.
Source: Bloomberg

Tesla unveils upgraded Tesla bots

During a shareholder meeting, Elon Musk unveiled new footage of Tesla’s advanced Tesla Bots, featuring a production-ready chassis that showcases improved walking capabilities compared to their initial reveal. The latest video (available here on YouTube) demonstrates the robots confidently moving forward without the stumbling issues observed previously. Notably, these humanoid robots possess additional functionalities such as object recognition and the ability to pick up items.

Last year, Tesla introduced the concept of the Tesla Bot at the AI Day event. However, the initial presentation could only showcase a disassembled version of the robot, which struggled to walk and lacked the capacity for manual labor. A prototype resembling a production model was also displayed, but it relied on a stand for support and could only wave to the audience. Now, the new video showcases robots that closely resemble the earlier prototype, operating autonomously, albeit at a slow pace.

The recently released video highlights several key enhancements made to the Tesla Bot project, including motor torque control, environment perception and memorization, AI training based on human movements, and object manipulation. In one instance, a Tesla Bot is shown picking up objects from one container and placing them into another, serving as an example of training the robot’s AI through human demonstrations. With these developments, it appears that Tesla’s bot has made significant progress towards becoming a viable product, surpassing its early stages when it was merely a person in a suit. It is expected that Tesla will commence production of the Tesla Bot after fulfilling the long-awaited deliveries of its Cybertrucks.
Source: electrek