This Week in AI: Nvidia’s ‘Bigger’ Platform Play; Microsoft’s AI Ambitions Goes Deep

A recap of Nvidia's GTC 2024 conference, what Microsoft's hiring of Inflection AI founders means for its consumer AI business, and more.
"The AI Economy," a newsletter exploring AI's impact on business, work, society and tech.
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Apple may deepen its relationship with Google with an AI partnership on the iPhone. Plus, a look at Nvidia’s hardware and software announcements from GTC and its push to stay relevant in the generative AI era. Finally, why did Microsoft poach two founders — and most of their team — from a startup it has backed?

The Prompt

The Apple-Google AI Mega Deal

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that Google’s Gemini could soon power Apple’s generative AI efforts on the iPhone. It’s said that discussions are actively taking place, and Apple might also consider engaging OpenAI. However, if this transaction happens, Google would have an incredible share of the mobile AI market as it already powers the gen AI features on the Samsung Galaxy S24 smartphone and will do the same on the next-generation Google Pixel.

But, how will regulators, who are already wary of both tech companies, react? It could spark further antitrust probes, something I’m sure Apple and Google don’t want — the Department of Justice sued Apple on Thursday alleging the company engaged in anticompetitive behavior with the iPhone.

Nevertheless, Apple’s partnering with Google would accelerate its AI ambitions, at least temporarily, so it doesn’t fall further behind. Google would also acquire access to additional training data, which would help Gemini stay competitive against ChatGPT.

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The AI Spice Must Flow

To AI enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, Nvidia’s Chief Executive Jensen Huang is the equivalent of Taylor Swift. He’s admired for his position, looks like a pop star, and has enough adoring fans to fill an entire hockey arena in San Jose, California. That’s actually where Nvidia held its annual GTC AI conference.

During the event, Huang announced bigger GPUs, such as the Blackwell B200, hailed as the “world’s most powerful [AI] chip,” along with new tools for self-driving cars and robotics development. Additionally, he introduced a software platform called NIM, which aims to streamline the deployment of AI models.

And with the AI boom showing no signs of abating anytime soon, Nvidia wants to stay ahead of the technology wave. This involves transitioning from just making chips to providing a complete computing platform, offering the hardware and software needed to spur innovation and development.

Nvidia’s plan somewhat parallels Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” in which the galaxy needs the spice from the planet Arrakis. In this scenario, Silicon Valley founders and leaders pursuing AI constitute the “galaxy,” while Nvidia’s chips represent the “spice.” So is Huang the tech industry’s Muad’Dib?

Its shift into a platform and building bigger processors for the generative AI era will help the chipmaker tackle emerging industry challenges. As adoption grows, companies will need more power to support LLM development. It will also help fend off potential competitors — companies like OpenAI, Amazon, and Microsoft plan to invest significantly to create their own GPUs.

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Microsoft’s $650 Million Hiring Spree

The week’s significant news concludes with Microsoft announcing that Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Google’s DeepMind, will lead its consumer AI business. After leaving Google, Suleyman launched Inflection AI, in which Microsoft is an investor, along with Karén Simonyan. In a surprising turn, Microsoft not only brings Suleyman aboard its expanding team of AI experts but also integrates Simonyan and much of the Inflection AI team.

Both companies are not calling the staff poaching an acquisition or an acqui-hire. Inflection AI reportedly will be paid $650 million for a licensing deal to compensate for this surprise reorganization. The startup will develop models sold on the Azure cloud platform.

However, although a shell of its former self, Inflection AI remains steadfast. Investor and third startup co-founder Reid Hoffman — and Microsoft board member (another twist) — promised Inflection investors would “have a good outcome…and I anticipate good future upside.” Under the new leadership of Sean White, the company is pivoting its consumer business to help instead commercial customers “create, test, and tune AI systems.”

The recruitment of Suleyman and Simonyan enhances Microsoft’s grasp of Copilot’s potential in the consumer space. These AI experts may also help the company explore avenues to incorporate multiple LLM providers, potentially reducing risks associated with antitrust probes and decreasing dependency on OpenAI — despite Microsoft’s significant interest in the success of ChatGPT.

Regardless of their usage, Microsoft’s recruitment of Suleyman and Simonyan enhances its position in AI. And the long-term value these two and their staff play is worth Microsoft cannibalizing a company they backed to get them on their staff.

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Today’s Visual Snapshot

Deloitte’s 2024 Digital Media Trends report reveals the impact generative AI could have on our entertainment content. This week’s chart highlights a survey the firm conducted weighing the interest of U.S. consumers in human-written content versus that generated by artificial intelligence.

  • 70 percent say they’d prefer a TV show or movie written by a human versus written by AI
  • 42 percent feel gen AI and humans can deliver entertaining content
  • 22 percent feel gen AI can write more entertaining TV shows and movies than humans

A detailed breakdown of responses by generation is illustrated in the chart. But in short, Deloitte states that younger U.S. consumers (approximately 30 percent) believe generative AI can create more interesting entertainment content than humans. Gen Z and Millennial experimentation with AI tools are said to contribute to this embrace.

This Week’s AI News

🏭 Industry Insights

🤖 Machine Learning

✏️ Generative AI

☁️ Enterprise

⚙️ Hardware and Robotics

🔬 Science and Breakthroughs

💼 Business and Marketing

📺 Media and Entertainment

💰 Funding

⚖️ Copyright and Regulatory Issues

💥 Disruption and Misinformation

🔎 Opinions and Research

End Output

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