Posts tagged with "Fortune Magazine"

The New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft for ‘training’ their AI using its articles

December 28, 2023

The New York Times has sued Microsoft and OpenAI for using its content to help develop artificial intelligence services, in a sign of the increasingly fraught relationship between the media and a technology that could upend the news industry, reports Fortune Magazine.

The technology firms relied on millions of copyrighted articles to “train” chatbots like ChatGPT and other AI features—allegedly causing billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages, according to a lawsuit filed in New York City on Wednesday, December 27. The Times didn’t specify its monetary demands.

Representatives from Microsoft and OpenAI didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

OpenAI has faced criticism for scraping text widely from the web to develop its popular chatbot since it debuted a year ago, and this is the first lawsuit by a major media organization challenging the practice. The startup has sought licensing deals with publishers, much like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms’ Facebook have done in recent years.

In July, OpenAI signed an agreement with the Associated Press to access some of the news agency’s archives. OpenAI cut a three-year deal in December with Axel Springer SE to use the German media company’s work for an undisclosed sum.

The Times lawsuit said the publisher reached out to Microsoft and OpenAI in April and could not reach an amicable solution.

OpenAI has faced multiple lawsuits from content producers complaining that their work has been improperly used for AI training. The company faces class actions from cultural figures—including comedian Sarah Silverman, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, and Pulitzer-winning author Michael Chabon.

The cases are still in their early stages and could take years to fully resolve. A judge in San Francisco earlier this month hinted at trimming Silverman’s copyright lawsuit against OpenAI. The judge had already narrowed a similar Silverman suit against Meta.

OpenAI is currently in talks with investors for new financing at a $100 billion valuation that would make it the second-most-valuable U.S. startup, Bloomberg News reported last week.

Microsoft is OpenAI’s largest backer and has deployed the startup’s AI tools in several of its products. In the lawsuit, The New York Times alleged that Microsoft copied the newspaper’s articles verbatim for its Bing search engine and used OpenAI’s tech to boost its value by a trillion dollars.

“If Microsoft and OpenAI want to use our work for commercial purposes, the law requires that they first obtain our permission,” a New York Times spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “They have not done so.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

XPRIZE launches $101M competition for innovations that combat aging and restore a decade of life

December 1, 2023

On November 29, entrepreneur and bestselling author Peter Diamandis announced a new XPRIZE—a $101 million global competition for technologies that combat aging and extend health span, reports Fortune Magazine.

Diamandis, founder of the XPRIZE Foundationwhich creates incentives for technological and health innovation—introduced the first competition of its scale for reducing biological age at the Global Healthspan Summit in Saudi Arabia sponsored by Hevolution, a nonprofit investing in aging

“I hope we will see breakthroughs for extended life and health span,” said Diamandis—calling for researchers, technologists, physicians, and AI experts, among others, to participate.

The multimillion-dollar competition will ask teams to test and verify therapeutics that can restore a decade of muscle, immune, and cognitive functioning for people age 65 to age 80 in one year or less. Judges will assess participants’ muscle, immune, and cognitive function before and after the therapeutic. 

“The team has got to deliver a minimum of a ten-year restoration of function with a target of 20 years,” Diamandis told Fortune. “We’re talking about the potential for therapeutics to have a massive impact on humanity.” A 2021 study found that one extra year of life expectancy due to slowed aging equates to $38 trillion in economic gain.

The goal of the competition is to extend health span—the number of years people live healthy and free of disease. Experts have estimated that the health span and life span gap is about a decade or more—meaning people live the last of their lives disabled and in pain.

“Regaining muscle function is one of the key elements because it gives you mobility and the ability to navigate and enjoy life,” Diamandis said.

He adds, “The two most powerful capabilities are the universal human brain and the human immune system.”

Diamandis predicts teams will use gene therapies, epigenetic reprogramming, stem cell therapies—or a combination—to deliver results.

“We’ve extended [life expectancy] over the last century from antibiotics, better sanitation, pasteurization, all kinds of things like that,” he says. As the number of people 65 and older will more than double in the next 40 years, and more people have an extra third tacked onto their later years, Diamandis feels there’s no better XPRIZE for the current moment. “I think it is science that’s going to enable us to continue to extend it.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Recruiters are using an AI platform to cut interview times and evaluate job candidates based on skills

September 27, 2023

The old-school job interview process can be a headache for recruiting teams—and can feel even more arduous for roles with naturally high turnover, such as call center agents or retail workers, reports Fortune Magazine.

But what if a tool could make that headache go away? Enter HiringBranch, a Canada-based software company providing an artificial intelligence- (AI-) based talent screening assessment platform for call centers. The company has worked with large employers, including IT company Infosys, Accenture, and Bell Canada.

HiringBranch evaluates whether job candidates have the key skills needed to successfully complete the job to which they’ve applied. For example, someone vying for a customer success representative role would sit through a mock customer complaint call, and the AI would assess how well the candidate is able to resolve the issue.

HiringBranch’s platform can evaluate candidates on up to 30 skills—primarily focused on linguistic and soft skills, such as active listening, building rapport, or showing empathy—although it tends to assess candidates for just a handful of skills necessary for a specific role.

“Everyone’s so metric-driven nowadays; you measure everything. And when it comes to hiring, using an interview process, it’s very difficult to measure,” says Stephane Rivard, HiringBranch CEO and cofounder.

With HiringBranch, Rivard says companies can capture a real-time assessment of candidates’ skills in as little as 20 minutes, and they’re benchmarked based on an analysis of the company’s current employee base.

“It’s consistent, and it’s standardized, but it really allows you to find repeatedly the employees that drive success,” Rivard adds.

Fundraising Direct, a Canada-based telephone fundraising provider for nonprofits like UNICEF, WWF, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, started using HiringBranch’s platform in 2021.

Previously, time-to-hire for its phonathon callers would take at least two weeks. HiringBranch and Fundraising Direct created a 20-minute automated speaking test that scored candidates on conversational fluency—establishing rapport, and ability to follow instructions. Candidates who score 75% or higher were able proceed to onboarding.

Today, the time-to-hire for these roles takes as little as three business days, and more than 90% of the job interview volume for phonathon callers has been cut, says Sarah Wise, director of operations at Fundraising Direct. The company also has reduced hiring costs by 1.5 full-time employees’ salaries—the budget for which has been redirected to focus more on coaching and getting new hires on the phone faster.

“As I’m saying the words now, journeying back to 2018 and pre-pandemic, I can’t believe there are literally three steps to our recruitment,” says Wise. “They submit their resume, and we have a look. If we like the look, then we send out that pre-hire assessment. If their score is at least 75%, we send them to training. It’s just that simple.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Massachusetts teenager has died after trying Paqui’s ‘One Chip Challenge’

September 8, 2023

The Carolina Reaper and the Naga Viper are two of the world’s hottest peppers. The former averages about 1.6 million Scoville heat units and the Naga Viper stands only a bit less at 1.3 million. (This metric is named after scientist Wilbur Scoville, who determined how to measure a pepper’s pungency and heat back in 1912.)

According to a report by Fortune Magazine, when both are brushed onto the dust of a chip, they make a Paqui that burns so hot, the unit of the Hershey that makes the product warns consumers, it’s a “truly twisted experience.”

As part of its “One Chip Challenge,” the company dares eaters to see if they can endure it for $9.99—and it just saw its first known case of a death after ingestion, a 14-year-old in Massachusetts.

Since that recent, heart-breaking case, the company now warns, “The Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only.”

Paqui challenged eaters to take on the reaper and viper peppers via a website decorated with a red skull and a snake weaving through it.

The company also used to challenge people to see how long they could hold off drinking or eating anything after consuming the chip, according to The New York Times, but it has removed that language from its Challenge website, following the death of Harris Wolobah, a teenager from Worcester, as first reported by the Boston Globe. “How long can you last before you spiral out?” the official website formerly read.

Lois Wolobah told the Times that her son Harris had shown her a picture of the coffin-shaped chip box where the Paqui was located, telling her that’s what he had eaten while doubled over, clutching his stomach. Two hours after his mom had taken him from the school nurse, Harris was sent to a hospital, where he died shortly afterward.

Lois said her son had no other health concerns, and there will be no autopsy results for up to 12 weeks, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the Times.

Paqui is owned by Amplify Snack Brands (the owner of the considerably milder SkinnyPop), which has been a Hershey subsidiary since a $1.6 billion acquisition in 2017.

The “One Chip Challenge” has been around for some time now, with a spokesperson for Paqui telling Time in 2016 that “the Paqui Carolina Reaper chip delivers such a gripping tidal wave of heat that people can only handle one chip.”

Challenges are often a way that public marketers try to cue into social virality and fads. Teenagers like Wolobah are often more drawn to these challenges, according to clinical psychology researchers. “In recent years, social media challenges have grown more popular—and more dangerous, leading to serious injuries and even deaths,” wrote Elisa Trucco and Julie Cristello for The Conversation—explaining that teens are more vulnerable as they use social media often, are more susceptible to peer pressure, and are in a more risk-taking stage of their lives.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

UPS drivers’ $170k/year deal shows that unions (and Biden) may save the middle class after all

August 10, 2023

Dogs might not be so happy to know that their sworn enemies are about to make salaries in the high six figures. After contract negotiations this summer, full-time drivers for UPS saw their salaries boosted from $145,000 to $170,000 annually including benefits, according to data shared by the shipping company on a recent call, reports Fortune Magazine.

While not everyone is winning as much as these UPS workers, this represents a symbolic triumph for unions, the middle class, and the labor-friendly White House, as it’s a testament to collective efforts to boost the middle class for the first time in a generation—or two, says Fortune.

The public has noticed: Jobs site Indeed reported a 50% surge in searches for “UPS” or “United Parcel Service” within a week of the new contract, Bloomberg reports.

Biden’s campaign premise to revive the average American quickly has led to a new word: Bidenomics, a portmanteau (much like Obamanomics and Reaganomics) that refers to, in Biden’s own words: “Building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up—not the top down.”

In that vein, Biden hasn’t just been governing in opposition to his former opponent Trump, but also to the Republican hero Ronald Reagan—the onetime union leader during the last Hollywood dual strike who decades later slashed taxes for the wealthy as part of what became known as trickle-down economics.

Tax breaks to the rich helped the rich, of course, but data has progressively mounted that they didn’t help the middle class whose wages stagnated for decades, barely keeping pace with inflation.

Now it’s Biden’s turn at the wheel, and drivers are getting paid famously. Rather than building from the top down, Joe’s strategy of bottom up and middle out, which can be seen in his push to invest in manufacturing jobs and record-breaking wage growth for those in historically lower-compensated positions.

Of course, this doesn’t come without accusations from the now neglected rich, which was faring quite well the last time fanny packs were big. The waning glory days of the wealthy is deemed the “richcession,” where the economy may be growing overall but just doesn’t feel so good anymore for those at the upper echelon.

The largest union in the nation, the Teamsters, recently bargained for an historical contract on behalf of UPS. While not every worker is getting that hefty salary, part-time workers also won a pay raise of around $21 hourly, and employees were finally able to have better conditions like air conditioning.

“This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in a statement.

This UPS victory might be the clearest sign yet that Biden’s plan to invest heavily in the middle and lower class has a real-life impact on wage gains. But the success is not Biden’s alone, rather it’s also a signal regarding the influence of a strong union backing: America could not stand to be without its millions of packages every month.

This victory demonstrates that unions can get the job done, and signals to vulnerable workers in white-collar fields that protections can get them the benefits they are looking for.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Beyoncé’s $157 ‘listening only’ Renaissance Tour tickets—with no view of the stage—spark fan fury

August 4, 2023

From the set design to the energy of those on stage, there’s nothing quite like the immersive experience of watching your favorite artist put on a show. Until now, that is. Beyoncé is charging fans to listen to, but not watch, her Renaissance  tour, reports Fortune Magazine.

Leveraging the popularity of her Renaissance tour, the “Crazy in Love” pop star is now selling “listening only” tickets.

For $157, fans can purchase a seat behind the stage with no view of the star’s show—which is known for its extravagant props, costumes, and dance moves. 

Since May, the former Destiny’s Child icon has been working her way across the globe on her 56-date Renaissance World Tour to promote her seventh studio album. But it wasn’t until now, on the U.S. leg of the tour at the star’s New Jersey show, that fans were given the option to buy the limited-view tickets which are usually available to the blind or visually impaired at a reduced price.

Taken aback by the steep price of the tickets, which offer little more than the experience of listening to the artist at home, fans are criticizing the star for being “detached” from reality.

“@Beyonce is in concert 20 min away at @MetLifeStadium. It’s my birthday weekend. Lowest priced tickets are ~$350 pp for no view, listening-only seats,” one fan wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “I would love to see her in concert but no way I can afford to shell out $700 and not even see [her].” 

“Beyoncé selling $200 tickets for a LISTENING ONLY experience is hysterical. This lady is detached from reality,” wrote another.

“The whole point of going to the concert is seeing her in person and watching the spectacle of the production,” one annoyed fan told The Sun. “It’s ridiculous,” they said. “If I only wanted to hear the concert, I’d stand outside in the car park.”

Listening-only tickets are a fraction of the price of regular ones. The availability of more affordable listening-only tickets for Beyoncé’s first solo tour in seven years comes months after fans in America complained that it is cheaper to buy a plane ticket and see the Renaissance tour in Europe than in their hometown.

Mercedes Arielle saved money by buying tickets for the show in Stockholm, rather than in Dallas. She told NBC News that she paid $366 for VIP concert tickets and her hotel was “essentially free” because of points and miles. Meanwhile, her friends in Dallas forked out a staggering $900 each for tickets alone.

Less than a day after posting about it on Instagram, the video had upwards of 100,000 views and her DMs swelled with hundreds of thank-yous.

“Apparently a whole bunch of Black girls are going to be in Sweden,” she told The Washington Post.

But the surge of fans flocking to the Swedish capital to see Beyoncé put a strain on the economy and experts have since blamed the artist for keeping inflation stubbornly high.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

JPMorgan wants to be your landlord

May 16, 2023

At first glance, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about Cantabria Bradenton. Located 46 miles south of Tampa and 14 miles north of Sarasota, Florida, the recently constructed rental community comprises 172 attached townhomes and 12 detached single-family homes on 36 acres, reports Fortune Magazine.

Cantabria Bradenton has a clubhouse, gym, and a pool. It looks like a modern community, with townhomes renting anywhere between $2,400 to $3,000. However, under the surface, there’s something that makes it novel: The rental community is owned by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania-based Wolfson Development Company sold Cantabria Bradenton, which was constructed between summer 2020 and spring 2023, to J.P. Morgan Asset Management for $59 million.

When it comes to institutional homeownership, firms like Blackstone or Invitation Homes come to mind. But this Cantabria Bradenton purchase is a reminder that the U.S. housing market has the attention of Wall Street’s top dog: JPMorgan Chase.

Even before analysts realized that a housing boom would form during the pandemic, J.P. Morgan Asset Management announced in May 2020 that it planned to establish a $625 million joint venture with American Homes 4 Rent to build 2,500 single-family rentals across the West and Southeast. As millennials age out of apartments, JPMorgan Asset Management argued that the U.S. housing market would see increased demand for single-family rentals.

Then in November 2022, JPMorgan announced that its asset-management arm would form another joint venture—this time alongside real estate investment firm Haven Realty Capital. They’d allocate $1 billion to purchase single-family rentals across the country in the form of so-called “build for rent”—meaning they’d buy directly from developers. The JPMorgan and Haven Realty Capital joint venture planned to start with the purchase of 250 homes in metropolitan Atlanta.

While JPMorgan continues to push deeper into the U.S. housing market some institutional players are waiting things out.

See, the pandemic housing boom—a period of low interest rates, soaring home prices, and sky-rocketing rents—saw a stampede of institutional home buying in 2020 and 2021. However, that boom has been followed by a sharp institutional slowdown as the Fed’s interest rate hikes, coupled with frothy home prices, cut into the potential returns.

Indeed, an analysis conducted by John Burns Research and Consulting finds that institutional investors—those owning over 1,000 homes—bought 90% fewer homes in January and February than they did during the first two months of 2022. And Invitation Homes—the largest owner of U.S. single-family rental homes—sold more homes in the first quarter of 2023 (297) than it bought (194).

“There is no space immune from capital markets, broadly speaking. Every food group in real estate, whether it’s multi-family or single-family, everyone has difficulty finding an institutional buyer right now,” says Adam Wolfson, CEO of Wolfson Development.

According to Wolfson, institutional homebuyers are waiting on the sidelines for either a dip in interest rates or home prices. At the end of the day, institutional investors are looking for financial returns (i.e., cap rates) which justify their investment.

While institutional home buying has slowed down, it won’t go away. That’s perhaps the biggest takeaway from J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s purchase of Cantabria Bradenton from Wolfson Development. That’s also why Wolfson Development’s build-for-rent arm currently has a pipeline of 2,000 housing units “with a total exit valuation of nearly $1 billion.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Tucker Carlson is making a comeback on Elon Musk’s Twitter—purportedly, without $25M in severance

May 11, 2023

Tucker Carlson is back. Well, almost. The former Fox News host, who parted ways with the network last month, announced in a video on Tuesday, May 9, that he would relaunch his show on Elon Musk’s Twitter, reports Fortune Magazine.

“Starting soon, we’ll be bringing a new version of the show we’ve been doing for the last six and a half years to Twitter. We’ll be bringing some other things too, which we’ll tell you about. But for now, we’re just grateful to be here,” Carlson said, looking directly into the camera.

In the three-minute video, he characterized Twitter as the last platform dedicated to free speech—echoing Musk’s own proclaimed allegiance to the idea. 

“Speech is the fundamental prerequisite for democracy. That’s why it was enshrined in the first of our Constitutional amendments,” Carlson said. “Amazingly, as of tonight, there are not that many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining…is Twitter, where we are now.”

Carlson will reportedly forgo a severance of at least $25 million from Fox to instead produce his new Twitter show, according to Dylan Byers, a reporter at Puck News.


Fox News announced in April that Carlson—well-known right-wing face of prime-time show Tucker Carlson Tonight since 2016—no longer would be employed by the network.

The sudden announcement came days after Fox agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million over false claims that it had manipulated voting in the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump. Carlson had been among those at the network who spread those false claims on air while privately dismissing them.

In the video he posted on Tuesday, Carlson criticized mainstream media as untrustworthy. “At the most basic level, the information you consume is a lie. A lie of the stealthiest and most insidious kind,” he said.

It’s unclear when Carlson’s new “show” on Twitter will debut.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Billionaire Peter Thiel says he’s freezing his body after death, just in case

May 10, 2023

Billionaire tech entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel says he’s freezing his body when he dies—if only as a moment of anti-death activism, reports Futurism.

Thiel explained his “just in case” cryonics aspirations to journalist and former Twitter filer Bari Weiss on Weiss’ podcast, Honestly, in a lengthy podcast episode published last week.

“I think of it more as an ideological statement,” Thiel told Weiss, as quoted by Fortune Magazine. “I don’t necessarily expect it to work,” he continued, “but I think it’s the sort of thing we’re supposed to try to do.”

In other words: Cryogenics might not ultimately work, but as one of the most vocal leaders on the immortality-seeking technological crusade, he’s duty-bound to freeze his ol’ bag o’ bones nonetheless. Gotta walk the walk if you talk the talk.

As for where he’s seeking to freeze himself, Thiel told Weiss that he’s eyeing the nonprofit Alcor Life Extension Foundationthe prominent cryo firm that back in 2009 was accused of both accidentally decapitating and accidentally freezing what appeared to be a can of tuna to the icy head of baseball great Ted Williams.

Thiel’s cryo plans aren’t all that surprising, as the billionaire’s enthusiasm for immortality tech has been widely documented. Along with making some notable investments into immortality tech firms, Thiel was famously accused of seeking blood infusions from young donors. And back in 2014, the venture capitalist took anti-aging to a whole new level when he declared to The Telegraph that he was “against” the concept of mortality.

“People have a choice to accept death, deny it or fight it,” Thiel told The Telegraph. “I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.”

Thiel reiterated a version of that 2014 argument in his recent conversation with Weiss, saying that we should at least understand why humans are doomed to toil away in our mortal meat suits.

“We haven’t even tried,” he lamented. “We should either conquer death or at least figure out why it’s impossible.”

Of course, the answer to that latter point may well be answered by simple biology. And to that end, immortality-seeking cryo has been decried by some experts as something along the lines of a pseudoscientific Hail Mary.

Regardless, whether Thiel’s anti-death investments will one day pay off remains to be seen. But even if he’s ultimately unable to attain immortality, at least he’ll die trying.

Research contact: @futurism

Bluesky is Jack Dorsey’s attempt at a Twitter redo and it’s already growing fast

April 28, 2023

Since buying Twitter last year, Elon Musk has made a series of chaotic changes to the social media platform that have alienated legions of users, reports Fortune Magazine.

That’s been good news for Bluesky Social, an invite-only rival app that has quickly gained a following since debuting in February. So far, its app has been downloaded 360,000 times from Apple’s app store worldwide, consumer data group recently told Fortune, and over a million more users are on the waitlist to join. Most  of the new users have been added this month, according to Bloomberg.

Bluesky was created by Jack Dorsey, who happens to also be Twitter’s original co-founder. In contrast to Twitter, he wanted to build a decentralized service, meaning its user data is stored in independent servers rather than in ones owned by one company—thereby giving users more autonomy in how they interact on the platform.

“We envision an open social media ecosystem where developers have more opportunity to build and innovate; and users have more choice and control over which services they use and their experience on social media as a whole,” Jay Graber, CEO of Bluesky, wrote in a blog post last year.

Dorsey has said that one of his regrets was commercializing Twitter. If he had a chance to do it over again, he’d make it more like an open source project.

“The biggest issue and my biggest regret is that it [Twitter] became a company,” Dorsey tweeted in August 2022, responding to a question about whether the platform turned out like he wanted it to.

Bluesky’s rise comes amid growing scrutiny over data security on social media sites, as well as complaints about Twitter under Musk’s leadership. Those include Twitter requiring users to pay for blue check marks that signal their identities have been verified (these check marks were previously free) and then deciding to give away blue check marks to certain high-profile people (in some cases, dead people). Some recipients of free check marks are angry because the marks falsely make it appear as if they paid.

The origin story of Bluesky is closely linked to Twitter. It received its initial funding in 2021 from Twitter—Dorsey was the CEO until November of that year (it’s unclear exactly when the funding was received). Dorsey is also on Bluesky’s board.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine