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Google plans to make search more ‘personal’ with AI chat, video clips

Google is planning to make its search engine more “visual, snackable, personal, and human,” with a focus on serving young people globally. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the company is shifting the way it presents search results to incorporate conversations with artificial intelligence (AI), along with more short video and social-media posts. The changes are a response to big shifts in the way people access information on the internet, including the emergence of AI bots like ChatGPT. They would nudge the service further away from its traditional format, known informally as the “10 blue links,” the WSJ reported. Google plans to make its search engine more “visual, snackable, personal, and human,” with a focus on serving young people globally, according to the documents. It plans to incorporate more human voices as part of the shift, supporting content creators in the same way it has historically done with websites, the documents say. Broadly, Google plans to place greater emphasis on responding to queries that can’t be easily answered by traditional web results, according to internal reference documents outlining the company’s strategy for making changes to the search engine this year. Google search visitors might be more frequently prompted to ask follow-up questions or swipe through visuals such as TikTok videos in response to their queries, WSJ said.

ONDC arrives with a price war taking on food-delivery majors Zomato, Swiggy

The two platforms (Zomato & Swiggy) remain neck-to-neck in competition and offer competitive offers for users. However, a new network, backed by the Indian government, is emerging and people are using it to order food at cheaper costs. Say hello to ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce), which lets restaurants sell food directly to consumers, without the need of a third party app like Zomato and Swiggy. ONDC has been around since September 2022 but is now gaining popularity. As per reports, it has recently surpassed the 10,000 daily order mark and is being more widely used by people. Over the last couple of days, a lot of people have posted screenshots in which they are comparing the food delivery prices offered by ONDC, Swiggy and Zomato. And ONDC costs  are relatively cheaper. The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is backed by the Government of India and allows restaurants to sell their food directly to consumers. There is quite a difference in the prices offered between ONDC and food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato. In an instance, the price of 4 burgers and 4 large fries from popular restaurant chain McDonalds also had a massive difference. The total bill amount in Zomato and Swiggy was Rs 702 and Rs 768 respectively, while when ordered via ONDC, the bill amount was Rs 639.

Nearly half of Indian businesses are low on digital maturity: Report

Nearly half (48%) of businesses in India have low levels of digital maturity, a new report said. Digital Maturity refers to an organization’s ability to quickly respond to the developments and shifting trends of technology. According to a report published jointly by technology firm Lenovo and market research firm IDC, about 87% of Indian businesses consider digital infrastructure readiness to be mission-critical or important for achieving business goals — but only 33% are sufficiently prepared. The report that captured insights from 554 chief information officers (CIOs) across Asia Pacific, including 100 from India, further said that businesses in Asia Pacific region expect 52% revenue to be digitally driven by 2027, but only 39% are at Stage 3 or 4 of Digital Maturity. Stage 3 or 4 indicates a well-defined multi-year execution roadmap of an organization, said Lenovo. However, India falls behind with 48% of businesses at Stage 1 of digital maturity. Lack of competitive pressure and cultural resistance to change hinder the transformation journey. To become digital natives CIOs will need to accelerate IT modernisation and transformation, the report said. As increasing deployment options, whether public, private, hybrid, or multi-Cloud, have led to challenges around data residing in silos, more than half (52%) of businesses in India are looking to invest in software-defined storage solutions, followed by 44% in the public cloud for data backup and business continuity, and 42% in data management platform for hybrid/multi-cloud.

Google Bard Available on ‘Workspace’

Google has opened its chatbot Bard AI for all users with Workspace accounts. The AI chatbot was first available to personal Google accounts at the time of launch.  The company recently announced an upgrade of its generative AI chatbot, Bard AI, to help individuals write code and develop software. This comes after Google announced the rollout of passkeys to Google account users globally.  The tech giant said in its blog post that Workspace admins will have to enable Bard AI for the domains. Once enabled, the Workspace accounts will have the same level of access as consumer accounts. Attackers lure users into downloading malicious apps and browser extensions through social engineering tactics. Workspace admins will have the option to open up access to Bard for their end users through the newly introduced Early Access Apps control,” Google wrote in a blog post.

India Can be a Role Model in Universal Acceptance

India can serve as a role model in Universal Acceptance (UA) and more inclusive internationalized domain names (IDNs), senior executives at Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs the internet said. “Digitisation in India has been so fast that suddenly we’re looking at this kind of poster child country, which is enormous, with vast amounts of people using the internet. It’s like the perfect case study for UA,” ICANN interim president and CEO Sally Costerton said. “Meanwhile, you’ve got the (Narendra) Modi government going 100 miles an hour, putting in broadband, putting in digital services from the top down. And that creates economic momentum,” she said. Universal Acceptance ensures that all domain names are treated equally and can be used by all internet-enabled applications, devices, and systems. Costerton said UA will have to take into account factors like bridging the digital divide through means like voice activation, QR codes or even, for instance, how to use a spoken language to activate access to a bank account so that people who are economically weaker, too, can harness the power of the Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a non-profit public benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address — a name or a number — into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world.

WhatsApp Set to Get ‘Admin Review’ Soon

WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature called ‘admin review’ on Android, which will provide group admins with tools to help them better moderate their groups. WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature called ‘admin review’ on Android, which will provide group admins with tools to help them better moderate their groups. According to WABetaInfo, when the feature is enabled, group members will be able to report specific messages to the group admin. If admins believe that a message is inappropriate or violates the rules, they may choose to delete it for everyone in the group when a member reports it. According to the report, the new option will be available within the group settings section in the future.

Open letter, with more than 27,000 signatures, shows how experts are worried over AI

In late March, more than 1,000 technology leaders, researchers and other pundits working in and around artificial intelligence signed an open letter warning that AI technologies present “profound risks to society and humanity”. That group has since grown to more than 27,000 signatures, representing a growing concern that the latest systems, most notably GPT-4, could cause harm to society and that systems developed in the future would be even more dangerous. “Our ability to understand what could go wrong with very powerful AI systems is very weak,” said Yoshua Bengio, a professor and AI researcher at the University of Montreal, Canada, who has spent the past four decades developing the technology that drives systems like GPT-4. Why are they worried? One risk that we’re already seeing is disinformation. Because these systems deliver information with what seems like complete confidence, it can be a struggle to separate truth from fiction when using them. Experts are concerned that people will rely on these systems for medical advice, emotional support and the raw information they use to make decisions. Companies are working on these problems. But experts such as Bengio worry that as researchers make these systems more powerful, they will introduce new risks like job loss or a loss of control. Right now, technologies like GPT-4 tend to complement human workers. But Open AI acknowledges that they could replace some workers in the future. They cannot yet duplicate the work of lawyers, accountants or doctors. But they could replace paralegals, personal assistants and translators. “There is an indication that rote jobs will go away,” said Oren Etzioni, the founding CEO of the Allen Institute for AI, a research lab in the US. Potential loss of control – As more and more companies plug AI into other internet services, there is a worry that these systems could gain unanticipated powers and write their own computer code. “If you look at a straightforward extrapolation of where we are now to three years from now, things are pretty weird,” said Anthony Aguirre, a theoretical cosmologist and physicist at the University of California, US, and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, an organization dedicated to exploring existential risks to humanity. “If you take a less probable scenario — where things really take off, where there is no real governance, where these systems turn out to be more powerful than we thought they would be — then things get really, really crazy.”

India’s consumption is expected to become 50% cashless by FY26

India is expected to become in three years a nearly 50 per cent non-cash economy in consumption as digital tools like UPI help financial transactions, said a report. Household consumption is expected to reach more than $3 trillion by FY26, propelled by the upper-middle and high-income segments, according to consulting firm Bain & Company’s ‘The Future of India Retail Payments’ report. “With the current technical and financial momentum, India is expected to become a nearly 50 per cent non-cash economy in consumption in the next three years with approximately 350–400 million digital consumers,” said Saurabh Trehan, partner and leader of the financial services (FS) practice at Bain & Company. “This growth could be further propelled to 60–75 per cent in case of continued government incentives and higher traction for UPI 2.0, 123 Lite, credit on UPI, Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC),” he said, referring to digital financial tools. UPI has seen an exponential growth in recent years, with total annualized transaction value reaching up to $1.7 trillion and its P2M (person to merchant) transactions reaching $380 billion (in FY23): almost twice the amount of credit cards. This growth is expected to continue at a CAGR of 40-50 per cent–the fastest among new payment modes, said the report. New innovations like credit on UPI, UPI 123 Pay, UPI Lite, and UPI coin vending machines are expected to further accelerate the adoption.

Zoho Launches Privacy-Focussed Browser ‘Ulaa’ To Take On Google, Microsoft

Taking on tech giants Google and Microsoft, Chennai-based SaaS unicorn Zoho Corporation launched a privacy-centered browser ‘Ulaa’, which means voyage in Tamil. The company claimed that the browser is built to secure personal data with pre-built capabilities to universally block tracking and website surveillance.  In a statement, Zoho said that Ulaa is equipped with features that allow for built-in user profile modes, privacy customisation, and integrated productivity tools while also keeping user data private and safe. “Not many browsers on the market today are built to protect user privacy. They were created to protect respective company’s ad-based business models and surveillance companies that complement them, which runs counter to protecting users,” Sridhar Vembu, CEO and cofounder of Zoho, said. “This conflict between user’s preferences and browser’s business models means end users lose.” Ulaa users can also sync browsing sessions between devices – either an entire browser window or a singular tab – that would allow them to use multiple devices for the same browsing session, it added.

ChatGPT’s popularity boosts investment in AI

OpenAI’s ChatGPT has gained much traction since its launch in November last year. Its popularity, which has since only grown, has positively impacted investments in artificial intelligence, found a study conducted by market research firm Gartner. About 45% of the executive leaders surveyed for the study said that the publicity of ChatGPT has prompted them to increase their AI investments. Customer experience was the most common focus of the increased investment, while revenue growth, price optimization, and business continuity were found to be other reasons. Further, 70% of the respondents said that their organizations are investigating and exploring generative AI; 19% of them said that similar projects are already in pilot or production mode. As per Gartner’s report, many organizations that have already begun experimenting with generative AI have discovered its application in media content improvement and code generation, among others. Gartner’s report further said that generative AI has ‘vast potential’ to augment humans and machines to autonomously execute business and IT processes.It was reported on April 12 that while global AI investments dipped since 2021 due to economic slowdown, experts said that VCs may invest more especially due to the increased interest in generative AI. The Stanford AI Index report released last month showed that India ranked fifth in terms of AI investments. In 2022, the total investment in AI startups was $3.24 billion.

Salesforce taps into generative AI to launch SlackGPT

Salesforce has integrated OpenAI’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) model with its enterprise messaging app Slack to offer conversational AI experiences and allow sales, services, IT, and marketing professionals to generate faster information summaries and communicate more effectively with customers and colleagues.  For instance, with SlackGPT sales team can auto-generate account channel summaries and service teams can address customer queries faster. Similarly, IT/dev teams can use SlackGPT to auto-scan channel activities for incident management, while marketers can use it to auto-generate copy and images for blogs, email campaigns, and social media posts. As part of the integration, Slack users will also get a new AI-powered automation platform, which can be used to build no-code workflows using simple prompts, the company added.  Salesforce also said that Slack users will soon be able to access insights generated by EinsteinGPT from real-time customer data.  EinsteinGPT is a generative AI platform by Salesforce for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and was launched in March. It provides AI-generated content and insights for sales, service, marketing, and commerce.

Google rolls out passkeys. Here are other passwordless authentication methods

While passwords are the most common methods of authentication in the cyber space and are used by millions of people worldwide, creating and managing passwords are not just cumbersome, weak password management is central to the entire cybercriminal ecosystem.   In May last year, aligned with the Fast Identity Online or FIDO Alliance, Microsoft, Apple and Google teamed up to increase support for a common passwordless sign-in standard in a bid to ditch passwords and ensure a unified, secure way to log into their accounts. Earlier, Microsoft has enabled a no-password log-in for Outlook, Office, Skype, Xbox Live and other online services. And on Thursday, the World Password Day (May 4, 2023) Google said it has started rolling out passkey support to both Android and Chrome, a step that further signals a password-less future. In a blog published by Google, Sriram Karra, Senior Product Manager said that passkeys let users sign in to apps and sites just like they unlock their devices: with a fingerprint, a face scan or a screen lock PIN or a more sophisticated physical security dongle. But unlike passwords, they are resistant to online attacks like phishing, which makes them more secure than options such as one-time codes. 

Microsoft opens AI-powered Bing to public, upgrades features

Microsoft announced that the new AI-powered Bing search engine is now in open preview and no longer has a waitlist. Alongside that, the company announced some new features to Bing Chat and expanded the capabilities of Image Creator. An improved Bing Chat experience Bing is turning more visual with the introduction of richer, more elaborate answers that’ll now include charts, graphs, and updated formatting. This, Microsoft says, will help you find the information you seek more easily. Conversations on Bing Chat will soon be accessible through a chat history, which users will also be able to share and export. Users will also be able to return to previous chats in Bing Chat with this feature. Lastly, much like the plugins that ChatGPT Plus subscribers enjoy, Microsoft is also letting developers build third-party plugins for the Bing Chat experience. As an example, the company says that if you’re researching the latest restaurant for dinner in Bing Chat, it will leverage OpenTable to help you find and book a reservation.

TCS to Harness Vast Data Troves to Build ChatGPT-like Gen AI Tech

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) may soon reportedly develop its own ChatGPT-like tech. As per a report, this AI tech is expected to be used for enterprise code generation. TCS chief operating officer (COO) N Ganapathy Subramaniam has said that the project to develop the ChatGPT-like AI is at a very initial stage and “is looking to harness the vast internal code, data, and resources” that TCS has and is developing. “The way we look at it, it uses past code, data and experience to learn…..And over the many years that TCS has been in business, I can use all of my knowledge as a base. So, if that technology uses and generates code that I have taught the algorithm using TCS proprietary data, then the outcome is something that I am willing to license.” In addition to this, the report adds that TCS is also working on use cases in order to build proprietary generative AI algorithms. This is reportedly being done to build code and the enterprise usage of generative AI still needs more finetuning, especially in terms of ownership and IP of the end products.

GaanaGPT, the Next New Old Hit Song

They give you answers to all kinds of questions. They solve puzzles that would take experts months, if not years, to crack. They generate images from your wildest imagination with (intelligent, creative) human prompts. So, one next step would be to get AI to create music of the kind you’d like to hear, but is no longer possible – music, as if by your favourite bands or singers, but no longer in existence. Getting ChatGPT to generate a poem of a subject in the style of, say, Faiz Ahmad Faiz or Mahadevi Varma may be the dinner party rage. But we are still waiting for songs that Kishore Kumar or the Beatles could have sung pop out of the AI’s studio. Imagine not just a back catalogue of iconic musicians, but a front catalogue. Connoisseurs would, of course, scoff at the very idea. But how many times have we heard a singer sound like a favourite without being the one, and we derive pleasure from it? Kumar Sanu and others come to mind. A Mohammed Rafi-style new AI-generated song may do that impossible – bring something new to our ears while feeding our nostalgia buds at the same time. This will not just be mimicry of the sort we hear on TV talent shows or in programmes where singers sing old classics rendered in the style of the masters. AI, unlike AIR, will be a whole new old thing that can also tickle our ‘What if (they still sang)?’ fancy.

Gen Z’s social media engagement can feel negative but can also help find mental health support

Much like many relationships a person might have between ages 18 and 24, the relationship a young person has with social media can be complicated. No matter where they live, respondents in a new global survey said social media usage can lead to a fear of missing out (FOMO) or poor body image, but it also can help with social connections and self-expression. McKinsey Health Institute’s (MHI’s) 2022 Global Gen Z Survey asked more than 42,000 respondents in 26 countries across continents questions based on the four dimensions of health: mental, physical, social, and spiritual.1 MHI then analyzed differences and similarities across generations and countries, with a hope of informing the broader dialogue around Gen Z mental health. Gen Zers, on average, are more likely than other generations to cite negative feelings about social media.2 They are also more likely to report having poor mental health. But correlation is not causation, and the data indicates that the relationship between social media use and mental health is complex. One surprise: Older generations’ engagement with these platforms is on par with Gen Zers. For example, baby boomers in eight of the 26 countries surveyed report spending as much time on social media as Gen Zers, with millennials being the most likely to post. And while negative impacts of social media were reported across cohorts, positive effects were even more common—more than 50 percent of all groups cited self-expression and social connectivity as positives from social media. There are also signs that technology provides access to supportive mental health resources for younger people. Gen Z respondents are more likely than other generations to use digital wellness apps and digital mental health programs.3 Additionally, respondents indicate that certain aspects of social media use can benefit their mental health, such as using social media for self-expression. Young refugees and asylum seekers are among those most likely to cite social media as a tool to stay connected and decrease loneliness.

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