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Week in tech: Sam Altman departs as OpenAI CEO

In a major move, the maker of ChatGPT said the company's board of directors no longer had confidence in Sam Altman's ability to continue leading OpenAI

Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West on November 16, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West on November 16, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Getty Images via AFP)

Here’s a look at what made news in the world of science and technology this week.

ChatGPT maker OpenAI says Sam Altman is no longer CEO

In a seismic move, technology company OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, announced on Friday evening that Sam Altman has departed as CEO and will leave the board of directors. Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, will now serve as interim CEO. In a statement, OpenAI said: “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” On 18 November, Altman posted on X saying: “I loved my time at OpenAI. It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. Most of all I loved working with such talented people… Will have more to say about what’s next later.”

Microsoft unveils its first custom-designed AI, cloud chips

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled two homegrown, custom-designed chips and integrated systems: the Microsoft Azure Maia AI Accelerator, meant for artificial intelligence (AI) tasks and generative AI, and the Microsoft Azure Cobalt CPU, an Arm-based processor tailored to run general purpose compute workloads on the Microsoft Cloud. According to a Bloomberg report, the Maia 100 chip, announced at the company’s annual Ignite conference in Seattle on 15 November, will provide Microsoft Azure cloud customers with a new way to develop and run AI programs that generate content. Microsoft is already testing the chip with its Bing and Office AI products, the report said. The company said both the chips will start to roll out early next year to Microsoft’s datacenters. Microsoft also officially launched Loop, an online collaboration platform, which will be part of the Microsoft 365 suite of apps and is viewed by many as a competitor to Notion.

Apple to make texting easier between iPhone, Android

Apple will start support for RCS, or rich communication services, from next year, which will make the texting process between Android phones and Apple iPhone smoother. According to Bloomberg, RCS is an upgrade over standard SMS and MMS texting that’s backed by the GSM Association. A report said: “The feature will launch via a software update “later next year” and bring a wide range of iMessage-style features to messaging between iPhone and Android users.” Apple’s move comes right after the Carl Pei-led Nothing announced Nothing Chats, a new messaging platform still in testing phase that will essentially bring iMessage to Android.

FILE: Meta's new app Threads is displayed on a smartphone in New York, Thursday, July 6, 2023.
FILE: Meta's new app Threads is displayed on a smartphone in New York, Thursday, July 6, 2023. (AP)

Threads can be deleted without deleting IG account

When Threads by Instagram – a text-based social media platform on the lines of X -- was launched earlier this year, a worry for many users was the fact that they could not delete their Threads account without deleting their Instagram account. That has changed now. Earlier this week, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, posted on his Threads account that new updates being rolled out would allow users to delete their Threads account separate from Instagram. Mosseri said this new feature would be accessible from the settings menu in a new “Delete or Deactivate Profile” section.

Meta announces AI video and image-editing tools for Facebook, Instagram

While there were plenty of excitement among Instagram users, as the platform finally announced some much-touted new photo filters and tools aimed at content creators (more on that here), Meta, on 16 November, also announced two new AI video and image-editing tools for Facebook and Instagram: Emu Video and Emu Edit. “With Emu Video, which leverages our Emu model, we present a simple method for text-to-video generation based on diffusion models,” Meta said in a statement. Emu Video can generate four-second-long videos at 16 frames per second, and Meta says it can respond to a variety of inputs: text only, image only, and both text and image. Emu Edit, meanwhile, is an image editing tool.

(With inputs from agencies)

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