March 2023


Online therapy is a booming industry, and now AI-powered chatbots are starting to roll into the sector.

The recent arrival of ChatGPT and its enhanced language capability to handle human interaction may soon be a revolutionary alternative to revealing your deepest mental health issues to a human therapist.

How close is an AI-powered chatbot to replacing your human mental health specialist? Closer than you can imagine. In fact, some aspects of AI-powered medicine are already here.

Some software developers and mental health practitioners are already reaching for the pause button. Others in the medical and computer industries are pressing the panic button.

TechNewsWorld recently surveyed several dozen mental health experts and bot developers actively involved in artificial intelligence chatbot projects. Some respondents dismissed the credibility of AI tools to replace human physicians. Others raised a possibility for better algorithms down the road with current practices that they said are useful and effective.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT reached 100 million active users in January, becoming the fastest growing consumer application in history. Launched by OpenAI as a prototype in November 2022, it is user-friendly while requiring advanced technical knowledge and understanding of AI and conversational technology.

Since then, the beta product has become explosively popular and integrated into many uses involving language and computer coding.

The product name, ChatGPT, stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. It is a chatbot built on top of the GPT family of OpenAI large language models. Its popularity is a result of its ability to provide detailed feedback and clear answers in many areas of knowledge.

According to clinical psychologist Carolina Estevez of Infinite Recovery, some mental health websites use chatbots to set up appointments, answer frequently asked questions about services and policies, and store customer data for later convenience.

“However, they have not been used for therapy because the technology is not sophisticated enough to capture the necessary nuances. It will not be able to provide sound counseling, proper diagnosis, or even determine if a person is sick,” Estevez told TechNewsWorld. How are you feeling?”

From Chatbot to Digital Therapist

To be clear, ChatGPT is not a unit developed specifically for mental health services. It’s an AI-based language model that isn’t capable of providing mental health therapy, warned Ryan Faber, founder of Copymatic, an AI-powered platform for creating digital ads, website copy or blog content.

His eight years of technical experience sparked a curiosity about the potential of chatbots, which led him to pursue the innovative technology and found his company.

But it’s one thing to use ChatGPT to author written content. Employing it to provide mental health therapy is quite another.

“It can be more difficult to build rapport with a therapist when communicating through a screen. In addition, online therapy may not be appropriate for individuals with serious mental health issues or those who require more intensive treatment,” Faber told TechNewsWorld.

Ramiro Somosiera, founder and editor of the online music magazine GearAficionado, claimed to be a heavy user of ChatGPT in his daily publishing activities. He also admits to swearing by his doctor.

“I don’t believe there is a real use case for ChatGPT.” [therapy] replacement,” Somosierra told TechNewsWorld. “However, I would not put something as important as mental health in the ‘hands’ of an algorithm as imperfect as ChatGPT.”

In my experience, ChatGPT usually gets basic information wrong when asked to write an article. He is not alone in this assessment. Content inaccuracy is a common descriptor among ChatGPT users across all industries.

“So how can I be sure that it will provide me with mindful conversation if I’m telling it about my relationship with my father?” He quipped.

Pushing the limits of AI for online therapy

Online therapy has proven effective because it reaches a wider number of people and is more accessible because of its virtual capabilities, agreed Talin Banbasadian, director and technology team lead at project management and software development firm Waco. As the population continues to grow and the world moves towards more virtual ways of reaching its client set, online therapy is becoming more widely adopted.

“The main driver is the pandemic. This phenomenon has led to an increase in mental health cases, and as we move towards a world where being vulnerable is encouraged, online therapy will see a rise,” Banbasadian told TechNewsWorld.

Chatbots are currently used where there is a systematic and predictable way of providing therapy – whether for issues related to depression, addiction, or anxiety. Most reliable providers provide human triage options for edge cases.

The need to localize this type of automation based on cultural nuances cannot be stressed enough. What works in the West may not work everywhere, cautioned Atul Bhave, senior vice president of managed services for Waco.

“This is an area of ​​challenge for all enterprises engaged in scaling AI-enabled services. It will continue to be a challenge, but overcoming it will also bring the most benefits,” Bhave told TechNewsWorld.

ChatGPT has trouble with content accuracy, he agreed. But technology has started a revolution, and many more will follow that truly optimize the ability of machines to learn from humans and generate predictable success.

“It’s too early to expect a human level of empathy that can replace incorrect canned information with bots,” Bhave offered.

Advancing AI ethics and expectations

As an example – or perhaps a warning – some people are abusing the already childish ChatGPT. In January, behavioral health platform Koko cofounder Robert Morris announced on Twitter that his website had provided mental health support to nearly 4,000 people using ChatGPT-3 in an experiment.

Some software developers who responded to our questions raised concerns about the suitability of ChatGPT and its potential to replace a human doctor. For example, Chris Love, the proprietor of Love2Dev, has done several mental health projects involving ChatGPT.

“It is a general language model and is not an expert in medicine, nor (has it) been trained to respond like a clinician. If you want to ask it to help with general research in the field, it is resource-intensive. can help you with [and] research,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Love Chat appreciates the mental health potential that GPT can provide. However, we need to understand where the boundaries are, he offered.

“As far as using AI for medicine goes, it can add real value today. I like AI models as a way to triage tedious work and screen issues. That way, professionals can be more serious matters,” Love said. “ChatGPT is not a therapist, and most likely, it will give you a disclaimer in its answers.”

Love offered an example of potential failover features integrated into an online application they built for their customers. The medical field was looking for some “trigger” to either notify the actual medical staff or require the patient to call 911 for a better response.

Online Therapy vs Chatbot Therapist, No Deal

Chatbots are now a medical tool for mental health in two major ways, according to Flora Sadri-Azerbaijani, medical director of Cyclicity Health, an addiction treatment facility in the Boston area, providing support for self-care and cognitive behavioral therapy. (CBT) offers. ,

He explained that CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps people learn how to change their thinking and behavior in order to better manage their mental health.

“Chatbots can provide users with automated, on-demand self-help services by providing information about mental health topics, suggesting lifestyle changes to improve their well-being, or providing strategies to manage stress,” Sadri-Azerbayjani told TechNewsWorld. Can provide care support.”

These types of chatbots can be an effective way to provide additional support and guidance to people who are already receiving therapy and who do not have access to traditional medical services.

“But because medicine is essentially about connecting and understanding people, both chatbots are still quite limited in their capabilities,” she offered. “Even though platforms like ChatGPT can remember information from previous interactions, they are unable to provide personalized, high-quality care like a professional therapist.”

Google opened its ChatGPT competitor Bard to the public in the United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, although entry will require a waiting list.

“Today we’re starting to open up access to Bard, an early experiment that lets you collaborate with generative AI,” Ellie Collins, Google vice president of product and research, Sissy Hsiao, wrote in a company blog.

He explained that Bard can be used to boost productivity, accelerate the generation of ideas, and increase curiosity.

“We’ve learned a lot testing Bard so far,” he said, “and the next important step in improving it is getting feedback from more people.”

While large language models are an exciting technology, they are not without their faults, Google executives acknowledged. Because they learn from a wide range of information that reflects real-world biases and stereotypes, they sometimes show up in their output, he continued. And they may provide false, misleading or inaccurate information while presenting it in confidence.

“Our work at Bard is guided by our AI principles, and we continue to focus on quality and safety,” the pair said. “We’re using human feedback and ratings to improve our systems, and we’ve also put in guardrails, like capping the number of exchanges in dialogue, to try to keep conversations useful and on-topic Could.”

chasing redmond

Since Google unveiled Bard to the world in February, the company has been trying to catch up with Microsoft, which is introducing AI features into its products at a rapid pace.

“Google is in a panic now that Microsoft has them beat to market, and they’re hemorrhaging users, which puts them in a ‘ready or it doesn’t get here’ mindset,” said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group. declared. An advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“A short while ago, they were convinced that it was nowhere close to being ready and seem to have reduced resources, so it is unlikely that it is actually ready, but they now need a response and clearly We are taking a huge risk to prevent this from happening. Microsoft stops its search engine from bleeding out,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Undoubtedly, Google is in catch-up mode, maintained Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

He told TechNewsworld, “I think Google is under enormous market pressure to bring Bard to the mainstream market as quickly as possible because there is a perception in part that they were taken aback by the market reception of ChatGPT.”

Google has been talking about its AI and machine-learning work for several years, but, so far, it has reached the consumer in very limited ways, observed Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer research firm. Technology consulting firm. New York City.

“ChatGPT really struck a nerve inside Google. This is a potential threat to Google Search,” he told TechNewsWorld.

cautious pace

Bard’s rate of development remains reserved, despite pressure to bridge the gap with Microsoft.

“Google’s pace is somewhat more cautious than Microsoft’s,” said Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a news, comment and analysis website.

“They feel they have more to lose as a brand if Bard becomes widely available and gets derailed,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Rubin explained that Bard is being rolled out slowly because Google has a dominant position in the market and wants to position the chatbot as a continuation of its existing search product.

“Microsoft has a similar rollout with the use of AI in Office,” he said.

At this point, Vena said, the perception that Google is outpacing Microsoft has hurt, so Google will use its resources to make Bard the best tool on the market and stop worrying about being the first.

ChatGPT vs LaMDA

Vena said the product could benefit from creating a waiting list while slowing the full rollout of Bard.

“It reinforces a notion that the Bard is not ready for prime time,” he said. “But putting that notion aside, this is probably a wise move on Google’s part, as a staggered release allows them to work out bugs in a measured and deliberate manner, which is a good thing.”

Sterling stressed that waiting lists serve another purpose as well. “They’re trying to control who has access and how the conversation happens around Bard,” he said. “But in fairness, this is often the way tech products are rolled out.”

Hsiao and Collins note that currently, Bard is powered by a lightweight and optimized version of Google’s research large language model LaMDA, but over time the offering will be updated with newer, more capable models.

“BARD doesn’t seem as powerful as GPT-4, which OpenAI recently released, but because it’s connected to the internet, who it can trust to answer questions makes a difference, said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

“Bard functions better as a personal assistant, but doesn’t perform as well on deeper analytical tasks, such as giving it a set of patch notes from a video game and asking how they would change the game’s state or analysis.” Supreme Court transcript,” he told TechNewsWorld.

multiple answer questions

Vena explained that LaMDA is specifically designed for natural language conversations and aims to be more context-aware than previous language models. It was trained on a wide variety of topics and could potentially be used in a variety of conversational applications, such as chatbots, voice assistants, and customer service tools.

Microsoft’s larger language model, on the other hand, he continued, was designed not specifically for dialog applications but for more general language understanding. Microsoft is working on a number of language models that attempt to improve natural language processing and generation in a variety of applications, including translation, sentiment analysis and question-answering.

Bard also departs from ChatGPT by drafting several of his responses to a question. “This gives users more flexibility to examine multiple query results, and that’s a good thing,” Vena said.

While offering multiple drafts gives consumers more choice and information, Sterling said, it also appears to be a defense against user criticism.

Overall, he said, Google is more cautious about its messaging and presentation about Bard than Microsoft is about Bing.

“Bing is courageous,” he said. “Microsoft has less to lose and is eager to embrace AI chat as an evolution of Bing.”

“For Google,” he continued, “it seems like it’s a new add-on that will get better over time. They’re undermining it as a search replacement. It partially meets user expectations.” and shaping broader market sentiments.

NTT Research, a branch of the group’s parent company NTT, announced last week that it will expand the size of its optical research center by 2023.

During its Upgrade 2023 program, the company’s technology user, customer and partner conference in San Francisco, NTT offered a comprehensive view of how it believes networking infrastructure should change. NTT is the master corporate entity in Japan under which its research arm operates.

NTT’s announcement raises the question for tech industry novices who don’t spend their free time lounging around optical research facilities, what exactly does an optical research facility do?

Without going too deep into the technical elements and advanced mathematics involved in this type of research, the potential practical benefits of the work could have a revolutionary impact on network communications technology as we know it.

NTT’s work in this area coincides with the company’s announcement earlier this month that it will begin offering its initial services to corporate customers using next-generation infrastructure based on optical technology. NTT announced in the Upgrade 2023 program that it will charge customers a monthly fee of US$15,000 (about 1.98 million yen) per month through its regional entities, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West.

This initiative, known as IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Networks), is a breakthrough new infrastructure system that features “low latency” or dramatically reduces transmission time lag. The result is a 200th of the relevant delay compared to conventional optical communication systems.

In 2019, NTT originated the idea of ​​IOWN, which involves employing optical signals along with a communication line to transmit data from transmitter to destination. NTT expects its IONN services, which it will offer primarily to business customers, will be beneficial for a variety of use cases, including self-driving.

Benefits of the IOWN Initiative

Fiber is the primary means of data transmission for existing optical communications widely employed in everyday residential settings. In the communication path, optical impulses must still be converted into electrical signals and vice versa, resulting in latency or time delay. These delays can be significantly reduced by IOWN, eliminating the need for signal transcoding.

There are many applications that can take advantage of this capability. Self-driving cars, remotely operated robots, digital humans, and remote surgical procedures performed in distant areas can all benefit from the low latency that distinguishes IOWN services.

Digital Human for Customer Experience Demo at NTT Upgrade 2023 Event

Digital Human Interaction Technology Showcased at NTT Upgrade 2023

At Upgrade 2023, a compelling demo (pictured above) was featured with a robotic arm being used via controllers to move items in a simulated warehouse setting with tremendous accuracy with virtually zero latency was needed.

To use IOWN services, customers must use special terminal equipment marketed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West.

Low latency is not the only benefit provided by the IOWN initiative. The IOWN project aims to achieve lower power consumption with a 100-fold improvement in power efficiency and a 125-fold improvement in transmission capacity over current optical communication systems.

NTT is making a huge commitment to IOWN because it believes its revolutionary benefits will disrupt the networking infrastructure space. In the coming years, NTT will work to create terminal equipment and communications technology specific to achieving those goals. NTT anticipates the implementation of the entire ioOne plan in the 2030 time frame.

Partners build credibility for IOWN initiative

The IOWN initiative now includes many well-known businesses inside and outside Japan. As NTT wants IOWN to attract as wide international support as possible, a worldwide forum has been created to evaluate the requirements and other technical specifications of IOWN.

Earlier this month, KDDI Corporation, another major Japanese telecommunications company, was announced by NTT as a new member of the International Forum. The company is looking to collaborate with competing businesses to facilitate rapid expansion of the IOWN platform.

NTT has also confirmed that it has created a prototype chip that it hopes could one day significantly increase data transmission rates in data centers and undersea fiber optic cables.

According to NTT, its all-new, miniaturized baseband amplifier integrated circuit module provides ultra-broadband performance of 100 GHz. It will be used with emerging all-photonics network technologies, such as future 6G networks and IOWN infrastructure. According to NTT, this aspect is a critical component of those future networks, as they will require ultra-broadband signal amplification capabilities to remove all noise distortion.

IOWN core optical networks will be capable of transmitting data at rates of more than two terabits per second; However, they require a baseband amplifier IC module to amplify the signal. NTT had previously made products that could accomplish this, but they were all large and required connections to external data center block piece products. NTT has now created a prototype of its module that is small enough to fit into any device.

Although the device will not be commercially available for several years, NTT claims it can amplify 100 GHz electrical signals, a dramatic improvement over what is possible with today’s technology. NTT believes the advancement will eventually increase data center connection speeds and accelerate customer Internet access.

analyst view

Although NTT is not a widely known company outside Japan, the 150-yard company has a cultural propensity for asking questions about the future. With its IOWN initiative, it is challenging the industry to radically rethink the computer needs of the future 25 years from now.

It’s clear that for NTT, photonic optical technology is where Puck is going to optimize the transport of data. My recent interview with Vito Mabruko, Global Chief Marketing Officer of NTT, underscores the company’s commitment to photonics:

It will be helpful to remember that much of technology today relies on electronics to transmit and analyze information. In the post-Moore’s Law era, NTT is making bold moves to push the tech industry to consider how it can scale computing power without some of the transistor development techniques that have proliferated over the past fifty years. From NTT’s perspective, photonics holds the promise of accelerating data transmission speeds, increasing machine responsiveness, and using significantly less energy.

Furthermore, the state of this technology centers around the transition from electronics to photonics. This is the basis in the cellular market as 6G will eventually eclipse 5G to enable future internet and cloud usage models (something not even considered). It will be possible to collect massive amounts of data with near-zero latency in an environment with specialized photonics-based processors that can switch workloads autonomously.

Of course, it will take time and significant investment dollars to realize a fully active IOWN-based world. Typically, new technological advances come at the cost of performance or energy usage trade-offs, but this does not seem to be the case with IOWN. The payoff will be a new game-changing networking topology that could improve how people access all kinds of information and how society functions.

Even at that ambitious level, NTT deserves credit for articulating a bold, new network infrastructure vision that transforms the nature of computing.

Microsoft did what we expected last Thursday by putting generative AI called Copilot into Microsoft 365 next year. This technology is potentially a game changer for office productivity, as Microsoft Office initially was.

Let’s talk about the Copilot effect this week. Then we’ll close with our Product of the Week, a new laptop from HP that’s the result of an unusually close collaboration with AMD and gives people like me who don’t have an IT department an edge compared to most IT shops. Provides better support experience

Microsoft 365 Co-Pilot: Your Digital Secretary

When I started in the technology business, secretaries were common. I even shared one for a while, and it was a great experience. Sadly I was on the receiving end of such help. It was incredible to have an employee whose job I have my back and who would complement and reassure my work.

As products such as Office advanced, companies concluded that secretaries were no longer needed, and executives were given tools that supposedly automated the secretary’s role. They didn’t, however, because those devices weren’t smart.

Automated tools made us more productive but didn’t fix shortcomings we could have done with human assistants, such as writing a good letter, maintaining correspondence, and keeping a secret of our inability to manage our anger. Some social media blew up).

This initial use of generative AI in Co-Pilot, while much smarter than Office without it, won’t initially make up for all our shortcomings, but it will get smarter over time. I am confident that it will grow to fully embrace the role of the old Secretary. But in the beginning, it will increase our productivity by turning our ideas and concepts into completed works.

This digital secretary is still young and naive

We have to keep in mind that this technology, which is already in its fourth generation, is still very young and immature. We can’t depend on it like an experienced human assistant, which means it’s more about producing quantity than quality. We will need to learn this tool and be aware of its weaknesses.

While it is far more intelligent than Office, it is not as smart as a good human assistant. It can’t pick up on context, it won’t always understand intonation effects, and it won’t be able to protect you from a mistake.

The tool isn’t a peer to peer yet, although I expect it to evolve to become one. In a way, it is like a small child who looks up to his parents like God and does not question anything the parents say. It doesn’t understand nuance or realize that those parents aren’t perfect.

This tool will not only do what you tell it to do, even if it’s not in your best interests, but it will also take fed data, fact or fiction, and treat it like the truth. As a result, you’ll need to provide oversight and recognize that it may be operating at a speed that could be dangerous.

twitter alert

One of the things that makes Twitter dangerous is that you can see and react to something without thinking about the implications of your response. You see a funny post and like it without realizing the post is sexist or racist, and your career comes to an abrupt end.

You get angry and post your feelings about something your CEO did, you misread a post or just react poorly to a post and again, your career is over. Is. The speed at which you can deliver on Twitter is one of the biggest threats to your future.

Copilot is initially a speed tool. If you’re upset, this would draft an email that could end your career, so you should use restraint like Twitter to avoid sending it. One of the advantages of writing something yourself is that it gives you time to think about what you’re doing and maybe rethink it.

I’m not suggesting that the tool is bad, but like any tool that initially focuses more on speed than quality, the risk of acting rashly increases significantly. Luckily, for those of us who haven’t lost our jobs because of a poorly thought-out tweet (my fix was mostly to stay off Twitter), we know how to stop and think before we act.

Still, as awesome as it is (and it’s awesome!), we need to realize that this new technology is in danger of acting first, only to regret that action later.

Bringing Back Microsoft’s Office Assistant Clippy

After reading that headline, I can practically hear some people throwing things at me and yelling, “No!” While Clippy’s concept was cool, the technology and execution were admittedly terrible. But as Copilot develops, it will gain the ability to help you do certain tasks better as it learns how to accomplish them. In other words, Copilot is massively more helpful than Clippy, even in the beginning.

Where I’m particularly interested to see this tool work with PowerPoint. Most of us, myself included, suck at PowerPoint, which is ironic because my earliest success as an executive was creating great presentation slides. But as time went on, I got lazy and started creating word-heavy slides that didn’t properly utilize the visual aspects of that tool.

Copilot for PowerPoint takes that text approach and makes visually compelling slides out of it, so I can still be lazy and have more eye-catching presentations. This corrects the bad practice many of us have developed over the years and creates a tremendous amount of work where we can iterate over material until the slides tell the story we want to tell.

For me, this version of Copilot offers the greatest benefits with the least potential risk. Given my outrageous presentation history, this could be life changing. This video shows the CoPilot in action.


This brings up another point which is that this tool allows you to iterate more quickly. I write as I think, but this means I am often very wordy, and my flow is not ideal.

With Copilot, you can quickly iterate a document, then create multiple drafts, improving each one as you go. In fact, I recommend that approach for improving the quality of the result. I hope that the most benefit from CoPilot will be those who learn to use the tool and iterate to improve the quality of the results.

While this will reduce production somewhat, it will improve quality so that the results are otherwise better, rather than simply produced more quickly.

Wrapping up: who is most at risk?

As with any automation advancement, there are people who are at substantial risk and there are people who will benefit most from the technology. Those focused on speed over quality will be hurt at first by this device unless more quality assurance is built into it. Others, who focus on quality over quantity, will see it as a godsend.

An analogy would be a bad versus a good driver in a more powerful car. A bad driver is more likely to die, while a good driver will reach their destination more quickly and safely. This class of equipment will amplify both good and bad behavior. Disciplined and organized people will love this device. Others… not so much.

Like any new technology, looking beyond the hype to see the real benefits and risks of a new device will yield better results. While Copilot is already impressive, its initial focus is more quantitative than qualitative, meaning you’ll need to pay more attention to quality and learn how to use this tool before going hog wild with it.

tech product of the week

hp dragonfly pro

The Dragonfly line is HP’s flagship laptop line, designed to deliver the best experience and highest security of any HP offering.

The latest, the HP Dragonfly Pro, is unique in that it was jointly designed with AMD to strike a good balance of light weight, long battery life, and performance. Also, this product provides the kind of IT support that enterprises get but for small businesses and freelancers like me. In terms of design, it is a mix of some of the best Windows and Apple design elements.

The HP Dragonfly Pro has the oversized touchpad and clean lines of an Apple product and the more robust finish, touchscreen, ports, and IT tools, for example, the facial recognition and fingerprint reader of a Windows product – all wrapped with HP’s market-leading security Has happened.

The service offering that comes with Dragonfly Pro is also unique. Dedicated buttons on the right side of the keyboard allow quick access to the notebook’s features and functions and enable you to launch user-selected apps with a single button – and contact support, too. Its support button reminds me of a feature in newer cars where you press a button and get connected to support instantly.

HP Dragonfly Pro in Sparkling Black

Dragonfly Pro in Sparkling Black (Image credit: HP)

Something else new in this laptop is a high-performance charger, but it’s had mixed results. Unlike HP’s older chargers, this one has an attached AC plug, and, like most chargers of this type, it doesn’t work well in planes and has a tendency to fall off or hit feet depending on where those plugs sit. Is.

The easy fix is ​​a short extension cord that allows you to slide the charger under the seat and take the charger’s weight off the plug. Definitely use a three-prong extension cord, because on older planes, the AC outlet is so frayed that any two-prong plug will fall out regardless of weight. But the Dragonfly Pro has about 10 hours of battery life, so you may not need to use the charger on the plane if you charge the laptop before you leave.

I got a chance to try out the support experience, and it was great, with good engagement and aggressive follow-up, which is unusual for laptop support. You can pay extra for a package that will also provide a replacement laptop in case yours breaks.

Retail price starts at $1,399 for 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. For about $150 more, you can double both the memory and the storage (it’s a bargain, but most of us don’t need that much extra capacity).

oh, one more thing. The speakers on the Dragonfly Pro are amazing. I was watching a Netflix show on it in my hotel room, and the sound filled the room with incredible output from a laptop I could argue is the best. As a result, the HP Dragonfly Pro is my product of the week.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

It’s time to tackle the growing problem of your personal data being removed from uncontrolled online display, and there are solutions within your grasp.

Let’s face some hard facts about life online. We spend a lot of time with our electronic devices connected to the Internet. Websites track our movements, and mobile apps follow us everywhere we go and what we do. Data brokers are constantly on the lookout for little pieces of information that allow them to maintain a high-risk individual profile on us.

Like it or not, this is business. Businesses are targeting you with personalized sales pitches, hooking you up with online fraud scams, and reaping clues to your Internet identity. According to various industry reports in recent years, more than 4,000 data broker sites are collecting data from more than 500 million consumers.

Plus, you’ve probably painted a convenient picture of yourself using social media with lots of clues to your online identity. So never doubt that your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is exposed to hackers and people trackers, putting your personal and financial security at risk.

This article will help you become more aware of the rogue’s tactics to digitally track and attack you as they attempt to steal your data and online identity and make you a prime target for ransomware. . Familiarize yourself with these strategies for removing your data from public records websites and other online hotbeds of disparity.

clean yourself off the internet

Typically, personal data is harvested, bought, and sold over and over again. It’s hard to know who has access to your information, so it becomes a constant game of monitoring where your data resides, often only to find that it’s somewhere new.

Information on the Internet is so vast that it is nearly impossible to attempt to clean up your information with a broad-stroke solution. Search engines – Google has the largest footprint in this regard – are constantly gathering information about people and businesses. Add to that your social media and website presence. All those bits and pieces of data about you make it nearly impossible to prevent your name from appearing in search results.

Many data broker sites harvest your personal information, gleaning details of your life from public records and your online activity. It is a good practice to periodically search for news about yourself because once deleted, the data may pop up again elsewhere.

You can make the task of cleaning up your online identity more manageable by taking smaller, more targeted strokes that reduce the information available about you. Do what hunters do — search your name and see what descriptions and web sources appear in the results. Start with the biggest, Google, and make a list of where you get the most detailed data about yourself.

Next, make yourself less findable. Start the process from your default web browser. Go to the browser’s Settings panel and look for the Data & Privacy heading, then turn off the History setting and Record Web & App Activity. Repeat the process in any secondary browser you use.

Review your profile details in the “About Me” sections of the apps you use and in the privacy and security settings in social media apps and business listings. Consider removing as much personal, complex information as possible from everything you do and say online. This includes photos and other family pictures, as well as apps like Facebook and LinkedIn to restrict who has access to your most sensitive information.

Remove your personal data from public records sites

The growing focus on personal privacy online is forcing businesses to make changes in the way they wheel and deal with your data. Some of the barriers and stall tactics used by data brokers and search engine companies to make it harder for you to steal your personal information from their online warehouses have softened.

Here is a list of major data collection websites to consider targeting with deletion of information requests to help protect your privacy:

You can approach these online personal information mills and ask them to extract at least some personal details about you. Sometimes, you can even refuse to allow them to sell your information.

Often, one only has to check their websites to find their contact instructions for sending an email to request removal. Some offer an online form to request deletion of your information.

External help to get control of PII

When it comes to tracking your personally identifiable information online, the more you see, the more you find. Launching a mole-mole privacy campaign could bring down all but the most staunch defenders.

To take down the lone ranger approach, you can take the help of data deletion services. These companies use their own servers and search tools to automate the process for you. Subscribing to removal services that continually scrape and remove personal data can be a good investment.

Some data removal companies excel at doing this better than others. Beware of free services or services that offer bargain basement discounts. If you’re not happy with the results of one company, try another. The monthly or annual fee may be worthwhile to help your data disappear from the web. Some of these data deletion services offer free trials to give you a chance to assess their effectiveness.

In no particular order of preference, here are some of the services to check out:

  • OneRep claims to remove your personal and family information from Google and over 190 other websites.
  • BrandYourself is an online reputation management and privacy company providing solutions for individuals and businesses.
  • DeleteMe is a privacy information removal service that specializes in removing your personal information from Google’s vast search reporting network.
  • Incogni deals directly with data brokers, so you don’t have to spend hours guarding a display of where you live, your phone number, and where you prefer on the weekend to avoid falling into the wrong hands. It uses applicable privacy laws to compel data brokers to remove your personal information from their databases.
  • Privacy Bee helps to opt out of data broker databases and marketing lists.

Do It Yourself Privacy Options

If you’re more comfortable scrubbing the web yourself, a number of websites can help you achieve your privacy goals. Check out these handy web-based tools to fight your personal data privacy campaign.

  • Mine lets you find out where your personal data is located on the web. It can help you curate your online exposure to better ensure you are in control of your data ownership.
  • Unroll.Me is a toolbox for tackling the clutter that often builds up with online subscriptions. It automates the process of managing and revoking your digital trail with the possible sharing of your contact information. Note, however, that Unroll.Me is owned by e-commerce measurement firm NielsenIQ, so read their data collection and use policies when evaluating the service for privacy purposes.
  • Jumbo Privacy is a mobile app that helps you take control of your digital presence. It monitors the content of messages you send to limit unrestricted personal data sharing. This can be a tool to help you reduce the digital fragments that have already been shared. It constantly scans the Internet for signs that your data may have been compromised.
  • Just Delete Me is a website and browser extension that helps you delete your accounts from multiple web services. It uses a color-coding system to show whether the deletion process is easy, not so easy, or difficult on some 100 web services.

We hope these tips for limiting exposure to your personal data will help you secure your digital experience and protect your identity, your reputation, and your assets.

The larger multimodal language model, GPT-4, is ready for prime time, although, contrary to reports circulating since Friday, it does not support the ability to generate text-to-video.

However, GPT-4 can accept image and text input and generate text output. OpenAI explains on its website that on a range of domains – including text and documents containing photographs, diagrams or screenshots – GPT-4 exhibits similar capabilities as it does on text-only inputs.

However, this feature is in “research preview” and will not be publicly available.

OpenAI explained that GPT-4, while less capable than humans in many real-world scenarios, demonstrated human-level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks.

For example, he passed a mock bar exam with a score in the top 10% of test takers. In contrast, the GPT-3.5 score was down about 10%.

surpasses past models

One of the early users of GPT-4 is Casetext, maker of CoCounsel, an AI legal assistant that it says has been able to pass both the multiple-choice and written portions of the Uniform Bar Exam.

“GPT-4 surpasses the power of earlier language models,” Pablo Arredondo, CaseText’s co-founder and chief innovation officer, said in a statement. “The model’s ability not only to generate text, but to interpret it, is nothing less than a new era in the practice of law.”

“CaseText’s Co-Counsel is changing how law is done by automating important, time-intensive tasks and freeing up our attorneys to focus on the most impactful aspects of the practice,” said Frank Ryan, U.S. President of global law firm DLA Piper. how to practice.” Press release.

OpenAI reported that it spent six months aligning GPT-4 using lessons learned from its adversarial testing program as well as ChatGPT, resulting in its best-ever results for — though not perfect — factuality, Maneuverability and refusal to go outside the handrail.

It added that the GPT-4 training run was phenomenally stable. It was the company’s first major model capable of making accurate predictions ahead of time about its training performance.

“As we continue to focus on reliable scaling,” it wrote, “we aim to sharpen our methodologies to help predict and prepare for future capabilities — Something we consider important for security.”


OpenAI notes that the difference between GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 can be subtle. The difference emerges when the complexity of the task reaches a sufficient extent, it explained. GPT-4 is more reliable and creative and can handle more granular instructions than GPT-3.5.

GPT-4 is also more customizable than its predecessor. OpenAI explained that instead of the classic ChatGPT personality with a certain verbosity, tone, and style, developers — and soon ChatGPT users — can now set the style and function of their AI by describing those directions in a “system” message. System messaging APIs allow users to customize their users’ experience within significant limits.

API users will initially have to wait to try that feature, however, as their access to GPT-4 will be restricted by a waiting list.

OpenAI acknowledged that despite its capabilities, GPT-4 has the same limitations as earlier GPT models. Most importantly, it is still not completely reliable. It “hallucinates” facts and makes logical errors.

Great care should be taken when using language model outputs, especially in high-stakes contexts, OpenAI warned.

GPT-4 can also be overconfident in its predictions, not paying attention to double-checking work when there is a possibility of error.

T2V absent

Anticipation for a new release of GPT was halted over the weekend after a Microsoft executive in Germany suggested that text-to-video capability would be part of the final package.

“We will introduce GPT-4 next week, where we have multimodal models that will offer completely different possibilities – for example, video,” Andreas Braun, Microsoft’s chief technology officer in Germany, said at a press event on Friday.

Text-to-video will be very disruptive, said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“It could dramatically change how movies and TV shows are made, how news programs are formatted by providing a mechanism for user customization,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Enderle said an early use of the technology could be in creating storyboards from script drafts. “As this technology matures, it will move into something closer to a finished product.”

video dissemination

The content created by text-to-video applications is still basic, noted Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a news, commentary and analysis website.

“But text-to-video has the potential to be disruptive in the sense that we’ll see a lot more video content generated for little or almost no cost,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The quality and effectiveness of that video is a different matter,” he continued. “But I suspect some of it will be decent.”

Explainers and basic how-to information are good candidates for text-to-video, he said.

“I could imagine that some agencies would use this to create videos for SMBs to use on their sites or YouTube for ranking purposes,” he said.

“It won’t do well – at least at first – on any branded content,” he continued. “Social media content is another use case. You’ll see creators on YouTube use it to drive up the volume to generate views and ad revenue.

not fooled by deepfakes

As was discovered with ChatGPT, there are potential dangers to a technology like text-to-video.

“The most dangerous use cases, like all such tools, are garden-variety scams that target people with relatives or particularly vulnerable individuals or institutions,” said the Cato Institute, a policy think tank in Washington, DC. analyst Will Duffield said. ,

Duffield, however, discounted the idea of ​​using text-to-video to create effective “deepfakes”.

“When we have seen well-resourced attacks, such as the Russian deepfakes Zelensky surrendered last year, they fail because there is enough context and expectation in the world to dismiss the fake,” he explained.

“We have very well defined notions of who public figures are, what they are about, what we can expect them to do,” he continued. “So, when we see that their media is behaving in a way that is unusual, that is not in line with those expectations, we are likely to be very critical or skeptical about it.”

Companies that have established open-source program offices over the years now need more C-suite oversight to drive education, awareness, and use of open-source software. This open-source program sets the stage for an expanded role for officers.

Incorporating open-source technology gives organizations an ecosystem that expands the user base, resulting in loyalty and stickiness. It also brings with it the need for greater executive oversight of open-source initiatives. Staying on top of open-source security best practices is critically important, and disclosing and patching vulnerabilities is essential.

Javier Perez, Perforce’s chief open-source evangelist, sees a trend to drive open source in 2023. More organizations will realize that open-source software is critical to their operations and will move from consumers to participants with increased use and adoption for business-critical infrastructure.

All software now contains open-source components, but some companies don’t even know how much open source they use, he said.

More businesses are no longer the only consumers of open source. They are becoming active contributors, promoting and educating their engineering teams. Therefore, whether using completely open-source or commercial products with embedded open-source code, organizations need to pay more attention to their software license management.

How to do this requires a focus on the duties of open-source program offices. According to Perez, half of the organizations at the Software Summit run by Perforce have such executives.

“It’s becoming more popular and strategic. Talking about the strategy open-source projects companies are going to invest in,” Perez told LinuxInsider.

Threat Zones and the Role of the CISO

Despite the growing use of open source across all industries, ongoing malicious software supply chain attacks will slow open source adoption this year, warned Paul Speciale, chief marketing officer at data management firm Scality.

Malware and ransomware attacks have increased so much that the world is now infiltrated every few minutes, causing businesses millions of dollars in losses per incident and consuming untold IT cycles. He explained that we have seen security compromises in commercial software solutions, as seen in recent high-profile attacks.

“Open-source software dependency will become a growing threat vector, requiring enterprises to more carefully evaluate and test these technologies before deploying them on a large scale,” Special told LinuxInsider.

Eric Cole, a consultant at data security firm Theon Technology and former CIA professional hacker, suggested the focus this year would be on regulating the software, not unlike actions already taken by European governments.

“We will see a major shift in the CISO (chief information security officer) role, including increased hiring and firing of CISO positions,” Cole told LinuxInsider.

He predicted that the position would pivot to hiring more business-oriented individuals who can communicate with the board, rather than existing technical people who currently fill the role.

Integrated Offering Major OSS Citadel

A continued move toward modular software solutions will drive new adoption toward open source solutions in 2023, according to Moses Gutman, CEO and co-founder of machine learning operations platform developer ClearML.

MLOps teams should consider open-source infrastructure instead of being locked into long-term contracts with cloud providers. While organizations doing machine learning at hyper-scale can undoubtedly benefit from integration with their cloud providers, it forces these companies to work the way the provider wants them to work, he offered. .

“Open source provides flexible customization, cost savings, and efficiency. You can even modify open-source code to make sure it works exactly the way you want it to.” With this, it’s becoming a more viable option,” Gutman told LinuxInsider.

One of the factors slowing MLOps adoption is the overabundance of point solutions. That doesn’t mean they don’t work, he offered. But they may not integrate well together and leave gaps in the workflow.

Gutman said, “Because of that, I firmly believe that 2023 is the year the industry moves toward a unified, end-to-end platform built from modules that can be used individually and integrated seamlessly.” could.”

Open-source adoption in 2023

This year, it will become clear that open source is not just the domain of large enterprises like IBM, Google, Red Hat and Microsoft. It is now a necessity for every industry and small companies as well.

“We see a lot of banks now contributing directly to open source as they specialize. So, we see adoption across all industries. Many companies are becoming more receptive to open source and open source becoming more actively involved in maintaining and advancing the

Apple may be looking at expanding the repertoire of its popular AirPods line beyond entertainment and into the realm of health.

Speculation about giving the health chops to AirPods was fueled over the weekend by Mark Gurman, who predicted in his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg that Apple would upgrade the product over the next year or two to make it a health device.

“It’s a natural move for Apple. Fitness has been a primary focus for their wearable devices,” said Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“I think they can start taking the AirPods in a smart hearing aid direction,” he told TechNewsWorld.

There’s no question if Apple will bring health features to the AirPods, but when, maintained Julie Ask, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

“Apple plays a long game,” he told TechNewsWorld. “They have long been committed to health. And, like many consumer electronics companies, they will pursue and prioritize problems at scale where they believe they have the competitive ability to make a difference.” Is.

market opportunity

One area to which Apple has pledged significant resources is helping people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. The potential for that kind of application is enormous. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 37.3 million people in the United States have diabetes – 28.5 million adults are diagnosed with the disease and 8.5 million are undiagnosed.

Similarly, the hearing aid market could also be substantial for Apple. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 15% of American adults age 18 and older — 35.5 million people — have reported some degree of hearing loss. The institute estimates that about 28 million adults could benefit from hearing aids.

“If Apple wipes out the hearing aid market with a $300 replacement that’s more dynamic and effective, and my insurance pays for it, that’s huge,” he declared.

“There are millions of people who have moderate hearing loss, and they don’t even know it. Or if they do know it, they don’t want to admit it because people who admit they have hearing loss tend to get older. admit to, and they put a stigma on it,” Vena said.

“If Apple can incorporate smart hearing into a device like the AirPods,” he continued, “it could remove some of the stigma of wearing a hearing aid. It could be a tailwind for Apple’s product.”

History of Apple’s Health Patents

About a year ago, The Mac Observer reported that Apple had filed a patent describing advanced features for hearing aids that run on devices made for the iPhone. The patent describes a method for creating a configuration for controlling the volume of hearing aids based on environmental conditions. Those configurations can be automatically selected based on GPS and map information.

The patent for souping up the AirPods with health features goes back to at least 2014. In those years, Apple filed a patent for using the ear and a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor to monitor a person’s heart rate and mark their blood flow across the skin of the ear. It has also proposed electrocardiogram sensors, impedance cardiography, galvanic skin response, VO2 sensing and body temperature measurement.

“Today many companies are using new sensors to monitor health conditions,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, California.

“Adding the health features gives Apple and others a way to differentiate their EarPods from each other,” he told TechNewsWorld.

There’s already some hearing-aid tech in Apple’s current crop of AirPods. Live Listen, which works with Made for iPhone hearing devices connected to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, lets users stream audio, answer phone calls, adjust settings, and more.

A similar feature, Conversation Boost, is supported by Apple’s AirPods Pro. This allows an iPhone to be used as a microphone, making it easier to hear someone in a noisy environment by pointing the phone at the person you’re talking to; Their speech gets boosted when sent to the AirPods Pro device.

apple airpods pro

AirPods Pro (Image Credit: Apple)

These types of features can serve as an alternative to hearing aids. “Think about how you can change the font size on your smartphone so you don’t have to use ‘readers,'” Ask explained.

Sleep characteristics?

According to Jose Adorno, writing for BGR, it may not be necessary to wait for future AirPods versions to see health features appear on the devices as current versions of the products have the hardware to support these types of features.

“More recently, Apple turned on the HomePod mini sensor to check room temperature and humidity two years after its release, to coincide with a new HomePod announcement, which means the company may be working on a new version of the AirPods.” Might as well do the same,” he wrote.

The AirPods are already equipped with sensors – dual beamforming microphones for directional sound, inward-facing microphones for reducing background noise, skin-detecting sensors, motion-detecting accelerometers, and speech-detecting accelerometers.

“These devices are full of sensors,” ask the noted. What does this mean? You can jam more sensors into a smaller form factor and not reduce battery life while still getting more utility.

Vena said that if Apple wants to get serious about health features aimed at hearing loss, it may need to change the design of the AirPods.

“Over time, they may be able to measure the quality of a person’s hearing and give them feedback through an app, which could allow a person to take retrospective action on their hearing loss,” he said.

“It requires a different design,” he continued. “I’m not sure they can accomplish that kind of stuff without some kind of in-ear canal solution. When you start monitoring hearing properly, I don’t think there’s any mechanism in the ear canal.” You can get away with it without.

reduce device dispersion

Ask, however, it’s hard to imagine Apple moving away from its current model when it adds health features to the AirPods.

“Put them in a Pro version, charge a premium for the new hardware and then slowly migrate these features to downstream products,” he said.

“If they think they can, they will also go after the services revenue,” he added. “It could also be part of a longer-term play. As they roll out more services, maybe they’ll eventually have a large enough portfolio to get $5 to $15 a month or more from their users. Is.

By making its AirPods a dual-function device, Apple can help reduce device proliferation. “We’re at the point where we have to carry a lot of wearable devices,” Vena observed. “If Apple can get that down, that’s a big deal.”

Lenovo has been hitting it out of the park as of late. Even its smartphone unit, Motorola, has recovered, and in servers and PCs, Lenovo is a true force to be reckoned with.

But last week, Lenovo teamed up with Aston Martin to launch a new line of ThinkStation workstations, expanding its lead in that market. They’re impressive performers, using two of Intel’s most powerful CPUs and four of Nvidia’s most powerful professional graphics cards. They draw so much power that you’ll need to rewire your desk or home office to get the thing running.

Let’s talk about some of the ways Lenovo has found to get around its competitors, resulting in its growing share and generally being ranked as number one in an increasing number of categories. We’ll end with our product of the week, GrammarlyGO, a solution that adds generative AI to its automated editing product line.

The Aston Martin Workstation

This column inspired the announcement of the workstation at DreamWorks, once the most prominent reference account of the old HP. But when Meg Whitman split the company, neither HPC nor HP could bid the hybrid workstation. A significant advantage with either system, or clearly did, cause DreamWorks to flip it to Lenovo instead.

From talking to DreamWorks, it was likely the servers, not the workstations, that forced the switch. Lenovo’s early recognition of the unique performance advantage of AMD’s Threadripper platform resulted in Lenovo taking the market leadership of high-end servers, proving to be another great move by the company.

Aston Martin co-designed the workstation Lenovo launched last week. This alone is interesting. Not because Q, James Bond’s armourer, was fond of those cars (there’s an interesting backstory here), but because like Porsche and BMW, Aston Martin has become a design house contracted to design other things. May go.

Thinkstation PX, P7 and P5

From left: Thinkstation PX, P7, P5 (Image credit: Lenovo)

Like BMW, which HP has used for workstations in the past, Aston Martin is good at blending clean exterior design with optimized airflow to create an attractive, high-performance, air-cooled workstation platform. To be honest, I had it on the Aston Martin Workstation, because it’s doubtful I’ll ever be able to afford the car, the Workstation being something I can afford.

As mentioned above, the most high-performance configuration has two of Intel’s most powerful professional CPUs and four of Nvidia’s most powerful professional GPUs, which together require a 20-amp dedicated circuit to run. So, if you want incredible levels of power, you’ll probably need to pull a 20-amp dedicated circuit just so you can plug the thing in.

If you leave that workstation running, your electricity bill will skyrocket. But for those who need ultimate performance, to my knowledge, there’s nothing more powerful than what the anticipated dual-socket AMD Threadripper has to offer.

hot water cooling

DreamWorks indicated that it turned to Lenovo servers because they could be cooled with hot water. According to DreamWorks, this unique approach developed at IBM resulted in over 30% energy savings for DreamWorks’ render farms and earned the company several environmental awards.

It still amazes me that hot water cooling is unique to Lenovo, given its massive performance and cost advantages. With hot water cooling, you don’t need a water chiller, making it much less expensive to install, and you don’t get the condensate that can cause corrosion problems.

Over the years, Lenovo has developed better and faster water connections, pivoting connections that allow for easier maintenance. The resulting servers run much quieter and make server rooms more tech-friendly than they usually are.

While it still has some air-cooled components such as power supplies, the plan is to make them water-cooled, promising an ultimately nearly dead-cool server room. If you’ve never been in one, a typical server room looks like you’re inside a windstorm or vacuum cleaner. They are extremely noisy, making them undesirable places to work.

Thinkstation PX in a data center environment

The rack-optimized ThinkStation PX provides flexibility for use in both desktop and data center environments, allowing a convenient transition between the two. (Image credit: Lenovo)

It’s interesting to note that Lenovo demonstrated both what DreamWorks was using — a four-socket Intel server — and what the next generation was likely to look like — two AMD sockets and up to 4 GPU accelerators. They would have issues, given that GPUs are distributed as socketed parts. This last one suggests that there is an opportunity for AMD or some other graphics vendor (Intel?) to create a socketed GPU solution which could result in some interesting market share shifts and performance improvements.

For now, we’ll call it a lost opportunity.

generative ai

At Nvidia’s big GTC conference next week, there will be a great deal of generative AI content. DreamWorks indicated that it is gradually ramping up its generative AI capabilities, which should power these new Lenovo workstations and servers.

I expect this to be a game changer for filmmaking as these introduce increasingly capable AI physics and better allow animators to create and move characters in a film in real time, with game-like capabilities Which automatically causes clothing, hair and visual elements. Moves as if they were in the real world.

When implemented, I bet this technology will massively improve DreamWorks’ productivity and allow it to hire more animators who aren’t good at drawing but can create more balanced and interesting imagery with the help of these generative AI tools. There are strong special skills to build upon.

In short, the future for DreamWorks, thanks to suppliers like Lenovo, looks surprisingly bright!

wrapping up

Lenovo is showing tremendous strength in each of its segments. Last week, it put in a strong showing with its Aston Martin-designed workstations and warm-water-cooled servers. Lenovo channeled some of this to DreamWorks, a performance-oriented company that supported Lenovo’s claims of market-leading efficiency, cost, and performance, lending a great deal of credibility to those claims.

Frankly, I thought that James Bond’s car company designed a new line of servers, which Aston Martin uses for its car designs, was an impressive way of arguing that Lenovo not only has these The regions best value but also the most powerful and efficient. Solution.

Now, if I can just get them to lend me an Aston Martin SUV, preferably the DBX that was in the program, I’d love it.

tech product of the week

GrammarlyGO – Generative AI for the rest of us

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, is all the rage now, but these tools usually don’t integrate well with your workflow, and Microsoft hasn’t talked yet about how it plans to integrate generative AI into Office. Will implement

Last week, Grammarly announced its next-gen AI implementation, called GrammarlyGO — which should integrate with any platform that supports Grammarly, including multiple browsers, Word, and Outlook.

Using easy-to-understand notation, you can set the tone of a piece, set the theme, and notate internal elements.

GrammarlyGo Settings for Formality, Tone and Profession

GrammarlyGO will write an article or column for you, help you work through writer’s block, or compose an entire email from just a few short sentences. I hope Steve Ballmer liked that last part, because he used to treat email responses like every word he typed put his life at risk.

Existing Grammarly customers will have access to this capability in beta form starting in April, with the final version likely to be revealed by the end of the year. Using the combined Grammarly toolset should improve both the quality and quantity of your writing and allow you to get much more done in less time.

Given that this will significantly impact my productivity, GrammarlyGO is my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Spatial audio has excited the audio market ever since Apple announced movie and TV content to be supported in iOS 14 at the WWDC event in June 2020. Spatial audio essentially delivers surround sound and 3D audio through headphones via dynamic head tracking. Typically, this is not a feature found in traditional audio speakers.

Over the past two decades since its founding in 2002, Sonos has built a remarkable premium audio brand for multi-room audio products. While the smart speaker market is crowded — even at the high end — Sonos has been able to do something that some brands haven’t succeeded with, requiring customers to pay a premium for premiums and brand loyalty. Are ready.

With that as a backdrop, Sonos has focused its efforts over the past few years primarily on two product categories: portable speakers like the Move and Roam; and more expensive home theater products like the Atmos-enabled Arc and Ray soundbars. The Sonos One and Sonos Five, the company’s primary sets of music-focused speakers, still sound great, but are starting to show their age.

spatial audio capability

The Era 100 and Era 300, two new “better and better” offerings from Sonos, change that dynamic. Priced at $450, the Era 300 is the first Sonos speaker capable of playing spatial audio. In comparison, the $250 Era 100 is a completely rebuilt successor to the Sonos One, with several upgrades over its predecessor.

You can use any pair of them in stereo or as back surround speakers in a home theater setup, just as you can with other Sonos speakers. If you have a Sonos Arc or Gen-2 Beam and all, you can get an outrageous 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos experience by adding a pair of Era 300s as your rear surround — that is, as long as you’re prepared to cough. $2,600 for that setup.

Era 300 – Aaron Judge of the home audio market

The Era 300 shown above has a unique appearance compared to other Sonos speakers but adheres to the brand’s signature minimalist aesthetic.

Its slightly unique knock-over hourglass design has a practical purpose in that it enables the upward-facing tweeters to fire at a slight but precise angle, which the manufacturer claims provides more room-filling reflections for spatial audio. Will do

There are three more tweeters: two pointing left and right, one pointing forward and dead center. Lastly, there are two woofers on either side of the speaker, which deliver plenty of bass.

Era 100 — A more affordable alternative to Apple’s new HomePod

The Sonos One is acoustically similar to the Sonos Play:1 that was announced in 2013. The Era 100, on the other hand, has more solid updates.

With its $250 price point, the Era 100 is an affordable alternative to Apple’s latest HomePod, and it represents a significant upgrade over the Sonos Play:1. The Era 100 has a woofer that is 25% larger than the One and a pair of tweeters providing left and right stereo channels in a single speaker.

sonos era 100 speaker

Era 100 Speaker (Image Credit: Sonos)

Even though it lacks the spatial audio capabilities of the Era 300, it represents a significant improvement over the earlier model.

Despite their wide array of features and price points, these speakers have a lot in common. With an optional line-in adapter, you can connect a turntable or other audio equipment to both via their USB-C connections. This capability is a major advantage over Apple’s HomePods (both the latest model and the HomePod Mini) as both the Era 100 and Era 300 can also serve as external PC speakers. However, that usage model is clearly too narrow.

new enhancements

It’s worth noting that both the Era 100 and Era 300 mark the first time Sonos has included Bluetooth in a non-portable speaker, which is a must. These speakers also feature newly revamped touch controls on the top, so you can now swipe your finger up a small ridge instead of tapping either side of the play/pause button, in addition to dedicated forward and back buttons to change the volume .

In addition, Sonos provided a physical switch to turn off the microphone rather than simply muting it via software. This welcome approach actively disconnects it for added security.

The Era 100 and Era 300’s exclusive TruePlay tuning feature, which measures how sound reflects off walls, furnishings and other surfaces, uses these mics to tailor audio based on where you set up the speakers in your home. Can also do to increase. TruePlay was announced by Sonos in 2015, reflecting the company’s desire to optimize audio quality in different home environments.

As a mobile phone app, Trueplay previously required an iOS device for setup. Android users were out of luck because although Sonos has installed integrated microphones in its speakers for several years, TruePlay was incompatible with Android devices.

TruePlay makes a significant difference, and this new capability means that many more people, especially Android users, will likely have access to it.

Summary of the Era of Sonos speakers

Keeping competitors apart, Sonos firmly believes that spatial audio is how music playback will evolve in the future. The company’s leadership claimed that a) the Era 300 would be the definitive way to hear the finer points of spatial audio mixes without the need for a room full of audio equipment and b) that artists and producers were highly interested in the format.

A single speaker can only deliver so much, no matter how sophisticated its driver array. Looking at the streaming audio landscape on a higher level, it’s likely that the big hitters — Spotify, YouTube Music, and other services — will likely start supporting spatial audio sooner rather than later. However, for spatial music the only two services compatible with the Era 300 for now are Amazon and Apple.

Even when playing stereo mixes, the Era 300 should be an excellent speaker. The 300 will be a more niche offering in the company’s lineup, similar to the excellent but higher-priced Sonos Five speakers. Still, it makes sense that if the spatial audio wave is about to begin then the Sonos Play would be ready to trend the developing spatial audio market rather than catchup.

Early media reports of the Era 300 indicate that it produces a distinctive sound. Given my experience with Sonos products, I expect audio quality to be superb, though I’ll reserve judgment until I get a chance to use them.

It should be pointed out that Sonos first proved its worth by reproducing standard audio, and compared to the Era 100, the 300 has much more volume, bass, and presence. Given that it costs $200 more and has twice as many drivers, expect audio quality to be second to none.

closing thoughts

One of the main reasons that Sonos has been successful in the highly competitive home entertainment speaker market is that it has made no compromises when it comes to speaker development.

While the speaker space has become inundated with sub-$100 solutions that are often designed to control the smart home, Sonos has spent its resources avoiding that quagmire to differentiate itself. In that sense, it’s unfair to compare the new Era 100 and 300 against the Apple HomePod, as Sonos’ products are unabashedly focused on providing world-class audio experiences — though both new Sonos speakers integrate Amazon Alexa support.

All that said, the adoption of spatial audio is a leadership opportunity for the company. The Era 300 can be seen as the first salvo in its efforts to raise the bar in the premium audio space.

The Era 100 and Era 300 have black or white color options. Both are expected to ship on March 28 and are available for preorder now on the Sonos Shop.