- This regular round-up brings you compelling digital technology stories from the last fortnight.
- Top digital technology news: Meta is developing AI chatbots for social media apps; China announces Global AI Governance Initiative; Internet companies fight off biggest-ever denial-of-service attack.
1. Social media meets AI with new chatbots from Meta
Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook users will soon be able to interact with almost 30 AI chatbots being introduced by Meta to transform their social media user experience.
Many of the AI assistants come in the form of celebrity avatars. They are played by personalities including rapper Snoop Dog, sports legend Tom Brady, media personality Kendal Jenner and tennis player Naomi Osaka.
Meta says the AIs will enable users to immerse themselves in new forms of connection and expression as well as being more creative and expressive.
The AI assistants will be introduced gradually, with guardrails built in to ensure they are safe and trustworthy, Meta says. For example, images created or edited with AI will be clearly labelled “to reduce the chances of people mistaking them for human-generated content”.
2. China announces Global AI Governance Initiative
At the third Belt and Road Forum this week, China proposed a framework to promote the ‘healthy, orderly and safe’ development of artificial intelligence, as described by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The initiative called for countries to maintain mutual respect in the development of this technology, meaning every nation should have ‘equal rights’.
The Cyberspace Administration of China has led work around the initiative, and described AI as bringing big opportunities but also ‘unpredictable risks and complicated challenges’.
“As global peace and development faces various challenges, all countries should commit to a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and put equal emphasis on development and security,” it said.
The initiative envisions a ‘people-centred approach’ in developing AI, where tackling climate change or preventing the misuse of technologies by criminal groups is prioritised.
The World Economic Forum has brought together governments, businesses, startups and civil society into its Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Network.
It promotes public-private collaboration in the development of policy frameworks and pilots new approaches to technology regulation and adoption to ensure it benefits people and the planet.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the network has centres in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Colombia, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. It has also launched a thematic centre on the ocean, based in Norway.
The network is playing a vital role in shaping the governance of emerging technologies at a local, national and regional level.
Read more about the Network impact
3. News in brief: Digital technology stories from around the world
Microsoft has completed its $69 billion takeover of UK-based gaming giant Activision Blizzard. The UK Government dropped its opposition to the buyout after Microsoft agreed to sell off streaming rights that had caused concerns over anti-competitive practices. Activision Blizzard is behind some of the world’s best-selling games, including Call of Duty. Posting on X (formerly known as Twitter), Microsoft’s head of the Xbox gaming platform called the takeover “a good day to play”.
Internet companies including Amazon, Google and Cloudflare, say they have fought off the biggest-ever distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in history. According to Reuters, Google said the attack was more than seven times bigger than the previous record-breaking attack which occurred in 2022. DDoS attacks impact servers and crash websites by targeting them with millions of data requests per second.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced plans to explore the potential benefits and risks of using AI models like ChatGPT in its data-heavy operations. In a blog post, the ECB says, “AI offers new ways for us to collect, clean, analyze and interpret this wealth of available data, so that the insights can feed into the work of areas like statistics, risk management, banking supervision and monetary policy analysis.”
Australia and Fiji have announced a new partnership to enhance cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific region. Fiji has shelved a plan to work with China, instead opting to boost ties with Australia.
The password-sharing ban imposed by Netflix has seen the number of subscribers grow by around 6 million, according to Reuters. The streaming service is considering its subscription pricing with some commentators expecting prices to rise.
TikTok has said it will shut down e-commerce trading in Indonesia to comply with new regulations. The Indonesian government said it had imposed the ban on social media e-commerce to protect traders in traditional markets and shops.
4. More about technology on Agenda
Digital technology has the potential to help reduce global emissions by up to 20%. Lowering emissions produced by the hard-to-abate sectors, including energy, materials and mobility will be crucial in getting to net zero.
Meeting the food needs of a constantly growing global population requires sustainable food production for both the planet and society. Digital technology has the potential to increase crop yields and farming efficiency while creating more effective and transparent food supply chains.
Preparing for future pandemics is another area where digital technology can help to ensure the world can react effectively in the event of future outbreaks. This article explores seven ways in which technology can assist public sector decision-makers facing critical choices.