technology updates 29 | 02 | 2024

Uncovering February Tech Updates & Insights

Technology has a way of slipping seamlessly into our lives – we use it so often that we forget to stop and think about its capabilities. Today, technology helps us cure diseases, improve transportation, and tailor our experiences.

Here’s a glimpse into several updates and developments in technology that have continued to transform our world:

#1 Bard Rebranding into Gemini

Google rebranded the AI model Bard to Gemini with a more simplified and advanced approach to AI. Google Gemini is a new challenger to OpenAI’s dominance that emerged recently to compete with GPT-4. The chatbot comes as a multimodal AI tool capable of handling various forms of input and output, including text, code, audio, images, and video, allowing users to perform a wide range of tasks.

The product is available in different forms: Access to Gemini Assistant is possible through a free Android or IOS app or as a business productivity application called Gemini for Workspace. There is also a paid version: Gemini Advanced, a subscription service that offers access to a more powerful LLM called Gemini Ultra. Google One AI Premium users get additional benefits with this version.

#2 Gemma New Open-Source AI Model

Google released Gemma an open-source AI model based on the technology behind Google Gemini. This allows developers to create their chatbots and tools.

Here are the key points about Gemma:

  • Open-source: Anyone can access and modify Gemma to build their own AI applications.
  • Focuses on responsible development: Gemma is pre-trained to filter out sensitive information and uses feedback to reduce harmful content generation.
  • Designed for accessibility: Requires minimal hardware (CPU or GPU) and can be run on a local machine like a laptop.

This launch signifies Google’s commitment to promoting responsible AI development while offering accessible tools for creators. It contrasts with OpenAI’s approach, which often prioritizes features over initial safeguards.

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#3 Incoming Windows Upgrade: New OS, AI Power Expected Mid-2024

Midway through 2024, the next generation of Windows is anticipated to be released, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon shared, coinciding with the release of laptops powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chip. Windows 12 or Windows 11 24H2 is an undetermined moniker for the forthcoming operating system, but it will probably be a substantial update constructed on a new platform known as Germanium.

Germanium seeks to improve the security and efficacy of AI-powered personal computers. Beginning with newly produced laptops, the new Windows operating system is scheduled to be upgraded for existing Windows 11 users later in the year, possibly as late as September 2024.

#4 Humanoid Robot Startup Raised 675$ Million

Figure, a Bay Area robotics company, has raised a massive $675 million Series B funding round, valuing the startup at $2.6 billion. This impressive funding comes from major players like Microsoft, OpenAI, Amazon, and Nvidia, reflecting the current hype surrounding humanoid robots.

Figure aims to develop robots for industrial applications, focusing on warehouses and factories before targeting the home consumer market. The company recently partnered with OpenAI to utilize advanced AI models for more natural communication between robots and humans.

Despite the significant progress and funding, Figure’s robot is still in its early stages. The current model operates slowly and deliberately, highlighting the challenges in achieving true autonomy and handling various real-world situations. However, the company’s partnership with BMW suggests potential real-world deployments soon.


#5 EU Parliament Bans Amazon Over Labor Concerns

Amazon has been banned from the European Parliament for refusing to attend a hearing about working conditions in its warehouses and declining MEPs’ requests to visit fulfillment centers. This is the second company ever to be banned, following Monsanto in 2017.

The ban stems from Amazon’s lack of cooperation with the European Parliament, which MEPs consider disrespectful. Amazon claims it has extended invitations to visit its facilities, but MEPs argue these offers were disingenuous and came too late.

The ban is seen as a significant political message and could be extended to other Big Tech companies in the future. It is unlikely to be lifted before the upcoming EU elections, but Amazon can still lobby individual MEPs outside the Parliament.

#6 Layoffs Hit Industry Despite Strong Growth

The tech industry, despite experiencing strong growth and high revenue, is facing a wave of layoffs exceeding 34,000 employees (about twice the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden). This is a significant shift for an industry known for rapid expansion and job security.

Several factors seem to be contributing to the layoffs:

  • Overhiring during the pandemic: Tech companies significantly boosted their workforce to meet the surge in demand during the pandemic. However, as the situation stabilizes, the need for such a large workforce might not be sustainable.
  • Anticipation of a recession: Concerns about a potential economic downturn are prompting companies to tighten their budgets and potentially reduce their workforce.
  • The rise of AI: Automation through AI could potentially replace some human jobs in the tech industry, contributing to layoffs.

These layoffs have impacted major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Meta, raising questions about the future of the industry and its traditional identity.

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#7 Quantum Leap: Progress in Quantum Paves the Way for a Transformative Future

Quantum computing has seen significant advancements recently, including the achievement of quantum supremacy by Google’s 53-qubit Sycamore processor in 2019, marking a historic milestone. Also, industry leaders such as IBM and Rigetti Computing have exhibited quantum hardware prowess, suggesting that the field is maturing. Additionally, the rise of quantum cloud services, introduced by companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Rigetti, is democratizing access to quantum processors, accelerating research and development in the field.

The evolution of quantum hardware is complemented by a thriving quantum software ecosystem, with companies like IBM, Google, and Microsoft actively contributing to the development of quantum programming languages, algorithms, and software tools. However, challenges such as quantum decoherence and the need for low-temperature environments persist, hindering the scalability of quantum processors for practical, real-world problems.

Despite these difficulties, quantum computing has a wide range of revolutionary potential uses, from optimizing intricate financial and logistical systems to modeling chemical structures for drug development. Quantum computing has the power to revolutionize various industries and redefine the limits of computation and problem-solving. However, ethical considerations, such as privacy concerns and the impact on AI development, must also be addressed as quantum computing continues to advance.

Reach out to the Agiliway if you have any questions or ideas for custom software development. We are glad to have new opportunities and help you get results.

READ ALSO: Telemedicine’s Role in Resolving Healthcare Challenges

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