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Layoffs Hitting Alexa Unit at Amazon Fails to Disrupt Project



The ongoing layoffs at e-commerce giant company Amazon, which has seen most of its employees at the Alexa unit affected have not in any way disrupted the cloud-based voice service project.

Amazon is currently laying off employees in its corporate and tech workforce, as the company has let go of workers in several divisions such as Alexa and the Luna cloud gaming unit.

The company’s devices and services organizations which oversee the development of products such as Echo Smart speakers, Kindle E-readers, and Alexa were among the group majorly affected.

However, despite the mass layoffs of workers at the aforementioned units, Amazon’s hardware chief David Limp has disclosed that the company is still committed to Alexa despite the wave of job cuts at the unit.

Speaking on the Alexa project, its hardware chief said,

“What we did is we looked at projects that were probably, in this uncertainty, the risk-reward for those projects and what they might deliver for customers wasn’t quite there. Part of that was in Alexa, part of that was in other parts of my organization.”

“Still, Amazon remains fully committed to the Alexa unit despite the company taking steps to be more disciplined with costs in a very uncertain economy. There are still thousands and thousands of people working on this project. It’s a big project.”

Amazon Alexa, also known simply as Alexa, is a virtual assistant technology largely based on a Polish speech synthesizer named Ivona, bought by Amazon in 2013.

The cloud-based voice service can control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system.

Users are also able to extend the Alexa capabilities by installing skills (additional functionality developed by third-party vendors, in other settings more commonly called apps) such as weather programs and audio features.

It uses automatic speech recognition, natural language processing, and other forms of weak AI to perform tasks.

As of November 2018, Amazon had more than 10,000 employees working on Alexa and other related products. In January 2019, the company’s devices team announced that they had sold over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices. On September 2019, if announced that Alexa will soon be able to mimic celebrities’ voices.

Meanwhile, Investors King understands that Amazon plans to inform employees who will lose their jobs starting January 18, 2023.

Last year in November, Amazon initially planned to lay off 10,000 workers, but as the global economic outlook continues to worsen, it disclosed that it has been forced to increase the number of its workforce that will be laid off.

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Microsoft Integrates OpenAI’s GPT-4 Language Model Into Bing



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American multinational tech company Microsoft has integrated OpenAI’s GPT-4 model into its online search engine Bing to enhance users’ experience.

At a press event held yesterday in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft announced the introduction of the AI feature to provide users with a Chat-GPT-like experience.

With this update introduced to Bing, the tech giant search engine will now allow users to Chat with it to get more detailed answers to search queries.

Present at the event was OpenAI CEO and ChatGPT maker Sam Altman who confirmed that Microsoft is making use of its GPT technology to power some of its new Software, which is quite similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Microsoft which also launched a new version of its Edge browser with some AI features built into it, revealed that it will roll out for desktops in a limited review, which implies that users will only get a limited number of queries to search during the initial period.

The tech giant further revealed that a waitlist will be made available for the full version, which will subsequently be rolled out to millions of people in the coming weeks. The company also disclosed plans to launch a mobile version of Bing.

The new Bing now features the option to start a chat in its toolbar, which then brings users to a ChatGPT-like conversational experience.

It is interesting to note that while OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot was trained on data that only covers 2021, Bing’s version is far more up-to-date and can handle queries related to far more recent events (think today, not 2021).

Reports reveal that Microsoft hopes for a more conversational search experience in which a bot provides contextual replies based on search queries.

Microsoft stressed that it is using a new version of GPT that is able to provide more relevant answers, and provide up-to-date results, while providing a safer user experience.

Investors King understands that with the introduction of AI feature into Bing, Microsoft seeks to dominate the web search.

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Flutterwave Receives PSP, Payments Facilitator Licenses in Egypt




Nigeria’s leading fintech giant, Flutterwave has received two licenses in Egypt as it moves to deepen payments in Africa and connect the continent to the rest of the world.

The company, in a short note from its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Co-founder, Olugbenga GB Agboola, announced that Egypt Government had approved the Payment Services Provider license and Payments Facilitator license for its operations in the North African nation.

He said “I’m so proud to announce that we (Flutterwave) have accomplished a major milestone in our journey as we obtained our Payment Services Provider and Payments Facilitator licenses in Egypt 🇪🇬.

“Our vision is to connect all major parts of Africa through payments and further connect Africa to the world and this new license is yet another step in that direction.

“Truly, this is big news for our customers, partners, investors, and other stakeholders.

“I am excited to see how this new license helps us provide first-class payment services and seamlessly connect businesses to their customers in Egypt 🇪🇬.”

Founded in 2016 with the aim of making it easier for people in Africa to pay and get paid, both locally and globally. Flutterwave’s main products is its payment gateway, which enables businesses to accept payments from customers through a variety of channels, including debit and credit cards, bank transfers, Paypal and mobile money. The payment gateway is secure and reliable, with 24/7 support and dispute resolution services.

Another important product offered by Flutterwave is its Rave platform, which enables businesses to send and receive payments, as well as manage their finances, in a single place. Rave integrates with popular e-commerce platforms and offers a range of features, including invoicing, recurring payments, and currency conversion.

Flutterwave also provides individuals with financial services through its Barter platform. Barter allows users to make payments, transfer money, and pay bills from their mobile devices. The platform is easy to use and supports multiple currencies, making it ideal for people who travel frequently or who need to send money to friends and family abroad.

In addition to its core products, Flutterwave has a range of partnerships and integrations with companies and organizations that provide complementary services, such as e-commerce platforms, payment processors, and financial institutions. This helps to create a seamless experience for users, as well as providing businesses with a range of options to choose from when setting up their payment systems.

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All You Need to Know About Google’s AI Chatbot “Bard”



A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Bard is Google’s soon-to-be-launched AI search assistant that will work in the background of search queries to provide in-depth information on users’ results.

Bard was rolled out by the tech giant earlier this month, in response to OpenAI Chatbot ChatGPT which is currently the rave of the moment, that has amassed over 1 million users daily.

Bard is reported to be Google’s first shot at ChatGPT as it seeks to compete with the chatbot, as well as possibly displace it.

What Powers Bard?

Bard is powered by a language model to enable it to converse with humans efficiently. The Chatbot uses a language model for dialogue applications (LaMDA) as its model.

LaMDA is a type of Large Language Model (LLM), which are software algorithms trained on huge amounts of data, usually measured in terabytes.

Although they are most well known as the software that powers chatbots, LLMs can also be used to do things such as scanning scientific databases to learn about the structure of medicines.

How Does Bard Work?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a blog post, disclosed that Bard draws information from the web to provide fresh and high-quality responses. Like ChatGPT, Google’s Bard will initially only answer text prompts with its written replies.

He further disclosed that the AI chatbot can be an outlet for creativity and a launchpad for curiosity, which will help users to explain different discoveries or get in-depth knowledge about certain information.

The company further added that Bard will also let users do things like “plan a friend’s baby shower”, “compare two Oscar-nominated movies, or “get lunch ideas based on what’s in your fridge”.

When Will Bard be Released?

Google has revealed that Bard will be rolled out in the coming weeks, which will come on a lightweight model version of LaMDA, noting that this will enable it to scale the chatbot to more people as the much smaller model requires significantly less computing power.

Google will open up the conversation technology to trusted testers ahead of making it more widely available to the public.

The tech giant further disclosed that the initial launch of Bard will be in a testing phase, as it seeks to combine its external feedback with its internal testing, noting that this was necessary as chatbots have shown a propensity for negative traits that include everything from bias to powering cyberattacks.

Google has assured users that soon they will see AI-powered features in search that will distill complex information and multiple perspectives in easy-to-digest formats, to enable them to learn more from the web, Investors King understands.

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