An illustration of Drake, the Canadian rapper, with headphones on wearing camo

Tech News Roundup: AI-generated Song Removed, Instagram's Latest Update, Google's Merger, and More

Apr 21, 2023
Calculating reading time...

Welcome to our weekly tech news roundup. We've curated the top stories from the past week, ranging from copyright disputes to A.I. stock price predictors.

Universal Music successfully removes AI-generated song from streaming platforms

A viral AI-generated song that imitated the voices of popular musicians Drake and The Weeknd has been removed from major streaming platforms following a copyright infringement complaint filed by Universal Music Group (UMG). The song, "Heart on My Sleeve," was created by a user named Ghostwriter977 and gained rapid popularity, amassing over 15 million streams on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music.

UMG's argument is that training generative AI on an artist's music breaches their agreements and violates copyright law. The company is urging the music industry to choose “which side of history they want to be on”: the side of artists, fans, and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud, and denying artists their rightful compensation.

This incident raises larger questions about the future of AI-generated content and the current legal ambiguity surrounding such works. Since copyright law does not explicitly address generative AI, some legal experts have questioned whether the label or artists should have a claim at all, given that the song is an entirely original creation that the artists never wrote or performed.

Instagram's new update threatens Linktree and Link-in-Bio companies

Mark Zuckerberg announced this week that Instagram users will now be able to add up to five links to their bio, which is a game-changer for creators who previously relied on third-party companies like Linktree to gather links to various platforms. This update has been met with enthusiasm from creators who are now able to seamlessly integrate external links into their Instagram profiles, without having to rely on Linktree or similar companies. However, this move by Meta, Instagram's parent company, could potentially threaten the existence of link-in-bio companies.

To many, this was a predictable move as Meta has been experimenting with payment features on Instagram, such as subscription services and verification. Allowing multiple links was a natural progression and may even be monetized in the future. Many users pay for link-in-bio services, making it a profitable market that Meta deemed worthy of tapping into.

While some experts speculate that companies like Linktree and will survive due to their additional features, such as customizable layouts and advanced data offerings, there is still a need for link-in-bio services on other platforms such as TikTok, which has a limit on the number of links that can be used.

If Instagram's link-in-bio service proves to be popular, Meta is likely to add analytics to it based on user feedback. However, it's important to note that not all of Meta's projects come to fruition.

Google Merges DeepMind and Google Brain Teams to Form Google DeepMind

Google this week announced the merger of DeepMind and the Brain team from Google Research to form a new entity called Google DeepMind. The main objective behind this move is to fast-track the development of artificial intelligence and create more capable and safer AI systems. The new unit will work towards delivering AI products and research that can revolutionize industries, advance science, and serve communities from all walks of life.

To oversee the research progress and direction of the new entity, a Scientific Board for Google DeepMind will be established. Koray Kavukcuoglu will head this board, with members drawn from various orgs. The likes of Jeff Dean, Koray Kavukcuoglu, Zoubin Ghahramani, Shane Legg and Demis Hassabis will come together in the coming days to finalize the board's composition.

Imgur is the latest platform to ban all NSFW content

Imgur, the popular image hosting site used by many Reddit users, has announced that it will soon ban all nudity and sexually explicit content. The new policy, which comes into effect on May 15, 2023, not only prevents users from uploading new adult content, but also includes the removal of existing adult content on the site.

The new policy brings Imgur's Terms of Service in line with its Community Guidelines. Imgur previously allowed NSFW subreddits, age-gated adult content, and made it hidden, but did not remove or prevent people from posting adult content. Imgur stated that explicit and illegal content poses a risk to its community and its business, and that the new policy will protect the future of the Imgur community. While the change may be disruptive to some users, it is an important step in keeping Imgur a safe and fun space on the internet.

The policy change is part of a growing trend of platforms cracking down on pornographic content. Other platforms, such as Linktree and Tumblr, have also banned adult content in recent years and even OnlyFans, the platform known mostly for adult content, flirted with going fully SFW before making a u-turn.

ChatGPT can help predict stock prices

According to Alejandro Lopez-Lira, a finance professor at the University of Florida, large language models such as ChatGPT may be capable of predicting stock prices. In a recent experiment, Lopez-Lira used ChatGPT to analyze news headlines to determine whether they were positive or negative for a particular stock, and found that the model was able to predict the direction of a stock's returns the following day better than random. This highlights the potential of artificial intelligence to display "emergent abilities," capabilities that were not initially intended when the models were built.

However, the experiment also demonstrated the limitations of large language models. It did not include target prices or involve any mathematical calculations, and ChatGPT-style technology often generates incorrect numerical values. Additionally, sentiment analysis of headlines is a difficult endeavour for even the most advanced systems.

Lopez-Lira was surprised by the results of the experiment, indicating that sophisticated investors are not currently using ChatGPT-style machine learning in their trading strategies. The experiment involved over 50,000 headlines from a data vendor about public stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and small-cap exchange. The model did better in nearly all cases when informed by a news headline, with less than a 1% chance of performing as well when picking the next day’s move at random.

U.S. tech startups hit by massive tax bills

Small businesses in the tech and software world across the US are facing massive income tax bills that rose by as much as 400%, according to CNBC. Congress failed to extend a key tax provision last year, which allows for full expensing of research and development costs under Section 174 of the tax code.

This affects small businesses who are required to amortise R&D costs over a period of five years. Industry success relies on the contribution of software talent, but when that cost overwhelms cash flow and profits, it makes the business model untenable. Developers are expensive and companies could fully expense those costs as R&D in 2021.

Software startups say many businesses will not survive for long and are already being forced to take out expensive loans, ask investors for more money in a miserable VC market, freeze hiring, and consider staffing reductions. Many scientific startups working on early-stage innovations across industries are also facing huge tax bills and have been sounding alarm bells about potential bankruptcies.

Small businesses are optimistic that a fix will be made, but it has to come quickly.

Samsung may replace Google with Bing as default search engine due to better A.I. integration

Samsung is considering replacing Google as the default search engine on its devices with Bing, following Microsoft's successful integration of OpenAI technology into its web search and other products. Google is racing to release its own AI products to rival ChatGPT, but it has had a shaky start.

Samsung's partnership with Google is currently worth $3 billion, but Google could pay as much as $20 billion for a similar contract with Apple that is up for renewal in 2023. The contract is still being negotiated, and it is unclear whether Microsoft's AI integration was the primary reason for Samsung to reconsider its partnership with Google, but Google employees believed that to be the case.

Google is working on its own AI-powered search engine, known as "Project Magi," which would learn what people want to know based on their searches and offer a list of URLs for articles, products, and other data in response to queries. It would act as a chatbot with conversations, keeping ads among search results to maintain Google's revenue.

Reddit will begin charging for access to its popular API

Reddit has announced that it will begin charging for use of its application programming interface (API). The decision follows Twitter's move to restrict third-party access to its data by charging up to $2.5million a year for access to its own API.

While Reddit's API will remain free for developers who wish to build apps and bots, and researchers studying Reddit for non-commercial or academic purposes, companies that "crawl" Reddit for data and do not return any value to users will have to pay.

Reddit co-founder and CEO, Steve Huffman, said the API's value comes from its continuous updates and the site's "authentic conversation." Reddit is looking for ways to monetize its user-generated content, which has been used to train text-generating machine learning models, including OpenAI's ChatGPT and GPT-4.

The move could also be linked to Reddit's potential initial public offering later this year, and shareholders may look for growth or new revenue streams. The company was valued at around $10 billion in 2021, and its $350 million ad revenue from two years ago pales in comparison to Meta's $113 billion and Twitter's nearly $7 billion.

Reddit also plans to incorporate more artificial intelligence (AI) into its site operations, identifying AI-generated text and improving moderation tools and third-party bots.


If you enjoyed reading about the latest tech news, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly updates straight to your inbox. Stay ahead of the curve and be the first to know about emerging trends and cutting-edge technology.

Marc Crouch
Marc Crouch
Writes about startups, strategy, growth marketing and technology. Occasionally rants about things, but usually in an entertaining way.