ChatGPT is getting human-like memory and this might be the first big step toward General AI

ChatGPT is becoming more like your most trusted assistant, remembering not just what you've told it about yourself, your interests, and preferences, but applying those memories in future chats. It's a seemingly small change that may make the generative AI appear more human and, perhaps, pave the way for General AI, which is where an AI brain can operate more like the gray matter in your head.

OpenAI announced the limited test in a blog post on Tuesday, explaining that it's testing the ability of ChatGPT (in both the free version and ChatGPT Plus) to remember what you tell it across all chats. 

ChatGPT can with this update remember casually, just picking up interesting bits along the way, like my preference for peanut butter on cinnamon raisin bagels, or what you explicitly tell it to remember. 

The benefit of ChatGPT having a memory is that new conversations with ChatGPT no longer start from scratch. A fresh prompt could have, for the AI, implied context. A ChatGPT with memory becomes more like a useful assistant who knows how you like your coffee in the morning or that you never want to schedule meetings before 10 AM.

In practice, OpenAI says that the memory will be applied to future prompts. If you tell ChatGPT that you have a three-year-old who loves giraffes, subsequent birthday card ideation chats might result in card ideas featuring a giraffe.

ChatGPT won't simply parrot back its recollections of your likes and interests, but will instead use that information to work more efficiently for you.

It can remember

Some might find an AI that can remember multiple conversations and use that information to help you a bit off-putting. That's probably why OpenAI is letting people easily opt out of the memories by using the “Temporary Chat” mode, which will seem like you're introducing a bit of amnesia to ChatGPT.

Similar to how you can remove Internet history from your browser, ChatGPT will let you go into settings to remove memories (I like to think of this as targeted brain surgery) or you can conversationally tell ChatGPT to forget something.

For now, this is a test among some free and ChatGPT Plus users but OpenAI offered no timeline for when it will roll out ChatGPT memories to all users. I didn't find the feature live in either my free ChatGPT or Plus subscription.

OpenAI is also adding Memory capabilities to its new app-like GPTs, which means developers can build the capability into bespoke chatty AIs. Those developers will not be able to access memories stored within the GPT.

Too human?

An AI with long-term memory is a dicier proposition than one that has a transient, at best, recall of previous conversations. There are, naturally, privacy implications. If ChatGPT is randomly memorizing what it considers interesting or relevant bits about you, do you have to worry about your details appearing in someone else's ChatGPT conversations? Probably not. OpenAI promises that memories will be excluded from ChatGPT's training data.

OpenAI adds in its blog, “We're taking steps to assess and mitigate biases, and steer ChatGPT away from proactively remembering sensitive information, like your health details – unless you explicitly ask it to.” That might help but ChatGPT must understand the difference between useful and sensitive info, a line that might not always be clear.

This update could ultimately have significant implications. ChatGPT can in prompt-driven conversations already seem somewhat human, but its hallucinations and fuzzy memories about, sometimes, even how the conversation started make it clear that more than a few billion neurons still separate us.

Memories, especially information delivered casually back to you throughout ChatGPT conversations, could change that perception. Our relationships with other people are driven in large part by our shared experiences and memories of them. We use them to craft our interactions and discussions. It's how we connect. Surely, we'll end up feeling more connected to a ChatGPT that can remember our distaste of spicy food and our love of all things Rocky Balboa.

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink has performed its first human brain implant, and we’re a step closer to having phones inside our heads

Neuralink, Elon Musk's brain interface company, achieved a significant milestone this week, with Musk declaring on X (formerly Twitter), “The first human received an implant from yesterday and is recovering well.”

Driven by concerns that AI might soon outpace (or outthink) humans, Musk first proposed the idea of a brain-to-computer interface, then called Neural Lace, back in 2016. envisioning an implant that could overcome limitations inherent in human-to-computer interactions. Musk claimed that an interface that could read brain signals and deliver them directly to digital systems would massively outpace our typical keyboard and mouse interactions.

Four years later, Musk demonstrated early clinical trials with an uncooperative pig, and in 2021 the company installed the device in a monkey that used the interface to control a game of Pong.

It was, in a sense, all fun and games – until this week, and Musk's claim of a human trial and the introduction of some new branding.

Neuralink's first product is now called 'Telepathy' which, according to another Musk tweet, “Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking.”

As expected, these brain implants are not, at least for now, intended for everyone. Back in 2020, Musk explained that the intention is “to solve important spine and brain problems with a seamlessly implanted device.” Musk noted this week that “Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.”

Neural link devices like Telepathy are bio-safe implants comprising small disk-like devices (roughly the thickness of four coins stuck together) with ultra-fine wires trailing out of them that connect to various parts of the brain. The filaments read neural spikes, and a computer interface interprets them to understand the subject's intentions and translate them into action on, say, a phone, or a desktop computer. In this first trial, Musk noted that “Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” but he didn't elaborate on whether the patient was able to control anything with his mind.

Musk didn't describe the surgical implantation process. Back in 2020, though, Neuralink introduced its Link surgery robot, which it promised would implant the Neuralink devices with minimal pain, blood, and, we're guessing, trauma. Considering that the implant is under the skin and skull, and sits on the brain, we're not sure how that's possible. It's also unclear if Neuralink used Link to install 'Telepathy.'

The new branding is not that far-fetched. While most people think of telepathy as people transmitting thoughts to one another, the definition is “the communication of thoughts or ideas by means other than the known senses.”

A phone in your head

Still, Musk has a habit of using hyperbole when describing Neuralink. During one early demonstration, he only half-jokingly said “It’s sort of like if your phone went in your brain.” He also later added that, “In the future, you will be able to save and replay memories.”

With the first Neuralink Telepathy device successfully installed, however, Musk appears to be somewhat more circumspect. There was no press conference, or parading of the patient before the reporters. All we have are these few tweets, and scant details about a brain implant that Musk hopes will help humans stay ahead of rapidly advancing AIs.

It's worth noting that for all of Musk's bluster and sometimes objectionable rhetoric, he was more right than he knew about where the state of AI would be by 2024. Back in 2016, there was no ChatGPT, Google Bard, or Microsoft CoPilot. We didn't have AI in Windows and Photoshop's Firefly, realistic AI images and videos, or realistic AI deepfakes. Concerns about AIs taking jobs are now real, and the idea of humans falling behind artificial intelligence sounds less like a sci-fi fantasy and more like our future.

Do those fears mean we're now more likely to sign up for our brain implants? Musk is betting on it.

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Google Search adds Notes tab and takes a small step toward social search

Google is updating its search engine with new tools to help you personalize the experience by making it tailored specifically to you.

Among the three reveals, the most impressive, in our opinion, has to be the upcoming Notes feature. This tool will pull together different “tips and advice” on a topic from across the internet if a search result isn't particularly helpful. In a demonstration shown to us, a Google rep played the role of someone looking up instructions on how to make frosting for a birthday cake. Let's say the first search result wasn't what you were looking for. 

Selecting the Notes button below that result connects you to content uploaded by other people offering unique insight to your query. By giving users the opportunity to learn from other people's experiences, Google explained, you might find information better suited to your needs that an official source may fail to address. On the surface, it feels like the tech giant is launching a mini-social media platform on Search since the feature allows for a free-flowing exchange of information.

Google Search Notes

(Image credit: Google)

Be aware that Notes is a type of short-form content. There doesn’t appear to be enough room for long pieces of text. You won't be able to write, for instance, a 500-word recipe for frosting. These Notes need to be short and sweet. It's all about having people provide bite-sized tips on how to make something better such as suggesting adding a bit of lemon zest to a batch of frosting.

Guardrails and limitations

Google is aware that implementing such an update could expose Google Search to a bunch of bad actors coming in and uploading a bunch of inappropriate content. To combat this, it’s adding several guardrails. First, Google will be “using a combination of algorithmic protections and human review” to double-check what is uploaded. Second, the content in “each Note is ranked” according to a search result. The more relevant it is, the higher it’ll place. Finally, “anyone can report a note… for human review” if they run into any inappropriate content.

There are several limitations you need to be aware of. The search feature launches today, however, it will only be made available to users living in the US or India, plus they must be a part of the Search Labs program. Additionally, it will be exclusive to the mobile web version of Google Search as well as the official Google app. 

If you want to try this out, we have a guide teaching people how to try out Google software betas. The guide describes gaining access to the Search Engine Experience, but it's the same process.

Notes will start as an “experiment”. The company wants to see how well this feature will work on a grand scale. It’s unknown how long the trial will last or if it'll see an official release.

Follow your favs

The rest of the update isn’t as dynamic, but it’s still interesting. Over the coming weeks, Google will introduce a Follow tool to American users on mobile. It’ll help you stay up to date on topics you frequently look up by providing “new-to-you” information. Follow can deliver news articles on the latest events of your favorite sports team or specific fashion trends. 

In the image below, you'll see how Follow changes. The left screenshot displays a fairly generic feed with a few pictures, but over time, Google will deliver videos from content creators specializing in your interest once it learns what you like.

Google's new Follow tool

(Image credit: Google)

Finally, the Perspectives tab will roll out to Google Search on desktop to, as you can probably guess, people living in the United States. This tool lets you find content from various online communities like forums or social media platforms. Prior to this, it was exclusive to mobile devices.

As you can see, the US is getting the lion's share of this update. We asked a Google rep if there are plans for an international launch. All we were told is that they working on bringing the “features to locations”, but have nothing more to share at the moment.

We can see these tools becoming really useful helping you track great deals for tech during the holiday season. If you want our advice, check out TechRadar's list of the nine Black Friday deals we recommend buying now.

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Step into the future of AR and VR technology

As the world embraces rapid technological advancements, augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) have emerged as transformative tools with the potential to revolutionize industries and enhance human experiences. 

Whether for art, education, healthcare, entertainment or engineering, AR and VR will play a foundational role in the next phase of technology. That’s why across the world, initiatives are launching that aim to incubate and nurture innovative ideas in transformative technology.

One such program is the Creative Solutions program by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Saudi Arabia. From this, two innovative projects – MemoARable and Virtually There – have arisen, aiming to leverage AR and VR to add value to Saudi Arabia’s cultural and creative industries (CCI).

New horizons

MemoARable, spearheaded by Maryam Alfadhli and Lina Alismail, seeks to reimagine the customer-store relationship through an AR-powered app. 

By transforming memories into personalized gifts incorporating images, messages, and voice notes, MemoARable transcends traditional marketing strategies, opening doors for immersive ticketing and gift card possibilities, and expanding its application beyond initial expectations.

On the other hand, Maram Alghamdi and Ali AlEid's Virtually There aims to revolutionise the tourism industry by offering users a full 3D, 360-degree access to Saudi Arabia's top destinations. Kicking off with AlUla, this immersive experience takes audiences on a journey through iconic tourist attractions. 

The roadmap also includes virtual visits to Riyadh, Jeddah, and a pilgrimage-focused tour of Makkah and Madinah, creating an exciting blend of culture and technology.

The prototypes of these projects were presented to a team of international tech experts, including inventor and tech consultant Simon Benson, as part of the Creative Solutions program. 

This program empowers digital content creation in immersive technologies and grants each of the five selected projects financial support of up to $ 20,000 to bring their ideas to fruition.

Room to grow

This year marks the third edition of the Creative Solutions showcase, welcoming participants to pitch their ideas once again. Successful applicants will develop their prototypes from September to December before presenting them to investors and the public in Q4.

The Creative Solutions program goes beyond mere financial support, as participants embark on a transformative journey featuring technical, creative, and entrepreneurial training and mentorship. 

Their prototypes are showcased in events attended by potential collaborators, incubators, accelerators, and other stakeholders, further promoting innovation and collaboration in the immersive tech space.

As the world embraces immersive technologies, projects like these will pave the way to unleashing the limitless potential of AR and VR. With MemoARable and Virtually There leading the way, the future is indeed bright for the intersection of creativity, technology, and human innovation.

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Apple’s test of a new iOS subscription payment system is a huge step back

Apple is testing out a new subscription payment system for iOS devices that would let developers automatically charge a higher subscription-renewal price rather than ask for explicit acceptance, so long as the user is notified ahead of the renewal price increase and given the chance to cancel their subscription.

While this is a fairly common practice with subscription services, this isn't the way this is supposed to work on iOS. From Apple's developer documentation:

When you increase the price of a subscription, Apple informs affected subscribers via email and push notification and asks them to agree to the new price. On iOS 13.4 and iPadOS 13.4 and later, affected subscribers are also notified through a price consent sheet that automatically displays in your app… If they don’t agree, their subscription expires at the end of their current billing cycle.

The new payment system was first flagged by developer Max Seelemann on Twitter and later confirmed by TechCrunch.

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The issue appears to be limited to the Disney+ app for now and only seems to affect a limited number of users as part of a pilot test of a new iOS payment system.

Apple told TechRadar that the company is “piloting a new commerce feature we plan to launch very soon. The pilot includes developers across various app categories, organization sizes, and regions to help test an upcoming enhancement that we believe will be great for both developers and users, and we’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks.”

It's not clear whether this system, if implemented, would be open to all developers on the iOS platform, or whether only a selection of developers would be granted the ability to auto-charge for a price increase.


Analysis: while it could be worse, this is still a terrible idea

One of the worst things about subscription-based models is that they require a lot of management and juggling on the part of the user. Who among us hasn't completely forgotten that some subscription charge was due on a certain date and only realized it once we suddenly had a lot less money in the bank than we thought we had?

This is especially problematic when you're dealing with an annual subscription, which is a large chunk of money and is much more likely to be forgotten by the user (making it more unlikely that it will be cancelled ahead of the renewal charge). Subscription services are a very appealing model for businesses for that reason, and a major headache for users.

Apple's current system is about as good as you can expect, all things considered. It can't save you from forgetting about a looming renewal and over-drafting your bank account as a result, but at least it requires you to explicitly accept a higher price after an 'introductory' rate expires and automatically cancels the subscription if you don't do anything. 

We would much rather see Apple stick with that system than let a company automatically bill users a higher rate if they don't take action on it. On the plus side, it appears that the renewal-price increase notification is very obvious and there is at least a link for users to review the subscription and cancel it if they so choose.  

There's no getting around the fact, though, that this could open the door for ne'er-do-well developers to take advantage of users by starting off at a very low price and then jacking it up considerably for the renewal. While most users would immediately move to cancel if they saw that kind of scammy behavior, even with the new notification system, there's going to be some small subset of users who misread, misunderstand, or just miss the notification and find themselves getting hit with a higher-than-expected charge out of the blue.

Given that potential nightmare scenario, it's likely that only certain large developers would be allowed to automatically charge you an increased price in this way, which raises a different problem. This would give bigger players in the industry special treatment that puts smaller, legitimate developers at a disadvantage, with no obvious benefit to the user.

Given Apple's generally good track record on user protections, this feels like a big step back and is disappointing to see. If the big fish in the App Store pond do get special privileges, we should stop pretending that Apple's platform is as fair as the company claims it is. 

Since this appears to be a small pilot test, we hope Apple comes to see how valuable its current subscription payment model is for its users and doesn't break what is already working well. 

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Google unveils another step in its much-needed privacy boost

Google has announced that its Privacy Sandbox proposal is one step closer to becoming reality as the company is preparing its next stage of trials which will focus on ads relevance and measurement.

For those unfamiliar, the search giant first unveiled its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) plan to replace third-party browser cookies before announcing Google Topics as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative as a replacement following backlash on the move. 

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As the name suggests, Google Topics splits the web into different topics and divides users into groupings depending on their interests. Meanwhile, FLEDGE is dedicated to facilitating remarketing or showing ads on websites based on a user’s previous browsing history.

Now though, Google is moving ahead with testing its Privacy Sandbox and developers will be able to begin testing the Topics, FLEDGE and Attribution Reporting APIs in Chrome Canary.

Privacy Sandbox testing

Google plans to begin testing Topics and Fledge with a limited number of Chrome Beta users before making API testing available in the stable version of Chrome once things are working smoothly in Beta according to a new blog post.

The company also plans to begin testing its updated Privacy Sandbox settings and controls that will allow users to see and manage the interests associated with them or turn off the trials altogether.

Product director for Privacy Sandbox, Vinay Goel also provided some sample images of the settings the search giant plans to test in his blog post. In the Privacy Sandbox Beta menu, users will be able to toggle the trials on or off as well as customize their choices for Browser-based ad personalization, Ad measurement and Spam & fraud reduction. Here they’ll be able to remove interests from Topics and edit the list of sites that Privacy Sandbox users to infer their interests.

While Chrome users in the US will be opted in to the latest Privacy Sandbox trials, those in the EU will have to opt in by changing the position of the toggle in settings. This is due to GDPR and other data protection laws that apply to Europeans.

We’ll likely hear more from Google once its initial trials are complete and the company expands them to the stable version of Chrome.

Via TechCrunch

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EU is one step closer to reining in Apple, Google and other tech giants

The European Union has laid out its plans for the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will mainly target messaging apps to offer a better choice for users, and could have big repercussions for tech giants like Apple and Google.

According to the European Union, its regulators agreed on new rules to the act, such as targeting companies that have over 45 million users, and have a market cap value of $ 82 billion / £62 billion / AU$ 109 billion.

If these companies were to break a rule in the DMA, they could be fined up to 10% of their total worldwide turnover at that time, alongside an additional 20% if further rules are repeatedly broken.

If the DMA gets approved into law, companies will have to allow certain features so they can be allowed in the EU, such as giving users the right to uninstall default apps, or use their apps or services on other platforms, and more. But this could be the start of a slippery slope for Apple, Google, and other vendors.


Analysis: Heading into unforeseen territory

Users like choice when they choose to install apps on their new iPhone 13 Pro or Samsung S22 Ultra. You could arguably go as far back as to when Netscape was the only way to browse the web in the mid-90s, before Microsoft monopolized with Internet Explorer, thanks to the web browser being included by default with its then-popular Windows 95 operating system.

Lawmakers apparently don't want history to repeat itself with modern apps. Every day, many of us use WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and more to keep in touch with friends and family. 

But the political world has been getting nervous about this, especially with messaging apps which some governments fear are being used to co-ordinate illegal activity. The days of burner mobile phones being disposed of like in the TV show Breaking Bad are no more – apps are seemingly the new problem now.

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But the DMA act is not without its risks. Behind every app is a team who have a roadmap of features and bug fixes they aim to achieve over a certain period of time, and some of these apps are exclusive to the platform, such as Apple's iMessage, which is only available on macOS, iPadOS and iOS.

Opening these up for other platforms and apps would be counter-intuitive to Apple's goals of creating the whole app itself, and touting it as an exclusive perk for Apple's products. Companies may argue that by forcing them to make their services and apps available to devices outside of their tightly-controlled ecosystem, compatibility and quality issues could emerge, negatively impacting the user experience these companies have carefully worked on.

It could also make what were once simple tasks, such as paying for something via Apple Pay on an iPhone, a lot more complex if other payment options, such as rival Google Pay, have to be offered.

However, the DMA act isn't official just yet – companies can discuss the terms and agreements with the EU and go through due diligence, but the writing looks to be on the wall for users and companies, and the after-effects of this law could turn out to be a disadvantage for not just companies, but users as a whole.

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