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TECHNOLOGY | Meta says it trains AI with users’ social media posts

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Social media company Meta may have used your Facebook and Instagram posts to train its new artificially intelligent virtual assistant. Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, told Reuters the company utilized users’ public posts when developing the AI tool, though not private posts.

Clegg said Meta—the parent company of Facebook and Instagram—avoided using highly personal data such as info gathered from LinkedIn. Programmers used public photos and text from social media to train the AI assistant’s image-generating feature.

Meta’s tool is designed to help users edit photos, create digital images from text prompts, and chat with 28 AI ­personalities, including celebrities such as Tom Brady and Snoop Dogg.

Tech companies like Meta, OpenAI, and Google have come under fire for using without permission info pulled from the web to train their AI programs. A group of authors in July sued Meta and OpenAI, arguing the companies violated copyrights by using the authors’ works to develop AI programs.

The writing platform Medium in September said it is attempting to block AI companies from using stories and articles published on its website to train their programs.

Space junk crackdown

The U.S. Federal Com­munications Commission has fined Dish Network $150,000 for failing to move a nonoperational satellite out of orbit. The company had planned to move its EchoStar-7 satellite out of geostationary orbit by the end of 2022, but the craft ran out of fuel and stopped about 100 miles short of its target.

The FCC said on Oct. 2 the defunct craft poses a hazard to other satellites and noted Dish’s failure to remove it violated the Communications Act. It is the first time the agency has penalized a company for leaving space debris in orbit. The move is part of a larger, international effort to address the problem of defunct spacecraft.

The European Space Agency estimates there are over 36,000 pieces of space debris about 4 inches wide or larger. Tech companies like SpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb plan to launch thousands of satellites in the next decade. —L.C.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for The New York Times

Smarter selections

A Seattle-based startup called Likewise, backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has launched an AI–powered assistant that gives users personalized recommendations for ­movies, books, podcasts, and more. The free program, Pix, combines OpenAI’s technology and Likewise’s customer data to help users find entertainment related to their previous searches and preferences. Pix is available via text, email, and TV and mobile apps. —L.C.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.


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