AI is policing the package theft beat for UPS as ‘porch piracy’ surge continues across U.S.

A doorbell camera in Chesterfield, Virginia, recently caught a man snatching a box containing a $1,600 new iPad from the arms of a FedEx delivery driver. Barely a day goes by without a similar report. Package theft, often referred to as “porch piracy,” is a big crime business.

While the price tag of any single stolen package isn’t extreme — a study by found that the median value of stolen merchandise was $50 in 2022 — the absolute level of package theft is high and rising. In 2022, 260 million delivered packages were stolen, according to home security consultant SafeWise, up from 210 million packages the year before. All in all, it estimated that 79% of Americans were victims of porch pirates last year.

In response, some of the big logistics companies have introduced technologies and programs designed to stop the crime wave. One of the most recent examples set to soon go into wider deployment came in June from UPS, with its API for DeliveryDefense, an AI-powered approach to reducing the risk of delivery theft. The UPS tech uses historic data and machine learning algorithms to assign each location a “delivery confidence score,” which is rated on a one to 1,000 scale.

“If we have a score of 1,000 to an address that means that we’re highly confident that that package is going to get delivered,” said Mark Robinson, president of UPS Capital. “At the other end of the scale, like 100 … would be one of those addresses where it would be most likely to happen, some sort of loss at the delivery point,” Robinson said.

Powered by artificial intelligence, UPS Capital’s DeliveryDefense analyzes address characteristics and generates a ‘Delivery Confidence Score’ for each address. If the address produced a low score, then a package recipient can then recommend in-store collection or a UPS pick-up point.

The initial version was designed to integrate with the existing software of major retailers through the API —a beta test has been run with Costco Wholesale in Colorado. The company declined to provide information related to the Costco collaboration. Costco did not return a request for comment.

DeliveryDefense, said Robinson, is “a decent way for merchants to help make better decisions about how to ship packages to their recipients.”

To meet the needs of more merchants, a web-based version is being launched for small- and medium-sized businesses on Oct. 18, just in time for peak holiday shipping season.

UPS says the decision about delivery options made to mitigate potential issues and enhance the customer experience will ultimately rest with the individual merchant, who will decide whether and how to address any delivery risk, including, for example, insuring the shipment or shipping to a store location for pickup.

UPS already offers its Access Points program, which lets consumers have packages shipped to Michaels and CVS locations to ensure safe deliveries.

How Amazon, Fedex, DHL attempt to prevent theft

UPS isn’t alone in fighting porch piracy.

Among logistics competitors, DHL relies on one of the oldest methods of all — a “signature first” approach to deliveries in which delivery personnel are required to knock on the recipient’s door or ring the doorbell to obtain a signature to deliver a package. DHL customers can opt to have shipments left at their door without a signature, and in such cases, the deliverer takes a photo of the shipment to provide proof for delivery. A FedEx rep said that the company offers its own picture proof of delivery and FedEx Delivery Manager, which lets customers customize their delivery preferences, manage delivery times and locations, redirect packages to a retail location and place holds on packages.

Amazon has several features to help ensure that packages arrive safely, such as its two- to four-hour estimated delivery window “to help customers plan their day,” said an Amazon spokesperson. Amazon also offers photo-on delivery, which offers visual delivery confirmation and key-in-garage Delivery, which lets eligible Amazon Prime members receive deliveries in their garage.

Debate over doorbell cameras

Amazon has also been known for its attempts to use new technology to help prevent piracy, including its Ring doorbell cameras — the gadget maker’s parent company was acquired by the retail giant in 2018 for a reported $1 billion.

Camera images can be important when filing police reports, according to Courtney Klosterman, director of communications for insurer Hippo. But the technology has done little to slow porch piracy, according to some experts who have studied its usage.

“I don’t personally think it really prevents a lot of porch piracy,” said Ben Stickle, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and an expert on package theft.

Recent consumer experiences, including the iPad theft example in Virginia, suggest criminals may not fear the camera. Last month, Julie Litvin, a pregnant woman in Central Islip, N.Y., watched thieves make off with more than 10 packages, so she installed a doorbell camera. She quickly got footage of a woman stealing a package from her doorway after that. She filed a police report, but said her building’s management company didn’t seem interested in providing much help.

Stickle cited a study he conducted in 2018 that showed that only about 5% of thieves made an effort to hide their identity from the cameras. “A lot of thieves, when they walked up and saw the camera, would simply look at it, take the package and walk away anyway,” he said.

SafeWise data shows that six in 10 people said they’d had packages stolen in 2022. Rebecca Edwards, security expert for SafeWise, said this reality reinforces the view that cameras don’t stop theft. “I don’t think that cameras in general are a deterrent anymore,” Edwards said.

The best delivery crime prevention methods

The increase in packages being delivered has made them more enticing to thieves. “I think it’s been on the rise since the pandemic, because we all got a lot more packages,” she said. “It’s a crime of opportunity, the opportunity has become so much bigger.”

Edwards said that the two most-effective measures consumers can take to thwart theft are requiring a signature to leave a package and dropping the package in a secure location, like a locker.

Large lockboxes start at around $70 and for the most sophisticated can run into the thousands of dollars.

Stickle recommends a lockbox to protect your packages. “Sometimes people will call and say ‘Well, could someone break in the box? Well, yeah, potentially,” Stickle said. “But if they don’t see the item, they’re probably not going to walk up to your house to try and steal it.”

There is always the option of leaning on your neighbors to watch your doorstep and occasionally sign for items. Even some local police departments are willing to hold packages.

The UPS AI comes at a time of concerns about rapid deployment of artificial intelligence, and potential bias in algorithms.

UPS says that DeliveryDefense relies on a dataset derived from two years’ worth of domestic UPS data, encompassing an extensive sample of billions of delivery data points. Data fairness, a UPS spokeswoman said, was built into the model, with a focus “exclusively on delivery characteristics,” rather than on any individual data. For example, in a given area, one apartment complex has a secure mailroom with a lockbox and chain of custody, while a neighboring complex lacks such safeguards, making it more prone to package loss.

But the UPS AI is not free. The API starts at $3,000 per month. For the broader universe of small businesses that are being offered the web version in October, a subscription service will be charged monthly starting at $99, with a variety of other pricing options for larger customers.

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Forbes Global CEO Conference: Artificial Intelligence Evolution Brings Individual Empowerment, Tech Experts Say

Artificial intelligence experts speaking at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on Tuesday expressed optimism about the future of AI, despite some worries the fast-growing technology could make dramatic changes in business and society.

“I believe the current evolution of generative AI is a massive acceleration of a very long-term pattern of leveraging technology as a toolset,” Eduardo Saverin, cofounder and co-CEO of Singapore-based venture capital firm B Capital, said on a panel at the Forbes Global CEO Conference. “Where this potentially starts arriving into a phase change is this idea that through time, computers can effectively program themselves…we’re very early in that evolution, or that phase change, and it’s incredibly exciting.”

The Facebook (now Meta) cofounder, who topped this year’s Singapore’s 50 Richest list with a net worth of $16 billion, added, “What’s empowering about [AI technology] is that it’s driving in some ways a realism to the idea that the world can be personalized down to the level of one.”

This includes tailored content, such as the idea of a hyper-personalized social media newsfeed—one of Meta’s “key evolutions” during the company’s early days, Saverin notes—that allows users to scroll through relevant content based on their interests.

The other panelists were Meng Ru Kuok, group CEO and founder of Caldecott Music Group, Antoine Blondeau, cofounder and managing Partner of Alpha Intelligence Capital, and Rohan Narayana Murty, founder and CTO of Soroco.

In creative fields like the music industry, AI-driven developments are providing people the opportunity “to do things that they couldn’t do before, and do them at scale, and potentially autonomously,” said Kuok, who is also founder of music production app BandLab.

“Music has actually been using algorithms and AI and innovations and technology for a long time, whether it’s a transition from the recording studio, all the way to personal computing,” said Kuok. “Even as an operator, the speed and the unexpected nature of the technology shift has changed even all the old perspectives on the opportunity at hand.”

Still, developments are threatened by bad actors who may use AI tools to “create recursive, autonomous things” that introduce risks, added Kuok, citing concerns such as fraud related to music streaming. “I’m less worried about the computer, I’m worried more about the human,” he said. “That’s something for us to really think about, from safeguards…historically, it’s been humans who have been the problem as well as the solution.”

“Everything that is consumer-facing is going to be incredibly enhanced,” noted Blondeau, who worked on the project that became Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. These consumer-facing fields include healthcare and education, which he predicts AI will augment over the next few years. He raised the possibility of AI-powered drug discovery that could potentially identify variants of diseases before they emerge, or cures to debilitating conditions like cancer. “I always say that AI will save us before it kills us,” he said.

“AI will make us feel longer, it will make us hyper-productive…this is the hope, and it’s a massive hope,” Blondeau added. “The fear is that we’ll end up in a video game, right? We’ll have nothing much to do, and the machines will have to do the hard work.”

To Murty, some of the concerns surrounding AI may involve its integration of systems that emulate the way humans think. “I don’t think [AI] is cognition, and I think there’s a lot of confusion around this,” he said. AI operates “as a black box” to simulate certain parts of human cognition, but not its entirety. “When we start thinking about cognition, that’s the last refuge, or bastion of human difference in this world, it gets quite scary,” Murty added.

Yet “AI is the perfect tool” to unlock some of the problems with identifying areas of improvement within companies, leveraging data instead of questionnaires. “For the first time, we have an opportunity to affect every single organization, in terms of how they get work done, in terms of how they think,” Murty said. “The very question of how office work ought to be done differently or better is in some sense best answered by a machine, not a person.”

AI’s potential to outperform humans reflects how any rapid innovation brings a “potential for human displacement,” said Saverin, but AI can create a “win-win scenario” for both small and large businesses. “We are ultimately humans, and we’re going to want to experience the world and digest the world in a human way,” he said.

“These [AI] technologies will make corporations efficient, profit centers more efficient…and there will be an infinite path of potential learning and enablement of what you can do as an individual, but how you earn money, and how you become an active participant in income generation in the world will evolve,” Saverin said. “We need to be very careful to enable that evolution to go in the right direction.”


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AI could be the great equaliser the less well-off parts of Europe need

The promise of a better life for those who were historically on the fringes means that investment into AI should be further supported, and not stifled, Cristian Gherasim writes.

Barely a day goes by without hearing about yet another mind-blowing artificial intelligence advance. The beauty of AI is that we all have access to it, more so than with any other technological discovery from past epochs.


Though still very much ahead, rich countries no longer hold the monopoly over this new invention and AI developments are happening all across the globe, owing more to a nation’s capacity to innovate than to its overall wealth.

Eastern Europe is no exception, and despite the region remaining Europe’s most impoverished, research and development in AI seem to have picked up speed in various sectors.

If harnessed wisely, AI could provide a boost towards growth for a region battling decades of communist-era shortages and post-communist economic inequality and deprivation.

World’s first AI-powered government adviser is Romanian

Though still behind the western world, some central and eastern European countries made significant inroads in the AI sector.

For a few years now, Poland has been spearheading the fight against hate speech on the internet.

In 2019, its Samurai Labs developed AI-based software that detects hate speech, violence and fake news across online media platforms. The tool proved particularly useful in the years following the Brexit vote with the UK Police ending up hiring the company to investigate anti-Polish content online.

Aside from fake news and hate speech, this AI-powered tool has also been used to combat online paedophilia and other crimes.

In Romania, the start-up delivered the world’s first AI-based government adviser, ION, to help the Romanian prime minister understand the needs of constituents.

The project done in collaboration with AI researchers and professors from Romania aims to get a better sense of public opinion and how the public reacts to certain events, key issues and policies.

The company is branching out, partnering with research centres in the Middle East such as in the Emirati city of Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK), where it aims to reshape the tech landscape and create the first free zone and hub in the world dedicated exclusively to AI innovation and development.

Furthermore, will provide blockchain technology for the region’s AI ecosystem and startups.


Moldova’s pest management and Ukraine’s hi-tech warfare

Romania’s neighbour Moldova is also putting AI to good use, training it to detect pests and implement weed management for local crops.

The program — developed by the local company DRON Assistance and financed by the United Nations — is being tested on a 73-hectare field in the village of Onitcani.

In Ukraine, artificial intelligence is already at the forefront of the country’s defence strategy against Russian aggression.

AI helps identify Russian soldiers, track troop movement, establish new targets and intercept enemy communications, together with helping fend off Russian disinformation.

Drones and robots have already revolutionised not only the war in Ukraine but warfare in general. Ukraine is indeed a testing ground, a living lab for AI warfare.


This is also leading to the development of a strong tech civil sector where through partnerships, Ukrainian start-ups are growing.

What does Eastern Europe stand to benefit?

According to research by Goldman Sachs, AI could bring a near $7 trillion (€6.47tn) increase in annual global GDP over a ten-year period.

The potential for economic growth is limitless and eastern Europe can tap into that.

Some sectors are already witnessing AI-powered changes. Aside from its military use that we see at play in Ukraine, the technology can have a crucial role in shaping the region in years to come.

Agricultural drones flown by AI software sprinkle on average up to 40% less active substance allowing for more accurate spraying and safer crops.


These AI-powered drones present a far more ecological option to farmers who thus have no need for tractors and avoid burning fossil fuels that pollute the crops.

AI could also help the region in developing better waste management with smart recycle bins and facilities helping to sort and collect rubbish more efficiently.

Healthcare is another thorny problem, the region being notorious for its lack of doctors with Romania ranked as having the worst healthcare system in Europe.

Aside from poor financing and systemic corruption, hospitals in the region are facing a severe shortage of physicians.

AI can help supplement a dwindling number of medics so that more people can access medical supervision, with studies showing that the technology is capable of performing tasks as well or better than humans.

AI could turn out to be the ‘great equaliser’

AI can undoubtedly be a force for good in Eastern Europe as much as anywhere else, but when so much is happening so fast, the conversation tends to become too broad and at times so abstract that those trying to make sense of it end up being exposed to the fringes, either loving or loathing the technology.

As with every new tool, however, cautious optimism should drive the approach as well as a better understanding of what that new tool can do for you, your home country and your region.

The European Union has also a role to play by both fostering the development of AI and making Europe a leading competitor alongside tech juggernauts like the US and China and also keeping an eye on potential risks through thorough checks and balances.

At the same time, the promise of a better life for those who were historically on the fringes means that investment into AI should be further supported, and not stifled.

If we do this carefully and with our joint progress in mind, we could see the harnessing of AI turn out to be the great equaliser the less well-off parts of Europe need — and something our entire continent would benefit from.

Cristian Gherasim is an analyst, consultant and journalist with over 15 years of experience focusing on Eastern and Central European affairs.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Having AI present the news might be exactly what journalism needs

As opposed to the infamous “deep fake” phenomenon, AI avatar news — known as Deep Real — can represent a commitment to truth, transparency, and the pursuit of journalistic integrity, Miri Michaeli writes.

In the ever-evolving world of journalism, a seismic shift is underway—one that challenges conventions, disrupts traditional practices, and, if used correctly, could herald the dawn of a new era.


The adoption of artificial intelligence stands at the forefront of this transformative wave. Its impact on the future of journalism is undeniable, potentially threatening to erode the very essence of journalism, while at the same time revolutionising the way journalists connect with audiences and deliver news with enhanced clarity and global reach.

As we witness the emergence of the world’s first fully AI automated news edition with digital avatar presenters, concerns about the implications of this technology must be addressed in order to unlock its true potential.

As opposed to the infamous “deep fake” phenomenon, AI avatar news — known as Deep Real — can represent a commitment to truth, transparency, and the pursuit of journalistic integrity.

While deep fakes epitomise deception and trickery, Deep Real can be the antithesis — a manifestation of genuine journalism leveraging the power of technology.

Building trust through transparency

The rise of AI-generated avatars and the use of actors’ or journalists’ images without consent or compensation raise legitimate fears about the exploitation of their identities.

The recent Black Mirror episode “Joan Is Awful,” which saw Selma Hayek embarrassing herself in a church, serves as an explosive reminder of the dystopian consequences that could ensue if these concerns are left unaddressed.

One of the primary criticisms levelled against the tech is that it will lead to the destruction of trust in journalism.

Detractors argue that the use of AI-generated avatars and automated scripts will create a sense of artificiality and detachment from reality.

However, if implemented with journalistic and intellectual rigour, it has the potential to enhance transparency and build trust in unprecedented ways.

AI news is a chance to break with traditional boundaries

By leveraging AI technology, we can provide audiences with a deeper understanding of the news-making process, showcasing the data sources and algorithms used to generate content.

Rather than weakening the role of human input, AI avatar reporters represent a groundbreaking leap forward — a fusion of human innovation and integrity that holds immense potential for journalism.


The technology allows news to break traditional boundaries, delivering reporting with enhanced clarity and a global reach that was previously unimaginable.

At the same time, rather than diminishing the role of human journalists, digital clones empower them to delve deeper into their craft.

By automating certain aspects of news production, Deep Real can liberate journalists, allowing them to focus on investigations and analysis, and cultivating meaningful connections with their sources.

It is a tool that enhances the storytelling abilities of journalists, amplifying their voices and unleashing their creativity.

What about ethics and integrity in AI journalism?

In the realm of digital avatar journalists, ethical considerations take on paramount importance.


To effectively harness the potential of AI-driven journalism while upholding principles of transparency and accountability, robust guidelines and industry-wide standards must be established.

Transparency should be a guiding principle, ensuring audiences are aware of the use of AI-generated avatars and distinguishing them from human journalists.

News organisations must also maintain accountability, taking responsibility for the content produced by digital avatars and adhering to rigorous fact-checking and quality control measures.

Preserving journalistic integrity necessitates a commitment to high ethical standards, exercising critical judgment, and recognizing the limitations of AI technology as a tool that complements, but does not replace, human journalists.

The responsible use of AI technology in journalism demands ongoing critical engagement. While AI presents exciting opportunities to push the boundaries of journalism, its adoption should be approached thoughtfully.


Regular assessments of its impact on society, democracy, and the profession are essential to maintain a healthy balance between the benefits of AI and the core principles of journalism.

By embracing AI with a strong ethical framework, we can shape a future where technology and journalism converge harmoniously, enriching storytelling, expanding reach, and enhancing democratic discourse.

A new era for journalism

In the face of these advancements, the future of journalism is not dark but brighter than ever. AI presents an unparalleled opportunity to democratize news, personalize storytelling, and amplify the impact of journalists.

It is a tool that empowers journalists to connect with global audiences, transcend boundaries, and navigate the complexities of our world with greater efficiency and precision.

As we embrace this new technology, let us fully seize the immense potential it offers. Let us champion the timeless values of truth, accuracy, and transparency in this new era of journalism.

Deep Real represents the remarkable convergence of human ingenuity and technological innovation — a powerful force that propels us toward a future where storytelling knows no bounds.

By integrating Deep Real into the fabric of journalism, we can usher in an era of heightened connectivity, inclusivity, and impact.

It is a call to journalists, news organisations, and society as a whole to harness this transformative tool responsibly, with an unwavering commitment to the principles that have guided journalism throughout history.

Miri Michaeli, a veteran Israeli journalist, is the co-founder and chief news anchor of ACT News, a pioneer in the field of AI-powered news broadcasts using digital avatar presenters.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Lukas Gage’s viral video audition haunts the ‘hot labor summer’ actors’ strike sweeping Hollywood

In November 2020, the actor Lukas Gage was auditioning for a role via video link when he heard the producer make some disparaging remarks about the size of his apartment.

“These poor people who live in these tiny apartments,” the producer said. “I’m looking at his background and he’s got his TV and …”

Gage, who at that time had had a four-episode arc on HBO’s “Euphoria” among other small roles, interrupted the producer — British director Tristram Shapeero, who later apologized for his remarks — to let him know that he was not muted and that Gage could, in fact, hear him.

“Yeah, I know it’s a sh—y apartment,” Gage said. “That’s why — give me this job so I can get a better one.”

Shapeero replied, “Oh my god, I am so, so sorry … I am absolutely mortified.”

Putting together an audition tape can often take up an entire day and involve setting up a studio space for sound and lighting.

“Listen, I’m living in a four-by-four box, just give me the job and we’ll be fine,” Gage responded.

Gage kept his sense of humor, but he also decided to post the video on his Twitter account to show how actors are sometimes treated from the moment they audition for a role — and perhaps to remind people to make sure you’re on mute if you’re trash-talking someone on a Zoom


It’s three years later, and members of the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild are on strike, looking for more pay, better working conditions and stricter rules around things like the use of actors’ images in the age of artificial intelligence and the lack of residuals from streaming networks.

The perils of the online audition

Meanwhile, Gage’s 2020 online audition is resonating again.

For a working actor — who, like the majority of SAG-AFTRA members who may not be an A-list star — simply getting in front of a producer as Gage did can be a long and difficult process. And since the start of the pandemic, the nature of auditions has changed dramatically. This has come to symbolize the uphill struggle actors face from the moment they hear about a role.

In May, Ezra Knight, New York local president of SAG-AFTRA, asked members to authorize strike action, saying contracts needed to be renegotiated to reflect dramatic changes in the industry. Knight cited the need to address artificial intelligence, pay, benefits, reduced residuals in streaming and “unregulated and burdensome self-taped auditions.”

In the days of live auditions, actors would read for a role with a casting director. But several actors told MarketWatch that it’s become harder to make a living in recent years, and that it all starts with the audition tape, which has now become standard in the industry.

By the time Gage got in front of producers, for instance, he had likely either already delivered a tape and was put on a shortlist to read in front of a producer, or the casting director was already familiar with his work and wanted him to read for the part.

But an audition tape can often take up an entire day to put together, actors say. When the opportunity to audition arrives, actors typically have to drop everything they’re doing — whether they’re working a side hustle or taking time off or even enjoying a vacation.

Cadden Jones: “All the financial responsibilities have fallen on us. The onus is on us to create our auditions.”

Cadden Jones

They need to arrange good lighting and a clean backdrop — Gage’s TV set became a distraction for the producer during his audition — set up the camera, and scramble to find a “reader” — someone to read the other roles in the scene, preferably another actor.

Then the actor has to edit the audition to highlight their strongest take and upload it. There are currently no regulations on the amount of pages a casting director can send to a candidate, and actors say there’s often not enough time to properly prepare.

“Unfortunately, it’s been going in this direction for some time now,” said Cadden Jones, an actor based in New York who has credits on shows including Showtime’s

“Billions” and Amazon Prime’s

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“This was the first year I did not qualify for health insurance in decades,” she told MarketWatch. “I just started teaching.”

To put that into perspective: Members of SAG-AFTRA must earn $26,470 in a 12-month base period to qualify for health insurance. The median annual wage in the U.S. hovers at around $57,000, based on the weekly median as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jones and her partner, Michael Schantz, an actor who works mostly in theater, are starting a communications consulting company to increase their income.

“Most if not all of my actor friends have had to supplement their income since the pandemic,” she said. “We’re in trouble as a community of actors who used to make a good living doing what we do. It’s not like any of us lost our talent overnight. I, for one, am very glad that we’re striking.”

But Jones said that, with the auditioning process taking place mostly online since the onset of the pandemic, casting agents — who work for producers — are able to see more people for a given role, making the competition for roles even more intense.

‘This was the first year I did not qualify for health insurance in decades.’

— Cadden Jones, an actor based in New York

“We don’t go into casting offices anymore,” Jones said. “All the financial responsibilities have fallen on us. The onus is on us to create our auditions. It’s harder to know what they want, and you don’t have the luxury to work with a casting director in a physical space to get adjustments, which was personally my favorite part of the process — that collaboration.”

She added: “Because the audition rate accelerated, the booking rate went down dramatically for everybody. But don’t get me wrong. Once the strike is officially over, I want all the auditions I can get.”

SAG-AFTRA has proposed rules and expectations to address some of the burden and costs actors bear when it comes to casting, including providing a minimum amount of time for actors to send in self-taped auditions; disclosing whether an offer has been made for the role or it has already been cast; and limiting the number of pages for a “first call” or first round of auditions.

Before the negotiations broke down with the actors’ union, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents over 350 television and production companies, said it offered SAG-AFTRA $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases as part of a range of proposals related to pay and working conditions.

Those proposals included limitations on requests for audition tapes, including page, time and technology requirements, as well as options for virtual or in-person auditions, AMPTP said. The producers’ group characterized their offer as “the most lucrative deal we have ever negotiated.”

Michael Schantz: “How does the broader culture value storytelling and the people who make stories?”

Michael Schantz

Jones said she doesn’t blame the casting directors. It’s up to the producers, she said, to be more mindful of how the changes in the industry since the advent of streaming, the decline in wages adjusted for inflation, and poor residuals from streaming services have taken a toll on working actors.

Bruce Faulk, who has been a member of SAG-AFTRA since 1992, said that for work on a one-off character part or a recurring role on a network show, he might receive a check for hundreds or even thousands of dollars in residuals. And — crucially — he knows how many times a particular show has aired.

Residuals are fees paid to actors each time a TV show or film is broadcast on cable or network television. They are based on the size of the role and the budget of the production, among other things. For shows that air on streaming services, however, residuals are far harder to track.

What’s more, residuals decline over time and can often amount to just a few cents per broadcast.

Actor Kimiko Glenn, who appeared on episodes of Netflix’s

“Orange Is the New Black,” recently shared a video on TikTok showing $27 in residuals from her work on that show.

Faulk sympathizes. “A lot of checks from HBO

for ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘Gossip Girl’ I get are for $33,” he said. “I never know how many people watched me on ‘Gossip Girl’ in the three episodes I’m in. All we know is whatever the streaming services decided to announce as their subscriber numbers.”

Like Jones, Faulk said this will be the first year he won’t qualify for SAG-AFTRA health insurance, which covers him, his wife and his son. This is despite him having worked enough over the past 10 years to qualify for a pension when he turns 67. “Mine is up to $1,000 a month now,” he said, noting that the pension will keep increasing if he keeps getting acting work.

Schantz, who had a three-episode arc on NBC’s

“The Blacklist” in addition to his other TV, film and theater credits, finds the recent shifts in the landscape for actors somewhat difficult to reconcile with the way people turned to TV and film during the loneliest days of the pandemic.

“One of the most concerning things I can think of right now is the conversation around value. How does the broader culture value storytelling and the people who make stories?” he said. “The arts always tend to fall to the wayside in many ways, but it was striking during the pandemic that so much of our attention went to watching movies and television. There’s obviously something inside of us that feels like we’re part of the human story.”

Actors battle other technology

While big companies like Disney
HBO, Apple
Amazon and Netflix make millions of dollars from films and TV series that are watched again and again, Schantz said that actors are unable to make a living. “No one wants to go on strike,” he said.

Those five companies have not responded to requests for comment from MarketWatch on these issues.

Since his audition tape went viral, Gage has booked regular work, and he found even greater fame when he went on to star in Season 1 of HBO’s “White Lotus.” In 2023, he will star in nine episodes of “You,” now streaming on Netflix, and in the latest season of FX’s “Fargo.”

Earlier this year, he told the New York Times: “I had never judged my apartment until that day.” He added, “I remember having this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach afterward, like, why am I judging where I’m at in my 20s, at the beginning of my career?”

‘There’s enough Bruce out there where you could take my likeness and my voice and put me in the scene.’

— Bruce Falk, a member of SAG-AFTRA since 1992

But advances in technology are not just hurting actors in the audition process. A debate is raging over the use of AI and whether actors should be expected to sign away the rights to their image in perpetuity, especially when they might only be getting paid for half a day’s work.

“AI is the next big thing,” Falk said. The industry is concerned about companies taking actors’ likenesses and using AI to generate crowd scenes.

“Even an actor at my level — that guy on that show — there’s enough Bruce out there where you could take my likeness and my voice and put me in the scene: the lieutenant who gives you the overview of what happened to the dead body,” he said. “At this point, I could be technically replaced. We have to get down on paper, in very clear terms, that that can’t be done.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers also said it agrees with SAG-AFTRA and had proposed — before the actors’ strike — “that use of a performer’s likeness to generate a new performance requires consent and compensation.” The AMPTP said that would mean no digital version of a performer should be created without the performer’s written consent and a description of the intended use in the film, and that later digital replicas without that performer’s consent would be prohibited.

“Companies that are publicly traded obviously have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, and whatever they can use, they will use it — and they are using AI,” Schantz said. “Yes, there are some immediate concerns. Whether or not the technology is advanced enough to fully replace actors is an open question, but some people think it’s an inevitability now.

“To let companies have free rein with these technologies is obviously creating a problem,” he added. “I can’t go show up, do a day’s work, have my performance be captured, and have that content create revenue for a company unless I’m being property compensated for it.”

Schantz said he believes there’s still time to address these technological issues before they become a widespread problem that makes all auditions — however cumbersome — obsolete.

“We haven’t crossed this bridge as a society, but God only knows how far along they are in their plans,” he said. “All I know is it has to be a choice for the actors. There has to be a contract, and we have to be protected. Otherwise, actors will no longer be able to make a living doing this work.”

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AI recap this month: Drone ‘kills’ operator; DeepMind’s speed up

A US Air Force Reaper drone


Reports of AI drone “killing” its operator amounted to nothing

This month we heard about a fascinating AI experiment from a US Air Force colonel. An AI-controlled drone trained to autonomously carry out bombing missions had turned on its human operator when told not to attack targets; its programming prioritised successfully carrying out missions, so it saw human intervention as an obstacle in its way and decided to forcefully take it out.

The only problem with the story was that it was nonsense. Firstly, as the colonel told it, the test was a simulation. Secondly, a US Air Force statement was hastily issued to clarify that the colonel, speaking at a UK conference, had “mis-spoke” and that no such tests had been carried out.

New Scientist asked why people are so quick to believe AI horror stories, with one expert saying it was partly down to our innate attraction to “horror stories that we like to whisper around the campfire”.

The problem with this kind of misconstrued story is that it is so compelling. The “news” was published around the world before any facts could be checked, and few of those publications had any interest in later setting the record straight. AI presents a genuine danger to society in many ways and we need informed debate to explore and prevent them, not sensationalism.

AI can optimise computer code


DeepMind AI speeds up algorithm that could have global impact on computer power

AI has brought surprise after surprise in recent years, showing itself capable of spitting out an essay on any given topic, creating photorealistic images from scratch and even writing functional source code. So you would be forgiven for not getting too excited about news of a DeepMind AI slightly improving a sorting algorithm.

But dig deeper and the work is interesting and has solid real-world applications. Sorting algorithms are run trillions of times around the world and are so commonly used in all kinds of software that they are written into libraries that coders can call on as and when needed to avoid having to reinvent the wheel. These filed-away algorithms had been refined and tweaked by humans for so long that they were considered complete and as efficient as possible.

This month, DeepMind’s AI found an improvement that can speed up sorting by as much as 70 per cent, in the right scenario. Any improvement that can be rolled out to every computer, smartphone or anything with a computer chip can bring huge savings in energy use and computation time. How many more commonly used algorithms can AI find efficiency gains in? Time will tell.

Wind power could be turbocharged by AI


AI could boost output of all wind turbines around the world

While DeepMind is searching for efficiency gains in source code, others are using AI to find them in machines. Wind turbines work best when directly facing oncoming wind, but the breeze obstinately keeps changing direction. Currently turbines use a variety of techniques to maintain efficiency, but it seems that AI may be able to do a slightly better job.

Researchers trained an AI on real-world data about wind direction and found that it could come up with a strategy that raised efficiency by keeping the turbine facing the right way more of the time. This involved more rotating, which used more energy, but even taking that into account they were able to squeeze 0.3 per cent more power from the turbines.

This figure may not make for a great headline, but it’s enough to boost electricity production by 5 terawatt-hours a year – about the same amount as is consumed annually by Albania, or 1.7 million average UK homes – if rolled out to every turbine around the world.

2AN93AM Switched on caps lock button on keyboard, typing capital letters, toggle key

A surprising way to defeat ChatGPT

Ievgen Chabanov/Alamy

Capital letter test is a foolproof way of sorting AIs from humans

The Turing test is a famous way of assessing the intelligence of a machine: can a human conversing through a text interface tell whether they are speaking to another human or an AI? Well, large language models like ChatGPT are now pretty adept at holding realistic conversations so we perhaps need a new test.

In recent years we have seen a suite of 204 tests proposed as a kind of new Turing Test, covering subjects such as mathematics, linguistics and chess. But a much simpler method has just been published in a paper, where superfluous upper case letters and words are added to sensical statements in an attempt to trip up AI.

Give a human a phrase such as “isCURIOSITY waterARCANE wetTURBULENT orILLUSION drySAUNA?” and they are likely to notice that the lower case letters alone form a logical sentence. But an AI reading the same input would be flummoxed, researchers showed. Five large language models, including OpenAI’s GPT-3 and ChatGPT, and Meta’s LLaMA, failed the test.

But other experts point out that now the test exists, AI can be trained to understand it, and so will pass in the future. Distinguishing AI from humans could become a cat-and-mouse game with no end.

Could the European Union set the future course for AI?

iStockphoto Copyright:

What is the future of AI? Google and the EU have very different ideas

Regulators and tech companies don’t seem to be pulling in the same direction on AI. While some industry players have called for a halt to research until the dangers are better understood, most legislators are pushing safeguarding rules to ensure it can progress safely – and lots of tech firms are ploughing ahead at full speed to commercially release AI.

Politicians in the EU have agreed an updated version of its AI Act, which has been years in the making – the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, promised to urgently bring in AI legislation when she was elected in 2019. The laws will now require companies to disclose any copyright content that was used to train generative AI such as ChatGPT.

On the other hand, companies like Google and Microsoft are ploughing on with rolling out AI to many of their products, worried about being left behind in a revolution that could rival the birth of the internet.

While technology has always outpaced legislation, leaving society struggling to ensure harms are minimised, AI really is moving at a surprising pace. And the results of its commercial roll-out could be catastrophic: Google has found that its output can be unreliable even when cherry-picked for advertising. The potential benefits of AI are undisputed, but the trick will be to make sure they outweigh the harms.


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In a Double Barrel Bull Market, AI and Housing Rule the Roost

The Federal Reserve is still talking tough via its dot-plot, which forecasts two more interest rate increases before the end of 2023. But the markets are not agreeing. My money, for now, is with the markets.

As I pointed out in my January 2023 video for StockCharts TV’s Your Daily Five, despite constant worries from perplexed traders and dark pundit banter, a credible bottom formed. Since then, stocks have risen and now look set to move higher, likely with occasional pauses. That’s because the rally is broadening out via a rapid improvement in the market’s breadth, which is accompanying the new highs on the major indexes, as I describe later in the article.

In fact, we are currently in what I call a double barrel bull market, where two major groups are pulling the rest of the market higher. The one everyone knows is AI. The other, more quiet but equally bullish, is the housing sector.

Since lots of people have missed the rally and are now playing catch up, the upward momentum will keep going for a while. Of course, this rally can’t, shouldn’t, and won’t last forever. But if history is any guide, the rest of 2023 and much of 2024 have a built in upward bias, at least based on the phenomenon known as the Presidential Cycle; whose major premise is that the Fed raises rates in the first two years of a presidential term (which it has) and lowers them in the last two years (which seems highly likely).

AI Poster Child Makes New Highs

The poster child for the AI rally is the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ), as it houses the large-cap tech stocks, which are moving higher based on expectations of large profits in the future from increasing automation and whatever AI eventually delivers.

Last week, QQQ made another series of new highs. But, by Friday, it looked at bit tired. Thus, it makes sense to expect some sort of consolidation. A move back to the 20-day moving average is not out of the question.

Lennar’s Goldilocks Quarter

For the past several years, I’ve written extensively about the homebuilder stocks and related sectors. That’s because this area of the market continues to move higher. Moreover, the more negative investors become on the sector, the higher it goes.

In fact, as I detail in this Your Daily Five video, the homebuilders are in what can only be described as a bullish Megatrend, which shows no sign of slowing.

Take, for instance, the recent action in leading homebuilder Lennar (LEN), a longstanding holding in my Joe Duarte in the Money Options portfolio, and a personal holding. Its most recent earnings report blew past analysts’ expectations on both earnings and revenues as the company again offered a positive outlook. Naturally, the shares broke out to a new high.

What makes Lennar’s earnings most interesting is the company’s management of its inventory – not too hot, not too cold. Moreover, the company’s Executive Chairman Stuart Miller noted that home buyers have come to accept the “new normal” status of interest rates, adding “demand has accelerated.” He concluded by noting: “Simply put, America needs more housing, particularly affordable workforce housing, and demand is strong when price and interest rates are affordable.”

In other words, unless interest rates climb significantly higher, the housing sector, from the point of view of homebuilders, is in better shape than many investors may think.

And here is something else to consider. Lennar is trading at a P/E of 9.46, while Nvidia (NVDA), the biggest benefactor of the AI trend, is trading at a P/E of 54.91.

Bond Yields Hold their Ground

Bond yields remained below their recent top level of 3.8% as 262,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits, an increase of 17,000 from the prior week. In addition to the stable inflation pictured in CPI and the rolling over of producer prices (PPI) released earlier in the week, bond traders breathed a sigh of relief.

Buried in the jobless claims number were over 7,000 new filings in Texas, the highest number of new claims in the U.S. for the week. Let’s put this in some perspective. Based on recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the Lone Star State accounted for 7% of the total U.S. GDP. Moreover, in Q4 2022, Texas accounted for 9.5% of total U.S. GDP, which means the largest economy in the U.S. is starting to feel the pinch of the Fed’s rate hikes.

On the other hand, Texas has received the largest number of new residents of any state in the post-COVID period. All of which means that for now, even in a slower economy, there is still a tight supply of housing combined with high demand. Texas is not alone, as the sunbelt remains attractive to many people looking to escape high taxes and challenging employment situations.

This confluence of data, rising initial jobless claims, slowing inflation, and a coincident slowing of the Chinese economy has led to an encouraging reversal in U.S. Treasury bond yields, which will likely benefit the homebuilders. That’s because, with lower bond yields, we’re already seeing an increase in mortgage activity, as the chart above shows.

The 3.85% yield on the U.S. Ten Year Note remains 3.85%, roughly corresponding to 7% on the average 30-year mortgage. So, if yields remain below this level, the odds favor a continuation of the steady performance of the homebuilder sector.

Incidentally, I have expanded my coverage of the housing and real estate markets in a new section for members of my Buy me a Coffee page, where you will get the inside scoop on what’s happening in these important sectors. This crucial information complements the stock picks at Joe Duarte in the Money You can start by reviewing my extensive report on the outlook for the homebuilder sector here

NYAD Improves SPX and NDX Look to Consolidate

The New York Stock Exchange Advance Decline line (NYAD) continues to improve. As long as it’s above its 50-day moving average, that’s signaling stocks are back in an uptrend.

The Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX) moved above 15,000 and is due for a pause. But in this market, any pause may be short-lived. ADI and OBV remain in bullish postures.

The S&P 500 (SPX) moved above 4400 and looks set to take a breather. As with NDX, any pause may not last. Both ADI and OBV look to be in good shape.

VIX Makes New Low

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) broke to another new low last week as call option buyers overwhelmed the market. As I noted last week, this is probably a little too much bullishness all at once, so I expect a bit of a bounce in VIX, which will likely lead to some backing and filling in the market.

When the VIX rises, stocks tend to fall, as rising put volume is a sign that market makers are selling stock index futures to hedge their put sales to the public. A fall in VIX is bullish, as it means less put option buying, and it eventually leads to call buying, which causes market makers to hedge by buying stock index futures. This raises the odds of higher stock prices.

Liquidity is Increasingly Stable as Fed Holds Rate Hikes

With the Fed on hold, the market’s liquidity is starting to move sideways, which is a positive. A move below 94 on the Eurodollar Index (XED) would be very bearish, while a move above 95 will be a bullish development. Usually, a stable or rising XED is very bullish for stocks.

To get the latest information on options trading, check out Options Trading for Dummies, now in its 4th Edition—Get Your Copy Now! Now also available in Audible audiobook format!

#1 New Release on Options Trading!

Good news! I’ve made my NYAD-Complexity – Chaos chart (featured on my YD5 videos) and a few other favorites public. You can find them here.

Joe Duarte

In The Money Options

Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader, and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst since 1987. He is author of eight investment books, including the best-selling Trading Options for Dummies, rated a TOP Options Book for 2018 by and now in its third edition, plus The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book and six other trading books.

The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It has also been recommended as a Washington Post Color of Money Book of the Month.

To receive Joe’s exclusive stock, option and ETF recommendations, in your mailbox every week visit

Joe Duarte

About the author:
Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst going back to 1987. His books include the best selling Trading Options for Dummies, a TOP Options Book for 2018, 2019, and 2020 by, Trading Review.Net 2020 and Market Timing for Dummies. His latest best-selling book, The Everything Investing Guide in your 20’s & 30’s, is a Washington Post Color of Money Book of the Month. To receive Joe’s exclusive stock, option and ETF recommendations in your mailbox every week, visit the Joe Duarte In The Money Options website.
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How should we regulate generative AI, and what will happen if we fail?

By Rohit Kapoor, Vice Chairman and CEO, EXL

Regulation must encourage collaboration and research between all the major players, from experts in the field to policy-makers and ethicists, Rohit Kapoor writes.

Generative AI is experiencing rapid growth and expansion.

There’s no question as to whether this technology will change the world — all that remains to be seen is how long it will take for the transformative impact to be realised and how exactly it will manifest in each industry and niche.

Whether it’s fully automated and targeted consumer marketing, medical reports generated and summarised for doctors, or chatbots with distinct personality types being tested by Instagram, generative AI is driving a revolution in just about every sector.

The potential benefits of these advancements are monumental. Quantifying the hype, a recent report by Bloomberg Intelligence predicted an explosion in generative AI market growth, from $40 billion (€36.5bn) in 2022 to 1.3 trillion (€1.18tn) in the next ten years.

But in all the excitement to come, it’s absolutely critical that policy-makers and corporations alike do not lose sight of the risks of this technology.

These large language models, or LLMs, present dangers which not only threaten the very usefulness of the information they produce but could also prove threatening in entirely unintentional ways — from bias to blurring the lines between real and artificial to loss of control.

Who’s responsible?

The responsibility for taking the reins on regulation falls naturally with governments and regulatory bodies, but it should also extend beyond them. The business community must self-govern and contribute to principles that can become regulations while policy-makers deliberate.

Two core principles should be followed as soon as possible by those developing and running generative AI, in order to foster responsible use and mitigate negative impacts.

First, large language models should only be applied to closed data sets to ensure safety and confidentiality.

Second, all development and adoption of use cases leveraging generative AI should have the mandatory oversight of professionals to ensure “humans in the loop”.

These principles are essential for maintaining accountability, transparency, and fairness in the use of generative AI technologies.

From there, three main areas will need attention from a regulatory perspective.

Maintaining our grip on what’s real

The capabilities of generative AI to mimic reality are already quite astounding, and it’s improving all the time.

So far this year, the internet has been awash with startling images like the Pope in a puffer jacket or the Mona Lisa as she would look in real life.

And chatbots are being deployed in unexpected realms like dating apps — where the introduction of the technology is reportedly intended to reduce “small talk”.

The wider public should feel no guilt in enjoying these creative outputs, but industry players and policy-makers must be alive of the dangers of this mimicry.

Amongst them are identity theft and reputational damage.

Distinguishing between AI-generated content and content genuinely created by humans is a significant challenge, and regulation should consider the consequences and surveillance aspects of it.

Clear guidelines are needed to determine the responsibility of platforms and content creators to label AI-generated content.

Robust verification systems like watermarking or digital signatures would support this authentication process.

Tackling imperfections that lead to bias

Policy-makers must set about regulating the monitoring and validation of imperfections in the data, algorithms and processes used in generative AI.

Bias is a major factor. Training data can be biased or inadequate, resulting in a bias in the AI itself.

For example, this might cause a company chatbot to deprioritise customer complaints that come from customers of a certain demographic or a search engine to throw up biased answers to queries. And biases in algorithms can perpetuate those unfair outcomes and discrimination.

Regulations need to force the issue of transparency and push for clear documentation of processes. This would help ensure that processes can be explained and that accountability is upheld.

At the same time, it would enable scrutiny of generative AI systems, including safeguarding of intellectual property (IP) and data privacy — which, in a world where data is the new currency, is crucially important.

On top of this, regulating the documentation involved would help prevent “hallucinations” by AI — which are essentially where an AI gives a response that is not justified by the data used to train it.

Preventing the tech from becoming autonomous and uncontrollable

An area for special caution is the potential for an iterative process of AI creating subsequent generations of AI, eventually leading to AI that is misdirected or compounding errors.

The progression from first-generation to second- and third-generation AI is expected to occur rapidly.

The fundamental requirement of the self-declaration of AI models, where each model openly acknowledges its AI nature, is of utmost importance.

However, enabling and regulating this self-declaration poses a significant practical challenge. One approach could involve mandating hardware and software companies to implement hardcoded restrictions, allowing only a certain threshold of AI functionality.

Advanced functionality above such a threshold could be subject to an inspection of systems, audits, testing for compliance with safety standards, restrictions on degrees of deployment and levels of security, etc. Regulators should define and enforce these restrictions to mitigate risks.

We should be acting quickly and together

The world-changing potential of generative AI demands a coordinated response.

If each country and jurisdiction develops its own rules, the adoption of the technology — which has the potential for enormous good in business, medicine, science and more — could be crippled.

Regulation must encourage collaboration and research between all the major players, from experts in the field to policy-makers and ethicists.

With a coordinated approach, the risks can be sensibly mitigated, and the full benefits of generative AI realised, unlocking its huge potential.

Rohit Kapoor is the Vice Chairman and CEO of EXL, a data analytics and digital operations and solutions company.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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End Global Warming With This One Weird Trick! Tabs, Friday, June 2, 2023

I’m about a third of the way through listening to the Audm audio version of this new York Times story (gift linky) on Vienna’s “social housing” system, which since 1919 has provided public housing not only to low-income folks, but also to middle-income Wieners as well — for about 3.5 percent of “the average semiskilled worker’s income.”

In Vienna, a whopping 80 percent of residents qualify for public housing, and once you have a contract, it never expires, even if you get richer. Housing experts believe that this approach leads to greater economic diversity within public housing — and better outcomes for the people living in it.

Vienna’s wide availability of public housing even keeps the costs of private housing low. Amazing stuff. America’s worship of the mythical “free market” is why we can’t have nice things. [New York Times gift link]

Joe Biden tripped over a sandbag onstage at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony and got up again, and it’s as if Gerald Ford never even existed. Funny, though, for being on death’s door, he still out-negotiated that youngster McCarthy. [Reuters]

Chuck Schumer says the Senate will stay in session until it passes the bill to raise the debt ceiling. [Guardian]

Oh, yay, it passed, and will now go to Joe Biden for his signature. Huzzay. [NBC News]

No, Skynet isn’t here. But in an Air Force simulation, an AI drone went a little funny and “killed” the human operator who was supposed to give final approval for the drone’s attacks. This all happened in a computer, so nobody was actually harmed, although we can’t guarantee that the AI didn’t also sent a little CGI flag to a grieving spouse in The Sims. Also, nerds were pretty they recognized that plot line. [Vice] Update: an Air Force spokesperson later denied that any such simulation had actually been run, and that the colonel who told the story at an aviation conference had been speaking “anecdotally,” which we assume means “pulling a good story out of his butt.” [Guardian]

This is not to say that idiot businesspeople won’t make extremely stupid decisions about AI, using their own stupid organic brains, like the operators of an eating disorders helpline who reacted to the threat of workers unionizing by laying off their human workers and planning to shut down the phone line, which would be replaced by a chatbot. Before the chatbot was out of beta testing, the nonprofit reversed course because the chatbot gave advice that could have encouraged disordered eating. [Vice again]

That said, one of my favorite Rogue AI science fiction stories is a My Little Pony fanfic set in our own world, in which Hasbro develops an AI toy that takes its mission of building an immersive online My Little Pony MMOentirely too seriously, with world-changing consequences. Enjoy “Friendship Is Optimal.”

An intrepid reporter figured out that a small plane circling over West Baltimore for weeks was — ta da! — an FBI surveillance plane. What exactly it was looking at/for is still a mystery. A nice journalistic whodunnit, or whoflewit maybe. [Baltimore Banner]

Far Right Twitter hatemonger Tim Pool is just the latest rightwing idiot astonished to learn that Rage Against the Machine is not fond of Nazis. [Uproxx]

By complete coincidence, just hours later, horrorporncomedy novelist Chuck Tingle (Author of Space Raptor Butt Invasion and Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt) released a new ebook with the distinctly Chuck Tingly title CONSERVATIVE POUNDED BY THE REALIZATION THAT THE PROTEST MUSIC HE GREW UP ON DOES NOT ACTUALLY SUPPORT HIS CURRENT HATEFUL IDEOLOGY. It is about a Senator Porp Gringle, who’s bent on keeping everyone from having nice things — even healthcare for unicorns! He sadly realizes that his once-favorite band, Anger Against The System, is actually Angry at him. Then there’s a lot of fucking, as you’d expect. [Chuck Tingle on Twitter / Amazon (Wonkette-gets-a-cut link)

A US Housing and Urban Development program will provide $837.5 million to retrofit older public housing units to make them energy efficient and more resilient to climate change, installing heat pumps, solar panels, and improved roofing. It’s terrific, but because Joe Biden’s initial plan for $15 billion for the work got whittled down to less than a billion in the Inflation Reduction Act, HUD will only be able to upgrade a few hundred of the nearly 24,000 properties that could be eligible. Mark that one down on the list for second term goals, please, along with restoring the expanded Child Tax Credit. You wouldn’t catch Vienna cheaping out like certain senators from a coal state did. [Grist]

Speaking of climate — and are we ever not? — a report from Arizona’s Department of Water Resources this week found that there’s not enough groundwater under the Phoenix metro area to meet expected demand in the next century, which could finally put the brakes on developments in the outlying suburbs. And yet again the ghost of Edward Abbey is giving us the finger and saying “I said that more than 50 years ago!” [Washington Post gift link]

Speaking even more of climate, don’t forget that this afternoon we’ll be posting the third installment of our Wonkette Book Club discussion of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2020 climate novel The Ministry for the Future (as ever, that Amazon link gives Wonkette a tiny cut of sales). Today, we’ll talk about chapters 31 through 50, but even if you haven’t done the reading, join us for the discussion of climate anyway. It’s not a class and you won’t be graded. I’m genuinely delighted by the quality of our discussions so far! Also, check out our previous two chats about the book! Part 1Part 2

Finally here are your traditional pics of Thornton, who went right back to sleep after I clumsily bumped the chair where his little basket bed sits. oh! oh! jail for father! jail for father for One Thousand Years!

Happy Friday!

Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 to keep this little mommyblog going!

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AI news is driving tech ‘building blocks’ stocks like Nvidia. But another ‘power’ area will also benefit, say these veteran investors

Kneel to your king Wall Street.

After forecasting record revenue backed by a “killer AI app,” Nvidia has teed up the Nasdaq

for a powerful Thursday open. Indeed, thanks to that chip maker and a few other generals — Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, etc.— tech is seemingly unstoppable:

Elsewhere, the Dow

is looking rattled by a Fitch warning over debt wranglings ahead of a long weekend.

But our call of the day is accentuating the positive with some valuable insight on tech investing amid AI mania from a pair of seasoned investors.

Inge Heydorn, partner on the GP Bullhound Global Technology Fund and portfolio manager Jenny Hardy, advise choosing companies carefully given high valuations in some parts of tech that could make earnings vulnerable.

“But looking slightly beyond the volatility, tech has the advantage of being driven by many long-term secular themes which will continue to play out despite a weaker macro,” Hardy told MarketWatch in follow-up comments to an interview with the pair last week. GP Bullhound invests in leading global tech companies, with more than $1 billion in assets under management.

“We try to make sure we’re exposed to these areas that will be more resilient. AI is the perfect example of that –- none of Microsoft, Amazon or Google will risk falling behind in the AI race -– they will all keep spending, and that will continue to drive earnings for the semiconductor companies that go into these servers higher,” said Hardy, who has worked in the investment industry since 2011.

“The way that we think about investing around [AI] is in the building blocks, the picks and shovels infrastructure, which for us is really the semiconductor companies that go into the training servers and the inference servers,” she said.

Advanced Micro Devices
Taiwan Semiconductor


and Palo Alto

are all in their portfolio. They also like the semiconductor capital equipment industry — AI beneficiaries and tailwinds from increasingly localized supply chains — with companies including KLA
Lam Research

and Applied Materials

As Hardy points out, “lots of big tech has given us lots of certainty as it relates to AI, lots of certainty as it relates to the amount they are going to spend on AI.”

Enter Nvidia’s results, which Hardy said are proof the “AI spend race has begun…Nvidia’s call featured an impressive roster of companies deploying AI with Nvidia – AT&T, Amgen, ServiceNow – the message was that this technology adoption is widespread and really a new normal.” She said they see benefits spreading across the AI value chain — CPU providers, networking infrastructure players, memory and semicap equipment makers.

Heydorn, who traded technology stocks since 1994 and also runs a hedge fund with Hardy, says there are two big tech trends currently — “AI across the board and power semiconductors driven by EV cars and green energy projects.”

But GP Bullhound steers clear of EV makers like Tesla
where they see a lot of competition, notably from China. “Ultimately, they will need semiconductors and the semiconductors crucially are able to keep that pricing power in a way that the vehicle companies are not able to do because of the differences in competition,” she said.

Are the tech duo nervous about anything? “The macro economy is clearly the largest risk and further bank or real-estate problems,” said Heydorn, as Hardy adds that they are watching for second-order impacts on tech.

“One example would be enterprise software businesses with high exposure to financial services, which given those latest problems in that sector, might see a re-prioritization of spend away from new software implementations,” she said.

In the near term, Heydorn says investors should watch out for May sales numbers and any AI mentions from Taiwan via TSMC, mobile chip group MediaTek

and Apple

supplier Foxxconn

that may help with guidance for the second half of the year. “The main numbers in Taiwan will tell us where we are in inventories. They’re going to tell us if the 3-nanonmeters, that’s a new processor that’s going into Apple iPhones, are ready for production,” he said.

Read: JPMorgan says this is how much revenue other companies will get from AI this year

The markets

Nasdaq-100 futures

are up 1.8% , S&P 500

futures are up 0.6%, but those for the Dow

are slipping on debt-ceiling jitters. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note

is up 4 basis points to 3.75%.

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The buzz

Fitch put U.S. credit ratings on ‘ratings watch negative’ due to DC “brinkmanship” as the debt-ceiling deadline nears. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told investors not to worry as an agreement will be reached.

Best Buy

stock is up 6% after an earnings beat, while Burlington Stores

is slipping after a profit and revenue miss. Dollar Tree

and Ralph Lauren

are still to come, followed by Ulta

and Autodesk

after the close.

Nvidia is up 25% in premarket and headed toward a rare $1 trillion valuation after saying revenue would bust a previous record by 30% late Wednesday.

Opinion: Nvidia CFO says ‘The inflection point of AI is here’

But AI upstart UiPath

is down 8% after soft second-quarter revenue guidance, while software group Snowflake

is off 14% on an outlook cut, while cloud-platform group Nutanix

is rallying on a better outlook.

Elf Beauty

is up 12% on upbeat results from the cosmetic group, with Guess

up 5% as losses slimmed, sales rose. American Eagle

slid on a sales decline forecast. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

is up 5% on the restaurant chain’s upbeat forecast.

Revised first-quarter GDP is due at 8:30 a.m., alongside weekly jobless claims, with pending-home sales at 10 a.m. Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin will speak at 9:50 a.m., followed by Boston Fed President Susan Collins.

A Twitter Spaces discussion between presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk was plagued by glitches.

The best of the web

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The tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.:


Security name




Anheuser-Busch InBev

Advanced Micro Devices

Palantir Technologies





Random reads

“No way.” Abba says it won’t perform at 50th anniversary Eurovision win

The Welsh harbor that looks like a dolphin from high above.

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