News Briefing - Friday, January 19th 2024
From US Top News and Analysis
Mark Zuckerberg indicates Meta is spending billions of dollars on Nvidia AI chips
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is planning to spend billions of dollars on Nvidia's computer chips for its artificial intelligence (AI) research and projects. In an Instagram Reels post, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company's future roadmap for AI requires a "massive compute infrastructure," which will include 350,000 Nvidia H100 graphics cards by the end of 2024. While the exact number of graphics processing units (GPUs) that Meta has already purchased remains unknown, analysts estimate that the H100 GPUs could cost up to $30,000 or more. Additionally, Meta plans to include almost 600,000 H100 equivalents of compute if other GPUs are included in its infrastructure. Meta is investing heavily in AI as it pursues research in artificial general intelligence (AGI), aiming to eventually develop AI comparable to human-level intelligence. The company's chief scientist, Yann LeCun, has emphasized the importance of GPUs in AGI research. Meta's expenses for 2024 are expected to be between $94 billion and $99 billion, with AI being the biggest investment area. The company also plans to open-source its general intelligence and is actively working on developing its Llama family of large language models.
Macy's to cut more than 2,300 jobs, about 3.5% of its workforce, and close five stores
Macy's has announced plans to cut around 2,350 jobs, or 3.5% of its workforce, and close five of its mall locations as part of a cost-cutting strategy. The affected positions will be across the company's corporate office and stores, and impacted employees will have their last day on January 26. The stores being closed are located in Arlington, Virginia; San Leandro, California; Lihue, Hawaii; Simi Valley, California; and Tallahassee, Florida. The closures are expected to occur in early 2024. Macy's is trying to transform its business to better appeal to consumers who are increasingly shopping online, seeking value, and turning to competitors like Amazon and Target. The company has been overhauling its private-label brands, opening smaller stores outside of malls, and looking to its beauty chain, Bluemercury, and higher-end department store, Bloomingdale's, for growth. Macy's has been struggling with slowing sales, and earlier projected same-store sales to decline by up to 7% for fiscal 2023.
OpenAI's Altman says U.S. and AI will be 'fine' no matter who wins White House after Trump's Iowa landslide
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, expressed confidence in the resilience of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and the United States regardless of the outcome of the presidential election. Altman believes that America and the AI sector will be fine no matter which candidate wins the election, although hard work will be needed to ensure their success. Altman made these remarks during an interview in Davos, Switzerland. He also discussed the rise of Donald Trump and the failure of leaders to understand the needs of working-class voters who feel left behind by technological advancements. Altman acknowledged that AI could exacerbate these societal divisions and become a social and political issue. OpenAI, in light of the upcoming elections in many countries, including the US in 2024, has released new guidelines to prevent the abuse of its generative AI tools. The guidelines include measures such as cryptographic watermarks on generated images and a ban on the use of some AI tools in political campaigns.
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From BBC News - Home
Bronson Battersby's sister does not blame social services for his death
The sister of two-year-old Bronson Battersby, who is believed to have starved to death after his father suffered a fatal heart attack, has said she does not blame social services and the police for his death. Melanie Battersby told the BBC she believed "social services and the police did what they could within the powers that they had". Lincolnshire County Council has said a "rapid review" will be carried out, and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is also investigating whether there were "missed opportunities" to check on the pair. Ms. Battersby said that had social services been told about her father's health issues after they were first unable to contact him, it "could've been a different outcome for my baby brother". The rapid review into the deaths will involve the council, police force, and any relevant health organisations and must be completed by 2 February.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hints at further tax cuts
UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has hinted at the possibility of further tax cuts in the upcoming spring Budget. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Hunt stated that countries with lower taxes tend to have more dynamic and faster-growing economies. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor reduced national insurance for workers and announced tax relief for businesses. If inflation falls this year, along with lower interest rates, Hunt may have additional room to implement further tax cuts. The size of the potential cuts is yet to be determined, pending a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility. Income tax is expected to be the main focus of the Budget on 6 March. The current tax burden in the UK is set to rise, as tax thresholds have remained the same since 2021 and will continue to be frozen until 2028.
Ofsted sorry for its role in Ruth Perry's suicide
Ofsted, the UK's education regulator, has issued a formal apology for its role in the suicide of head teacher Ruth Perry and has promised to review the lessons to be learned. Perry took her own life while waiting for an inspection report in January 2023. The coroner in the case warned of the risk of further deaths unless action was taken. In response to the coroner's report, Ofsted has also pledged to conduct a major review of how it handles safeguarding concerns. The Department for Education (DfE), which also received a prevention-of-future-deaths (PFD) notice from the coroner, has promised to collaborate with Ofsted to make changes. The coroner expressed concern over the lack of training provided by Ofsted to inspectors in identifying signs of distress in school leaders and overseeing inspections. Ofsted has also changed its confidentiality rules to allow head teachers to share inspection outcomes before the publication of a report.
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From CNN.com - RSS Channel - App International Edition
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment on Tuesday in a New York state court will not be broadcasted by news outlets, according to a judge's decision on Monday night. However, the judge will allow five pool photographers to take still photos at the beginning of the proceedings. Several media organizations, including CNN, had requested permission to broadcast the historic proceedings, arguing that the public's access to the gravity of the case should not be limited. Trump's lawyers had urged the judge to reject the request for live cameras in the courtroom. Last week, a grand jury indicted Trump as part of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign. The arraignment is expected to unseal the criminal charges against Trump, who denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to fight the charges.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman offers insight into why former President Donald Trump attacked a judge and his family during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort following his arraignment on felony charges. According to Haberman, Trump's attacks were a calculated move aimed at discrediting the judge and influencing public opinion. Trump's strategy was to create doubt surrounding the judge's impartiality by suggesting bias due to a purported personal vendetta. By attacking the judge's family, Trump sought to portray him as a victim and elicit sympathy from his supporters. This tactic aligns with Trump's well-known pattern of attacking perceived enemies and using personal attacks as a way to manipulate public perception. Haberman explains that Trump has long used such tactics to generate controversy, rally his base, and distract attention from the core issues at hand. In this particular case, his objective was to undermine the credibility of the legal proceedings against him and shape the narrative in his favor.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received the first tranche of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. The IMF approved a four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of around $15.6 billion as part of a $115 billion total support package for Ukraine. The program aims to stabilize the country's fiscal, external, price, and financial situation, support economic recovery, enhance governance, strengthen institutions, and promote long-term growth. It also allows for more ambitious structural reforms. However, there are exceptionally high risks associated with the arrangement, according to Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director of the IMF. The success of the program depends on external financing to close fiscal and external gaps and ensure debt sustainability. The Extended Fund Facility loan is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war.