In a surprising turn of events, Sam Altman has been let go from OpenAI, the company he co-founded.
Meanwhile, insiders close to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) chip development department say that the launch of a house-made chip to replace technology from longtime rival Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is likely to face further delays.
Plus, a cutting-edge system can now guide robots to solve problems using simulated cognitive skills.
For these stories and more, keep reading to learn about the latest news in tech.
1. OpenAI terminates Altman
Altman, who co-founded OpenAI, the company behind the explosive software program ChatGPT, has been terminated from his position as CEO and has left the firm’s board of directors.
The company made the announcement in a Friday (November 17) afternoon press release. OpenAI’s chief technology officer, Mira Murati, will act as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. The news comes barely two weeks after Altman acted as emcee for OpenAI’s first developer conference, DevDay. In addition to Altman’s dismissal, the company said co-founder Greg Brockman will be stepping down as chairman, but will remain in his role as president.
A statement from OpenAI reads, “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
Further details had not been provided as of press time.
2. Menlo Ventures pledges more than US$1 billion for AI startups
On Thursday (November 16), Menlo Ventures, one of the first venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, closed on US$1.35 billion in new capital to be committed to artificial intelligence (AI) startups. In a statement, reps for Menlo expressed their excitement about the AI industry and the “immense potential” represented by small but promising pioneers in the sector.
Since 2010, Menlo has invested billions of dollars in tech businesses. The firm’s impressive portfolio is already stacked with quite a few AI companies, and it has a track record of funding startups that have gone on to become major publicly traded enterprises, including Uber (NYSE:UBER), Rover (NASDAQ:ROVR) and Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU).
3. New device could help solve global water and clean energy crisis
A new invention from researchers at the University of Cambridge can turn contaminated or salified water into clean, purified water and hydrogen fuel simultaneously, as per test results published in the scientific journal Nature Water.
The device, which floats and is powered by solar energy, consists of a photocatalyst set on nanostructured carbon mesh. As it absorbs the sun’s rays, the heat generates water vapor, which is used by the photocatalyst to create hydrogen via electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process of separating hydrogen and oxygen molecules, usually using an electric current.
The device, which has yet to be named, is still in the early stages of development, but could be a promising solution to the current water crisis faced by roughly half the world’s population.
4. New system prompts robots to use tools to solve problems
Large language models are being applied to a new system that will enable robots to use tools in creative new ways, further expanding their abilities. The system, called RoboTool, was revealed in a paper published by a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with Google’s DeepMind research lab.
In an interview with Tech Xplore, co-first author Mengdi Xu notes that the use of tools has long been a standard measure of intelligence in living beings. Robots, on the other hand, are programmed to carry out tasks in a predetermined way, performing the same actions without much deviation. ‘In robotics, creative tool use is also a crucial yet very demanding capability because it necessitates the all-around ability to predict the outcome of an action, reason what tools to use, and plan how to use them,’ Peide Huang, co-first author of the paper, told Tech Xplore.
Xu and his team built the system with four components — an analyzer, a planner, a calculator and a coder — all of which use the GPT-4 model created by OpenAI. The four elements work together to process natural language, pick out command objectives, identify obstacles, come up with a strategy to complete the task and determine the parameters to accomplish each step of the plan. Parameters may include actions such as moving furniture or manipulating objects, actions that represent the cognitive process of problem-solving.
According to the paper’s authors, RoboTool could be used in adaptive situations such as reaching people trapped in collapsed buildings. This would bring new heights for the already exciting potential of robotics.
5. Apple likely to miss spring 2025 launch date for silicon modems
Apple has come up against another obstacle in its attempt to replace Qualcomm’s intricate, patented modems — a crucial iPhone component — with house-made silicon chips. The latest snag comes just weeks after Apple announced it will continue using Qualcomm products in its phones, despite plans to sever ties with the tech company. Now, sources have revealed to Bloomberg that the company is likely to miss its goal of shipping silicon-chipped phones by the spring of 2025 due a host of complicated issues, including lengthy testing periods.
The two tech giants settled a two year battle over patent infringement in 2019, at which time Apple agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount, while Qualcomm said it would continue to supply Snapdragon 5G modem‑RF chips for six years with the option to extend for two additional years. Apple is currently Qualcomm’s largest customer.
That deal was supposed to expire at the end of 2025, and Apple was expected to use Qualcomm parts along with its own silicon modem for its next iPhone. Instead, according to a Qualcomm press release, Qualcomm has agreed to supply the chips for iPhone releases into 2026. A scathing Wall Street Journal report has criticized Apple’s chip development department for underestimating the task at hand amid reports of problems like overheating, slow functionality and circuit boards that were too large to fit.
Since 2020, Apple has been working on developing technology to replace third-party suppliers, and it has had some success. The company’s newest MacBook features M3 silicon chips instead of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) processors, and Apple has continued to work on a solution to replace Qualcomm’s.
Securities Disclosure: I, Meagen Seatter, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.