Techmeme
January 29, 2024, 5:55 PM

Top News

Bloomberg:
Amazon drops its $1.4B acquisition of Roomba maker iRobot after clashing with EU regulators and will pay a $94M fee; iRobot has ~$500M in net losses since 2021  —  - IRobot CEO steps down and company cuts workforce by 31%  — Tech giant to pay $94 million to iRobot over deal termination
Rohan Goswami / CNBC:
After Amazon ended its acquisition, iRobot plans to lay off 31% of its staff, or ~350 people, and says chair and CEO Colin Angle would step down; IRBT drops 5%+  —  - Amazon and iRobot mutually agreed to call off their planned acquisition, writing that there was “no path” to regulatory approval and sending iRobot shares down 15%.
Emanuel Maiberg / 404 Media:
Microsoft adds safeguards to its AI text-to-image tool Designer, after fake AI images of Taylor Swift went viral and a report of 4chan users misusing the tool  —  Microsoft has introduced more protections to Designer, an AI text-to-image generation tool that people were using to make nonconsensual sexual images of celebrities.
Washington Post:
X blocking “Taylor Swift” searches as explicit AI images spread is a blunt measure to accomplish a basic moderation task, after gutting “trust and safety” staff  —  The superstar's fans were spurred into action last week after the images, likely generated by AI, began proliferating online
Bloomberg:
Blizzard names Johanna Faries, former general manager for Call of Duty at Activision, as its president, succeeding Mike Ybarra, who left last week amid layoffs  —  Replaces Mike Ybarra who left the video-game company last week as part of mass layoffs under new owner Microsoft
Chance Miller / 9to5Mac:
Zoom details its visionOS app, which will support 3D file sharing, “real-world pinning” of up to five meeting participants, Apple's Persona feature, and more  —  As promised, Zoom will be available on Apple Vision Pro from day one.  Ahead of Vision Pro's launch on Friday …
Zoe Kleinman / BBC:
Apple says proposed UK legislation could let the country try “to secretly veto new user protections globally”, preventing Apple from shipping them to customers  —  Apple has attacked proposals for the UK government to pre-approve new security features introduced by tech firms.
Natasha Lomas / TechCrunch:
After a months-long probe, Italy's data protection authority tells OpenAI that it's suspected of violating EU privacy regulations, giving it 30 days to respond  —  OpenAI has been told it's suspected of violating European Union privacy, following a multi-month investigation of its AI chatbot …
Michael Nuñez / VentureBeat:
Meta releases Code Llama 70B, a new version of its code generation model, featuring improved code correctness, a variant optimized for Python, and more  —  Meta AI, the company that brought you Llama 2, the gargantuan language model that can generate anything from tweets to essays …
Amanda Silberling / TechCrunch:
Meta partners with the Center for Open Science to share data for researching online well-being, before January 31's Congressional hearing on kids' online safety  —  Ahead of a major Congressional hearing about children's online safety, Meta has announced a collaboration with the Center for Open Science …
Suzanne Vranica / Wall Street Journal:
Amazon expects Prime Video's average hourly ad load to be 2 to 3.5 minutes, below traditional TV and most streaming services, and to reach 159M monthly viewers  —  Move prompts longtime subscribers to cancel Prime altogether, forgoing free shipping; ‘There is only one way to show them that this is not OK’
Allison Johnson / The Verge:
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: bright screen, anti-glare, Circle to Search, great camera, and seven years of updates, but pricey, heavy, and AI is a mixed bag  —  The Galaxy S24 Ultra is packed with top-tier hardware, but its highly touted AI features are hit-or-miss — and the price is higher than ever.

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