Tech Digest daily roundup: Actors’ union warns AI is ‘stealing the show’


Actors’ livelihoods are at risk from artificial intelligence (AI) unless the law changes, a union warns. Equity, the performing arts workers union, has launched a new campaign, “Stop AI Stealing the Show”. AI can use samples of an actor’s voice or face, to generate content including so-called “deep fakes”. “From automated audiobooks to digital avatars, AI systems are now replacing skilled professional performers” the union says. It warns of “dystopian” consequences unless copyright law adapts. Equity highlights a number of different ways actors’ voices and likenesses may be used. For example, actors may work with AI firms to create systems that can generate artificial voice-overs or to help them create digital “avatars”. BBC 

Zipline, an American company that specializes in using autonomously flying drones to deliver medical supplies, has taken off in Japan. They’re flying, starting Thursday, across the tiny Goto Islands, off the western coast of Kyushu, in southwestern Japan, delivering to pharmacies and hospitals. Other parts of Japan may follow, including urban areas, although the biggest needs tend to be in isolated rural areas. Zipline, founded six years ago, already is in service in the U.S., where it has partnered with Walmart Inc. to deliver other products at the retail chain as well as drugs. It is also delivering medical goods in Ghana and Rwanda. Its takeoff in Japan is in partnership with Toyota Tsusho, a group company of Japan’s top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. AP News 

Tesla smashed Wall Street estimates for revenue and profit in another record quarter on Wednesday, despite a tumultuous few months for its CEO, Elon Musk, and ongoing supply chain concerns. The electric car manufacturer reported $18.8bn in revenue for Q1 of 2022, up 81% from a year earlier. The report beat analyst expectations of $17.8bn, sending Tesla shares up 4% in after-hours trading. “The future is very exciting,” Musk said in a call with investors after the close. “I’ve never been more optimistic or excited about the future of Tesla than I am right now.” Tesla acknowledged challenges including a large increase in prices for some of its raw materials coupled with supply chain issues have “remained persistent”. Guardian

A newly-discovered stellar explosion could change the understanding of how eruptions in stars occur, astronomers have said. A micronova is a blast that lasts for just a few hours and could be commonplace in the universe, but they are difficult to observe. Explosions take place on the surface of certain stars and can quickly burn through huge amounts of material – the equivalent of around 3.5 billion Great Pyramids of Giza. A team of researchers led by Durham University observed the phenomenon in three white dwarfs, which are the remnants of dead stars, as they fed in each case on a companion star. Sky News 

At the time, it was hailed as a seismic moment for the movie industry. After years of fighting to be taken seriously, Netflix triumphed on the most traditional field of them all. Its drama, Roma, secured a best director Oscar for Alfonso Cuaron and the streaming service walked away with three Academy Awards in what was regarded as a tipping point in the streaming industry’s dominance over the world of entertainment. Yet fast forward three years and that Oscar triumph in 2019 is at risk of becoming the peak of Netflix’s success as its streaming story hurtles towards a possibly unhappy ending. The company behind global hit shows such as The Crown and Squid Game is in deep trouble. Telegraph

Chris Price
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