The Download: OpenAI’s GPT-4o, and what’s coming at Google I/O

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

OpenAI’s new GPT-4o lets people interact using voice or video in the same model

The news: OpenAI just debuted GPT-4o, a new kind of AI model that you can communicate with in real time via live voice conversation, video streams from your phone, and text. The model is rolling out over the next few weeks and will be free for all users through both the GPT app and the web interface, according to the company.

How does it differ to GPT-4? GPT-4 also gives users multiple ways to interact with OpenAI’s AI offerings. But it siloed them in separate models, leading to longer response times and presumably higher computing costs. GPT-4o has now merged those capabilities into a single model to deliver faster responses and smoother transitions between tasks.

The big picture: The result, the company’s demonstration suggests, is a conversational assistant much in the vein of Siri or Alexabut capable of fielding much more complex prompts. Read the full story.

—James O’Donnell

What to expect at Google I/O

Google is holding its I/O conference today, May 14, and we expect them to announce a whole new slew of AI features, further embedding it into everything it does.

There has been a lot of speculation that it will upgrade its crown jewel, Search, with generative AI features that could, for example, go behind a paywall. Google, despite having 90% of the online search market, is in a defensive position this year. It’s racing to catch up with its rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, while upstarts such as Perplexity AI have launched their own versions of AI-powered search to rave reviews.

While the company is tight-lipped about its announcements, we can make educated guesses. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä 

This story is from The Algorithm, our weekly AI newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

Get ready for EmTech Digital 

If you want to learn more about how Google plans to develop and deploy AI, come and hear from its vice president of AI, Jay Yagnik, at our flagship AI conference, EmTech Digital. We’ll hear from OpenAI about its video generation model Sora too, and Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, will also join MIT Technology Review’s executive editor Amy Nordrum for an exclusive interview on stage. 

It’ll be held at the MIT campus and streamed live online next week on May 22-23. Readers of The Download get 30% off tickets with the code DOWNLOADD24—register here for more information. See you there!

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 US senators are preparing to unveil their ‘AI roadmap’ 
The guidelines, which aren’t legislation, will cost billions of dollars to implement. (WP $)
+ What’s next for AI regulation. (MIT Technology Review)

2 It’s going to get much more expensive to import tech from China
The Biden administration has hiked tariffs on batteries, EVs and semiconductors. (FT $)
+ Three takeaways about the state of Chinese tech in the US. (MIT Technology Review)

3 The NYC mayor wants to equip the subway with gun-detection tech 
Even though the firm maintains its detectors aren’t designed for that environment. (Wired $)
+ The maker’s relationship with Disney appears to have been a key factor in the decision. (The Verge)
+ Can AI keep guns out of schools? (MIT Technology Review)

4 A Chinese crypto miner has been forced to abandon its facility in Wyoming
The US said it was too close to an Air Force base and a data center doing work for the Pentagon. (Bloomberg $)
+ Microsoft first flagged the mine to authorities last year. (NYT $)
+ How Bitcoin mining devastated this New York town. (MIT Technology Review)

5 App Stores are big business
And governments want to rein them in. (Economist $)

6 How social media ads attract networks of predators
Audience tools highlight how platforms’ algorithms direct them to pictures of children. (NYT $)

7 Enterprising Amazon workers are using bots to nab time off slots
Employees are using automated scripts to gain an edge over their colleagues. (404 Media)

8 Dating app Bumble is ditching its ads criticizing celibacy
Critics say the billboards undermined daters’ freedom of choice. (WSJ $)
+ The platform is in a state of flux right now. (NY Mag $)

9 Buying digital movies is a risky business
What happens if the platform you bought them on shuts down? (The Guardian)

10 The New York-Dublin video portal has been temporarily shut down
Who could have predicted that people would behave inappropriately? (BBC)
+ There have been some heartwarming interactions too, though. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“Rewatched Her last weekend and it felt a lot like rewatching Contagion in Feb 2020.”

—Noam Brown, an OpenAI researcher, reflects on X about the vast changes the company’s new companion AI model GPT-4o could usher in.

The big story

I took an international trip with my frozen eggs to learn about the fertility industry

September 2022

—Anna Louie Sussman

Like me, my eggs were flying economy class. They were ensconced in a cryogenic storage flask packed into a metal suitcase next to Paolo, the courier overseeing their passage from a fertility clinic in Bologna, Italy, to the clinic in Madrid, Spain, where I would be undergoing in vitro fertilization.

The shipping of gametes and embryos around the world is a growing part of a booming global fertility sector. As people have children later in life, the need for fertility treatment increases each year.

After paying for storage costs for years, at 40 I was ready to try to get pregnant. And transporting the Bolognese batch served to literally put all my eggs in one basket. Read the full story.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction to brighten up your day. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)+ Bayley the sheepadoodle really does look just like Snoopy.
+ The secret to better sleep? Setting a consistent wake-up time (and sticking to it.)
+ Going Nemo-spotting in the Great Barrier Reef sounds pretty amazing.
+ Here’s exactly what the benefits of eating colorful fruit and veg are, broken down by color.

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