Google fakes an AI demo, Grand Theft Auto VI goes viral and Spotify cuts jobs


Hey, people, welcome to Week in Assessment (WiR), TechCrunch’s common e-newsletter that recaps the previous few days in tech. AI stole the headlines as soon as once more, with tech giants from Google to X (previously Twitter) heading off in opposition to OpenAI for chatbot supremacy. However a lot occurred moreover.

On this version of WiR, we cowl Google faking a demo of its new AI mannequin (and giving out offensive notebooks to Black summit attendees), protection startup Anduril unveiling a fighter jet weapon, the continued fallout from the 23andMe hack, and the discharge of the Grand Theft Auto VI trailer. Additionally on the roster are tales about affected person scans and well being data spilling on-line, Meta’s new AI-powered picture generator, Spotify reducing jobs and an autonomous truck startup leaving the U.S.

It’s so much to get to, so we received’t delay. However first, a reminder to join right here to obtain WiR in your inbox each Saturday should you haven’t already finished so.

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AI, faked: Google unveiled a brand new flagship AI mannequin this week known as Gemini. Nevertheless it didn’t launch the complete mannequin, Gemini Extremely — solely a “lite” model known as Gemini Professional. In a press briefing and weblog posts, Google touted Gemini’s coding capabilities and multimodal prowess, claiming that the mannequin can perceive photographs, audio and movies simply in addition to textual content. However Gemini Professional — which is strictly text-in, text-out — has confirmed to be mistake-prone. And in a worse search for Google, the corporate was caught faking a Gemini demo by tuning textual content prompts with nonetheless photographs off digicam.

Offensive notebooks: In one other Google PR blunder, individuals who attended the corporate’s Okay&I Black Summit in August got third-party notebooks containing extremely insensitive language. My colleague Dominic-Madori writes that the within of the notebooks have been printed with the phrase “I used to be simply cotton the second, however I got here again to take your notes” (emphasis ours). It goes with out saying that this wouldn’t have been nicely obtained by the largely Black viewers in attendance; Google has pledged to “keep away from related conditions as [it engages] with [merchandise] distributors going ahead.”

Anduril’s new weapon: Anduril, the controversial protection firm co-founded by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, has developed a brand new product designed to tackle the proliferation of low-cost, high-powered aerial threats. Dubbed Roadrunner, the modular, twin-jet-powered autonomous vertical take-off and touchdown air car — one model of which is able to carrying a warhead — can take off, comply with and destroy targets or, if there’s no have to intercept the goal, autonomously maneuver again to base for refueling and reuse.

Extra 23andMe victims: Final Friday, genetic testing firm 23andMe introduced that hackers managed to entry the private knowledge of 0.1% of shoppers, or about 14,000 people. However the firm didn’t initially say what number of different customers would possibly’ve been impacted by the breach, which 23andMe first disclosed in October. So much, because it seems — 6.9 million individuals had their names, delivery years, relationship labels, the proportion of DNA they share with kinfolk, ancestry experiences and self-reported places uncovered.

Grand Theft Auto goes viral: In simply 22 hours, the primary trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI racked up 85 million views — breaking a MrBeast video’s file for many YouTube views in 24 hours. The joy for Grand Theft Auto VI is a decade within the making; the earlier entry in Rockstar Video games’ long-running franchise, Grand Theft Auto V, stays the second-best-selling online game of all time, falling quick solely of Minecraft.

Affected person data leak: Hundreds of uncovered servers are spilling the medical data and private well being data of thousands and thousands of sufferers as a consequence of safety weaknesses in a many years’ outdated business customary designed for storing and sharing medical photographs. This customary, generally known as Digital Imaging and Communications in Drugs (DICOM), is the internationally acknowledged format for medical imaging. However as found by Aplite, a Germany-based cybersecurity consultancy, safety shortcomings in DICOM imply many medical services have unintentionally made personal knowledge accessible to the open net.

Meta generates photographs: To not be outdone by Google’s Gemini launch, Meta rolled out a brand new, stand-alone generative AI expertise on the net, Think about with Meta AI, that enables customers to create photographs by describing them in pure language. Much like OpenAI’s DALL-EMidjourney and Secure Diffusion, Think about with Meta AI, which is powered by Meta’s current Emu image-generation mannequin, creates high-resolution photographs from textual content prompts.

Spotify makes cuts: Spotify is eliminating about 1,500 jobs, or roughly 17% of its workforce, in its third spherical of layoffs this yr because the music streaming big seems to turn into “each productive and environment friendly.” In a be aware to staff Monday, Spotify founder and chief govt Daniel Ek — citing gradual financial development and rising capital prices — stated right-sizing the workforce is essential for the corporate to face the “challenges forward.”

TuSimple exits: When TuSimple went public in 2021, it was flying excessive because the main self-driving vehicles developer within the U.S. Now — after a string of inside controversies and the lack of a important partnership with truck producer Navistar — TuSimple is exiting the U.S. altogether. TuSimple stated in a regulatory submitting Monday that it’s shedding nearly all of its U.S. workforce and promoting belongings right here because it exits the nation for Asia.

ZestMoney shuts down: ZestMoney — a purchase now, pay later startup whose capability to underwrite small-ticket loans to first-time web clients attracted many high-profile traders, together with Goldman Sachs — is shutting down following unsuccessful efforts to discover a purchaser. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup employed about 150 individuals at peak and raised greater than $130 million over its eight-year journey.


TechCrunch’s roster of podcast episodes retains rising — simply in time for weekend listening.

Fairness featured a throwback dialog from TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, when Alex sat down with Serhii Bohoslovskyi, the founding father of a no-code app builder, Trible, that helps individuals assemble on-line programs. The pair caught up on the state of the creator financial system, using no-code tooling at the moment (and the way it’s obtained by nontechnical creators) and the safety of startups with roots in Ukraine.

Over on Discovered, the crew talked to David Rogier, the CEO and founding father of MasterClass, a streaming platform the place you possibly can be taught from the world’s consultants on a variety of subjects. Earlier than Rogier launched MasterClass, he labored as a VC, and — by means of his connections — he obtained a $500,000 seed spherical earlier than he even had an concept for an organization.

And on Chain Response, Jacquelyn interviewed David Pakman, managing accomplice and head of enterprise investments at CoinFund. Earlier than CoinFund, David spent 14 years on the enterprise capital agency Venrock. He additionally led the Collection A and B rounds at Greenback Shave Membership, which was acquired by Unilever for $1 billion. And, in 1991, David co-created Apple Music when he was a part of Apple’s system software program product advertising group.


TC+ subscribers get entry to in-depth commentary, evaluation and surveys — which you realize should you’re already a subscriber. When you’re not, think about signing up. Listed here are just a few highlights from this week:
Bitcoin surge: Jacquelyn writes about Bitcoin’s rapid-fire ascent to $44,000, which got here on the again of roughly 25% beneficial properties within the final week. Her piece for TC+ explores what’s driving Bitcoin’s value ascent and related worth beneficial properties amongst different tokens — and whether or not the great vibes proceed into the brand new yr.

To swap, or to not swap: Tim experiences on how client EV battery swapping might usher in freedom for a variety of individuals, permitting them to take part within the EV transition in ways in which conventional built-in batteries don’t. The problem is making the unit economics work.

Coinbase and Robin and the way forward for fintech: Traders are betting that client buying and selling of fairness and crypto is rebounding and are consequently pushing the worth of some former startups increased, Alex writes. That might spell excellent news for startups providing client buying and selling providers immediately — or not directly, for that matter.


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