5 min read

MidWeek Briefing #5

iRobot merger loses power, AI is shredding the job market, LLM hallucination leaderboards, and much more!
MidWeek Briefing #5
Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash

Good Wednesday morning and welcome to the last day of January! I've had some readers reach out to me wondering what happened to my weekly newsletter. It appears that some changes by several email providers to cut spam resulted in some necessary updates on our end. Now that this is complete, welcome back everyone. In case you missed all of January, hit the newsletter tag and catch up!

Huggingface partners with Google

Huggingface is making all the right moves IMHO when it comes to Large Language Models (LLMs). They're partnering with Google to attract more AI developers to both platforms.

The arrangement will allow developers using Google Cloud's technical infrastructure to access and deploy Hugging Face's repository of open source AI software, such as models and data sets. Hugging Face has grown into a central hub for open-source AI software, and signed a similar arrangement in February last year with Amazon.com's (AMZN.O), opens new tab cloud unit.

A strong partner ecosystem is how you win, but it has to be mutually beneficial. This was one of the key takeaways for me from Elad Gil's High Growth Handbook.

Amazon terminates iRobot acquisition

This hurts because Roomba, the maker of iRobot, lays off close to a third of it's employees. That's about 35o people.

Amazon terminates iRobot deal, Roomba maker to lay off 31% of staff
Amazon and iRobot said regulatory concerns made it impossible for the deal to move forward, sending the Roomba makers’ shares plummeting.

It seems the terminate of the merger was mutual, both Amazon and iRobot agreed to call it off. What's the reason? Regulatory compliance.

“Our in-depth investigation preliminarily showed that the acquisition of iRobot would have enabled Amazon to foreclose iRobot’s rivals by restricting or degrading access to the Amazon Stores,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president, said in a statement. She added that Amazon’s control over the marketplace “could have restricted competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners, leading to higher prices, lower quality, and less innovation for consumers.”

Nearly 40% of global employment could be disrupted by AI

This reminds me of all the jobs that were disrupted with the automobile took over. Remember all the jobs related to keeping, caring, and using horses? The same thing will happen with AI, we'll see a lot of jobs disappear but new ones will take their place.

‘Jobs may disappear’: Nearly 40% of global employment could be disrupted by AI, IMF says | CNN Business
Almost 40% of jobs around the world are at risk of being affected by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a trend which is likely to deepen inequality, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In more developed economies, for example, as much as 60% of jobs could be impacted by AI. Approximately half of those may benefit from how AI promotes higher productivity, she said.

Ouch, what about less developed countries?

In emerging markets and lower income nations, 40% and 26% of jobs are expected to be affected by AI, respectively. 

Should we worry about all these job losses? Yes, we should. It could be a cause for social unrest.

She (ed. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva) warned that the use of AI could increase chances of social unrest, particularly if younger, less experienced workers seized on the technology as a way to help boost their output while more senior workers struggle to keep up.

In the coming effects of climate change, access to clean and abundant water will become crucial to different states and regions in the United States and the world. California's newest reservoir project is in "hot water."

“We’re cutting red tape to build more faster,” (ed Governor) Newsom said regarding his certification of Sites Reservoir, in a Nov. 6 news release. “These are projects that will address our state’s biggest challenges faster, and the Sites Reservoir is fully representative of that goal — making sure Californians have access to clean drinking water and making sure we’re more resilient against future droughts.” 

So what's going wrong?

In late December, a group of environmental organizations filed a legal challenge to the massive $4.5 billion Sites Reservoir project planned for Northern California. The move to halt the delivery of the 1.5 million acre-ft reservoir in the Sacramento Valley represents the first case to be tried under a new legal process designed to expedite challenges to certain infrastructure projects in California.

Environmental groups are arguing in their filing:

As the Project was conceived and created to augment irrigation water supplies, it does not help solve any of the serious environmental problems created by the Central Valley Project and other related water projects—projects that have resulted in water overappropriation, groundwater depletion, and cascading Bay-Delta ecosystem collapses. They serve as the underlying causes of multiple and synergistic listings of species under the federal Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.) and California Endangered Species Act (Fish & Game Code, § 2050 et seq.). The Authority designed the Project to benefit irrigation, not to store water to meet watershed ecosystem or species conservation needs and the Authority’s environmental review reflects this purpose. (emphasis mine)

Measuring hallucinations in LLMs

Another Huggingface bit of news! This one is about measuring hallucinations in LLMs and putting it on a leaderboard.

The Hallucinations Leaderboard, an Open Effort to Measure Hallucinations in Large Language Models
We’re on a journey to advance and democratize artificial intelligence through open source and open science.
The Hallucinations Leaderboard evaluates LLMs on an array of hallucination-related benchmarks. The leaderboard leverages the EleutherAI Language Model Evaluation Harness, a framework for zero-shot and few-shot language model evaluation (via in-context learning) on a wide array of tasks. The Harness is under very active development: we strive to always use the latest available version in our experiments, and keep our results up-to-date. 

Infographic of the week

Despite the recent layoffs in the tech field, being a software developer is projected to be one of the top 3 growing fields between 2021 and 2031. It's also projected to be the the second highest median annual pay (for 2021).