⚙️ AI Goes Retro

Good morning. While Will Ferrell may be the unexpected DJ at a frat party, today we're spinning the decks with the latest in AI and tech news. Forget "Boats 'n Hoes," our playlist includes disruptive trends that could make even Spotify's new Superpremium service take note. This newsletter is the main event you won't want to miss.

In today’s newsletter:

  • 📸 EPIK's Retro Revolution: A Look at the AI App Dominating the U.S. Charts

  • 🎧 Spotify's Superpremium Saga: A Glimpse into the Future of Personalized Audio

  • 🎨 AI and Art: The Battle to Keep Creativity Human-Centric

  • 🔌 OpenAI's Hardware Hustle: Aiming for AI Chip Independence

  • 🔒 UK Watchdog's Eye on Snap: Preliminary Enforcement Over Youth Privacy

  • 🛡️ BBC's AI Guidelines: Navigating Ethics and Transparency in Journalism


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EPIK: A Nostalgic Journey Back to the '90s, Powered by AI


In a landscape where AI apps rise and fall in popularity almost as quickly as they appear, EPIK has managed to stand out. Developed by South Korea-based Snow Corporation, a Naver subsidiary, this AI photo-editing app lets users turn a series of selfies into nostalgic, '90s-inspired "yearbook" photos. The app has soared to the No. 1 spot on the U.S. App Store, buoyed by influencers from around the globe sharing their own retro-style photos. Apptopia reports a jaw-dropping 92.3 million lifetime installs since its August 2021 debut, 4.7 million of which are from the U.S. alone. Another data firm, data.ai, estimates that the app has generated close to $7 million in consumer spending on iOS.

Although the app has enticed millions with its innovative features, it's not without its speed bumps. Users have to upload between eight to twelve selfies for the Yearbook feature to generate their photos, which are often subject to delays due to high demand. In fact, EPIK has become a victim of its own popularity. Users now face waiting times and even sold-out notices when trying to access its paid features, which include faster processing times at different price points—$3.99 for standard 24-hour delivery and $5.99 for express delivery in under two hours.

However, as with many viral apps, the big question is whether EPIK can sustain its initial burst of popularity. Many AI photo apps have seen their 15 minutes of fame evaporate almost as quickly as they arrived, and EPIK may be no exception. A report from Apptopia suggests that interest in AI photo apps often dwindles shortly after their explosive debut. This raises an important question: Is EPIK's current high status just a flash in the pan, or can it adapt and evolve to keep users engaged for the long haul? As the AI photo app landscape continues to be both crowded and volatile, EPIK's trajectory will be one to watch closely in the coming months.


Spotify's Superpremium: The Future of Customized Audio Experience


Spotify is reportedly gearing up to launch a new Superpremium service, and it promises to be more than just an enhanced audio experience. According to code discovered by Chris Messina, the Superpremium tier will offer a 24-bit lossless audio feature, AI-powered playlist generation tools, advanced mixing tools, and extended audiobook listening hours. This ambitious offering is also expected to include a personalized feature called "Your Sound Capsule." A Reddit user, Hypixely, who previously leaked information, suggested that the service would be priced at $19.99 per month and would extend filtering options, allowing users to sort their library by mood, activity, or genre.

In addition to these features, the Superpremium service seems to have other tricks up its sleeve. According to Messina, it will offer 20-30 hours of audiobook listening, exceeding the 15 free hours that come with the existing Premium subscription. The service will also include a feature previously rumored as "Soundcheck," now named "Your Sound Capsule," designed to offer insights into your listening habits and recommend a mix of sounds that are uniquely yours. Another find in the code indicates a feature called "Highlights," which may provide Last. fm-like listening stats.

Despite all the buzz, Spotify has been tight-lipped, refusing to confirm the development of the Superpremium service. However, the company did hint at a broader market reach when questioned about their Q2 earnings and the delay of the HiFi feature, a predecessor to the Superpremium service. As Spotify continually aims to innovate and provide value, this new tier—should it come to fruition—could potentially revolutionize the way we consume audio content, offering a personalized, high-quality listening experience that goes well beyond the current offerings in the audio streaming market.

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🎨 AIdayofaction: The Fight to Keep AI from Owning Creativity

As AI rapidly infiltrates creative industries, artists are uniting to protect their work. Digital rights group Fight for the Future and music labor organization United Musicians and Allied Workers have launched #AIdayofaction. The campaign calls for preventing corporations from copyrighting AI-generated art, aiming to keep humans in the creative loop. The initiative addresses concerns across various artistic fields, advocating for technology to benefit individual creatives rather than exploit them. At a recent FTC roundtable, artists from diverse sectors discussed AI’s implications, emphasizing that although technology can aid artistic creation, it should not replace human creativity.

⚙️ OpenAI's New Ambition: AI Chips for a Self-Sufficient Future

OpenAI is reportedly considering developing its own AI chips as the shortage in chips for training AI models intensifies. CEO Sam Altman has identified acquiring more AI chips as a top priority for the company. Currently reliant on GPU-based hardware, OpenAI faces constraints like high costs and strained supply chains, especially from GPU manufacturers like Nvidia. The firm is mulling various strategies, including buying an AI chip manufacturer or designing chips internally. This move could be a massive investment, potentially costing hundreds of millions of dollars annually, but OpenAI is well-positioned financially to venture into hardware development.

🇬🇧 UK Data Watchdog: Snap’s AI Chatbot Under Preliminary Enforcement for Privacy Risks

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued a preliminary enforcement notice against Snap Inc., raising concerns that its AI chatbot My AI might pose a risk to children's privacy. The notice suggests that Snap may have failed to adequately assess data protection risks before launching the bot, especially for users aged 13 to 17. While Snap claims to have implemented moderation and safeguarding features, the ICO found the risk assessment insufficient. Snap now has an opportunity to respond to these concerns before the ICO's final decision. This scrutiny comes amidst growing regulatory attention toward generative AI technologies and their compliance with data protection laws.

🛡️ Trust and Transparency: BBC Lays Down Rules for AI in Journalism

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), the largest news organization in the UK, has published its principles for using generative AI in various applications like journalism, content archiving, and personalization. Rhodri Talfan Davies, BBC's director of nations, revealed that the broadcaster will focus on three core principles: acting in the public interest, respecting artists' rights, and being transparent about AI-generated content. The BBC aims to collaborate with tech companies and regulators to maintain public trust in news. However, in a move to protect copyrighted material and license fee payer interests, it has blocked OpenAI's web crawlers from accessing its sites, following similar actions by other major news outlets.


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