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BMW is testing humanoid robot to automate manufacturing tasks

BMW is testing humanoid robot to automate manufacturing tasks

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BMW is testing humanoid robot to automate manufacturing tasks

BMW Manufacturing signed a partnership with Robotics startup Figure to deploy its humanoid robots in the car maker’s facility in the U.S., as more companies turn to human-like robots to take on certain physical tasks.

Figure’s humanoids will be deployed in BMW’s manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the largest automotive exporter in the U.S., which currently employees 11,000 people.

They will be integrated into the manufacturing processes including the body shop, sheet metal and warehouse in the next 12-24 months, after being trained to perform specific tasks.

“We have designed the robot to be safe next to humans. Working with BMW on automation in a manufacturing facility is a huge validator for us in the space,” Adcock said.

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This marks the first commercial deal Figure has signed since it was founded in 2022. While the company didn’t disclose how many robots BMW will be using, the partnership will start with small quantities and expand if performance targets have been met, according to Brett Adcock, chief executive at Figure. 

General-purpose humanoid robots with artificial intelligence-powered software have received renewed interest from investors as they have the potential to move in a wide range of motion and learn to perform new tasks like humans do.

Robots currently in use are generally created for specific tasks, and it is not clear if a more flexible robot able to perform a broader array of services will prove viable in a real-life environment.

Sunnyvale, California-based Figure has raised $70 million from investors last year, led by Parkway Venture at a valuation of more than $400 million.

Car makers from Honda to Hyundai have been experimenting with humanoid robots to perform repetitive and dangerous work in assembly lines for years.

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Tesla recently released its latest humanoid in development, Optimus Gen 2, and Chief Executive Elon Musk predicted a billion humanoid robots on earth in the 2040s.

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Apple slashes iPhone prices in China amid fierce Huawei competition

Apple slashes iPhone prices in China amid fierce Huawei competition

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Apple has launched an aggressive discounting campaign on its official Tmall site in China, offering discounts of up to 2,300 yuan ($318) on select iPhone models.

The discounting comes as the US tech giant seeks to defend its position in the high-end smartphone market, where it faces increasing competition from local rivals such as Huawei.

Running from May 20 to May 28, it is more substantial than the one Apple offered in February.

While the highest discount in the February campaign was 1,150 yuan, this time discounts are up to 2,300 yuan. The steepest discount applies to the 1TB iPhone 15 Pro Max model, while other models also see significant price cuts.

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For instance, the 128 GB version of the base iPhone 15 model has a discount of 1,400 yuan, according to Reuters’ checks on Monday.

The increased competitive pressure on Apple comes after Huawei last month introduced its new series of high-end smartphones, the Pura 70, following the launch of the Mate 60 last August.

Apple’s previous discounting effort in February appears to have helped the company mitigate a sales slowdown in China.

Apple’s shipments in China increased by 12% in March, according to Reuters’ calculations based on data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT). This marks a significant improvement from the first two months of 2024, when the company experienced a 37% slump in sales.

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Website creator Wix.com Q1 profit tops estimates, raises 2024 outlook

Website creator Wix.com Q1 profit tops estimates, raises 2024 outlook

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Website creator Wix.com Q1 profit tops estimates, raises 2024 outlook

Wix.com which helps small businesses build and operate websites, reported on Monday a higher-than-expected rise in quarterly net profit, boosted by its new artificial intelligence (AI) and Studio products for designing advanced websites.

The Israeli company posted earnings of $1.29 per diluted share, excluding one-time items, compared with 91 cents per share a year earlier. Revenue for the January-March quarter grew 12% to $420 million.

Analysts expected Wix to earn $1.05 per share excluding one-time items on revenue of $418 million, LSEG data showed.

Wix raised its full-year revenue outlook to $1.738-$1.761 billion, for annual growth of up to 13%. It expects second-quarter revenue of $431-$435 million, up 11-12%. 

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A former OpenAI leader says safety has ‘taken a backseat to shiny products’ at the AI company

A former OpenAI leader says safety has ‘taken a backseat to shiny products’ at the AI company

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A former OpenAI leader says safety has 'taken a backseat to shiny products' at the AI company

A former OpenAI leader who resigned from the company earlier this week said Friday that safety has “taken a backseat to shiny products” at the influential artificial intelligence company.

Jan Leike, who ran OpenAI’s “Superalignment” team alongside a company co-founder who also resigned this week, wrote in a series of posts on the social media platform X that he joined the San Francisco-based company because he thought it would be the best place to do AI research.

“However, I have been disagreeing with OpenAI leadership about the company’s core priorities for quite some time, until we finally reached a breaking point,” wrote Leike, whose last day was Thursday.

An AI researcher by training, Leike said he believes there should be more focus on preparing for the next generation of AI models, including on things like safety and analyzing the societal impacts of such technologies.

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He said building “smarter-than-human machines is an inherently dangerous endeavor” and that the company “is shouldering an enormous responsibility on behalf of all of humanity.”

“OpenAI must become a safety-first AGI company,” wrote Leike, using the abbreviated version of artificial general intelligence, a futuristic vision of machines that are as broadly smart as humans or at least can do many things as well as people can.

Open AI CEO Sam Altman wrote in a reply to Leike’s posts that he was “super appreciative” of Leike’s contributions to the company was “very sad to see him leave.”

Leike is “right we have a lot more to do; we are committed to doing it,” Altman said, pledging to write a longer post on the subject in the coming days.

The company also confirmed Friday that it had disbanded Leike’s Superalignment team, which was launched last year to focus on AI risks, and is integrating the team’s members across its research efforts.

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Leike’s resignation came after OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever said Tuesday that he was leaving the company after nearly a decade.

Sutskever was one of four board members last fall who voted to push out Altman — only to quickly reinstate him. It was Sutskever who told Altman last November that he was being fired, but he later said he regretted doing so.

Sutskever said he is working on a new project that’s meaningful to him without offering additional details.

He will be replaced by Jakub Pachocki as chief scientist. Altman called Pachocki “also easily one of the greatest minds of our generation” and said he is “very confident he will lead us to make rapid and safe progress towards our mission of ensuring that AGI benefits everyone.”

On Monday, OpenAI showed off the latest update to its artificial intelligence m

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