xAI Announces Chat Tool Grok and Other News

xAI Announces Chat Tool Grok

On November 4, Musk took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce details of his new AI tool, Grok. Musk said that Grok is currently in early testing and will be available to all X Premium+ (X’s new high-priced subscription plan launched last week at $16 per month) subscribers once testing is complete; Grok’s ability to access data on the X platform in real time is a huge advantage over other models. Grok takes its name from science fiction author Robert Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which means to understand something thoroughly and intuitively. It will also be the first public product from Musk’s new company, xAI, which he founded in July. According to xAI’s official website, Grok beat other products of its size in benchmarks, such as ChatGPT-3.5, but not as well as models that “use a lot of training data and computational resources,” such as GPT-4.

Google Abandons Development of Controversial Web Environment Integrity Inspection Feature

On November 2, Google announced that it was abandoning its previously proposed Web Environment Integrity (WEI) API, whose GitHub repository has since been placed in archival status. Originally proposed in July of this year, Google said at the time that its purpose was to “provide a way for websites to verify that users and their devices/browsers are authentic” in order to “keep user data and intellectual property secure. By design, the WEI API will allow sites to require clients to authenticate with a token before serving content or functionality to them. Google plans to add the feature to Chromium code later. WEI has been widely criticized by users and the industry since its introduction. Skeptics argue that WEI may affect the user’s browsing experience and create privacy issues such as cross-site tracking. In addition, the certification process for WEI is dominated by Google, which is disruptive to the open web ecosystem, and could be used by Google to interfere with the operation of other browsers. Several Chromium-based browsers, including Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi, announced that they would boycott the WEI API. In an announcement on the 2nd, Google said it had listened to the feedback and would not consider the WEI proposal any further. But Google also said it was experimenting with a narrower Android WebView Media Integrity API that would only target WebViews embedded in apps and would not share any user or device identifiers.

Apple Asks EU to Recognize Safari as a Different Browser for Each Platform

According to a recent decision document made public by the European Commission, Apple filed an objection with the Commission in August of this year, denying that its Safari browser constituted a “gatekeeper” as defined by the EU’s Digital Markets Act. In its objection, Apple said that Safari on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS should be treated as three separate browsers, arguing that the versions on the three platforms “each have different interface options and different uses”; the lack of a sidebar on Safari on the iPhone was cited as an example. According to Apple’s classification, only Safari for iOS meets the requirements to be considered a “gatekeeper”. The European Commission refuted this by citing Apple’s own promotional literature. In its decision document, it said that Apple claims on its website that Safari works seamlessly on all types of devices and synchronizes data, which suggests that its versions on different devices are all part of the same service. The “gatekeeper” characterization will result in a number of fair competition obligations for Apple, including allowing third-party iOS apps to use a browser engine other than Safari WebKit next March.