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Google DeepMind co-founder joins Microsoft as CEO of its new AI division

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Google DeepMind co-founder joins Microsoft as CEO of its new AI division

Microsoft has hired Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman. In a post on X, Suleyman announced that he’s joining Microsoft as the CEO of a new team that handles the company’s consumer-facing AI products, including Copilot, Bing, and Edge.

Suleyman will also serve as executive vice president of Microsoft AI and join the company’s senior leadership team that reports directly to CEO Satya Nadella. Suleyman co-founded the AI lab DeepMind in 2010, which was later acquired by Google in 2014.

DeepMind has remained a pioneering AI force within Google. However, Suleyman hasn’t been part of the division in many years. He was placed on leave in 2019 over controversy surrounding some of the projects he led, according to a report from Bloomberg. The Wall Street Journal later reported Google and DeepMind opened an investigation into Suleyman over complaints he bullied staff.

After getting placed on leave at DeepMind, Google announced it had hired Suleyman as vice president of AI product management and AI policy. Suleyman left Google in 2022 to co-found the startup Inflection AI.

In addition to hiring Suleyman, Microsoft is also bringing on some of Inflection AI’s employees, including co-founder Karén Simonyan, who will serve as the chief scientist of the consumer AI group. Kevin Scott will remain as Microsoft’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of AI.

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“I’ve known Mustafa for several years and have greatly admired him as a founder of both DeepMind and Inflection, and as a visionary, product maker, and builder of pioneering teams that go after bold missions,” Nadella says in a memo to employees published by Microsoft. “We have a real shot to build technology that was once thought impossible and that lives up to our mission to ensure the benefits of AI reach every person and organization on the planet, safely and responsibly.”

Microsoft has poured billions into its partnership with OpenAI and recently struck a deal with AI startup Mistral. The formation of a new AI team doesn’t mean Microsoft has forgotten about these partnerships. Microsoft says it “will continue to build AI infrastructure inclusive of custom systems and silicon work in support of OpenAI’s foundation model roadmap,” as well as “build products on top of their foundation models.”

Update March 19th, 1:38PM ET: Added context about Suleyman’s time at DeepMind.

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A morning with the Rabbit R1: a fun, funky, unfinished AI gadget

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A morning with the Rabbit R1: a fun, funky, unfinished AI gadget

There were times I wasn’t sure the Rabbit R1 was even a real thing. The AI-powered, Teenage Engineering-designed device came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest stories at CES, promising a level of fun and whimsy that felt much better than some of the more self-serious AI companies out there. CEO Jesse Lyu practically promised the world in this $199 device.

Well, say this for Rabbit: it’s real. Last night, I went to the swanky TWA Hotel in New York City, along with a few hundred reporters, creators, and particularly enthusiastic R1 buyers. After a couple of hours of photo booths, specialty cocktails, and a rousing keynote and demo from Lyu — in which he made near-constant reference to and fun of the Humane AI Pin — we all got our R1s to take home. I’ve been using mine ever since, and I have some thoughts. And some questions.

It might be a little big for some hands, but the R1 fits nicely enough in mine.

From a hardware perspective, the R1 screams “kinda meh Android phone.” Here are the salient specs: it’s about three inches tall and wide and a half-inch thick. It weighs 115 grams, which is about two-thirds as much as the iPhone 15. It has a 2.88-inch screen, runs on a 2.3GHz MediaTek MT6765 processor, and has 128 gigs of storage and four gigs of RAM. It has a speaker on the back, two mics on the top, and a SIM card slot on the side right next to the USB-C charging port. It only comes in one color, a hue Rabbit calls “leuchtorange” but is often known as “brilliant orange” or “luminous orange.” It’s definitely orange, and it’s definitely luminous.

At this point, the best way I can describe the R1 is like a Picasso painting of a smartphone: it has most of the same parts, just laid out really differently. Instead of sitting on top or in the back, the R1’s camera sits in a cutout space on the right side of the device, where it can spin its lens to face both toward and away from you. 

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The R1 is like a Picasso painting of a smartphone

After spending a few hours playing with the device, I have to say: it’s pretty nice. Not luxurious, or even particularly high-end, just silly and fun. Where Humane’s AI Pin feels like a carefully sculpted metal gem, the R1 feels like an old-school MP3 player crossed with a fidget spinner. The wheel spins a little stiffly for my taste but smoothly enough, the screen is a little fuzzy but fine, and the main action button feels satisfying to thump on. 

When I first got the device and connected it to Wi-Fi, it then immediately asked me to sign up for an account at Rabbithole, the R1’s web portal. I did that, scanned a QR code with the R1 to get it synced up, and immediately did a software update. I spent that time logging in to the only four external services the R1 currently connects to: Spotify, Uber, DoorDash, and Midjourney. 

The Rabbithole app is for managing your logins and seeing your notes. It needs some work.

Once I was eventually up and running, I started chatting with the R1. So far, it does a solid job with basic AI questions: it gave me lots of good information about this week’s NFL draft, found a few restaurants near me, and knew when Herbert Hoover was president. This is all fairly basic ChatGPT stuff, and there’s some definite lag as it fetches answers, but I much prefer the interface to the Humane AI Pin — because there’s a screen, and you can see the thing working so the AI delays don’t feel quite so interminable. 

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Because there’s a screen, the AI delays don’t feel quite so interminable

Almost immediately, though, I started running into stuff the R1 just can’t do. It can’t send emails or make spreadsheets, though Lyu has been demoing both for months. Rabbithole is woefully unfinished, too, to the point I was trying to tap around on my phone and it was instead moving a cursor around a half-second after every tap. That’s a good reminder that the whole thing is running on a virtual machine storing all your apps and credentials, which still gives me security-related pause.

Oh, and here’s my favorite thing that has happened on the R1 so far: I got it connected to my Spotify account, which is a feature I’m particularly excited about. I asked for “Beyoncé’s new album,” and the device excitedly went and found me “Crazy in Love” — a lullaby version, from an artist called “Rockabye Baby!” So close and yet so far. It doesn’t seem to be able to find my playlists, either, or skip tracks. When I said, “Play The 1975,” though, that worked fine and quickly. (The speaker, by the way, is very much crappy Android phone quality. You’re going to want to use that Bluetooth connection.)

The R1’s Vision feature, which uses the camera to identify things in the scene around you, seems to work fine as long as all you want is a list of objects in the scene. The device can’t take a photo or video and doesn’t seem to be able to do much else with what it can see.

The R1 has a camera, but it’s not a particularly useful one yet.
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When you’re not doing anything, the screen shows the time and that bouncing rabbit-head logo. When you press and hold the side button to issue a command, the time and battery fade away, and the rabbit’s ears perk up like it’s listening. It’s very charming! The overall interface is simple and text-based, but it’s odd in spots: it’s not always obvious how to go back, for instance, and you only get to see a line or two of text at a time at the very bottom of the screen, even when there’s a whole paragraph of answer to read.

Rabbit’s roadmap is ambitious: Lyu has spent the last few months talking about all the things the R1’s so-called “Large Action Model” can do, including learning apps and using them for you. During last night’s event, he talked about opening up the USB-C port on the device to allow accessories, keyboards, and more. That’s all coming… eventually. Supposedly. For now, the R1’s feature set is much more straightforward. You can use the device to play music, get answers to questions, translate speech, take notes, summon an Uber, and a few other things. 

The back of the R1 has its speaker, scroll wheel, and camera. And fingerprints.

That means there’s still an awful lot the R1 can’t do and a lot I have left to test. (Anything you want to know about, by the way, let me know!) I’m particularly curious about its battery life, its ability to work with a bad connection, whether it heats up over time, and how it handles more complex tasks than just looking up information and ordering chicken nuggets. But so far, this thing seems like it’s trying to be less like a smartphone killer and more like the beginnings of a useful companion. That’s probably as ambitious as it makes sense to be right now — though Lyu and the Rabbit folks have a lot of big promises to eventually live up to and not a lot of time to do so.

Photography by David Pierce / The Verge

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New stealthy submarine glider set for autonomous undersea missions

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New stealthy submarine glider set for autonomous undersea missions

The ocean depths are a new frontier explored by humans and autonomous vehicles.

Leading the charge is Northrop Grumman’s innovative Manta Ray uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV), a technological innovation set to revolutionize undersea missions.

The Manta Ray UUV (Northrop Grumman)

Engineering inspired by nature

The Manta Ray UUV was built through a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program. It is a testament to human ingenuity and nature’s inspiration. Drawing from the hydrodynamic form of its namesake, the manta ray, this extra-large glider vehicle promises to soar through the ocean on long-range missions without human assistance.

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER

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UNDERSEA mission 2

The Manta Ray UUV (Northrop Grumman)

MORE: THIS BULLETPROOF BODY ARMOR EXOSKELETON INNOVATION CAN TAKE ROUNDS FROM AK-47

A cloak of secrecy surrounding the Manta Ray

Details on the Manta Ray are sparse, shrouded in mystery, much like the ocean depths it’s designed to explore. What we do know is that it’s built for endurance and versatility, capable of carrying various payloads tailored to specific missions.

GREECE PROPOSES 2 MARINE PARKS AS PART OF $830M ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PROGRAM

UNDERsea mission 3

The Manta Ray UUV (Northrop Grumman)

MORE: DIVE INTO THE SEA WITH THIS STATE-OF-THE-ART UNDERWATER DRONE

Technological underwater leap forward

Northrop Grumman isn’t just creating a vehicle but pioneering advanced autonomous technologies. The Manta Ray’s energy-saving systems and modular design are set to revolutionize subsea warfare and beyond.

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undersea mission 4

The Manta Ray UUV (Northrop Grumman)

MORE: IT MAY LOOK LIKE AN EAGLE, BUT IT’S ACTUALLY A STEALTHY BIRD-DRONE FOR COVERT MISSIONS

Advancing UUV technology

The Manta Ray program is set to introduce critical technologies for a new class of UUVs. These technologies include:

  • Novel energy management techniques for UUV operations and undersea energy harvesting at operationally relevant depths
  • Low-power, high-efficiency propulsion systems that redefine undersea travel
  • New methods for underwater detection and classification of hazards and counter-detection threats
  • Mission management approaches for extended durations, taking into account the dynamic maritime environment
  • Leveraging existing maritime data sets and exploiting novel maritime parameters for high-efficiency navigation, command, control and communications (C3)
  • Innovative solutions to mitigate biofouling, corrosion and material degradation for long-duration missions

The program’s multiphase effort includes at-sea demonstrations of these critical technologies, employing a disciplined systems engineering approach to define objectives and identify enabling technologies needed for future systems.

undersea mission 5

The Manta Ray UUV (Northrop Grumman)

Kurt’s key takeaways

The Manta Ray UUV is more than just a machine; it’s a leap into the future of undersea exploration and combat. Its ability to operate autonomously and adapt to various missions represents a significant advancement in unmanned maritime technology.

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With the deployment of the Manta Ray UUV and similar autonomous technologies, what concerns do you have about the escalation of undersea warfare and its potential consequences for global security? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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The Mercedes G-Wagen, the ultimate off-road status symbol, goes electric

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The Mercedes G-Wagen, the ultimate off-road status symbol, goes electric

For those who prefer to grind gravel and bound over boulders while surrounded by luxurious napa leather — and can’t imagine emitting even a single molecule of carbon dioxide while doing so — the fully electric Mercedes G-Wagen is for you.

The very expensive, boxy status symbol is now even status symbol-ier thanks to a 116 kWh battery and all-electric drive train, complete with four individually controlled motors with a maximum total output of 432 kW — or the equivalent of about 580 horsepower — and a max torque 1,164 Newton-meters.

“I recently joked that it’s like the Birkin bag of Mercedes,” Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius said on the Decoder podcast back in 2022. “Everybody wants one, and the waiting time is really long. It may even be the most desirable car in our portfolio.”

But with great power comes great expense. The Mercedes-Benz G 580 with EQ technology (an ungainly name for an exotic EV, but I’ll allow it) will start at €142,621.50 ($152,184.27), while the first edition trim goes for €192,524.15 ($205,432.89). That’s a premium over the gas models, which typically start at around $143,000. At launch, the Edition One trim will be exclusive to the US market and will arrive at dealerships in the second half of 2024.

The G 580, or EQG if you will, will be built on a ladder frame concept, which the automaker says is fundamental to its off-roading. Like its gas-powered equivalents, the ladder frame includes an independent front suspension with double wishbones, as well as a newly developed rigid rear axle for a lower center of gravity. The battery will propel the EQG to an estimated 473 km (293 miles) on the WLTP standard, which will likely be even lowered when based on the less optimistic EPA rating.

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The electric G-Wagen will come with a whole caravan of nifty circus tricks, including a tank turn (which Mercedes has branded its G-Turn) for sharper, on-axis rotations. G-Turn will work on loose, unpaved roads and trails and only at low speeds. And a three-speed intelligent off-road crawl function will keep the electric SUV at the optimal speed while traveling over uneven surfaces. And Mercedes boasts that the EQG will remain stable on slopes up to 35 degrees and has a maximum fording depth of 850 millimeters (33 inches).

Of course, all that off-roading requires extra protection for the battery, which is stored in the floor of the vehicle for that low center of gravity. Every grain of gravel is a potential hazard when you’re driving around with a two-tiered lithium-ion battery with 216 cells installed in 12 cell modules between three cooling levels under your feet.

The underbody skid plate, which is unique to the electric G-Class, is made from “an intelligent material mix” that includes carbon, which “increases rigidity compared to alternatives made from steel or aluminum,” the company says. It also ensures long-lasting corrosion protection and saves weight. The plate is 26 millimeters thick, weighs 57.6 kilograms, and is attached to the ladder frame with more than 50 steel screws.  

And in what is becoming an increasingly normal thing to do with new EVs, Mercedes has decided to give its electric G-Wagen a fake engine noise, branded here as G-Roar. Inspired by the gas lineup’s “emotional V8 sounds,” the G-Roar will use external speakers to emit a sound that simulates the “deep bass and sonorous tones” of its fuel-sipping sibling. The sounds can change when switching between drive modes: Comfort produces a more restrained fake engine noise, while Sport will hit you right in the feelings (Mercedes also describes it as “emotional”).

Even with an emphasis on off-roading over performance, the G 580 with EQ technology (nope, still ungainly, going back to EQG) is no slouch on the pavement. The electric SUV can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and will be electronically limited to a maximum speed of 180 km/h (or 112 mph).

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The exterior is nearly identical to the current model year of gas-fueled G-Wagens. You do get illuminated accents on the grille, which also can be replaced with an optional blacked-out front panel. The bonnet is slightly raised, and the rear wheel wells include air curtains for better aerodynamic performance. There’s also a new A-pillar cladding and a spoiler lip on the roof. But otherwise, it would be difficult to pick out the EV in an all-G-Class lineup.

A rear-mounted design box looks ideal for a spare tire, but open it up and — surprise! — it’s charging cables and other optional goodies, like snow chains. Of course, if you want to be a traditionalist, you can absolutely stow your spare tire in there. No judgment.

Inside, the electric G-Wagen is sticking to what works, keeping the passenger grab bar and surrounding everything with carbon fiber. There are plenty of physical buttons, and the air vents are delightfully tactile and circular. The pedals are covered in raised rivets because, you know, off-road. And the 12.3-inch digital display runs on Mercedes’ well-received MBUX infotainment system — but also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Rear-seat passengers can enjoy a variety of media on their personal 11.6-inch touchscreens that are mounted on the back of the front seats. Content can be moved from the rear to the front display — but video watching and internet browsing are reserved for parked mode only.

The electric G-Wagen first emerged in concept form back in 2021 and then again in 2022, despite the company’s lack of clarity around production plans. (To compensate, Mercedes released a ridiculously high concept promotional video set in a 1970s-era space opera with aliens.)

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But since then, there have been a lot of electric off-roaders, including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevy Silverado EV, Hummer EV, and Rivian R1T and R1S. Whether any of these vehicles actually spend a single second doing real off-road stuff — as opposed to picking up grass fertilizer at The Home Depot — is entirely up for debate. The electric G-Wagen will likely be no different, as the boxy SUV has always been seen more frequently in the driveways of the über rich than on the trails in Moab.

Still, the EQG is a sign that while it has pulled back some of its early predictions about electrification, Mercedes still understands that even its super luxury status symbols will need to go electric.

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