Apple faces pressure to deliver on AI at developer conference

Apple faces pressure to deliver on AI at developer conference
CEO Tim Cook. (AP)
Updated 05 June 2024
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Apple faces pressure to deliver on AI at developer conference

Apple faces pressure to deliver on AI at developer conference

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple is expected to make the case next week that it is not being left behind as tech world rivals blaze ahead with artificial intelligence.
AI and perhaps even a partnership with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI will likely be a driving theme at the Monday kickoff of Apple’s annual WWDC developers’ conference in Silicon Valley, according to analysts.
The conference is an annual jamboree for developers who create apps and software for Apple’s ecosystem, and CEO Tim Cook will work hard to persuade them that the company is a key AI player as rivals Microsoft and Google roll out innovations in rapid-fire succession.
While Apple has been quietly including AI features in its iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers for years, it has yet to solidify its overall strategy or embrace ChatGPT-style generative AI that took the world by storm in late 2022.
Apple’s share price has been on a roller coaster ride since the spark of the AI revolution, but the company’s Wall Street believers see next week’s announcements as the beginning of a new chapter for the iPhone-maker.
“WWDC represents the most important event for Apple in over a decade as the pressure to bring a generative AI stack of technology for developers and consumers is front and center,” Wedbush Equities senior analyst Daniel Ives told AFP.
At the heart of the announcements will almost certainly be an update to Apple’s iPhone operating system that is expected to see AI given a central role, according to Ives.
He also predicts a “flagship” OpenAI partnership involving an exclusive chatbot, which could be part of an upgrade to the much-derided virtual assistant Siri.
Since Apple makes most of its money from selling iPhones and other hardware, AI integrations will likely focus on its devices and services working more seamlessly together, said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.
“At the end of the day for Apple, it is about getting people to upgrade their iPhone,” Milanesi said.
“We will see if Apple gives them a compelling reason to do that.”
Apple’s rival Microsoft has “thrown down the gauntlet” by injecting generative AI features into Windows-powered computers to challenge MacBook laptops, according to Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart.
“The timing is critical for Apple,” said Emarketer senior analyst Gadjo Sevilla.
Announcements at WWDC will be a “litmus test” for Apple’s ability to integrate ChatGPT-like generative AI into all its devices and services, he said.
“Any misstep by Apple at this juncture could see it lose its place as a technology leader, especially as it is now sandwiched between two AI giants with actual products and release roadmaps that go well into the next two years.”
Early this year, Apple lost its spot as the world’s biggest company by market capitalization to Microsoft, with AI-chip leader Nvidia quickly closing in.
CEO Cook and his teams have already indicated their intention to answer the AI challenge by putting more powerful and AI-ready chips in recent iPad and MacBook releases.
But the big challenge for Apple is how to infuse the technology into its products without weakening its heavily promoted user privacy and security, according to analysts.
ChatGPT-style AI voraciously feeds off data and Apple will be at pains to fight the AI race while living up to its traditional position on safeguarding data privacy.
“Being too controlling of an AI ecosystem could cause Apple to lose ground or fall behind while other companies are moving fast and breaking things,” Sevilla said.
As it moves forward, Apple has little other choice than to enter the race.
Market-tracker Canalys forecasts that 16 percent of smartphones shipped globally this year will be AI-capable, with that share growing to 54 percent by 2028.


Wedding party resumes for son of Asia’s richest man

Wedding party resumes for son of Asia’s richest man
Updated 13 July 2024
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Wedding party resumes for son of Asia’s richest man

Wedding party resumes for son of Asia’s richest man
  • It follows a formal ceremony and party the previous evening attended by the likes of socialite Kim Kardashian, Tony Blair and John Cena

MUMBAI: Lavish wedding celebrations for the son of Asia’s richest man resumed Saturday with a star-studded guestlist including Hollywood celebrities, global business leaders and two former British prime ministers.
Billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s youngest son Anant and fiancee Radhika Merchant, both 29, are tying the knot over the weekend in the financial capital Mumbai following months of pre-marriage parties that have set a new benchmark in matrimonial extravagance.
Saturday will see a blessing ceremony during which the world’s rich and famous will greet and pay their respects to the couple at the wedding venue, a 16,000-capacity convention center owned by the Ambani family’s conglomerate.
It follows a formal ceremony and party the previous evening attended by the likes of socialite Kim Kardashian, actor John Cena and former British leaders Tony Blair and Boris Johnson.
Kardashian shared videos on Instagram showing the professional influencer and her sister Khloe preparing for Friday night’s festivities adorned in traditional Indian dresses and ornate jewelry.
Footage shared by the hosts showed hundreds of revellers dancing enthusiastically inside the venue wearing traditional Indian dress.
FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Samsung chairman Jay Y. Lee were among the hundreds of other famous figures from the business, sporting and entertainment worlds to make an appearance.
“Great wedding!” China’s ambassador to India Xu Feihong wrote on social media platform X along with footage of the couple from inside the venue.
“Best wishes to the new couple and double happiness!“
This weekend’s celebrations end Sunday with a reception party and cap months of extravagant pre-wedding parties.
Earlier events this year included a party at the Ambanis’ ancestral home where a purpose-built Hindu temple was unveiled, and private performances by R&B star Rihanna and Canada’s Justin Bieber.
Guests at that gala included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and former US president Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, along with a who’s who of India’s sporting and entertainment worlds.
In June, the couple embarked on a four-day Mediterranean cruise along with 1,200 guests, with singer Katy Perry performing at a masquerade ball at a French chateau in Cannes.
The Backstreet Boys, US rapper Pitbull and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli also provided entertainment.
Anant’s father Mukesh is chairman of Reliance Industries, a family-founded conglomerate that has grown into India’s biggest company by market cap.
The patriarch is the world’s 11th richest person with a fortune of more than $123 billion, according to Forbes, and is no stranger to making a statement when it comes to family marriages.
He held the most expensive wedding in India to date for his daughter in 2018, which reportedly cost $100 million and saw US singer Beyonce perform.
The family’s lucrative interests include retail partnerships with Armani and other luxury brands, more than 40 percent of India’s mobile phone market and an Indian Premier League cricket team.
His 27-floor family home Antilia is one of Mumbai’s most prominent landmarks, reportedly costing more than $1 billion to build and with a permanent staff of 600 servants.
Merchant is the daughter of well-known pharmaceutical moguls.


Alec Baldwin weeps in court as judge announces involuntary manslaughter case is dismissed midtrial

Alec Baldwin weeps in court as judge announces involuntary manslaughter case is dismissed midtrial
Updated 13 July 2024
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Alec Baldwin weeps in court as judge announces involuntary manslaughter case is dismissed midtrial

Alec Baldwin weeps in court as judge announces involuntary manslaughter case is dismissed midtrial

SANTA FE, N.M.: A New Mexico judge on Friday brought a sudden and stunning end to the involuntary manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin, dismissing it in the middle of the actor’s trial and saying it cannot be filed again.
Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer dismissed the case based on the misconduct of police and prosecutors over the withholding of evidence from the defense in the 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust.”
Baldwin cried, hugged his two attorneys, gestured to the front of the court, then turned to hug his crying wife Hilaria, the mother of seven of his eight children, holding the embrace for 12 seconds. He climbed into an SUV outside the Santa Fe courthouse without speaking to the media.
“The late discovery of this evidence during trial has impeded the effective use of evidence in such a way that it has impacted the fundamental fairness of the proceedings,” Marlowe Sommer said. “If this conduct does not rise to the level of bad faith it certainly comes so near to bad faith to show signs of scorching.”
The evidence that sank the case, revealed during the trial’s second day of testimony Thursday, was the existence of ammunition that was brought into the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office in March by a man who said it could be related to Hutchins’ killing. Prosecutors said they deemed the ammo unrelated and unimportant, while Baldwin’s lawyers alleged they “buried” it. The defense filed one of many motions they had made to dismiss the case over evidence issues. All the others were rejected. But this one took.
The judge’s decision ends the criminal culpability of the 66-year-old Baldwin after a nearly three-year saga that began when a revolver he was pointing at Hutchins during a rehearsal went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.
“Our goal from the beginning was to seek justice for Halyna Hutchins, and we fought to get this case tried on its merits,” District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. “We are disappointed that the case did not get to the jury.”
The career of the “Hunt for Red October” and “30 Rock” star and frequent “Saturday Night Live” host — who has been a household name for more than three decades — had been put into doubt, and he could have gotten 18 months in prison if convicted.
Baldwin and other producers still face civil lawsuits from Hutchins’ parents and sister.
Prosecutors did get one conviction for Hutchins’ death. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on an involuntary manslaughter conviction, which she is now appealing.
Her attorney Jason Bowles said Friday that he would be filing a motion to dismiss his client’s case as well.
“The judge upheld the integrity of the system in dismissing the case,” he told The Associated Press in an email.
Marlowe Sommer put a pause on the trial earlier Friday and sent the jury home for the weekend so she could spend the day hearing testimony and arguments on the motion to dismiss.
Troy Teske, a retired police officer and a close friend of Gutierrez-Reed’s father Thell Reed who is a gun coach and armorer on movies, was the person who brought the ammunition into the sheriff’s office in March on the same day the guilty verdict in her case was read.
Teske and the ammo he said might be relevant had been known to authorities since a few weeks after the shooting, and special prosecutor Kari Morrissey had met with him last year, but they determined it was not relevant.
The evidence was collected but crucially was not put into the same file as the rest of the “Rust” case, and was not presented to Baldwin’s defense team when they examined the ballistics evidence in April. They defense would argue that they should have had a chance to weigh in on the evidence’s importance, and that the prosecution “buried” it.
The issue came up during the defense questioning Thursday of sheriff’s crime scene technician Marissa Poppell, who acknowledged receiving the ammo, a moment that the judge watched on a police supervisor’s body camera on Friday.
Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey argued that the emergence of the ammunition was part of an attempt by Reed to shift blame away from his daughter.
“This is a wild goose chase that has no evidentiary value whatsoever,” Morrissey told the judge during the hearing. “This is just a man trying to protect his daughter.”
The case’s other special prosecutor, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, resigned from the case earlier Friday. Baldwin attorney Alex Spiro asked whether she had resigned based on the evidence issues being discussed. Morrissey said she believed it was over the holding of the public hearing itself.
Speaking outside the courthouse doors, Morrissey said she respects the judge’s decision but that there was no reason to believe the undisclosed evidence in question was related to the set of “Rust.”
The trial had barely begun when it was brought to a close. Prosecutors had only started to make their case, and none of the eyewitnesses from the set had testified yet.
Baldwin’s younger brother Stephen Baldwin and older sister Elizabeth Keuchler, both actors themselves, sat behind him in the gallery next to his wife each day of the trial, which was streamed live by AP and Court TV. Reporters from both coasts filled the small courtroom, and had stations outside for arrivals and departures of trial players.
The judge dealt a serious blow to the prosecution’s case when on the eve of the trial on Monday when she ruled that Baldwin’s role as a producer on the film was not relevant and had to be left out.
Still, prosecutors forged ahead, painting Baldwin in their openings as a reckless performer who “played make-believe” while flouting basic gun safety rules.
Baldwin’s attorney Spiro argued that he did only what actors always do on the “Rust” set, and that the necessary safety steps must be taken before a gun reaches a performer’s hand.


Ryanair ‘flight from hell’ makes emergency landing after mid-air mass brawl

Ryanair ‘flight from hell’ makes emergency landing after mid-air mass brawl
Updated 11 July 2024
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Ryanair ‘flight from hell’ makes emergency landing after mid-air mass brawl

Ryanair ‘flight from hell’ makes emergency landing after mid-air mass brawl
  • Fight erupted after one of the passengers refused to swap seats
  • Pilots made emergency landing in Marrakech after situation escalated and one women became ill

LONDON: A Ryanair flight from Agadir to London was forced to make an emergency landing in Marrakech last week after a mass brawl erupted between passengers.

“It was like the flight from hell. And it all escalated from that one passenger wanting to change seats,” an unnamed passenger reportedly told the media.

Witnesses said that the brawl started shortly after takeoff from the Moroccan city when a man in his twenties asked a woman to swap seats so he could sit next to his family.

The woman refused to change seats since she was already sitting with her daughter, prompting the man to begin threatening her.

The altercation led to the intervention of the woman’s husband, who started defending his wife, leading to the brawl. Other family members quickly joined in.

Video footage shared online shows passengers screaming, pushing and throwing punches in the aisle as cabin crew attempted to intervene.

“They were trying to punch each other. One of the families was part of a larger group so other passengers started to join in,” the fellow passage added.

In the middle of the drama, another person onboard the plane fell ill and had to be given oxygen mid-flight.

As the situation escalated, the pilots decided to divert the flight and make an emergency landing in Marrakech, where the police intervened to offload the “disruptive” passengers.

The ill passenger was also treated but was determined to continue her flight. She refused to disembark, requiring authorities to remove her, causing further delays.

By the time the situation was resolved, the cabin crew had reached their permitted flying hours, forcing the flight to be postponed to the following day.

A Ryanair spokesperson confirmed the incident, saying that the flight had to be postponed after a “small group of passengers became disruptive.”

They added that a series of events led to the rescheduling of the flight’s departure and apologized to customers for the diversion.


At least 65 pilot whales die in Scottish mass stranding

At least 65 pilot whales die in Scottish mass stranding
Updated 11 July 2024
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At least 65 pilot whales die in Scottish mass stranding

At least 65 pilot whales die in Scottish mass stranding
  • Medics found there to be about 77 animals high up the beach, having evidently been stranded for several hours already
  • 12 of them were still alive

LONDON: At least 65 long-finned pilot whales have died after being stranded on an island off the north coast of Scotland, a rescue charity said on Thursday, in one of the largest mass strandings in Britain in recent times.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue said it had been alerted to the stranding earlier in the day and sent medics to a beach on Sanday, a Scottish island in the Orkney archipelago.
“On arrival, the medics found there to be about 77 animals high up the beach, having evidently been stranded for several hours already. Sadly, only 12 of them (were) still alive at this point,” the charity said in a statement.
Whales can get stranded on shore for a range of reasons, such as when they lose their way or get trapped by tides, but scientists say there is no single definitive reason behind the phenomenon, which has been recorded throughout history.
Pilot whales, in particular, have close social bonds and when one member of a pod gets into difficulties others often follow them, resulting in mass strandings.
Almost a year ago a similar event involving pilot whales occurred on Lewis, another Scottish island located to the west of the mainland, when at least 55 whales died or were euthanized. A mass stranding also occurred in Western Australia earlier this year.


Woman swept to sea while swimming at a Japanese beach is rescued 37 hours later and 80 kilometers away

Woman swept to sea while swimming at a Japanese beach is rescued 37 hours later and 80 kilometers away
Updated 11 July 2024
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Woman swept to sea while swimming at a Japanese beach is rescued 37 hours later and 80 kilometers away

Woman swept to sea while swimming at a Japanese beach is rescued 37 hours later and 80 kilometers away
  • The woman was spotted by a cargo ship early Wednesday, off the southern tip of Boso Peninsula
  • She was lucky to have survived despite the dangers of heat stroke under the sun, hypothermia at night or being hit by a ship in the dark

TOKYO: A Chinese woman who was swept out to sea while swimming at a Japanese beach was rescued 37 hours later after drifting in a swimming ring more than 80 kilometers in the Pacific Ocean, officials said Thursday.
Japan’s coast guard launched a search for the woman, identified only as a Chinese national in her 20s, after receiving a call Monday night from her friend saying she had disappeared while swimming at Shimoda, about 200 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.
The woman was spotted by a cargo ship early Wednesday, about 36 hours after she disappeared, off the southern tip of Boso Peninsula, the coast guard said.
The cargo ship asked a passing LPG tanker, the Kakuwa Maru No. 8, to help. Two of its crew members jumped into the sea and rescued the woman, officials said. She was airlifted by a coast guard helicopter to land, they said.
The woman was slightly dehydrated but was in good health and walked away after being examined at a nearby hospital, the officials said.
The coast guard said she had drifted more than 80 kilometers and was lucky to have survived despite the dangers of heat stroke under the sun, hypothermia at night or being hit by a ship in the dark.