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posted by hubie on Friday October 20 2023, @11:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the r-d-ct-d dept.

Dozens of exhibits from the Google antitrust trial are still being hidden from the public, The New York Times Company alleged in a court filing today.

According to The Times, there are several issues with access to public trial exhibits on both sides. The Department of Justice has failed to post at least 68 exhibits on its website that were shared in the trial, The Times alleged, and states have not provided access to 18 records despite reporters' requests.
Currently, The Times said it is seeking to unseal redactions in two exhibits, and it remains "unclear why the exhibits have been redacted" because "they date to 2007 and relate to a version of an agreement between Apple and Google that has not been operative for more than a decade."

Perhaps most notably, The Times has also asked the court to unseal testimony from Apple exec Eddy Cue and Google vice president and general manager of ads, Jerry Dischler, in their entirety.

"The Court has upheld redactions to certain transcripts in the absence of a showing by the parties on the public record that the sealing is justified and without providing its own 'full explanation of the basis for the redactions," The Times alleged, "even though some of the redactions have been applied to material that is both of great public interest and goes to the core of the litigation."

Microsoft CEO Warns of "Nightmare" Future for AI If Google's Search Dominance Continues

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Microsoft CEO Warns of "Nightmare" Future for AI If Google's Search Dominance Continues 16 comments

Microsoft CEO warns of 'nightmare' future for AI if Google's search dominance continues

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella warned on Monday of a "nightmare" scenario for the internet if Google's dominance in online search is allowed to continue, a situation, he said, that starts with searches on desktop and mobile but extends to the emerging battleground of artificial intelligence.

Nadella testified on Monday as part of the US government's sweeping antitrust trial against Google, now into its 14th day. He is the most senior tech executive yet to testify during the trial that focuses on the power of Google as the default search engine on mobile devices and browsers around the globe.

[...] even more worrisome, Nadella argued, is that the enormous amount of search data that is provided to Google through its default agreements can help Google train its AI models to be better than anyone else's — threatening to give Google an unassailable advantage in generative AI that would further entrench its power.

[...] In addition to training its models on search queries, Google has also been moving to secure agreements with content publishers to ensure that it has exclusive access to their material for AI training purposes, according the Microsoft CEO. In Nadella's own meetings with publishers, he said that he now hears that Google "wants ... to write this check and we want you to match it." (Google didn't immediately respond to questions about those deals.)

The requests highlight concerns that "what is publicly available today [may not be] publicly available tomorrow" for AI training, according to the testimony.

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Google Loses Fight to Hide 2021 Money Pit: $26B in Default Contracts 14 comments

On Friday, Google started defending its search business during the Justice Department's monopoly trial. Among the first witnesses called was Google's senior vice president responsible for search, Prabhakar Raghavan, who testified that Google's default agreements with makers of popular mobile phones and web browsers were "the company's biggest cost" in 2021, Bloomberg Law reported.

Raghavan's testimony for the first time revealed that Google paid $26.3 billion in 2021 for default agreements, seemingly investing in default status for its search engine while raking in $146.4 billion in revenue from search advertising that year. Those numbers had increased "significantly" since 2014, Big Tech on Trial reported, when Google's search ad revenue was approximately 46 billion and traffic acquisition cost was approximately $7.1 billion.
Pichai will likely provide additional insights into how Google's smart investments are responsible for creating the search empire it maintains today, Reuters reported. But he will also likely face the DOJ's inquiries into why Google invests so much in default agreements if it's not a critical part of the tech giant's strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

The DOJ is not likely to back down from its case that default agreements unfairly secured Google's search market dominance. On Friday, Big Tech on Trial reporter Yosef Weitzman—who has been posting updates from the trial on X—suggested that things have gotten tense in the courtroom now that the "DOJ seems emboldened to push for more information to be public after Judge Mehta's comments yesterday that not all numbers need to remain redacted."

According to Weitzman, the DOJ today pushed to "make public the 20 search queries Google makes the most revenue off of, as well as Google's traffic acquisition costs related to search (the total amount of money Google paid to partners in search distribution revenue shares)."

Google, DOJ Still Blocking Public Access to Monopoly Trial Docs, NYT Says 20231020
Microsoft CEO Warns of "Nightmare" Future for AI If Google's Search Dominance Continues 20231004

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Microsoft in Deal With Semafor to Create News Stories With Aid of AI Chatbot 18 comments

Microsoft is working with media startup Semafor to use its artificial intelligence chatbot to help develop news stories—part of a journalistic outreach that comes as the tech giant faces a multibillion-dollar lawsuit from the New York Times.

As part of the agreement, Microsoft is paying an undisclosed sum of money to Semafor to sponsor a breaking news feed called "Signals." The companies would not share financial details, but the amount of money is "substantial" to Semafor's business, said a person familiar with the matter.

[...] The partnerships come as media companies have become increasingly concerned over generative AI and its potential threat to their businesses. News publishers are grappling with how to use AI to improve their work and stay ahead of technology, while also fearing that they could lose traffic, and therefore revenue, to AI chatbots—which can churn out humanlike text and information in seconds.

The New York Times in December filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging the tech companies have taken a "free ride" on millions of its articles to build their artificial intelligence chatbots, and seeking billions of dollars in damages.

[...] Semafor, which is free to read, is funded by wealthy individuals, including 3G capital founder Jorge Paulo Lemann and KKR co-founder Henry Kravis. The company made more than $10 million in revenue in 2023 and has more than 500,000 subscriptions to its free newsletters. Justin Smith said Semafor was "very close to a profit" in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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