Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : AI Goes Mainstream as ‘AI PCs’ Hit the Market 

John A., Microsoft Marketing Manager, builds a Microsoft Copilot+ display at the Best Buy store on June 18, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)
John A., Microsoft Marketing Manager, builds a Microsoft Copilot+ display at the Best Buy store on June 18, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)
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AI Goes Mainstream as ‘AI PCs’ Hit the Market 

John A., Microsoft Marketing Manager, builds a Microsoft Copilot+ display at the Best Buy store on June 18, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)
John A., Microsoft Marketing Manager, builds a Microsoft Copilot+ display at the Best Buy store on June 18, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)

A new line of PCs specially made to run artificial intelligence programs hit stores on Tuesday as tech companies push toward wider adoption of ChatGPT-style AI.

Microsoft in May announced the new AI-powered personal computers, or "AI PCs," which will use the company's software under the Copilot Plus brand.

The idea is to allow users to access AI capabilities on their devices without relying on the cloud, which requires more energy, takes more time, and makes the AI experience clunkier.

The PCs feature a neural processing unit (NPU) chip that helps deliver crisper photo editing, live transcription, translation, and "Recall" -- a capability for the computer to keep track of everything being done on the device.

However, Microsoft removed Recall last minute over privacy concerns and said it would only make it available as a test feature.

For now, the devices built by hardware makers like HP and ASUS run exclusively on a new line of processors called Snapdragon X Elite and Plus, built by the California-based chip giant Qualcomm.

"We are redefining what a laptop actually does for the end user," Qualcomm's senior vice president Durga Malladi told AFP at the Collision tech conference in Toronto.

"We believe this is the rebirth of the PC."

At the May launch, Microsoft predicted over 50 million AI PCs would be sold in 12 months, given the appetite for ChatGPT's powers.

Such a result would give a much needed boost to PC sales, which declined for two years from the halcyon days of the coronavirus pandemic before returning to growth in the first quarter of 2024.

Best Buy, the US retail giant, said it had trained tens of thousands of staff to sell and maintain the new line of AI PCs.

Some industry experts are more hesitant about their promise, predicting the actual benefit of upgrading to an AI laptop isn't compelling enough yet and will need more time.

"AI's evolutionary features aren't revolutionary enough to disrupt traditional buying patterns," said analysts from Forrester.

"For most information workers, there aren't enough game-changing applications for day-to-day work to drive rapid AI PC adoption."

Microsoft has aggressively pushed out generative AI products since ChatGPT's release in late 2022, with new AI features available across products including Teams, Outlook and Windows.

Feeling the pressure, Google quickly followed suit while Apple entered the game earlier this month, announcing its own on-device AI capabilities rolling out to premium iPhones in the coming months and year.

The latest MacBooks and iPads already have the capability to run high-performing AI features, but Apple has been slower to highlight those powers.

"I guess we missed the boat to name it an AI PC," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, joked recently about the latest generation of MacBook.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Google Scraps Plan to Remove Cookies from Chrome

FILED - 09 January 2024, US, Las Vegas: The Google logo can be seen on the Internet company's pavilion at the CES technology trade fair. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/dpa
FILED - 09 January 2024, US, Las Vegas: The Google logo can be seen on the Internet company's pavilion at the CES technology trade fair. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/dpa
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Google Scraps Plan to Remove Cookies from Chrome

FILED - 09 January 2024, US, Las Vegas: The Google logo can be seen on the Internet company's pavilion at the CES technology trade fair. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/dpa
FILED - 09 January 2024, US, Las Vegas: The Google logo can be seen on the Internet company's pavilion at the CES technology trade fair. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/dpa

Google is planning to keep third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, it said on Monday, after years of pledging to phase out the tiny packets of code meant to track users on the internet.
The major reversal follows concerns from advertisers - the company's biggest source of income - saying the loss of cookies in the world's most popular browser will limit their ability to collect information for personalizing ads, making them dependent on Google's user databases, Reuters reported.
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority had also scrutinized Google's plan over concerns it would impede competition in digital advertising.
"Instead of deprecating third-party cookies, we would introduce a new experience in Chrome that lets people make an informed choice that applies across their web browsing, and they'd be able to adjust that choice at any time," Anthony Chavez, vice president of the Google-backed Privacy Sandbox initiative, said in a blog post.
Since 2019, the Alphabet unit has been working on the Privacy Sandbox initiative aimed at enhancing online privacy while supporting digital businesses, with a key goal being the phase-out of third-party cookies.
Cookies are packets of information that allow websites and advertisers to identify individual web surfers and track their browsing habits, but they can also be used for unwanted surveillance.
In the European Union, the use of cookies is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which stipulates that publishers secure explicit consent from users to store their cookies. Major browsers also give the option to delete cookies on command.
Chavez said Google was working with regulators such as the UK's CMA and Information Commissioner's Office as well as publishers and privacy groups on the new approach, while continuing to invest in the Privacy Sandbox program.
The announcement drew mixed reactions.
"Advertising stakeholders will no longer have to prepare to quit third-party cookies cold turkey," eMarketer analyst Evelyn Mitchell-Wolf said in a statement.
Lena Cohen, staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said cookies can lead to consumer harm, for instance predatory ads that target vulnerable groups. "Google's decision to continue allowing third-party cookies, despite other major browsers blocking them for years, is a direct consequence of their advertising-driven business model," Cohen said in a statement.