Cruise being investigated over car crash that dragged victim along the road

Plus: George Carlin's family suing creators who used AI to rip off his comedy, and more

AI in brief The US Department of Justice and Securities Exchange Commission are both launching investigations into the Cruise accident that hit a woman and dragged her for six meters (20 feet) under the wheels of its driverless car.

All testing of its autonomous vehicles on roads has ground to a halt, whilst regulators probe the startup. Cruise last week published a report written by a law firm hired to assess how the company dealt with the incident. Officials have criticized leaders for failing to immediately showing the full video of the crash.

The report, however, said that the company didn't intend to deceive or mislead regulators, and attempted to play the video but there were "video transmission issues." For some reason, executives failed to disclose this and its relationship with regulators went south.

Cruise's poor conduct was blamed on "a failure of leadership within Cruise, inadequate and uncoordinated internal processes, mistakes in judgment, an 'us versus them' mentality with government officials, and a fundamental misunderstanding of regulatory requirements and expectations."

The investigation has pulled in other agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Now, the DOJ and SEC are getting involved too. 

In the aftermath of the accident, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt and COO Dan Kan resigned; and nine other executives have been fired, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, 24 percent of the robotaxi firm's staff were also laid off.

Family of dead comedian sues over AI replica

George Carlin's family has filed a lawsuit against the creators of an AI-generated comedy special that repurposed the dead comedian's voice and humor in a YouTube video. 

The lawsuit filed in a California federal court claims that Dudesy AI, the software that created the synthetic content, was fed 50 years' worth of Carlin's original standup routines, which are owned by the comedian's estate, and are copyrighted works. 

Dudesy is backed by podcasters Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen. On top of copyright infringement, the pair have also been accused of violating right of publicity legislation, a type of personality rights law, for misappropriating Carlin's likeness without consent. 

"In short, Defendants sought to capitalize on the name, reputation, and likeness of George Carlin in creating, promoting, and distributing the Dudesy Special and using generated images of Carlin, Carlin's voice, and images designed to evoke Carlin's presence on a stage," the complaint [PDF] said. 

Carlin's family estate has asked judges to order the creators to takedown the hour-long YouTube comedy special, and pay damages. The lawsuit argued that Sasso and Kultgen unfairly profit from stealing copyrighted material.

"If more people saw Dudesy's content based on Defendants' exploitation of George Carlin's name, likeness, and copyrighted works, then more people would see advertisements, would hear the paid sponsorships read during the Dudesy podcast episodes, and would have an opportunity to click through the hyperlinks to buy the Defendants' merchandise and subscribe to Dudesy+," it claimed. "In turn, the audience for Dudesy's offerings would grow, which itself would attract more sponsors."

Carlin's family also argued that the fake AI version of him tarnishes his legacy, since those unfamiliar with his previous work might not bother watching his old standup and know him for his real work.

Here's what a 'big' AI cluster looks like in academia

The University of Texas at Austin is building one of the largest GPU computing clusters in academia made up of 600 Nvidia H100 GPUs.

The system, nicknamed Vista, will be supported by the Texas Advanced Computing Center and will be used for generative AI research in biosciences, health care, computer vision and natural language processing.

"Artificial intelligence is fundamentally changing our world, and this investment comes at the right time to help UT shape the future through our teaching and research," the university's  President Jay Hartzell said in a statement.

"World-class computing power combined with our breadth of AI research expertise will uniquely position UT to speed advances in health care, drug development, materials and other industries that could have a profound impact on people and society.

Academia can't afford the thousands of GPUs that private companies can buy to build state-of-the-art AI models. Vista is impressive when compared to other universities. Carnegie Mellon University, another top school for computer science, for example, has a cluster of 350 GPUs.

Giving researchers more compute will mean that they can research and develop new AI algorithms, models, and compile resources and release them openly for others to build upon, rather than keeping proprietary innovation behind closed doors.

"We believe academia should continue to play a leading role in the development of AI," said Alex Dimakis, director of the center and professor in the Cockrell School's Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

"Open source models, open data sets and interdisciplinary peer-reviewed research is the safest way to drive the upcoming AI revolution. Universities are uniquely suited to shape this ecosystem, and we are excited to be on the frontier of generative AI here in Austin." ®

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