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Thasunda Brown Duckett Says 'The Time Is Now' For Black Professionals To Accumulate AI Skills

Over the years, Thasunda Brown Duckett has gained global recognition for her monumental career strides, impact, and influence. As previously reported by AFROTECH™, the TIAA president and CEO’s historic feats include, in 2021, becoming the first woman to lead the financial retirement services company in more than 100 years as well as one of two Black women to helm a Fortune 500 company. What’s more, Duckett was named on Forbes’ list of “The World’s Most Powerful Women” in 2023 and TIME’s “100 Most Influential People of 2024” the following year. As Duckett continues to make efforts toward closing the racial retirement gap and women’s retirement gap and tirelessly advocates for DEI, she credits her foundation for fueling the leader she is today. On July 5, 2024, at the Global Black Economic Forum (GBEF) Business Summit during the ESSENCE Festival Of Culture presented by Coca-Cola, she thanks her parents, Otis and Rosie Brown, for teaching her the level of resilience required to be a...

Jul 10, 2024

Universal Music Group Among Major Labels Suing AI Music Startups For Violating Copyright Laws

The battle between artificial intelligence (AI) software and the music industry continues in a new lawsuit against two AI music startups. Top record labels Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Records are accusing AI music creation programs Suno Inc. and Udio AI of “massive and ongoing infringement.” The lawsuit claims that the entities “copied sound recordings from the labels ‘en masse and ingested them into its AI model,’” a practice that the plaintiffs say violates copyright laws, Forbes reports. Moreover, Suno and Udio AI are accused of using artists’ songs to “train their AI services.” In the suit against Suno, the filings allege that if the company hadn’t “violated copyrights on such a large scale, Suno’s service would not be able to reproduce the convincing imitations of such a vast range of human musical expression at the quality that Suno touts.” Similarly, the accusations against Udio AI hold some of the same weight, noting that “since the day...

Jun 25, 2024

Will.i.am Demos An AI-Generated Host He Created During The Cannes Lions Festival

Will.i.am believes diversified voices will be necessary for artificial intelligence (AI) innovation. While in conversation with The Wall Street Journal’s Kim Last at Journal House during The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the artist unveiled an AI-generated Black woman host named Felicia from his SiriusXM show. As AFROTECH™ previously reported, the show spotlights AI innovation at the crossroads of pop culture, music, entertainment, world news, and technology. At the event in Cannes, France, Felicia introduced herself to the audience and shared a call to action on the importance of representation in technology. “Now, when we talk about AI, it’s crucial that we dive into the real deal. Representation, empowerment, and breaking those barriers in tech. Because let’s face it, you ain’t going to see much of our faces if we don’t get involved and steer that ship,” Felicia told the audience. “AI is more than just cool tech. It’s like a new frontier where we got to make...

Jun 18, 2024

Ancestry Is Using AI To Help Users Discover The Names And Lives Of Their Ancestors Who Were Formerly Enslaved

Ancestry.com has been helping families trace their roots for nearly three decades. Now, the genealogy company is using technology to further assist Black Americans in discovering their ancestry. On June 11, 2024, Ancestry announced the publication of a free collection of 38,000 newspaper articles related to more than 183,000 enslaved people in the U.S. from 1788 to 1867, according to a press release. Ancestry’s mission in launching the new newspaper article collection is to help descendants expand their family history research and discover connections. “Greater access to these records on Ancestry will enhance understanding of how chattel slavery and the forced movement of enslaved people became normalized in the United States,” said Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, assistant professor of Africana studies at Morehouse College, per the press release. “This collection is invaluable for providing descendants of enslaved individuals with insights into their ancestral histories and their...

Jun 14, 2024

Will.i.am's FYI Partners With Robert F. Smith's InternXL To Expose College Students To The AI Industry

Robert F. Smith’s internXL has launched a collaboration with Will.i.am to provide access to AI tools. According to a press release shared with AFROTECH™, internXL announced that it has partnered with Will.i.am’s FYI (Focus Your Ideas), an AI-driven collaboration platform. Co-founded by tech entrepreneur Sunil Reddy, FYI works to provide creatives with messaging, collaboration tools, file management, and content publishing features to increase productivity, per its website. Now the new partnership’s goal is to provide college students and recent graduates from underserved communities with exposure to artificial intelligence as well as facilitate engineering industry work opportunities. “Joining forces with Robert F. Smith, alongside internXL and FYI, is a dream come true because it shows people from our communities what our future will look like with the support of purpose- driven tech,” Will.i.am shared in a press statement. “By being solution-oriented, we prepare today’s generation...

Jun 12, 2024

Keith Lee And Microsoft Team Up To Teach Black Restaurateurs About AI Tools For Business Efficiency

Keith Lee has been amplifying Black-owned restaurants with his viral food reviews on TikTok. In an interview with AFROTECH™ in 2023, the viral food critic discussed increasing the visibility of local Black-owned restaurants in the U.S. “Just to be able to be on a scale where people see the hard work that’s put in because a lot of times these restaurants have great food and great customer service, but they just don’t have the eyes on them,” Lee told AFROTECH™. “I think it’s just gonna be so dope to allow these restaurants to have the platform that they deserve.” For 2024, Lee has a new partnership to create efficiency for Black-owned businesses. According to a press release shared with AFROTECH™, Lee has teamed up with Microsoft to provide restaurateurs with AI tools to help their businesses thrive. In 2021, two-thirds of Black-owned businesses had fewer than 10 employees, per Pew Research Center . Lee and Microsoft aim to tackle the barrier through the efficacy and growth that AI...

Jun 6, 2024

Usher's Nonprofit And IBM Are Offering Underserved Youth Free Tech Training

Usher’s nonprofit organization, Usher’s New Look, is working to make tech career paths more accessible for underserved youth. Essence reports that Usher’s New Look teamed up with IBM’s SkillsBuild program to provide young people who are supported by the nonprofit with free tech training including in AI. IBM’s free global platform provides educational pathways and content, particularly focused on career prep resources. “We serve more than 1,500 youth per year, and all the students we serve will have access to SkillsBuild,” said Usher’s New Look CEO and President Careshia Moore, according to Essence. “AI is being infused into every part of our lives, particularly the workforce. We want to make sure that our young people are prepared for what’s coming.” IBM Vice President and Chief Impact Officer Justina Nixon-Saintil chimed in, “In the United States, we very much focus on partnerships like Usher’s New Look, where we can to bring the free training, the expertise from IBM, even job...

May 20, 2024

Donna Summer’s Estate Reaches 'Global Settlement' With Kanye West For Possibly Using An AI-Generated Version Of 'I Feel Love' In His Song

A resolution has been reached for a song that was removed from Kanye West’s “Vultures 1” album. Per Rolling Stone, “Good (Don’t Die)” had been pulled from streaming platforms Spotify and Apple as it allegedly infringed on the rights of Donna Summer. Her estate claimed the song was created through a “blatant theft” of her single “I Feel Love” and had filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in February 2024. “In the face of this rejection, defendants arrogantly and unilaterally decided they would simply steal ‘I Feel Love’ and use it without permission,” the lawsuit said, according to Rolling Stone. The outlet also stated: “The filing accused the songwriters of re-recording ‘almost verbatim’ the most ‘memorable portions’ of Summer’s song, using the material as the hook for their own song, and releasing their infringing track ‘knowing they had tried and failed to secure legal permission.’” Furthermore, the official Donna Summer account had shared in its Instagram Story on Feb. 10 that...

May 16, 2024

Everything You Need To Know About Google Veo, Co-signed By Donald Glover

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for tech lovers – Google’s annual I/O summit. CEO Sundar Pichai, who’s been heading the company since 2015, gave a two-hour keynote speech which predominately focused on how his teams will be keeping up with the growing demand for Artificial Intelligence . Already, plenty of buzz is generating around Google Veo – their “most capable” video generator yet. It’s comparable to Open AI’s Sora, which only launched three months ago but has been revolutionary for experimental creatives. The program isn’t ready for the general public just yet, but what was shown by Pichai and his collaborators looks promising. Here’s everything you need to know about Google Veo: What Is Google Veo? Past attempts at developing AI video generators have produced lackluster results – Google’s Phenaki and Imagen Video both created distorted and sometimes crude clips. In January 2024, they unveiled Lumiere, a massive step up from past attempts, though Sora didn’t take long...

May 16, 2024

Everything You Need To Know About Project Astra, Google’s Version Of J.A.R.V.I.S.

We’ve seen the jarring impacts that Artificial Intelligence can have on the music industry in recent years, but that doesn’t mean technology is all evil . On Tuesday, March 14th, Google CEO Sundar Pichai gave his two-hour keynote speech at the annual I/O Developer’s conference, where AI was mentioned over 100 times. The tech giant has some exciting things in the works, from more intuitive photo libraries to new programs that are sure to make videography a breeze. Elsewhere, Google’s teams have been crafting their version of Marvel’s J.A.R.V.I.S. system, famously introduced in Iron Man . Rollout details remain sparse for now, but while we wait for updates, here’s everything you need to know about Project Astra. What Is Project Astra? As Croma puts it, Project Astra is “ a new multimodal AI agent, capable of answering real-time questions, fed to it through text, video, and images and speech.” It simultaneously accesses information from the web and your surroundings using either your...

May 15, 2024

Mark Zuckerberg Says Meta Is Working On A Wearable Device For The Wrist That Will Read Neural Signals

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed an upcoming Meta product. During an interview with live streamer Roberto Nickson, the Meta founder and CEO spoke about what he envisions the future will look like for the company’s Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses. According to Zuckerberg, that vision includes a new wearable technology. “I think we’ll start getting some consumer neural interfaces soon, and that’s gonna be pretty wild,” Zuckerberg told Nickson. “I’m not talking about something that jacks into your brain. I’m talking about something that you wear on your wrist that can basically read neural signals that your brain sends through your nerves to your hand to basically move it in different subtle ways that are maybe not perceptible to people around you, but we’re basically able to read those signals and be able to use that to control your glasses or other computing devices.” Along with emphasizing that the device wouldn’t be placed in the brain, Zuckerberg shared that the innovative idea is still in...

May 6, 2024

The University Of Pennsylvania Announces A Master's Program In Artificial Intelligence, The First Of Its Kind Among Ivy League Institutions

The University of Pennsylvania will soon become the first Ivy League where students can work toward a master’s degree in artificial intelligence (AI). According to a news release shared by the educational institution, The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science has introduced The Raj and Neera Singh Program in Artificial Intelligence: Master of Science in Engineering in AI online degree. It is the first of its kind among Ivy League universities. “The online Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in Artificial Intelligence (AI) degree at Penn Engineering will empower students with both the practical skills and the ethical foundations to lead AI into the future,” the school news release explained. “Building on the expertise of the School’s world-class faculty, the program will equip students with the mathematical and algorithmic foundation to develop groundbreaking AI systems along with the broad perspective to deploy new technologies in an ethical and...

May 6, 2024

British Singer FKA Twigs Explains Why She Created Her Own Deepfake

In recent years, musicians have been pushing for regulations around artificial intelligence (AI) in the music industry. As previously reported by AFROTECH™, in February 2024, artists such as Mary J. Blige, Cardi B, 21 Savage, and more signed an open letter in support of the bipartisan bill No Artificial Intelligence Fake Replicas and Unauthorized Duplications Act (or No AI Fraud Act), which aims to regulate AI deepfakes and AI cloning of both voice and likeness. While the movement against AI deepfakes continues, one artist is using the controversial technology to her advantage. BBC reports that FKA Twigs went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee to say that artists should have ownership over how AI uses their voice and overall likeness in addition to how there is music online that she didn’t create yet it emulates her voice. The British singer revealed that she had created her own deepfake, AI twigs, with the purpose of allowing her to focus on her artistry. “These and...

May 2, 2024

Meet The Co-Founders Behind Arbit, An AI-Powered Sneaker Resale Price-Prediction Startup That Has Raised $1M In Funding

Venita Cooper’s passion for sneaker culture has led her to become an entrepreneur -turned-tech-founder. In 2019, Cooper opened Silhouette Sneakers & Art in Tulsa, OK, after working as a K-12 educator in the Mississippi Delta through Teach for America. She was brought to Oklahoma because her parents decided to retire, Cooper told AFROTECH™ in an interview. With no entrepreneurial background, the thought of launching her own business never crossed her mind until 2018, when the idea of opening a sneaker store was presented to her. “At first I thought it was crazy ’cause I was like, ‘I’m not an entrepreneur. I’ve never done anything like that before,'” Cooper said. “One of the things that I’ve learned is that to start a business and to run a business, to me, the No. 1 skill is the ability to make good decisions consistently and quickly. I always ask investors and other founders who have successful companies, what is the characteristic that they can identify as that No. 1 characteristic...

Apr 29, 2024

Will.i.am Joins Uproxx Studios As Partner And Investor, Which Is A Result Of An Acquisition Of Uproxx, HipHopDX, And More From WMG

Will.i.am is immersing himself further in the media landscape. According to a press release, he has joined Jarret Myer and Rich Antoniello in forming Uproxx Studios. It is described as a brand solutions studio led by influential leaders in media and music who will consider culture and push it forward. The new entity has been established following the acquisition of Uproxx, HipHopDX, Dime Magazine, and other major media assets from Warner Music Group (WMG), such as the exclusive license to represent its YouTube content. Looking ahead, Uproxx Studios and WMG will remain in collaboration to guarantee seamless execution for their partners. Antoniello, partner and executive chairman of Uproxx Studios as well as founder and ex-CEO of Complex Network, commented, “This is a game-changer. We’re merging the agility and freedom of an independent entity with the reach and resources of a major music label. This is the recipe for groundbreaking content and unparalleled brand experiences.” Uproxx...

Apr 25, 2024