Top 3 tech, startup and sustainability stories of the week, 17th-21st June, 2024

Ilya Sutskever’s new startup, Amazon’s sustainability efforts and Internet Archive’s removal of the books are this week’s stories

1-Internet Archive forced to remove 500,000 books following the publishers win at court

Internet Archive, the free online library, will take down 500,000 books following the publishers win at court. I read this story at Ars Technica and it said book publishers sued Internet Archive last year, “…publishers abruptly forcing these takedowns triggered a “devastating loss” for readers who depend on IA to access books that are otherwise impossible or difficult to access.”

“We use industry-standard technology to prevent our books from being downloaded and redistributed—the same technology used by corporate publishers,” Chris Freeland, IA’s director of library services, wrote in the company’s blog post. “But the publishers suing our library say we shouldn’t be allowed to lend the books we own. They have forced us to remove more than half a million books from our library, and that’s why we are appealing.”

Asked for comment, Association of American Publishers, the trade organization behind the case, announced in a statement defending the takedown requests. The spokesperson at AAP declined to comment on readers’ concerns or the alleged social impacts of takedowns, though.

“As Internet Archive is certainly aware, removals of literary works from Internet Archive’s transmission platform were ordered by a federal court with the mutual agreement of Internet Archive, following the court’s unequivocal finding of copyright infringement,” AAP’s statement said

IA will have an opportunity to defend its practices when oral arguments start in its appeal on June 28, added the story.

Internet Archive forced to remove 500,000 books following the publishers win at court (Photo: Tim Macpherson)

2-Ex-OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever founded a new startup: Safe Superintelligence

Ilya Sutskever, one of ex-OpenAI’s co-founders, started a new company named Safe Superintelligence Inc. (SSI).  Sutskever’s co-founders at SSI are former Y Combinator partner Daniel Gross and ex-OpenAI engineer Daniel Levy. Let me add that SSI was launched just one month after Sutskever left OpenAI.

Here’s the message of the founders at SSI’s website: building safe superintelligence is “the most important technical problem of our time…we approach safety and capabilities in tandem, as technical problems to be solved through revolutionary engineering and scientific breakthroughs. We plan to advance capabilities as fast as possible while making sure our safety always remains ahead.” (I have a story here about Turkey’s AI startup ecosystem)

SSI has offices in Palo Alto and Tel Aviv, where it is currently hiring technical people. As a side note the company’s investment details are unknown. “We plan to advance capabilities as fast as possible while making sure our safety always remains ahead. This way, we can scale in peace. Our singular focus means no distraction by management overhead or product cycles, and our business model means safety, security, and progress are all insulated from short-term commercial pressures,” the founders added.

Ilya Sutskever, Co-founder at Safe Superintelligence (Photo: Getty Images)

3-Au revoir plastic air pillows: Amazon to use paper filling for packages in North America

Amazon to remove the plastic air pillows used for packaging in North America. The company to use recycled paper because it’s more environmentally sound.  I saw this story at The Associated Press and the company announced that it’s already replaced 95% of the plastic air pillows with paper filler in North America and is working toward complete removal by the end of the year.

“We want to ensure that customers receive their items undamaged, while using as little packaging as possible to avoid waste, and prioritizing recyclable materials,” Amazon said.

Amazon disclosed the total of single-use plastic across global operations for the first time in 2022 after investors asked more details on plans to reduce waste, underlining that it used 85,916 metric tons of single-use plastic that year, an 11.6% decrease from 2021.

Amazon began transition away from plastic air pillows in October at an automated fulfillment center in Ohio. The company said that it was able to test and learn at the center there, which helped it move quickly on transitioning to recycled paper filling, according to story.

Amazon to start using paper filings in the packages (Photo: Amazon)

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