Every day we wake up, drink some coffee, get ready for work and check on the latest tech. So here’s a handful of stories from around the tech world condensed to fit into that first cup. These are things you need to know before you step foot out of your door (or in front of a webcam) and into the real world this morning.
Meta releases an open-source tool for creating music with AI
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has announced that it is open-sourcing a new tool that can generate music with artificial intelligence. The tool, called Meta Music, uses deep neural networks to learn from a large corpus of songs and create original compositions in various genres and styles.
Meta Music can produce music in MIDI format, which can be edited and customized by users. The tool also allows users to control the tempo, key, mood, and instruments of the generated music. Meta Music can be used for various purposes, such as creating soundtracks, remixes, jingles, or personal playlists.
Meta Music is part of Meta’s efforts to “democratize” creativity and empower people to express themselves through technology. The tool is available on GitHub and can be accessed by anyone who wants to experiment with music generation. Meta Music is also compatible with Meta’s VR and AR platforms, such as Oculus and Horizon.
YouTube makes it easier for creators to earn money
YouTube announced that it is lowering the requirements for its monetization program, which allows creators to earn money from ads and other features on their videos. Previously, creators needed to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months to be eligible for the program. Now, they only need to have 500 subscribers and 2,000 hours of watch time.
The change is part of YouTube’s efforts to support and grow its creator community, especially in emerging markets where internet access and smartphone penetration are increasing. YouTube said that it wants to help more creators turn their passion into a business and reach a global audience.
The new eligibility criteria will take effect on July 1, 2023. Creators who meet the new requirements can apply for the monetization program through YouTube Studio. YouTube will review their channels and content to ensure they comply with its policies and guidelines.
Pollens raises $4M to connect freelancers with clients
Pollens, a startup that helps freelancers find and manage projects, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Point Nine Capital. The company, founded in 2021, operates a network of vetted freelancers who can offer services such as web development, design, marketing and content creation. Pollens also provides tools for freelancers to handle invoicing, payments, contracts and feedback.
The company claims to have over 10,000 freelancers and 1,000 clients on its platform, including brands like Shopify, Stripe and Notion. Pollens charges a 15% commission fee from freelancers and a 5% service fee from clients. The startup plans to use the new funding to expand its team, improve its product and grow its community.
Pollens’ co-founder and CEO, Maxime Leroy, said that the company’s mission is to empower freelancers to work on their own terms and to help clients access high-quality talent on demand. He added that Pollens is different from other freelance platforms because it focuses on building long-term relationships between freelancers and clients, rather than one-off gigs.
US intelligence agencies buy Americans’ personal data from private firms
A new report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reveals that US intelligence agencies have been purchasing Americans’ personal data from private companies, such as location data from smartphone apps, without a warrant.
The report, which was released in response to a congressional request, states that the agencies have legal authority to acquire such data under certain circumstances, and that they follow strict guidelines to protect civil liberties and privacy.
However, some lawmakers and privacy advocates have expressed concerns about the lack of oversight and transparency of these practices, and have called for reforms to limit the scope and duration of such data collection. The report also acknowledges that the use of commercially available data poses new challenges and risks from the intelligence community, such as data quality, reliability, and security issues.
FTC to challenge Microsoft’s $69 billion deal with Activision Blizzard
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly preparing to file a lawsuit to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the largest gaming company in the world.
The deal, announced in January, would give Microsoft control over popular franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. The FTC is concerned that the merger would harm competition and innovation in the gaming industry, as well as raise prices and reduce choices for consumers.
Microsoft has argued that the deal would benefit gamers and developers by creating more diverse and inclusive content, and that it faces strong competition from other platforms such as Sony, Nintendo, and Apple. The FTC’s decision to sue could trigger a lengthy legal battle that could delay or derail the deal, which was expected to close by mid-2023.