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Google and Canada reach deal to avert news ban over Online News Act

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Google has reached a deal with Canada to avert a news blockade over a law that forces tech giants to pay for news content.

Google had vowed to remove links to news in Canada in response to the Online News Act, due to take effect on 19 December.

Social media giant Meta is already blocking news on its platforms as a result of the law.

The deal comes after months of talks between the search giant and Canada.

The law – which is aimed at Google and Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram – requires tech firms to negotiate payment agreements with news outlets.

The agreement announced on Wednesday requires Google pay C$100m (£58m, $74m) annually, indexed to inflation, to news outlets.

An announcement by Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge on Wednesday said the funding would be used “for a wide range of news businesses across the country, including independent news businesses and those from Indigenous and official-language minority communities”.

The statement said that Google would pay a “single collective” which would distribute the funds to eligible news agencies “based on the number of full-time equivalent journalists engaged by those businesses”.

“A sustainable news ecosystem is good for everyone,” Ms St-Onge said, adding that newsrooms closing and laying off workers means that “the health of the Canadian news industry has never been more at risk”.

Google released a statement saying it is “pleased that the Government of Canada has committed to addressing our core issues” with the bill.

“While we work with the government through the exemption process based on the regulations that will be published shortly, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers,” the company’s statement continued.

Canada’s Online News Act was met with outrage from the tech companies when it was passed this summer, while

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Market close: Bond yields fall on signs Federal Reserve is in ‘sweet spot’

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The renewables business faces a make-or-break moment

A FEW YEARS ago renewables were having their moment in the sun (and wind). Rock-bottom interest rates lowered the cost of clean power, which is expensive to deploy but runs on sun and wind that come free of charge. The price of solar panels and wind turbines fell as technologies matured and manufacturers gained scale. These developments brought the levelised cost of electricity (LCoE)—which accounts for capital and operating expenditures per unit of energy—for solar, onshore wind and offshore wind down by 87%, 64% and 55%, respectively, between 2010 and 2020 (see chart 1). Clean energy became competitive with dirty alternatives, and was snapped up by big corporate power-users directly from developers.

image: The Economist

Infrastructure investors such as Brookfield and Macquarie made big renewables bets. So did some fossil-fuel firms, such as BP. Utilities such as EDP and Iberdrola in Europe and AES and NextEra in America poured money into projects. Average returns on capital put to work by developers rose from 3% in 2015 to 6% in 2019, a similar level to oil-and-gas extraction but with less volatility. The industry’s prospects looked so bright that in October 2020 the market value of NextEra briefly eclipsed that of ExxonMobil, America’s mightiest oil giant, making it America’s most valuable energy company.

image: The Economist

Today these prospects look considerably dimmer. Over the past two years the economics of renewables have been hit by rising interest rates, supply-chain snags, permitting delays and, increasingly, the protectionist instincts of Western governments. The “green premium” in stocks has turned into a “green discount”. The S&P Global Clean Energy Index, which tracks the performance of the industry, has declined by 32% over the past 12 months, even as the world’s stockmarkets are up by 11% (see chart 2).

How Google Bard Utilizes Your Business’ Content (For Free)

How can I opt out of Google Bard’s LLM?

When it comes to large language models (LLMs), opting out can mean two things:

  • You don’t want your data to be used to train the LLM.
  • You don’t want Bard users to make queries on your website’s content without them actually visiting your site.

The difference between the two may seem subtle, but it is fundamental to the issue at hand. LLMs are trained on huge volumes of data. If your data are not included in the LLM training dataset, the LLM will answer less accurately for questions whose answer was only located on your website and was difficult to generalize from other sources in the training dataset.

However, there is nothing preventing the LLM interface UI—here, the Bard chat UI—to dynamically fetch content from URLs/pages in response to user queries, and to dynamically feed the content it retrieves to the LLM. Thus, even though the content of your site was not originally used to train the LLM, the LLM may still be able to use it to improve the quality of its inference. We discussed this use-case in the context of ChatGPT plugins.

Opting Out of Google Bard & Google Vertex AI

Google provides information on their developer website about crawlers such as the Googlebot, as well as other crawlers used by Google to collect information on the web. It can be helpful for websites to safely identify real Googlebots. Indeed, as we explained in a previous article, ~30% of traffic with the Googlebot user-agent is fake Googlebot traffic.

When it comes to Bard and other generative AI products such as Vertex AI, Google introduced a standalone product token named Google-Extended. It can be used by websites to control whether or not they want their data to

Google to pay $100M a year to Canadian news publishers in deal with Ottawa

Ottawa has agreed to set a $100-million yearly cap on payments that Google will be required to make to media companies when the government’s controversial online news legislation takes effect at the end of the year.

Ottawa has agreed to set a $100-million yearly cap on payments that Google will be required to make to media companies when the government’s controversial online news legislation takes effect at the end of the year. 

The announcement Wednesday has the Liberals bending to the tech giant’s demands after Google threatened back in February to remove news from its platform.

The Online News Act compels tech giants to enter into compensation agreements with news publishers for content that generates revenue for companies such as Google by appearing on its sites.

Broadcasters and French-language and Indigenous news organizations would join newspapers in being eligible for the deals, with draft regulations suggesting the amount of money would be linked to the number of full-time journalists on staff.

A formula in the government’s draft regulations to implement the bill would have seen Google contribute up to $172 million to news organizations. Google balked, saying it was expecting a figure closer to $100 million, based on what it said was a previous estimate from Canadian Heritage officials.

The company appears to have got what it wanted after an extended period of negotiation.

Still, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge called it a “historic development,” insisting Wednesday that the agreement was ultimately a win for the government and for the local news publishers it is seeking to support.

“We have found a path forward to answer Google’s questions about the process and the act. Google wanted certainty about the amount of compensation it would have to pay to Canadian news outlets,” she said on Parliament Hill. 

“Canada reserves the right

Google to pay $100M a year to Canadian news publishers in deal with Ottawa – Business News

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.

Ottawa has agreed to set a $100-million yearly cap on payments that Google will be required to make to media companies when its controversial online news legislation takes effect at the end of the year.

The announced Wednesday has the Liberal federal government bending to the tech giant’s demands after it threatened to remove news from its platform.

The Online News Act compels tech giants to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for the news content that appears on their sites, if that content contributes to revenues.

A formula in the government’s draft regulations to implement the bill would have seen Google contributing up to $172 million to news organizations.

But Google signalled its disapproval for those regulations, saying it was expecting a figure closer to $100 million, based on what the company says is a previous estimate offered by Canadian Heritage officials.

The company appears to have gotten what it wanted after an extended period of negotiation.

Still, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge insisted Wednesday that the agreement was ultimately a win for the government and for the local news publishers it is seeking to support.

“Following weeks of productive discussions, I am happy to announce that we have found a path forward with Google for the implementation of the Online News Act,” she said in a statement.

“This will benefit the news sector and allow Google to continue to play an important role in giving Canadians access to reliable news content.”

The deal will allow Google to comply with the legislation by paying into a single collective bargaining group that will serve as a media fund.

Meta’s way of complying was to simply block all news content from Instagram and Facebook in

Canada says Google will pay $74 million annually to Canadian news industry under new online law

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s government said Wednesday it reached a deal with Google for the company to contribute $100 million Canadian dollars annually to the country’s news industry to comply with a new Canadian law requiring tech companies to pay publishers for their content.

The agreement removes a threat by Google to block the ability to search for Canadian news on Google in Canada. Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta already has been blocking Canadian news since earlier this year.

“Google has agreed to properly support journalists, including local journalism,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Unfortunately Meta continues to completely abdicate any responsibility towards democratic institutions.”

Pascale St-Onge, the minister of Canadian heritage, said that Google will contribute $100 million Canadian ($74 million) — indexed to inflation — in financial support annually for a wide range of news businesses across the country.

“It’s good for the news sector. If there is a better deal struck elsewhere in the world, Canada reserves the right to reopen the regulation,” St-Onge said at a news conference.

“This shows that this legislation works. That it is equitable. And now it’s on Facebook to explain why they are leaving their platform to disinformation and misinformation instead of sustaining our news system,” she said.

Canada in late June passed the Online News Act to require tech giants to pay publishers for linking to or otherwise repurposing their content online. Meta responded to the law by blocking news content in Canada on its platforms. Google’s owner Alphabet previously had said it planned to do the same when the law takes effect in December.

Meta has said the Online News Act “is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true.”

Meta’s change means that

Top AI researcher launches new Alberta lab with Huawei funds after Ottawa restrictions

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Richard Sutton, a computer scientist and well known AI researcher, at home in Edmonton, Alta., on Nov. 23. Prof. Sutton is launching a new AI research institute in Edmonton with funding from Huawei.Amber Bracken /The Globe and Mail

One of the country’s most accomplished artificial intelligence researchers is launching a new non-profit lab with $4.8-million in funding from Huawei Canada, after the federal government restricted the Chinese company’s ability to work with publicly funded universities.

Richard Sutton, a professor at the University of Alberta and a pioneer in the field of reinforcement learning, says the Openmind Research Institute will fund researchers following the Alberta Plan, a 12-step guide he co-authored last year that lays out a framework for pursuing the development of AI agents capable of human-level intelligence.

Openmind will be based in Edmonton and kicks off Friday with a weekend retreat in Banff.

Canada banned the use of equipment from Huawei in 5G networks last year, citing the company as a security risk because of its connections to the Chinese government, which could use the company for espionage. Huawei has long denied the accusation.

Jim Hinton, a Waterloo, Ont.-based patent lawyer and senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said Huawei’s involvement with Openmind raises concerns. “Even if the money is coming with as little strings attached as possible, there is still soft power that is being wielded,” he said. “The fact that they’re holding the purse strings gives a significant amount of control.”

In 2021, Ottawa started restricting funding for research collaborations between publicly funded universities and entities with links to countries considered national security risks, including China. Alberta has implemented similar restrictions for sensitive research at a provincial level. Artificial intelligence is particularly sensitive because the technology has military

Google ready to remove Canadian news links over the Online News Act

News stories published by Canadian media outlets will soon disappear from Google search results, the digital giant warned Thursday as it revealed its planned response to the Liberals’ online news law.

The California-based company also said it would end existing deals with local news publishers over the newly passed legislation, which will force global tech players to compensate Canadian outlets for content they share or otherwise repurpose on their platforms.

Google did not say exactly when the changes will happen, but it will be before the Online News Act, formerly known as Bill C-18, comes into force by the end of this year.

The company said the block, which will also involve links on Google News and Google Discover, will apply only to Canadian publishers. Canadian users will still be able to find news produced by international outlets such as the BBC, the New York Times and Fox News.

The company said it will also end Google News Showcase in Canada, a product it uses to license news from over 150 local publishers. Those existing deals will stay in place until the change happens later this year.

“Once the law takes effect, we wouldn’t anticipate continuing the agreements,” said Kent Walker, president of global affairs for Google and its parent company Alphabet, in an interview Thursday.

“We won’t have a news product to be able to feature, (and) the agreements are premised on the ability to showcase Canadian news.”

Walker said he told Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez of the decision in a letter sent early Thursday morning.

Rodriguez said Thursday that Google made an “irresponsible” decision.

Walker said Google has begun briefing federal, provincial and regional authorities “just to make sure they’re aware of all the Google tools at their disposal to get the word out as they need

Searching for Canadian news? Google ready to remove links over Online News Act

OTTAWA — News stories published by Canadian media outlets will soon disappear from Google search results, the digital giant warned Thursday as it revealed its planned response to the Liberals’ online news law.

OTTAWA — News stories published by Canadian media outlets will soon disappear from Google search results, the digital giant warned Thursday as it revealed its planned response to the Liberals’ online news law.

The California-based company also said it would end existing deals with local news publishers over the newly passed legislation, which will force global tech players to compensate Canadian outlets for content they share or otherwise repurpose on their platforms.

Google did not say exactly when the changes will happen, but it will be before the Online News Act, formerly known as Bill C-18, comes into force by the end of this year.

The company said the block, which will also involve links on Google News and Google Discover, will apply only to Canadian publishers. Canadian users will still be able to find news produced by international outlets such as the BBC, the New York Times and Fox News.

The company said it will also end Google News Showcase in Canada, a product it uses to license news from over 150 local publishers. Those existing deals will stay in place until the change happens later this year.

“Once the law takes effect, we wouldn’t anticipate continuing the agreements,” said Kent Walker, president of global affairs for Google and its parent company Alphabet, in an interview Thursday.

“We won’t have a news product to be able to feature, (and) the agreements are premised on the ability to showcase Canadian news.”

Walker said he told Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez of the decision in a letter sent early Thursday morning.

Rodriguez said Thursday that Google made an