How Europe is leading the world in the push to regulate AI
LONDON (AP) — Lawmakers in Europe have signed off on the world’s first set of comprehensive rules for artificial intelligence. The European Parliament vote Wednesday is one of the last steps before the rules become law. It comes as authorities worldwide are racing to rein in AI, and the legislation could act as a model for other places working on similar regulations. Brussels’ yearslong effort to draw up AI guardrails has taken on more urgency as rapid advances in chatbots like ChatGPT show the benefits the emerging technology can bring — and the new perils it poses. One of Europe’s main goals is to guard against any AI threats to health and safety and protect fundamental rights and values.
Google should break up digital ad business over competition concerns, European regulators say
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union regulators have hit Google with fresh antitrust charges, saying the only way to satisfy competition concerns about its lucrative digital ad business is by selling off parts of the tech giant’s main moneymaker. The unprecedented decision Wednesday to push for such a breakup marks a significant escalation by Brussels in its crackdown on Silicon Valley digital giants. The European Commission said its preliminary view after an investigation is that “only the mandatory divestment by Google of part of its services” would satisfy the concerns. The European Union has led the global movement to crack down on Big Tech companies but previously has issued blockbuster fines.
Stock market today: Wall Street drifts ahead of Fed decision on rates
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting on Wall Street as investors wait to hear what the Federal Reserve’s latest decision will be on interest rates. The S&P 500 was 0.2% higher Wednesday after riding a winning streak to its best level since April 2022. The Nasdaq was up 0.2%, while the Dow fell 89 points because of a sharp drop for UnitedHealth. The insurer warned of potentially higher costs as more customers get medical procedures done. Most of the stock market was quiet ahead of the Fed’s announcement later in the afternoon. The wide expectation is for it to hold rates steady.
Shell ditches lower oil production target but insists it’s committed to cutting emissions
LONDON (AP) — Shell has effectively abandoned a plan to cut oil production by 1-2% per year until the end of the decade. Europe’s largest energy company argued Wednesday that it had already met the target it had set for itself in 2021 through asset sales. It says it has seen its production drop from 1.9 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2019 to 1.5 million last year. New chief executive Wael Sawan insisted that the company was still committed to decarbonizing its operations, reiterating the goal that Shell will become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. Shell and other oil giants have faced increasing pressure to do more to fight emissions from climate activists.
US beefs up campaign to ensure accurate animal welfare claims on meat, poultry packaging
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it hopes to weed out false or misleading animal-welfare claims on meat and poultry packaging with new guidance and testing. The claims __ such as “pasture-raised,” “humanely raised,” and “raised without antibiotics” __ are increasingly popular with consumers. But critics say the USDA isn’t adequately substantiating producers’ claims or ensuring they meet customers’ expectations. The USDA says it plans to require more documentation when companies submit animal welfare claims. It will also encourage producers to use third-party verification services. The department is also exploring new tests that can find traces of antibiotics in animals.
It’s almost time to resume student loan payments. Not doing so could cost you
NEW YORK (AP) — After three years, the pandemic-era freeze on student loan payments will end in late August. It might seem tempting to just keep not making payments, but the consequences can be severe, including a hit to your credit score and exclusion from future aid and benefits. More than 40 million Americans will have to start making federal student loan payments again at the end of the summer under the terms of a debt ceiling deal approved by Congress. Millions are also waiting to find out whether the Supreme Court will allow President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan to go ahead. But payments will resume regardless of what justices decide.
Vodafone, Three to merge UK mobile phone operations to capitalize on 5G rollout
LONDON (AP) — Two of the U.K.’s biggest mobile phone operators have agreed to merge their businesses to capitalize on the rollout of next-generation 5G wireless technology in the country. The merger of Vodafone U.K. and Three U.K., which is owned by Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison, will create Britain’s biggest mobile phone player. The deal is likely to face stiff regulatory scrutiny because it will reduce the number of mobile networks in the country from four to three. The groups said Wednesday that the deal will help them compete with their rivals on 5G technology. They’re aiming to complete it by the end of 2024.