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Littler’s larger than life victory

The Independent brought us a positive story from the world of sport this week, as 17-year old darts sensation Luke Littler stormed to victory in the sport’s Premier League final last night.

The piece details “how nine darts from the gods carried Luke Littler to Premier League glory,” as the young player became the second ever player to deliver a perfect nine-darter finish in a Premier League final, after Phil Taylor.

The feat is even more impressive given Littler’s seemingly overnight success, having shot to stardom after reaching the final of last year’s World Championship.

“His career is still only a few months old and yet Littler has already ascended to the top of the sport,” the author suggests.

“He is not yet world number one, not yet a world champion and yet to play in several major tournaments, but the Premier League is arguably the purest test in the game, where only the eight best (or most interesting) players are invited to the 16-week slugfest, landing in a new European city each week. 

“It is a test of endurance as much as skill, a test of the mental strength to be confronted over and over again.”

And indeed, there was a further psychological barrier for Littler to overcome in this final, as once again he came up against rival Luke Humphries, who knocked Littler out of the World Champs final in January to secure his victory.

Littler’s ability to overcome, and to keep his cool in the face of enormous pressure, has inspired a new generation of darts fans across Britain and, it seems, across the world.

“He’s a fantastic player,” Humphries said of his opponent. “Tonight he deserved it, and if you look at the season as a whole, he deserves to be Premier League champion.”

High praise indeed from the sport’s current ranked World Number One. 

If Littler’s latest staggering performance is anything to go by, it seems there’s a lot more still to come from this young player.

MaltAI

Elsewhere, Bloomberg this week reported on the “tiny Mediterranean island” that “wants a piece of the global AI frenzy.”

It was, of course, referring to the iGaming and technology hub of Malta, where pioneering entrepreneurs continue to look for the next big thing driving the future of the tech industry.

The piece points out that Malta’s largest telecom provider, GO, is increasingly relying on AI to handle its day-to-day tasks, with 20% of its marketing content and 30% of its code written by the burgeoning technology.

“We are short of lawyers, accountants and coders,” said GO CEO Nikhil Patil, in reference to the current hiring conditions on the island. “Only artificial intelligence can help us escape the talent curse.”

Across Malta, the article continues, business, schools and government are trying to establish the country as an “unlikely AI leader,” with hopes of the tech allowing the island to confront its biggest challenges – like climate change – into the future.

“We can harness the power of AI for the public good, not fear it as a coming catastrophe,” Prime Minister Robert Abela said of the tech last year.

And while it’s just beginning to capture the imaginations of the public globally, AI is nothing new as far as Malta is concerned. Former PM Joseph Muscat set out plans as far back as 2019 for Malta to become the “Ultimate AI Launchpad” by 2030.

However, the focus remains firmly on finding tangible, positive uses for the technology.

“We can’t invest just because AI is a new cool thing,” concluded GO CEO Patil.

Time up for Altman?

Elsewhere in the world of AI, Business Insider explored why it believes OpenAI CEO “Sam Altman’s time as the golden child of tech might be coming to an end.”

The ChatGPT parent company is facing “a fresh wave of controversies,” according to the article, including criticisms surrounding its commitment to AI safety.

As a result, “the pressure is starting to mount for Sam Altman,” as challenges such as serious safety concerns voiced by former employees continue to build up around OpenAI.

One former employee, policy researcher Gretchen Krueger, left the company earlier this week citing similar concerns to other former employees including Jan Leike and Ilya Sutskever.

“The public complaints from former workers are not a good look for a company at the forefront of developing technology that could have serious consequences for humanity,” BI said.

While Altman himself has admitted that advanced AI could pose an extinction risk to humanity, one commentator said his attitude towards building artificial general intelligence before working out how to make it safe was “completely unacceptable.”

“This is why most of the safety people at OpenAI have left,” UC Berkeley professor Stuart Russell said, adding that tech companies across the board “were undermining every attempt at regulation.”

Another thorn in Altman’s side was a fresh scandal featuring Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson, who suggested an AI-generated voice used in the company’s GPT-4o model was “eerily similar” to her own, despite her having turned down an offer from Altman to work on the project.

While Hollwyood actors’ rights to own their images and likeness are probably low on most people’s list of priorities compared to an existential threat to humanity itself, getting involved in this kind of scandal is hardly a good look for the company.

Having already lost (and quickly regained) his CEO position once, if this article is to be believed, Altman may have found himself in an uncomfortably precarious position once again.

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