Character AI, backed by a16z and founded by former Google AI researchers, has introduced a new feature called “Character Group Chat.” This allows users to have group chats with AI characters, either exclusively or mixed with human participants. Users can simulate conversations among historical or mythological figures or even use AI to enhance topic-specific chats with friends. While other platforms like Snapchat and Meta have similar AI chatbot integrations, Character AI’s feature is distinct and comes after their significant $150 million Series A funding. Initially available only for c.ai+ subscribers at $9.99/month, the feature will later be accessible to all. It’s currently available on iOS and Android, with a web version coming soon. The app has seen rapid growth, with nearly 30 million monthly active users globally and an estimated $1.3 million from in-app purchases.
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Google is utilizing data from its Maps app to help cities optimize traffic light timings, aiming to reduce wait times and emissions. In Seattle, drivers wait an average of 20 seconds at red lights, leading to significant carbon dioxide emissions daily. Google’s AI software is now assisting in reducing these delays. Seattle, along with cities like Jakarta, Rio de Janeiro, and Hamburg, is adjusting traffic signals based on insights from Google Maps data. Initial results show that Google’s AI recommendations have reduced stops by up to 30% and emissions by 10% for 30 million cars monthly. The company is also introducing other environmentally-friendly features in Maps, such as fuel-efficient routing. However, some of Google’s initiatives have faced criticism from industries like airlines and cattle ranchers. Google’s Project Green Light, which focuses on traffic light optimization, has received positive feedback so far. The project’s success is attributed to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and Google’s vast traffic data. The initiative is expanding, with plans to include features for pedestrian needs and notifications for Maps users about optimized intersections.
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