Hashtag Trending Aug.23-Canadians optimistic about AI and ignoring risks; Meta pushes convergence of AI and its Metaverse dreams; Twitter sees a significant drop in users after rebranding to X

Canadians are optimistic about AI and likely to ignore warnings of possible risks.  Meta/Facebook is emerging as a champion of open source in AI with a number of key papers published at the Interspeech conference this year. And the return of the X files – the Musk is out there. 

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These stories and a lot more as we bring you the top tech news on today’s Hashtag Trending.  

I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

Canadians are highly interested and quite optimistic about the future of AI, but are they ignoring the possible risks? A study by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) shows that Canadians are diving into new AI tools with excitement but are missing out on understanding the potential downsides. 

The study looked at social media references, google searches and other data to try to get a picture of how Canadian interest has grown, especially since the launch of ChatGPT. 

It’s an interesting look at a country that has had a real impact on the development of AI. One of the most highly regarded pioneers of AI and neural networks Geoffrey Hinton comes from the University of Toronto where a lot of the initial work on neural networks was done.  

The report found that this highly engaged and educated population is far more actively talking about how to use AI and is far less concerned with negative aspects or warnings about the dangers of AI.

There’s a link to the report in the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts

Sources include: IT World Canada

And while we are looking at social chat and search results analyzing Canadian attitudes, here’s another cool piece.

A new form of mining frenzy has taken hold in the home of the Klondike gold rush. 

A recent study utilizing Google Keyword data over the past year, unveiled the levels of cryptocurrency interest across Canadian provinces and territories, ranking them based on monthly searches per 100,000 residents. The Yukon emerged as Canada’s leading crypto enthusiast with 1,228 average monthly searches despite its smaller population, making it the nation’s top crypto hotspot. Following closely were British Columbia and Ontario, with 1,156 and 1,032 monthly searches respectively. 

But the home of Canada’s historic gold rush seems to be the champion of interest in this new type of mining.

The study was done by a firm called Dataslots which runs a casino gambling site. Irony is apparently not dead after all.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, showcased its advancements in speech and audio processing at Interspeech 2023. With six premier papers presented, the company demonstrated its efforts to make virtual interactions more immersive. The research spanned various topics including improving speech recognition, enhancing voice assistants, and generating more realistic virtual auditory environments. These innovations are crucial for Meta as it continues to push towards what might be a convergence of AI and its dreams of a metaverse where virtual spaces feel as lifelike as possible.

Sources include: Analytics India Mag

IBM is parting ways with its weather unit, which includes The Weather Channel mobile app, Weather.com, Weather Underground, and Storm Radar. The tech giant announced on Tuesday that it’s selling The Weather Company and its associated assets to Francisco Partners, a tech-centric private equity firm. While the exact amount remains under wraps, the transaction is set to conclude by April. This deal encompasses the weather unit’s forecasting technology and platform, as well as enterprise data services catering to various sectors like broadcast, media, aviation, and ad tech. Interestingly, Francisco Partners aims to steer a portion of the weather business towards a more consumer-centric direction, introducing new tools centered around health and well-being.

IBM’s decision to retain access to the company’s weather data is noteworthy, as it powers several of IBM’s AI models sold to enterprise clients. This system, which also utilizes NASA’s satellite data, specializes in ESG data interpretation and climate analysis, including monitoring natural disasters.

IBM acquired the company for $2 billion in 2016 and has been contemplating a sale since at least April to refine its business operations. With the weather unit catering to an average of 415 million people monthly, speculations in April hinted at the deal’s value surpassing $1 billion.

This move is in line with IBM’s strategic evolution, emphasizing core areas like software, cloud services, and above all, AI. A testament to this shift is Watsonx, IBM’s enterprise AI development tool announced in May, set to launch in the third quarter. IBM aspires to pioneer user-friendly AI development for businesses, especially given the soaring demand and scarcity of AI expertise. 

This platform boasts features like AI-generated code, an AI governance toolkit, and a vast library of large-scale AI models, including The Weather Company’s data, which IBM will persistently utilize.

Apparently, you don’t need a weather app to see which way the wind is blowing. 

Sources include: CNBC

And on our continuing series, the X Files here’s the latest from the artist formerly known as Twitter. 

After Twitter’s rebranding to X, the platform has seen a significant drop in its top downloaded chart position across both the App Store and Play Store. It turns out that searches for “Twitter” on app stores put competitors ahead of X/Twitter. As a result, Threads is outperforming X in terms of downloads on both stores.  

Source: Daring FireBall 

Elon Musk supposedly has over 153 million followers on X, making him the platform’s most followed user. However, an article in Mashable features an analysis into his followers and shows that a significant portion of Musk’s followers might be inactive or even potentially fake. 

One clue is that a large number of Elon’s followers have standard icons and as many as four numbers in the X handle (I wanted to say Twitter). That’s a classic sign of a fake account.

42 per cent of his followers have zero followers of their own, and over 62.5 million have never tweeted. 

Moreover, more than 25 per cent Musk’s followers’ accounts were created on the day of or after Musk’s acquisition of Twitter

Only a minuscule 0.3 per cent of Musk’s followers will shell out the 8 bucks a month to subscribe to X Premium, the platform’s paid subscription service.

 Source: Mashable

And X is about to overhaul how news stories appear in users’ feeds. Currently, news articles are showcased with a preview card that features the headline and a brief summary. However, the upcoming update will only display the article’s link and its lead image, omitting any additional context. This decision, announced by Musk, aims to enhance the platform’s aesthetics and possibly reduce clickbait. Musk has also been encouraging journalists to publish directly on X for more freedom and potentially higher income. 

Income for who?

Source: ZDNet

And that’s the X files.

And a great piece in Business Insider is titled “Tech’s broken promises.” I had to bring it to you.

The article talks about the tech world’s promises of revolutionizing our lives and how that seems to be… well, not exactly as illustrated. 

Remember when video streaming was hailed as the cheaper, ad-free alternative to cable? Now, platforms like Netflix and Disney are hiking up their prices, and the once straightforward bundles are becoming as perplexing as cable packages. And, surprise, surprise, we’re paying to watch ads again. Amazon Prime Video, for instance, charges $9 a month, but don’t be fooled – ads sneak in during “Thursday Night Football.” And if you thought that was the end of it, there’s chatter about an ad-supported version of Prime Video. 

Switching gears to ride-hailing, Uber’s quest for profitability led to this anecdote: Uber’s CEO estimated a short almost 3 mile ride in New York to be around $20. The actual cost? $51.69. Why? They get to charge more when there’s more people interested. So much for disruptive innovation.

And the cloud, once the beacon of affordable and secure computing, is getting more and more expensive. Companies like Salesforce and Microsoft are increasing their cloud service prices. I was in a discussion with CIOs just a few months ago and they were talking about prices rising from 7 per cent to 35 per cent. Even AWS, Amazon’s cloud service, is introducing charges that are raising eyebrows in corporate boardrooms. 

And while the cloud was once seen as a secure haven, Google recently limited thousands of its employees to computers not connected to the internet to reduce cyberattack risks. Makes you wonder, if the cloud isn’t safe for Google, who is it safe for?

Today, irony is still alive and well.

Sources include: Business Insider

That’s the top tech news stories for today.  Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts where you can find links and more.

If you want to catch up on these and other news quickly, you can read these stories and more at TechNewsDay.com and ITWorldCanada.com on the home page.

It’s always great to hear from you. So please go to the article at itworldcanada.com/podcasts – and you’ll find a text edition there. Click on the x or the check mark and  tell us what you think.  

To those who have reached out – including one person who invested what must have been a colossal amount of time to give me some great ideas of what we might do better – all I can say is thank you. 

I answer each and every email that comes to me. I read every suggestion you make. It is so great to hear from you. 

I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Wonderful Wednesday. I’m off until the end of next week but our producer James Roy will be stepping in.  Enjoy that great CBC radio voice.  Talk to you when I’m back.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Lovehttp://www.itworldcanada.com
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO of a great company - IT World Canada - Canada's leading ICT publisher.

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