Bard’s mistake costs Google shareholders $100 billion, Github and GoDaddy lay off thousands and the chaos at Twitter continues.
Welcome to Hashtag Trending for Friday, February 10th, 2023. I’m your host Jim Love.
Google had an undeniably tough week. The tech giant’s AI offerings were overshadowed by a mistake we covered yesterday.
Google desperately needs a win as Open AI integration into Microsoft’s Bing search engine captivated the public attention and for the first time gave Google a credible competitor.
Google generates on average an annual revenue of around 250 billion dollars US. The majority of that revenue comes from search ads. That revenue is threatened by AI that changes the nature of how search is displayed, possibly making profitable search ads irrelevant. Then came the other shoe dropping, with Microsoft’s AI powered search.
These threats forced Google to issue a ‘code red’ to fast-track AI innovation. But did they make a critical mistake in this rush to market?
Google’s AI chatbot Bard, that was supposed to help restore Google’s AI credentials, gave an inaccurate answer to a simple factual question, in its Google’s own promotional piece. That one wrong answer, in the public spotlight, may have wiped $100 billion in Alphabet’s market value, with the company’s shares dropping as much as 9 per cent.
Inaccuracies with AI language models are not unique to Bard. Bing has also acknowledged that there will be factually inaccurate information with the budding technology, but for the error to appear in Google’s own advertisement, right after Google’s launch event was a tough blow for the search giant.
Another day, another regretful statement from a CEO apologizing for layoffs
The reasons are starting to sound repetitious– sorry we overhired during the pandemic, you were essential in helping us build the company, but now we don’t need you anymore.
Github and GoDaddy are the latest tech companies to announce thousands of layoffs. Github slashed 10 per cent of its workforce and GoDaddy 8 per cent.
GoDaddy said impacted employees will receive a meeting invite to learn the details of their transition, in line with local employment processes.
Github also announced other cost cutting measures. It will not be renewing its office leases to go fully remote. Not surprisingly, it is moving to Microsoft’s Teams for all its videoconferencing needs.
Source: TechCrunch & GoDaddy
Yahoo also announced plans to cut 1600 employees today, but, for a change, not because of economic conditions.
Plus, Yahoo, in general, is profitable, with about $8 billion in yearly revenue. But its advertising business, where it had hoped to take on rivals like Google and Meta, simply never achieved what the company hoped it would, so the company has decided to shut down that part of its business.
Resulting layoffs will impact more than 50% of Yahoo’s ad tech employees.
These changes will be “tremendously beneficial for the profitability of Yahoo overall, “said Yahoo’s CEO Jim Lanzone , which will allow the company “to go on offense” and invest more in other parts of its business that are profitable.
Low profits and a bleak economic outlook have been synonymous with layoffs. But not all companies have the same response. Nintendo, the Japanese video game company announced it will give 10 per cent raises to employees, despite a slump in profit.
“It’s important for our long-term growth to secure our workforce,” Nintendo’s President Shuntaro Furukawa said during an earnings call this week, according to Reuters.
Nintendo’s net profit in the first nine months of the fiscal year through March was 346 billion yen ($2.6 billion dollars US), down 5.8 per cent from 367 billion yen in the same period of the previous year.
Source: TechCrunch, Axios and Global News
The crypto market has seen better days. Crypto amateurs, fanatics, miners, lending platforms are all feeling the pressure as the value of their altcoins plummet.
It turns out that crypto ATMs could also take a hit.
Unlike regular ATM machines connected to bank accounts, these kiosks take cash and then transfer bitcoin to a digital wallet. Some also allow the customer to sell their bitcoin.
These crypto access points have appeared in bars, corner stores and truck stops across the world after the rise of the crypto fad between September 2020 to September 2022.
They’ve had their fun, enjoying fat profit margins at the height of the market, imposing exorbitant fees, sometimes as much as 20 per cent per transaction.
According to howmanybitcoinatms.com, a site run by academic researchers and volunteers interested in measuring bitcoin adoption, there were around 63,000 of them in the U.S. as of September 2022.
But, amid the market downturn, they are now kind of useless.
As a matter of fact, Top-5 bitcoin ATM operator Coin Cloud filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Nevada on Tuesday, just steps behind its lender, Genesis Global. They have also cut their headcount and will inevitably shrink their ATM operations.
So called Direct Messages have always been less private than people may have thought they were.
Direct messages on Twitter are not end-to-end encrypted which puts personal messages and information, at risk, if Twitter suffers a data breach. The company’s staff, with the right permissions, can also access your DMs.
With the departure of important security and data staff after Musk’s takeover, the security outlook of Twitter’s messages was even more precarious.
To make matters worse, it appears you cannot even delete your direct messages from Twitter’s servers.
That puts Twitter at odds European privacy legislation, GDPR, that seeks to give users rights over how their information is collected, stored, and used, including their right to have their data deleted. One of the fundamental rights under GDPR is the right to be forgotten.
People have complained and Twitter seems to be ignoring the requests of users, by pointing them to a generic guidance that fails to explain whether Twitter deletes your DMs from its servers or not.
Twitter’s help center says messages and conversations are “deleted from your account only.” They don’t say messages are deleted from its systems or servers.
Previous research has shown that that deleted DMs are held within Twitter’s servers for years. In 2022, Twitter whistleblower and former security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko claimed it was not possible in some cases for Twitter to delete data.
Source: Ars Technica
And that’s the top tech stories for today. Hashtag Trending is produced by the ITWC podcast network and is heard Monday to Friday with a special weekend edition hosted by me where we feature interviews on key subjects in technology.
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I’m Jim Love and I’ll be back later today with our weekend edition interview. Hope you can join us then. And I’ll be back on Monday morning with a new lineup of the top tech news stories on Hashtag Trending.