Hashtag Trending Feb. 17 – ‘Metamates’; Elon Musk’s Neuralink; Kids Online Safety Act

Mark Zuckerberg has a new name for his Meta employees, Elon Musk is developing new neurotechnology with his Neuralink company, and U.S. senators introduce a new online safety bill to protect children.

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday, February 17, and I’m your host, Tom Li.

In the latest metaverse news, employees of Meta, have a new term to refer to themselves: Metamates. During a virtual meeting at the company on Tuesday, according to Verge, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed several new corporate values that Meta will go by. One of the most important is the catchphrase “Meta, Metamates, me.” The recent rebranding of Facebook to Meta, and its focus on pivoting to the new, three-dimensional “metaverse,” has sparked accusations that the company is trying to distract people from its many recent controversies.

Neuralink is Elon Musk’s neural interface technology company. Musk is developing a device that would be embedded into a person’s brain, where it could record brain activity and potentially stimulate it. Neuralink became publicly known in 2017 and had its first major public outing in 2019, when Musk and members of its executive team showed off their tech in a live-streamed presentation. Neuralink is designing two types of equipment. According to a Business Insider article, the first one is a chip that would be implanted into a person’s skull, with electrodes fanning out into their brain. The second one is a robot that could automatically implant the chip. Musk claimed the machine could make implanting Neuralink’s electrodes as easy as LASIK eye surgery. Even with this bold claim, Neuroscientists in 2019 said the machine has some very promising features.

Senators introduced a new bill yesterday that would give online platforms a duty to act in children’s best interests and prevent the risk of harm such as suicide, eating disorders and substance abuse. The act, titled The Kids Online Safety Act was introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Marsha Blackburn. If passed, the bill would have a major impact on the design of platforms made by companies including Facebook, Snap, Google and TikTok. The act could make social media companies implement changes such as settings that limit the ability to find minors online, restrict the amount of data that can be collected, allow kids to opt-out of recommendation systems and limit the amount of time spent online.

And now for something a bit different, a rise in the use of VR headsets caused a 31 per cent jump in insurance claims connected to the use of the technology last year, with gamers breaking furniture and cracking TV screens. With the rise in popularity of VR headsets fueled by platforms such as the metaverse, Aviva, a U.K. insurance company, said the number of home contents claims involving VR headsets has jumped 68 per cent since 2016. According to a report from The Guardian, the average claim for accidental damage as a result of VR headset use last year was around $882. For example, one customer wearing a VR headset smashed his TV after a zombie appeared to jump out at him in the game.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops early every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Tom Li.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT Business. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at tli@itwc.ca.

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