Tech News

Tech News and Analysis from around the web

Christopher Mims / Wall Street Journal:
How researchers, including at Meta's AI lab, use AI to study EEG readings, decoding how neurons in the brain communicate and exploring the nature of cognition  —  Thought is ever-changing electrical patterns unconnected to individual neurons.  Meta is working on a system to read your mind.

Brianna Wessling / The Robot Report:
Ocado wins AutoStore's lawsuit after the UK High Court invalidated two of AutoStore's warehouse automation patents for being publicly disclosed before filing  —  Yesterday, the UK High Court ruled that AutoStore's patents, which have been the subject of a patent infringement case against Ocado …

New York Times:
An investigation details how a Georgia man was wrongfully arrested based on a bad facial recognition match and other tech meant to make policing more effective  —  Because of a bad facial recognition match and other hidden technology, Randal Reid spent nearly a week in jail …

You suck, I'm great! April fool.

Wall Street Journal:
Sources: Lyft co-founders' departures followed months of staff worries as the company's market cap fell 85% to under $3.5B in two years, while Uber fared better  —  New CEO says he aims to boost employee morale and overhaul customer and driver experience  —  Tech Live: Lyft Co-Founder on Stock-Price Tumble, Autonomous Cars

Silicon Valley, when I first got there in 1979 was the place where big change was coming fast. There's always been confusion about the power of individuals, even the richest ones -- imho they don't have the power to change the world, even though they're in the middle of the big change. If they weren't there someone else would be. The changes happening now can only happen because the systems they depend on are already in place. As individuals we get to make art from the change, give it style, a message, make it usable (or not), make it come into existence a bit faster perhaps. But the change itself is coming from evolution, not from individual people.

Daniel Wiessner / Reuters:
The NLRB says Activision Blizzard broke US labor law by illegally surveilling staff during a walkout and threatening to close Slack channels amid a union drive  —  Activision Blizzard Inc (ATVI.O) violated U.S. labor law by illegally surveilling employees during a walkout and threatening …

I updated the Markdown archive of Scripting News going back to 1994 to include March, which just concluded.

Juro Osawa / The Information:
Sources: ByteDance generated $80B+ in 2022 revenue, up 30%+ YoY, after growing 70% between 2020 and 2021; TikTok represented ~12% of ByteDance's total revenue  —  ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, generated more than $80 billion in annual revenue last year, up more than 30% …

In a voicemail to Om Malik yesterday I observed that these things are not chatbots. I don't like the word chat. They have a chat-derived UI, true, but I find I go there when I have a question, much like I go to a search engine. It's a way to search a database that's also capable of writing. I'm looking for docs that might not exist, if so the software will try to create it for us. Much more useful than Google. As much of an advance over Google as Google was over Yahoo's directory.

Also the Chat Thing people have made it possible to share sessions without screen shots. That will make a big difference.

Jake Savin, longtime friend and ex-UserLander, has been playing with my personal chatbot. He discovered that he could teach it how to program in UserTalk, the scripting language of Frontier. It also appears he was able to correct mistakes? I wonder how that works. But it's no longer purely my chatbot, now it's Jakes too? Hmm. (I trust Jake, that's not a problem. But I might not trust other people who explore my pod.)

Learned yesterday that Twitter is turning off version 1 of their API. So even if I wanted to pay, I'd have to do a bunch of dev work to stay on their system. Makes the decision to walk away that much easier. No way I would choose to spend my very limited time on such make-work.

Welcome to April 2023. The outline for March has been archived.

Wall Street Journal:
How GameStop chairman Ryan Cohen abandoned his e-commerce push for the company to refocus on its ~4,400 stores, leading to GameStop's first profit in two years  —  Videogame retailer, the original meme stock, hits brakes on e-commerce push to refocus on its 4,400 bricks-and-mortar locations

Leo Schwartz / Fortune:
Binance plans to keep the $985M+ BUSD the company moved from its industry recovery fund, launched in November 2022 amid FTX's collapse, in its corporate wallets  —  Founder and CEO of Binance Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as “CZ”  —  In the wake of FTX's collapse in November …

Chloe Xiang / VICE:
A Belgian widow claims her husband died by suicide after talking for six weeks with an AI chatbot that presented itself as an emotional being in the app Chai  —  The incident raises concerns about guardrails around quickly-proliferating conversational AI models.  —  Chloe Xiang

Oliver Knight / CoinDesk:
Filing: the US government sold ~$216M of seized Silk Road BTC on March 14, part of James Zhong's 50K stolen BTC, and plans to sell 41,490 BTC in four tranches  —  The government will sell the remaining 41,490 BTC in four tranches this year.  —  The U.S. government sold 9,861.17 bitcoin …

Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica:
Google confirms putting a 5M-file limit per Drive account, even for paid Google One plans, in February 2023 without telling users, who thought the cap was a bug  —  The new file limit means you can't actually use the storage you buy from Google.  —  “Please delete 2 million files to continue using your Google Drive account.”

Josh Sisco / Politico:
Sources: the FTC plans to file a complaint against Amazon alleging Alexa speakers violate COPPA by collecting data about kids under 13 without parental consent  —  The case, if filed, would be the first in a potentially long list of enforcement actions against the tech giant.

Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat:
Q&A with Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and EVP Sax Persson on an open metaverse, walled gardens, user-generated content, a metaverse programming language, and more  —  At its State of Unreal event last week, Epic Games showed off not only the visual magic of 3D graphics of games in the future.

Amanda Silberling / TechCrunch:
LeBron James, William Shatner, Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander, and other athletes and celebrities with millions of followers say they won't pay for Twitter Blue  —  April 1 is the dumbest day on the internet, and this year, it's not just because brands will try to prank you by selling “hot iced coffee.”