Wiser! #103: ChatGPT has dominated attention and headlines, but is it really the saviour everyone claims it to be? Plus: Timex use NFTs to connect with customers. SBF's charm offensive continues, and Elon delivers a Twitter conspiracy.
w/Wiser! #103 - Friday 9th December 2022
There's one story that's dominating tech news, and that's how artificial intelligence has finally arrived and the software is about to eat humanity. I'm exaggerating a bit, but you hopefully get my drift.
The thing is that it's hard to avoid the headlines that proclaim ChatGPT, and the broadly known space called "generative AI", as the next big thing. There's a lot of truth in it, and I certainly anticipate that 2023 will be the year that AI goes full mainstream.
But it's not as fantastical a solution as a lot of the commentary makes out. In this week's premium article I use AI to write most of it and also expose some of the flaws in the logic.
The other big stories are:
- how the EU's new tech regs could change the monopolistic behaviour of BigTech,
- Apple continue to take a bashing over the App Store tax,
- the Twitter Files were just a damb squib fuelling a conspiracy theory,
- Timex release a watch that comes with an NFT,
- why isn't Sam Bankman-Fried in jail?
Plus lots of other news, such as BMW using speed bumps to generate power, 60,000 tech jobs axed in November and San Francisco bans its killer robots.
Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!
🔥 This week's Wiser! is supporting ProfilePic.Ai
ChatGPT wrote this article (with a little help from me)
Note: no robots were harmed in the writing of this article.
The following post was written by artificial intelligence. I asked the questions and ChatGPT wrote the answers. I have not added to, modified or changed the robot's answers in any way.
I did check them and don't doubt the responses. However, that's no reason to believe everything that comes out of a generative AI tool can be 100% relied upon. The point is that the fact-checking of the machine output was done by human hand (mine).
To illustrate how the AI can get it wrong, I asked ChatGPT "who owns Twitter?" Even my mum knows that Elon Musk owns Twitter these days. Musk has been buying Twitter throughout 2022 and concluded the deal at the end of October 2022...
...and yet ChatGPT confidently answered differently. And got it 100% wrong.
👉 Continue reading to find out what the AI wrote. Premium subscribers should click this button here.👇
Can the EU's new tech regs change BigTech behaviour?
Google have started yet another appeal against the record €4.1 billion fine handed down by the European Commission for stifling competition in the Android phone market. The fine represents 1.6% of Google’s revenue in 2021 but only 0.5% of the company’s revenue since the EU first ordered Google to pay up in 2018.
- The total levied against Google in the EU is now €8 billion.
The EU's Digital Markets Act ups the ante
Here's The Thing: If Google loses the appeal, the fine will be as effective as a parking ticket. It’s a rounding error, the cost of doing business.
However, under the new rules of the EU's Digital Markets Act, companies can now be fined up to 10% of their worldwide turnover, increasing to up to 20% for repeat offenders.
In that scenario, the bill for Google would be north of $25 billion, not €4. Ouch!
And it's not just Google that would be hit...
- Meta's recent fine of €261 million for breaching data protection rules in the EU would be closer to €12 billion.
- Apple's €50 million fine for blocking alternative payment methods would see them pay €38 billion under the new rules.
- Amazon's €845 million fine for violating data protection rules would be a whopping €47 billion under the DMA.
This week, the UK progressed the Online Safety Bill (you remember I wrote about it last week). It's been slow progress but, like the EU's DMA, the penalties are also material at 10% of worldwide revenues.
Far from being parking tickets, at a time when all of BigTech is feeling the pinch from costs rising faster than revenues, this new approach to penalties may well provide the long overdue incentives to curb their monopolistic behaviours.
Apple's 30% App Store tax continues to take a bashing
- Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted a long thread referencing Spotify’s anti-competitive complaints against Apple, pointing also to Musk’s recent tweet railing against the 30% Apple tax.
- Coinbase reported that users could no longer “send NFTs” via its digital wallet on iOS because Apple block it. Apple want 30% of the NFT transaction costs.
- Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made uncompromising comments about the App Store tax, “Apple has sort of singled themselves out as the only company that is trying to control unilaterally what apps get on a device."
- Musk's Twitter subscription service, called "Blue", will reportedly cost $11 in App Store and only $7 if bought directly via the website. In other words, Musk is passing on the Apple App Store tax direct his customers. This is so gonna fail!
- Here's the long version of Epic Games', makers of video game Fortnite, titantic tussle with Apple of the App Store.
Other BigTech news
- Amazon plans to resume advertising on Twitter, in a move that’ll take a load off Elon Musk’s mind. The retail giant had halted ad spending on the platforms while awaiting “some security tweaks” according to Platformer. Now it plans to start spending again to the tune of $100 million a year.
- Meanwhile, Amazon is launching a service that resembles TikTok, allowing customers to buy goods from a feed of short-form videos and photos, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Tencent may have developed an artificial intelligence that understands Chinese better than a human.
- Two women sued Apple over the dangers of its tracking devices in the hands of stalkers, saying the company had failed to heed warnings.
- Elon Musk started a spat with Apple by claiming they’d threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store. There’s no evidence that this claim by the world’s wealthiest man on the world’s most valuable company was true. Ever the diplomat (and adult in the room), Apple CEO Tim Cook didn’t take the bait for a fight. He invited Musk to Apple’s campus instead…
🔦 Spotlight on Shein
Shein is the Chinese fast fashion ecommerce retailer that adds more products in a day than Zara or H&M add to their inventory in a year!
- Shien has experienced enormous global growth this year, generating an expected $24 billion in sales
- It has a $100 billion valuation from General Atlantic, Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital China.
- The #shein tag on TikTok has netted over 44 billion views
- A Shein pop-up shop in Plano, Texas, drew a 700-person line this September. The store had to close four hours early due to low stock levels.
The Twitter Files was a damp squib
BackStory: Last weekend, the so-called “Twitter Files” were published. Elon Musk had set the expectation of a big reveal from the Twitter archives with a tweet and a popcorn emoji 🍿 to get settled in for a night of entertainment.
- These previously unseen files would prove Twitter colluded with the Democrats to protect Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election (that's the one Biden "stole" from Trump).
Musk broke the story via a Substack newsletter journo named Matt Taibbi. But instead of being the big exposé, all it showed was that this is just another conspiracy theory based on what-ifs, -could's and -maybe's.
Taibbi's Twitter thread also exposed Musk's (and the likes of Tucker Carlson) misunderstanding of the First Amendment. Musk had tweeted, “if this isn’t a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, what is?”
Here's The Thing: The First Amendment only applies to government conduct and not private companies or individuals. Twitter's decision to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story was their own and not a violation of the First Amendment, as claimed by Musk.
What the released screenshots showed was the confused and leaderless internal debate in Twitter about the action to take. Twitter did eventually decide to suppress the story, only to reverse their decision a few days later.
At the heart of the issue was that the allegations against Joe Biden's son were not corroborated and were based on information obtained via hacking. It is this question of how the information was obtained that fueled the Twitter debate (Twitter has a policy that does not permit materials/stories obtained via hacking.)
Arguably, Twitter's eventual decision to censor the story gave it far more attention than it deserved. Two years on and there is still no evidence of government coercion in the Hunter Biden story, so the story is still just of private individuals making decisions they were entitled to make.
However, what this does show us is how difficult content moderation is for a social media firm, and that it can’t be 100% automated. Musk has closed down most of the human moderation inside Twitter, which means he’s now the arbiter-in-chief and will have to handle this matters himself.
In trying to expose the story the way he has done, Musk has made it look like a conspiracy theory. If there really was a story here, Musk would have done us all a favour by just opening the kimono and let everyone see for themselves.
As it is, all Musk has done is thrown a lump of red meat to those who believe Biden is evil and caused the rest of us to roll our eyes.
Social Media Headlines
- Indiana sued the Chinese-owned app TikTok, accusing it of deceiving users about China’s access to data and exposing children to mature content.
- Meta rolled out new privacy updates for teens on Facebook and Instagram that will set all new users under the age of 16 (or 18 in some countries) to “private” accounts by default
- WhatsApp is rolling out 3D avatars, Jagmeet reports. Just in time for the movie
Timex launch a special watch for NFT holders
The famous watchmaker has launched a new line of limited edition watches that come with accompanying NFTs. This offer is exclusive to holders of NFT images from the Bored Ape Yacht Club or Mutant Ape Yacht Club.
The point of the NFT watches is to retain a direct connection between the brand and the owner of the watch after the purchase. The incentive to buy the NFT watch is that it provides the NFT holder with access to exclusive perks they couldn't get otherwise.
Here's The Thing: Unless the buyer registered to a loyalty program or recorded their details at point of sale, in a conventional sale, this customer relationship would be lost.
Using NFTs to unlock incentives, Timex are able to retain a one-to-one ongoing relationship with the watch owner.
“Timex is entering Web3 by keeping creativity and community at the forefront. In partnership with the BAYC community, we are redefining and pushing the boundaries of physical, virtual and now physical products.”– Shari Fabiani -Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Creative Services at Timex Group.
I've tracked 250 consumer brands, from adidas to Zara, from automotives to a zoo, who are all finding new ways to build revenue streams and engage with customers using NFTs, blockchain, smart contracts, virtual reality and immersive tech. 👇
Brand Strategies For Web3 and the Metaverse
Drop 2 of the Brand Strategies Collection went live this week. I added another 30 consumer brands to the Collection that now comprises 110 brands and their use-cases in NFTs, blockchain, virtual reality and crypto.
The latest brands added to the Collection include: Foot Locker, Kia, Kellogg's JP Morgan, Kraft Heinz, KPMG, L'Oreal, Lamborghini, Louis Vuitton, Lavazza, Lego, LGMacy's, Mars, Mattel, McDonald's, Mercedes-Benz.
Find out more here 👇.
Will Sam Bankman-Fried be going to jail?
BackStory: The former COO of Theranos has followed founder Elizabeth Holmes to jail after being sentenced to 12 years this week. If you don't know the story of Theranos, watch The Dropout (it's great!)
It tells the story of how a young woman, Holmes, was able to convince lots of smart people to part with lots of money on the promise of something great. Nobody really understood how she would do it, but the halo effect of Holmes was enough. It's a story as old as the Emperor's new clothes.
Sam Bankman-Fried was a young man who was able to convince lots of smart people to part with lots of money on the promise of something great. Nobody really understood how he would do it, but the halo effect of Bankman-Fried was enough. It's a story as old as the Emperor's new clothes. And one that you've definately heard before!
Since the overnight collapse of the $32 billion cryptocurrency exchange business, Bankman-Fried has been on a PR tour, trying to clear his name and restore his reputation.
He's given around a dozen public interviews across multiple media platforms in the few weeks since FTX filed for bankruptcy. Apparently this is against the advice of his lawyers on the basis that anything he says now will come back and bite him if and when he goes to trial.
Which is highly likely given that he is under investigation for misappropriating billions of dollars of his own customers’ money.
Here's The Thing: There's little doubt that the magic of FTX was more smoke and mirrors than Harry Potter. The "robing Peter to pay Paul and fund a lifestyle for your chums in the Bahamas" business model has been exposed. Bankman-Fried can come up with a dozen excuses but at the end of the day, FTX took customer's money and spent on things they didn't know about.
The lack of regulations in crypto may be Bankman-Fried's best ally at the moment, but I wouldn't bet on it keeping him out of jail.
In the meantime, the fallout continues as the wider crypto industry faces scrutiny that there are other FTXs out there. IMHO, there will be other examples of dubious/illegal crypto businesses portraying themselves as the easiest way to make a buck.
For me, I separate the bad behaviour from the underlying tech. Bad business behaviour is as old as the hills. Certainly older than crypto, which is still going through puberty.
It's sad and unfortunate that so-called wonder kids like Bankman-Fried can cast a shadow over the crypto industry (just as Holmes cast a shadow over healthtech).
Further Reading on FTX and SBF
- The Confessions of S.B.F. (Puck News)
- Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong believes FTX's $8 billion hole was result of theft.
- Coffeezilla claims Sam Bankman-Fried admitted fraud.
- Binance’s bitcoin reserves are fully collateralised per audit report.
More From Web3
- Stripe announced it has built a fiat-to-crypto on-ramp, which is a fancy way of saying that Stripe can be used to buy cryptocurrencies with real money. Techcrunch explain it all here.
- Web3 pioneer and notable NFT investor, Animoca Brands, has unveiled a massive $2 billion Metaverse fund. The new fund was named Animoca Capital and will spearhead the evolution of digital property rights within the virtual realm.
- Bloomberg reported that the UK is finalising plans to regulate crypto in order to "make the UK a hub" for the crypto industry.
- Meanwhile, the state of Texas continues to push ahead with plans to be a dominate centre for crypto.
- A new machine learning model can tell male from female retinas. No-one knew there was a difference. The AI looked at 85,000 photos of retinas and spotted a pattern no-one knew was there.
- San Francisco is now rethinking its policy on police using killer robots,Paul
- World Cup attendees can use augmented reality to see stats for players on the pitch.
- Snap announced this week at Lens Fest that it’s working with creators to create lenses that include buyable digital goods like “in-game items” and “upgraded lens control.” Users can buy them using Snapchat’s in-app currency, Snap Tokens — a move reminiscent of Roblox’s Robux or Fortnite’s V-Bucks.
- BMW wants to turn speed bumps into power-ups. The automaker has filed a patent for a new type of suspension system that would literally generate electricity from bumps in the road.
- Over $400 billion has been erased from the value of European tech in 2022, with VC funding declining 18%.
- China has been using its digital surveillance network to track down anyone participating in Covid protests over the last week, even if they wore masks, changed clothes etc.
🛠️ Tips and Tools to boost your productivity
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🤖 Generative AI tools I use to create Wiser!
Here's my post on seven of the AI tools I use form my research, content creation and to make Wiser!
🧃 Productivity tool that saves time for B2B marketeers
🎙 Big Tech Little Tech Podcast
Episode #14 - Generative AI, Killer Robots, Drones in Leeds and Xmas is Coming
For links to every major podcast platform, show notes and all the details about the last show, click the image 👇.
Wiser! is a weekly newsletter that makes sense of what's happening and what's coming next in the tech economy. From disruptive technologies, like blockchain, crypto and artificial intelligence, to emerging trends, like Web3 and the Metaverse. Plus there's a big focus on BigTech and the impact of social media.
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