Bing, Bard, Fake Apps, and the State of the Union

Bing, Bard, Fake Apps, and the State of the Union

Dear Studio Fam,

This week we get political and discuss President Biden's references to the tech industry in his State of the Union address. There appears to be consensus in Washington that Big Tech needs serious reforms as his harsh criticisms of social media companies were met with bipartisan applause and a standing ovation from seemingly all members of Congress. You'll also find summaries of major announcements in generative AI from Microsoft and Google, and an update on the ongoing saga of the FTX implosion and SBF's political advocacy. And be sure to check out all of the fake app designs in the Small Bytes section; this is a meme that we hope keeps going for a long time.

Biden Accuses Social Media Companies of “Experimenting” on Children

Credit: AP

President Biden delivered his second State of the Union speech this week and tech was a central focus. The President touted legislation he enacted like the CHIPS Act, which provides for massive investments in domestic semiconductor production. But the starkest words he saved for social media companies which, astonishingly, were met with unanimous applause and a standing ovation from both parties:

It’s time to hold social media companies accountable for experimenting on children for profit. It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal information about our kids online, ban targeted advertising of kids online, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.”                

                        President Joseph Biden

There are presently multiple bills regulating social media working their way through Congress, including some that outright ban foreign-owned apps like TikTok from operating in the United States at all.

Studio Byte Of The Week

Google has announced its answer to Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI and it’s called…Bard.This story will get deeper coverage soon, but as of now there just aren’t too many practical details to report yet. And the demo video showed incorrect information.

FTX Requests Political Donations To Be Returned

Credit: Axios

When a company goes bankrupt, the courts decide how to divide remaining assets to satisfy the company’s debts. When fraud is involved in the failure of the company, the courts have wide latitude to review suspicious payments running up to the insolvency of the company and compel the return of those funds. In the case of FTX, one of the most significant aspects of its downfall is the political advocacy of alleged fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried.

In addition to making multiple public appearances before Congress to tout the legitimacy of the crypto industry, SBF orchestrated tens of millions of dollars of political contributions across both sides of the aisle. The new management of FTX would like that money back. Plentiful evidence suggests that SBF knew FTX was at risk of insolvency for at least a year, so it does not take much reasoning to conclude the $30 million of political donations he made during this time might have had something to do with trying to get away with it.

The recipients of the donations have until February 28 to voluntarily return the donations, after which they may become the subject of additional inquiries in bankruptcy proceedings. Presumably all parties involved would prefer not to be deposed under penalty of perjury about what they knew or didn’t know about SBF, so it is likely that FTX’s creditors are about to get a bit closer to restitution.

Short Bytes: Fake App Designs

One of the best new memes of late are UI mockups of fake features of popular apps. Here’s some of our favorites:

New Bing Search and Edge Browser With OpenAI Integration

Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Microsoft is moving quickly to monetize its $10 billion investment in OpenAI with new features announced this week for its Bing search engine and Edge web browser. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Satya Nadella said, “We are grounded in the fact that Google dominates this space. I feel like a new race is starting with a completely new platform technology and I’m excited for users to finally have another choice.”

Bing now features an “ask me anything box” that incorporates many of the conversational search features of ChatGPT directly into the search interface under a new “chat” tab. The Edge web browser has also been enhanced with a new sidebar powered by ChatGPT that can automatically annotate or summarize content from the browser, as well as organize information and pass it to other Microsoft apps like Office and Teams.

Microsoft currently has no plans to charge separately for these new features. “Search is the most profitable category there is on planet earth so all I need to monetize this is a few more users,” Nadella said.