Tech Headlines of the Week: Brain Chips and Terminology Debates

Once again, the usual suspects in Big Tech dominated our newsfeeds, and not always for the right reasons.

But this week’s most significant takeaway is that how we talk about tech is evolving as rapidly as the tech itself, highlighting the need for emerging tech terminology to keep pace with innovation.

Key Takeaways

  • Elon Musk’s Neuralink celebrates the first successful brain chip implant.
  • Mark Zuckerberg apologizes to families of social media victims.
  • AI companies must start reporting their safety tests to the US government.
  • Apple launched Vision Pro, but is it a spatial computer or an MR headset?
  • GM reverses all-in EV strategy to bring back plug-in hybrids.

Neuralink’s First Successful Human Brain Chip Implant

Elon Musk, Neuralink CEO, has revealed the first successful human implant of their brain chip, with the patient showing encouraging recovery and neuron activity.

Following FDA approval for human trials, the breakthrough device, Telepathy, is designed to allow thought-controlled device interaction, particularly for those with limb disabilities.

Despite Musk’s history of yet-to-be-realized bold promises, such as autonomous Teslas and SpaceX Mars missions, this development positions Neuralink among a few companies achieving such implantations.

The company’s future projects include Blindsight for eyesight restoration amidst scrutiny for regulatory non-compliance in handling hazardous materials.

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Why Elon Musk’s Neuralink is more than a chip on your shoulder (Techopedia)

The End of Password Sharing on Disney Streaming Services

Starting March 14, sharing login details with individuals outside your household will no longer be allowed as part of a new initiative by Disney-owned streaming services to crack down on password sharing.

This decision follows a trend set by Netflix, which has successfully bolstered its subscriber numbers through similar measures. This latest move comes as viewers begin to feel the pinch of streamflation and the myth of cord-cutting.

Hulu, Disney+ password crackdown kills account sharing (Ars Technica)

Biden Administration Sets New AI Safety Standards

The Biden administration is set to enforce a new policy requiring major AI developers to disclose their safety test results to the government, reflecting AI’s growing significance in national security and economic realms.

This initiative, part of an executive order signed by President Biden, mandates AI companies to share critical information, including safety tests, with the Commerce Department under the Defense Production Act.

The White House AI Council is reviewing progress on this directive to ensure AI systems are safe for public release. This strategic approach, including risk assessments in critical national infrastructure and increasing federal hiring of AI experts, underscores the administration’s commitment to responsibly managing the transformative potential of AI technologies.

AI companies must start reporting their safety tests to the US government. (Associated Press)

Spatial Computer or MR Headset? Decoding Apple’s Terminology Tussle

This week, we reviewed the Apple Vision Pro. But Apple’s insistence on referring to the Vision Pro device as a “spatial computer” and its directive to developers to avoid terms like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) has sparked debate in the tech community.

Rosenberg, a veteran in immersive technology, expresses concern over Apple’s efforts to redefine well-established terminology in the field.

The language wars of 2024: Apple vs reality (VentureBeat)

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) Could Reshape Tech

The Digital Markets Act is promising a more open and fair digital economy.

This groundbreaking shift, challenging tech giants and fostering competition, could redefine how we interact with smartphone apps and enhance our digital experiences.

The Digital Markets Act will change how you use apps (TNW)

Microsoft’s AI Revolution: Soaring Sales and a $3 Trillion Valuation

Explore the remarkable surge in Microsoft’s sales, fueled by the growing demand for its artificial intelligence tools, with revenues soaring to over $60bn.

Learn how Microsoft’s strategic AI advancements, including its significant investment in OpenAI, have propelled it to become the world’s most valuable listed company, overtaking Apple with a market value exceeding $3tn

Microsoft says AI is getting deployed at scale (BBC)

23andMe’s Fall From $6 Billion to Nearly $0

23andMe achieved a peak valuation of over $6 billion, with CEO Anne Wojcicki being celebrated as a self-made billionaire.

However, the company’s value has since plummeted by 98%, leading to Nasdaq’s threat of delisting its stock, now valued below $1.

Challenges include the one-time nature of DNA tests and the low incidence of life-altering health results from these tests.

23andMe’s fall from $6 billion to nearly $0 (WSJ)

The Changing Face of Tech Jobs at Microsoft and Alphabet

The latest earnings calls from Microsoft and Alphabet reveal a stark reality. As these tech giants aggressively invest in AI, they’re reshaping their workforce, prioritizing AI-related roles while scaling back or cutting jobs in other areas.

This trend, exemplified by Alphabet’s layoffs and Microsoft’s staffing reductions, underscores mass layoffs in the tech industry, where AI expertise is becoming paramount, signaling a potentially uncomfortable future for those in non-AI sectors.

The uncomfortable truth about AI’s impact on the workforce (Yahoo Finance)

Comcast Agrees to Stop its Misleading “10G Network” Claims

Comcast has agreed to stop using the “Xfinity 10G Network” brand name after losing an appeal over claims that the term was misleading.

This decision follows challenges from Verizon and T-Mobile, highlighting the confusion around the “10G” term, which misleadingly implied speeds and technological advancements not yet available in standard cable networks.

Comcast reluctantly agrees to stop its misleading “10G Network” claims (ArsTechnica)

Meta’s Zuckerberg Apologizes to Families of Social Media Victims

During a Congressional hearing, Mark Zuckerberg expressed his regret to families who have lost children due to abuse or exploitation on social media platforms.

In this session, the Meta CEO, together with top executives from X, TikTok, Snap, and Discord, faced intense scrutiny from senators, including accusations of having “blood on their hands” for their role in failing to prevent online child exploitation, as calls for stricter social media regulation in the US grow stronger.

Why did Mark Zuckerberg apologize at the US Senate? (Aljazeera)

From Pure EVs to Hybrids: GM’s Response to Consumer Demand

General Motors makes a strategic U-turn and revisits plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) after a significant shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) in recent years.

Amidst the evolving landscape of EV demand and market realities, GM CEO Mary Barra announces the reintroduction of PHEVs, aiming to fill emission compliance gaps and adapt to current consumer needs.

This move marks a notable departure from GM’s previous all-in approach to EVs, reflecting a broader industry trend of balancing pure electric and hybrid technologies.

GM reverses all-in EV strategy to bring back plug-in hybrids (The Drive)

The Bottom Line

Big tech appears to be struggling to define the emerging technologies changing our world.

This struggle is illustrated in Apple’s Vision Pro debate, where the distinction between a ‘spatial computer’ and an ‘MR headset’ raises concerns. Comcast’s retreat from its “10G Network” claims underscores the confusion and potential miscommunication inherent in marketing new tech advancements.

These latest developments highlight the importance of the language used to describe progress, arguably as crucial as the innovations and the shiny gadgets in our lives.

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Neil C. Hughes

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.