Tech Headlines of the Week: NYC’s Airbnb Ban, Nvidia’s ‘Luck’

KEY TAKEAWAYS

From Apple's strategic shifts amidst legal challenges to New York's Airbnb ban reshaping tourism, we're witnessing how technology impacts our lives.

Welcome to our latest news roundup, where we look at some of the most intriguing and impactful stories from the tech world.

We explore how these developments shape industries, influence consumer experiences, and set new precedents in technology and law.

Join us as we unpack these stories, offering insights into the evolving landscape of technology and its intersection with society.

Apple Suspends Online Sales of Latest Watches, Series 9 and Ultra 2

Apple has halted online sales of its Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 due to a patent dispute with Masimo, affecting its offerings during the crucial holiday season.

While unavailable on Apple’s website, the Series 9 remains accessible through other retailers and physical Apple Stores until Christmas Eve. This development underscores tech companies’ challenges in balancing innovation with intellectual property rights, especially during peak sales periods.

Apple has halted Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 online sales (Tech Crunch)

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NYC’s Airbnb Ban Reshapes Holiday Tourism Landscape

New York City is busier than ever this holiday season. However, strict new rules have made short-term rentals like Airbnb scarce. This has led to more people booking hotels, pushing up prices and making rooms harder to find. Hotel stays are now more expensive than last year.

Because of these new regulations, tourists have fewer places to choose from and might pay more for their stay. This is tough for families or groups using Airbnb to save money. As more people visit New York, how tourists find a place to stay changes, affecting the city’s hotel industry.

New York’s Airbnb Ban Is Causing a Christmas Crunch (Wired)

Intel CEO Challenges Nvidia’s AI Dominance: A Stroke of Luck?

In a recent discussion at MIT, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger spoke about Nvidia’s dominant position in artificial intelligence hardware, attributing their success to sheer luck and missed opportunities by Intel.

Gelsinger highlighted that had Intel not shelved the Larrabee project, which he championed over a decade ago, the landscape of AI hardware might have been drastically different.

Gelsinger believes that Nvidia’s rise in AI with GPUs was more a stroke of fortune than strategic foresight. With Gelsinger back at Intel’s helm, he hints at a renewed focus on high-performance computing and AI, suggesting a potential shift in the industry’s dynamics. This candid reflection opens a fascinating window into the competitive world of tech leadership and the unpredictable paths of technological advancement.

Intel CEO laments Nvidia’s ‘extraordinarily lucky’ AI dominance, claims it coulda-woulda-shoulda have been Intel (PC Gamer)

VR’s Reality Check as Market Shrinks 40%

2023 has been a challenging year for Virtual Reality (VR), marked by a notable disconnect between the vision of industry leaders and consumer response.

Despite Meta’s ambitious pivot towards VR and augmented reality, spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg, the technology has struggled to resonate beyond its gaming stronghold. 

The market for VR and AR devices has seen a significant 40% decline, as noted by CNBC, reflecting a broader hesitation among consumers. The $25 billion loss incurred by Meta’s Reality Labs since 2022 further underscores the difficulties in driving widespread adoption of VR technology. 

While potential applications in business, such as training and marketing, offer some hope, the overall uptake of VR outside gaming still needs to be improved, highlighting the complexities and challenges in aligning cutting-edge technology with everyday user needs and expectations.

VR market keeps shrinking even as Meta pours billions of dollars a quarter into the metaverse (CNBC)

Life in Secure Hospital for Teen Who Hacked GTA 6 and Nvidia

In a landmark decision, an 18-year-old hacker behind the massive Grand Theft Auto 6 leak and attacks on significant companies like Rockstar Games and Nvidia has been sentenced to life in a secure hospital, with release dependent on future medical assessments of his threat level.

18-Year-Old GTA 6 Hacker Sentenced To Life In Hospital Prison (Kotaku)

IBM Reveals Stealth Malware Infiltrating Banks in 40 Countries

A sophisticated new malware campaign detected by IBM cybersecurity experts has compromised the banking data of over 50,000 users across 40 global banks.

The malware uses innovative techniques to embed malicious scripts into common bank website structures, allowing attackers to capture login credentials and one-time passwords. This stealthy approach, differing from typical direct web page injections, evades standard static analysis checks by mimicking legitimate JavaScript content delivery networks. 

The malware begins with an infection on the victim’s device. It can adapt its tactics through command and control server updates, varying its methods from capturing additional information to displaying fake error messages. While its origins are unclear, the campaign shows similarities to the DanaBot trojan, known for its modular structure and recent resurgence. With the active threat, IBM urges heightened vigilance in online banking activities.

This new malware campaign stole the banking details of 50,000 people – and it’s still going after new victims, so be careful (Tech Radar)

No Patents for AI: UK Supreme Court Upholds Human-Only Inventor Law

This week, the UK’s top court decided that AI cannot be listed as the inventor. This decision came from a case with Dr. Stephen Thaler, who said his AI, Dabus, created a food container and a light.

In 2019, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office said only people, not AI, can be inventors. The court’s ruling shows how new AI technology challenges current laws and starts discussions about future rules for AI and inventions.

AI cannot patent inventions, UK Supreme Court confirms (BBC)

Revolutionary ‘Millirobots’ Navigate Blood Vessels to Combat Clots

Scientists in the Netherlands have made tiny robots that can move through blood vessels. These small robots, shaped like corkscrews and as big as a rice grain, are controlled outside the body, using magnets to move and break up blood clots that are hard to reach.

These robots could also deliver medicine right where needed, reducing side effects. While still being tested, they could lead to better medical treatments and ways to give drugs.

Clot-busting “millirobots” corkscrew their way through blood vessels (New Atlas)

Apple Shifts AI Focus: Running Large Language Models on Devices, Not Cloud

Apple is pioneering research to run large language models (LLMs) directly on smartphones like the iPhone 15 Pro rather than relying on cloud-based computing.

This strategic shift, revealed in a recent paper titled “LLM in a Flash,” aims to overcome computational limitations and enable effective AI processing on devices with restricted memory.

 Apple’s approach signifies a potential revolution in AI-powered smartphones, promising enhanced privacy and faster, offline-capable AI responses. This innovation may rejuvenate the smartphone market and offer a unique user experience, distinguishing Apple in the fiercely competitive AI landscape.

Apple wants AI to run directly on its hardware instead of in the cloud (Ars Technica)  

FTC Orders Rite Aid to Halt AI Facial Recognition for 5 Years

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stopped Rite Aid from using facial recognition technology in its stores for five years. This is because the technology often wrongly identified people, including a young girl, as thieves. This led to unnecessary searches and confrontations. The technology has been used in 200 stores for eight years.

The FTC’s investigation revealed thousands of false positives and a disproportionate impact on people of color, prompting a series of corrective measures for Rite Aid, including deleting collected images and biometric data. This ruling underscores the growing scrutiny of AI technology in retail settings and the importance of balancing security measures with consumer rights and privacy.

FTC bans Rite Aid from using AI facial recognition in stores for five years (The Register)

AI Surpasses Humans in Physical Skill Challenge

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed an AI robot, CyberRunner, that has surpassed human performance in a physical skill game. The robot mastered the labyrinth maze game, traditionally requiring significant motor skills and spatial reasoning, and set a new record by completing it in just 14.48 seconds. This milestone, beating the previous human record by over 6%, marks the first time AI has outshined humans in a game involving physical dexterity. 

CyberRunner’s success, driven by model-based reinforcement learning and continuous improvement through practice, opens new avenues in AI research, demonstrating its potential in real-world applications and complex skill-based tasks. This achievement not only showcases the advanced capabilities of AI in mastering physical challenges but also paves the way for broader, accessible AI research in dynamic, real-world environments.

AI beats humans for the first time in a physical skill game (TNW)

The Bottom Line

This week’s tech news roundup paints a vivid picture of an industry at the crossroads of innovation, legal intricacies, and societal impact. From Apple’s strategic shifts amidst legal challenges to New York’s Airbnb ban reshaping tourism, we’re witnessing how technology intertwines with our daily lives and the global economy.

These stories reflect the current state of technology and signal emerging trends and challenges, reminding us of the constant need to balance innovation with responsibility and ethical considerations. As we navigate these changes, the tech world offers challenges and opportunities, profoundly shaping our future.

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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.