Reversal of Fortunes

Dwaiter Weekly


October 27, 2022


A Tough Quarter for Big Tech

Facebook parent Meta on Wednesday reported that its profit fell and revenue declined for a second consecutive quarter, AP reports. Meta’s disappointing results followed weak third-quarter reports from Google parent Alphabet, whose growth slipped to its slowest pace since the pandemic hit more than two years ago, and Microsoft, which increased revenues but posted a smaller profit.


The Unicorn Environment Turns Harsh

The $1 billion unicorn startup has been an aspirational marker of success in Silicon Valley, but it is becoming increasingly rare, the Washington Post reports. In the third quarter, only 25 companies were newly valued as worth over $1 billion each—five times fewer than a year ago. The drop is a harsh dose of rationality that is much needed, investors say.


Why ‘Topic Clusters’ Are Spreading

Influential search engines like Google have changed their algorithm to favor topic-based content, HubSpot reports. As a result, websites are exploring a new way of linking related content under a “topic clusters” model.


Opting in to ‘Luxury Surveillance’ 

Amazon, the Everything Store, is becoming an Everything Tracker, collecting and leveraging large amounts of personal data. Chris Gilliard, a tech fellow at the Social Science Research Council, writes in The Atlantic that this is “luxury surveillance” that millions of customers are opting in to because these tracking, monitoring, and quantification features are viewed by the user as benefits.



Is GitHub Copilot Sailing into a Copyright Storm? 

GitHub Copilot, a programming auto-suggestion tool trained from public source code on the internet, has been caught generating what appears to be copyrighted code, The Register reports. An attorney weighing a possible copyright infringement claim is looking at two key questions: Is Microsoft-owned GitHub improperly training Copilot on open source code, and is the tool improperly emitting other people's copyrighted work to suggest code snippets to users?


The Most Lucrative Ransomware Target

For ransomware gangs, one industry is an especially alluring target: manufacturing. ZDNet reports that for manufacturing firms that have made a ransom payment to cyber criminals, the average ransom was $2,036,189—more than double the overall average ransom payment.  


YouTube Touts Design Changes, UI Updates 

YouTube is making a range of visual tweaks and UI updates, which it says are intended to make the app feel cleaner, more lively and easier to use for different purposes, Social Media Today reports. The biggest update is pinch to zoom, which enables users to expand the playback screen.


The Price of Lost Attention

Two new books—Johann Hari’s “Stolen Focus” and Jacob Ward’s “The Loop” —discuss how technology and modernity are negatively and chronically affecting our brains and behavior. In a New York Times review, data scientist Cathy O’Neil writes that the two books "focus on the individual experience of living in this moment, and how modern technology is limiting our choices and personal notions of freedom and consciousness.”   


New York Village Plans for the Worst Case

A village in New York is planning for the possibility of a major internet outage—the kind that could last six months. “There will be a time when an outage occurs due to a major solar flare, terrorism or human error, lasting weeks or months on a regional or national level,” Lynbrook Village Administrator John Giordano told Government Technology. To his knowledge, Lynbrook's is the first municipal internet outage plan in the state.


A New Folding Speed Record 

Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a new robotic method of folding garments at record speed—for a robot. Using machine vision, a neural network and a pair of industrial robot arms, SpeedFolding can fold 30 to 40 randomly positioned garments per hour, Ars Technica reports. Previous robotic garment-folding methods reached only "3-6 FPH" (or "folds per hour").

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