Moving into the new year is an opportunity to look in the rear-view mirror by looking at major failures in the tech industry and the lessons that can be learned from them.
Chaos is the new normal for social media
Over the past few years, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok have had their fair share of controversy, from political controversies to data privacy issues. But few have faced the turmoil that has swept through Twitter since Elon Musk took control in October after shelling out $44 billion to buy the social network. Huge layoffs, brutal management, controversial and erratic decisions… The billionaire’s missteps have multiplied to the point of jeopardizing Twitter’s very existence, weighing down Tesla’s shares and tarnishing his image as a visionary who succeeded in everything. After multiplying the polls of his subscribers on the advice of introducing some changes, of restoring banned accounts, including Donald Trump’s, Elon Musk asked the question of his continuation as CEO of Twitter. After the majority voted in favor of his departure, he promised to resign the moment he saw ” someone crazy to take the job! “.
The cryptocurrency crash reminds us that there is no such thing as easy money
2022 started with the craze for NFT, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies reaching an all-time high and FTX not yet being a household name. Eleven months later, bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency market are still struggling to recover from a massive crash that wiped $2 trillion off market capitalization over the summer. Last month, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, went under after rival Binance backed out of its acquisition plan. The investigations revealed irregularities in the management of FTX executives amounting to a major financial scandal. Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and head of the platform, was arrested in the Bahamas and later extradited to the United States where he is awaiting trial after being released on $250 million bail. Therefore, Cryptocurrencies end the year as they began: on everyone’s mind, but for the worst possible reason. It’s a painful reminder to some that these gains aren’t guaranteed, despite the huge rise of digital currencies in recent years.
The Metaverse May Be The Future, But It Never Was
More than a year ago, Facebook jumped into the metaverse and rebranded itself as Meta to symbolize its commitment to the company’s new virtual platform.
But the metaverse did not take off as expected and Meta suffered the effects in a very concrete way, swallowing enormous amounts as Facebook’s advertising revenues collapsed in a worsening economic context. All of this led to a massive redundancy plan involving 11,000 layoffs, or 13% of Meta’s total workforce.
Nothing lasts forever, some things are less than others
In 2022, we said goodbye to some major online services and others we didn’t even know existed. Moral: Even the most hyped product or service can disappear in the blink of an eye.
That’s what happened with Google Stadia. Launched two years ago, the streaming video game platform was supposed to change the way we play games. But a series of technical problems, lack of public enthusiasm and investment led Google to announce the permanent shutdown of Stadia starting January 18, 2023.
Even more ephemeral is Spotify’s Car Thing, an automotive accessory that was announced in 2021 but only went on sale in February. After just five months on the market, the music streaming platform has thrown in the towel, citing low sales volume.
Also out is Pixy, a drone for taking selfies that Snap launched in April 2022 in the United States and France and abandoned in August due to strategic repositioning. The summer of 2022 will also be fatal to the connected screens of Facebook’s Portal.
The problem of the lack of electronic chips has not yet been solved
A major factor contributing to shortages of many consumer goods, from cars to graphics cards, is the pandemic-induced slowdown in semiconductor production in Asia. This situation has highlighted the fact that we are highly dependent on a few vendors for the tiny chips that power almost everything.
A year ago, Intel laid out a big plan to bring manufacturing back to the United States and invested in next-generation tools to make it happen. But in October, the smelter announced that its third-quarter profit had fallen 85% from a year earlier and that it expected annual profit to fall below its forecast. In this difficult environment, Intel’s ambition to make the United States more self-sufficient in semiconductors will take years to realize.
There is nothing to fear from AI. For the moment…
Much has been said about the dangers of artificial intelligence and the future of this technology. Last summer, Blake Lemoine, a software engineer at Google, took these concerns further by claiming that the chatbot LaMDA had attained a form of consciousness. He was fired for violating the company’s privacy policies, with Google calling his claims ” no basis “.
On a funnier note, there’s Meta’s BlenderBot 3 chatbot, which in a chat with our colleague Queenie Wong from CNET said she’s not a fan of Facebook. Or Galactica, another AI from Meta, designed to take millions of scientific papers and “organize science”, which had to be “paused” after it made false statements.
In contrast, the DALL-E image generator from OpenAI (since renamed Craiyon) impressed with its ability to create content from text. And what about ChatGPT, a conversational AI also designed by OpenAI that went live in early December, surprising everyone with its accuracy and responsiveness. Within days of its launch, over a million people have tried ChatGPT. Some even saw it as a direct threat to Google and to some professions in general, starting with journalism.
CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance
Photo: James Martin/CNET