Twitter takeover, crypto crash, AI, nuclear fusion… The main tech topic of the year

Once upon a time, Silicon Valley is a dream. Technology and the Internet can help democracy spread, connect people and allow us to be more present. Instead, social networks have increased misinformation and harassment, we are more slaves to our smartphones and small investors have lost all their savings invested in cryptocurrencies. Good riddance 2022, hoping for the best in 2023.

Elon Musk bought Twitter and changed the network

The soap opera of the year lasted more than six months. Elon Musk made a $44 billion offer to buy Twitter, retracted it to try to lower the bill before finally agreeing to honor his promise under the threat of a lawsuit.

Nearly two-thirds of employees were fired or resigned, and Musk ordered a quasi-general amnesty in the name of freedom of expression, reinstating thousands of suspended accounts, including Donald Trump’s. He then suspended the account of a student who shared the real-time geolocation of his private jet, after half a dozen journalists shared the link or covered the showdown.

But his polls backfired. With 57%, the twittos voted for him to leave the head of the social network, which he did when he found a good CEO. A decision that was undoubtedly unrelated to the anger of Tesla shareholders, which lost 70% of its value in one year. As a result, Elon Musk’s fortune was divided, and he gave his title as the richest man in the world to Frenchman Bernard Arnault.

Cryptos Crash, FTX Goes Bankrupt

winter is coming for the crypto sector. Bitcoin, ether, ripple… By 2022, almost two-thirds of the value of cryptocurrencies has been lost, with more than 2,000 billion dollars destroyed. A fall markedly caused by investors’ doubts after the crash of the Terra / Luna ecosystem last spring, with its founder, South Korean Do Kwon, targeted by an arrest warrant and a red notice from to Interpol.

The sector initially seemed to bounce back, especially with white knight Sam Bankman-Fried, at the head of FTX. But the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, collapsed like a house of cards in November. The second largest donor to the Democratic Party during the midterms, “SBF” was extradited from the Bahamas to the United States, where he was charged with fraud. He appears to have used billions of dollars from FTX to cover the losses of his investment fund Alameda Research. We should know by January 3 if he pleads guilty or if he chooses to go to trial.

ChatGPT, Dall-eā€¦ AI creates, inspires and challenges

2022, the year of the creation of the machine. OpenAI’s artificial intelligence shook Silicon Valley, first with the smart Dall-E art generator, capable of imitating a master’s canvas or creating surreal images from a textual description. But most of all its Chatbot ChatGPT is the most captivating. An exciting and disturbing milestone has been passed: it becomes impossible to distinguish between text written by a human and a machine.

ChatGPT can explain general relativity to kids or write a terminal philosophy essay. It provides precise answers to complex questions and aims to come and threaten Google’s supremacy. But sometimes the machine is completely wrong, without realizing it. A potentially explosive cocktail, especially for misinformation.

The dark years of Meta

In September 2021, Mark Zuckerberg is on top of the world: Facebook exceeds 1,000 billion dollars in the stock market for the first time. Then the young manager tried a game of poker: he changed the name of his company, which became Meta, and bet everything on the metaverse and virtual reality, which he sees as the next computer revolution, after PC and smartphone. A year later, a hangover.

The Californian giant’s net income has been cut in half, its share price has tripled, and the Reality Labs division is expected to lose more than $12 billion, with heavy investments and a stagnant market. Mark Zuckerberg is digging in and Meta is tightening its belt, with 11,000 layoffs announced in November (13% of its workforce). If employees and shareholders are beginning to question his choices, Zuckerberg remains unchallenged for the moment, for one simple reason: he owns the majority of voting shares, and therefore cannot be- kick out of his board.

Historic victory for nuclear fusion

This is the holy grail of physics: producing clean energy, without greenhouse gas emissions or radioactive waste, using the principle of nuclear fusion, the reaction at the heart of stars like the Sun. For the first time, US researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) took a critical step: for a brief moment, they produced more energy than was used by lasers to cause the reaction.

If the balance remains deficit by counting the electricity required for the initial activation of the lasers, the researchers believe they can improve the efficiency of the system. Be warned, it will likely be another two or three decades before large-scale application. It remains more necessary than ever to limit emissions, pending a potential new technological era.

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