w/Wiser! #108 - Friday 13th January 2023
You'll notice that the newsletter is shorter in reading length this week. That's partly because I'm travelling this week and next, and I have little time to write longer articles or post much on social media. It's also because I'm trying out something new, which is to put the longer form content into a separate page on the website. This keeps the email size down to help all of you who read Wiser! on your mobiles, which is a lot!
The thing is, I've started it this week, and you'll see a few links to "continue reading on Wiser! Things." This link will take you to the webpage if you want to know a bit more about the story having read the headline.
I hope you like it. 👍
Otherwise, Wiser! is all that you've come to expect with a ton of headlines, insights and information about what's happening in tech.
Meanwhile, thanks to all of the new Premium subscribers who have bought access to the Brand Strategy Collection. The next drop of brands named N to R will drop in the first week of Feb.
P.s. Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!
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The Wiser! Top 10 Predictions for the Tech Economy 2023
From AI to NFTs, from the race for space to the future of Twitter, in my 2023 Tech Economy Predictions, I cover them all. Read the 10 plus 1 predictions and my logic for each one of them here.
Whats happening in BigTech
ChatGPT and Microsoft
Big Story: Microsoft are to invest $10 billion in OpenAI on a $29 billion valuation. This comes days after it was announced that Microsoft was to build ChatGPT into its Office product range, changing the way more than a billion Microsoft users write Word docs and create PowerPoint presentations. Out of interest, take a look at Notion, who have already implemented a great example of what this looks like, which I'm using to write this newsletter.
It was also announced that ChatGPT will be integrated in the Microsoft search engine, Bing, creating a major threat to Google’s dominance of Search.
Here’s The Thing: Google are worried by the threat posed by ChatGPT. The tech giant has spent years working on its own chat bot and has actually built one to rival ChatGPT called LaMDA.
But it has been reluctant to share LaMDA widely because of its potential to generate false or toxic information.
According to the New York Times, Google has a second dilemma: if a chat bot responds to search queries with tight sentences and perfect answers, there’s less reason for people to click on advertising clinks.
In other BigTech news
- Consumers in China last year spent 1.41 trillion yuan, or $208 billion, buying things on ByteDance’s Douyin video app, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, an increase of 76% from 2021.
- However, TikTok faces growing challenges in Europe and the US. I reported last week on the calls for TikTok to be banned in the USA, which I don’t think will happen (the US never banned Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed the harm it posed to US democracy.) This week in Europe, the app’s chief executive met with the European Union’s top digital policymaker in Brussels to discuss regulatory hurdles, investigations, and political criticism across the continent.
- Meanwhile, WeChat, the Tencent owned messaging app, has reported fast growth on its own TikTok copycat short-video feed. Total number of views on WeChat Channels tripled in 2022, the company said. Channels has become increasingly important for Tencent as it fights to keep WeChat users’ attention in the face of TikTok’s domination of the attention economy.
- Apparently, Meta is rolling out a new machine-learning solution for reducing algorithmic bias in its advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Good luck with that!
- A review of Twitter by NBC News found dozens of accounts and hundreds of tweets claiming to sell child sexual abuse material. Remember, just last November, Elon Musk tweeted that stopping this kind of material on Twitter was “priority #1.” The reality is that little has changed, and how could it when the content moderation teams have all be disbanded?
Here’s The Thing: Advertisers and users don’t like it. Clients of WPP-owned GroupM, the world’s largest ad-buying firm, have cut their spending on Twitter by between 40% and 50% since Elon Musk took control of the company in late October.
- Jack Ma has lost control of Ant Group. Remember: Jack Ma, once described as the Jeff Bezos of ChinaTech, disappeared from public view after he publicly criticised the CCP and China’s approach to financial services regulation. Continue reading on Wiser! Things.
- Only thirteen days into 2023 and already more than 21,700 tech employees have lost their jobs.
- Apple said it paid developers making apps for its App Store $60 billion in 2022, which was flat compared to what it paid out the year prior.
What's happening in Metaverse
- Apple’s mixed-reality headset is set to launch this year after seven years of development and delays, according to Bloomberg.
- H&M is upping its bets in emerging tech with the launch of Loooptopia, joining numerous others, including Gen Z retailer American Eagle, who have made Roblox a key marketing asset in an attempt to connect with younger shoppers.
- Mastercard is launching a web3-focused incubator to help artists connect with fans through a new medium.
- McDonald’s new media campaign to celebrate the Lunar New Year uses AI, augmented reality, 3D filters and has a metaverse theme. In their press release, a McDonald’s spokesperson said:
"We know our fans live at the intersection of innovation and culture and that's where McDonald's needs to meet them.”
For more on the brand strategy of H&M, American Eagle and McDonalds in emerging tech, sign up for the Brand Strategy Collection.
What's happening in Web3
- Hong Kong is pushing ahead with the development of its Web3 industry as part of a plan to re-establish itself as a global cryptocurrency hub, pursuing a very different path from that taken by mainland China when it comes to the digital asset industry. Unlike China, which banned crypto transactions in 2021, Hong Kong is positioning itself to welcome a new licensing regime that will potentially open a market for retail cryptocurrency trading.
- El Salvador is to raise funds through the world’s first sovereign blockchain bond. The congress in El Salvador has passed a digital-securities law that would allow the nation to raise funds as it continues to push the country’s adoption of Bitcoin.
- In Dubai, a dedicated crypto hub for local entrepreneurs has attracted twice as many digital asset startups last year than in 2021.
- NFT December sales surged to their highest levels since June last year. This was fuelled by ‘tax-loss harvesting’ caused by the slump in prices of some non-fungible tokens. This and allowed US holders to take advantage of a loophole to reduce capital gains taxes.
- The "Game of Thrones" official NFT collection, dubbed "Build Your Realm," completely sold out just seven hours after its release this week on Nifty's NFT marketplace.
- Twitter is developing a ‘Coins’ feature with Stripe payments. It’s not clear if these will be digital tokens on blockchain or via a more traditional web2 solution. But as I’ve said before, my guess is that Musk will integrate payments into Twitter. It’s a domain he understands very well (assuming Twitter survives, of course.)
- Federal prosecutors in the US are to investigate Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange following the collapse of FTX.
- Meanwhile, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) popped up on Substack on Thursday with his own newsletter. In his first post, he repeated that he did not “steal funds” in what seemed to be his “I didn’t do anything” line of defence. FYI, the Substack newsletter will set you back $80, which is considerably more expensive than a subscription to Wiser! and, IMHO, substantially less interesting or of value!
What's happening in Technology
Generative AI continues to dominate the news agenda
- OpenAI has opened a waitlist for a professional version of ChatGPT, the popular artificial intelligence chatbot, according to TechCrunch. OpenAI may start to experiment with a paid version of the platform (which is currently creaking at the seams because of the massive demand for the free version.)
- Meanwhile, browser Neeva has integrated ChatGPT into it’s ad-free subscription service. Read my conversation with one of the founders of Neeva here.
- Notion has implemented a great example of how GPT-like AI tools will become as ubiquitous as calculators and spell checkers in consumer software (which I'm using to write this newsletter.)
- New York City Governors has banned the use of ChatGPT in schools. I think that’s short-sighted and explain why in Wiser! Things.
- Security research group Check Point Research (CPR) published a terrifying article entitled “OpwnAI: Cybercriminals Starting to Use ChatGPT.” Although not surprising, I wasn’t expecting it so soon.
- Meanwhile, according to Forbes, people are using ChatGPT to write fake scientific abstracts which are good enough to fool scientists.
- ChatGPT is free to use. But that hasn’t stopped a ton of new mobile apps charging fees to use the free technology.
- Ryan Reynolds read from an AI-generated script in the new Mint Mobile ad.
- Microsoft has shown off its latest research in text-to-speech AI with a model called VALL-E that can simulate someone's voice from just a three-second audio sample. The speech can not only match the timbre but also the emotional tone of the speaker, and even the acoustics of a room.
In other Tech & Innovation news
- Healthtech biometrics goes down the pan! At CES2023 last week, sensors inside the toilet are measuring human waste to detect health markers.
- Panasonic and Biel Glasses have announced a new pair of smart glasses to aid mobility for the visually impaired that describe as “life-changing.”
- Bloomberg reported that Apple is actively working on making a touchscreen MacBook, which it plans to begin selling in 2025. Steve Jobs was always against such an innovation.
- Hyundai have demo’ed its 'crab-walking' e-Corner technology in an Ioniq EV. The tech allows the wheels of a car to turn in ways they can’t on a traditional suspension system. Expect to find the tech in production vehicles as early as 2025.
- An experimental, potentially revolutionary all-electric airplane designed by NASA will soon be taking its first test flight, which will mark a major milestone for battery-powered aviation.
- Shopify’s New Year’s Resolution is "No More Meetings" after the CEO, Tobias Lütke announced that all recurring meetings with three or more attendees will be removed “in perpetuity”. When I asked LinkedIn followers if they thought Shopify “employees be better off because of the ban”, 58% responded “yes.”
- John Deere says it makes AI robotics, not farm equipment, which is more real than it sounds - its products are full of cameras and GPS now.
🛠️ Tools, tips and tricks to save you time
- Upgrade your sleep and downgrade your stress with the Apollo wearable
- 7 AI tools that I use to save me time and boost my productivity.
- How to create unique content with ChatGPT and QuillBot
- Start your therapy journey with BetterHelp, the online platform that has helped over three million people match with licensed therapists.
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- Writesonic provides over 65 AI writing features to support creators with industry-specific content using a brand’s writing style and tone of voice.
- Moonbeam is specifically trained to write essays, articles, blogs, and other long form content.
- ProfilePicture.AI is an easy to use and versatile selfie generator that uses over 168 different styles to auto generate the perfect profile pic for every occasion.
Disclaimer: I get a commission from some of the products and deals in this email, but it doesn't cost you anything.
🎙 Big Tech Little Tech #16
The latest episode of Big Tech Little Tech is all about what's coming next as Shaun and I gaze into our crystal balls and make a few predictions for the year ahead.
Find all the links and show notes in the latest issue of the Big Tech Little Tech newsletter.
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Anchor | Pandora | Google Podcasts | Castbox | Deezer | Pocket Casts | Stitcher | RSS Feed | Subscribe to Newsletter
🌎 For all show notes, background links and everything to do with the show, go to the Big Tech Little Tech website.
Wiser! is a weekly newsletter that makes sense of what's happening and what's coming next in the tech economy. From disruptive technologies, like blockchain, crypto and artificial intelligence, to emerging trends, like Web3 and the Metaverse. Plus there's a big focus on BigTech and the impact of social media.
The purpose of Wiser! is simple, to help you stay interesting, informed and one step ahead of your competition. Using easy and engaging language, I make sense of it all so that you don't have too.
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