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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
December 17, 2023
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.

Dictionary.com’s Word Of The Year for 2023 is “hallucinate.” This term was chosen in reference to artificial intelligence tools, namely AI chatbots, that make up information in place of facts. AI is really taking over.

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • Epic Games defeats Google in court
  • OpenAI inks deal with Axel Springer
  • Threads expands to the EU

Epic Games Prevails Against Google in Antitrust Case

A jury unanimously sided with Epic Games over Google in an antitrust case that started three years ago when the Fortnite creator filed a lawsuit against the Big Tech company for charging higher than normal app store fees and restricting payment systems. Epic Games claimed Google’s Play Store violated federal and California state antitrust laws by doing this, and the court agreed. The jury’s decision came after four weeks of court testimony.

This is a big deal, but we won’t know for sure what will come of it until remedies start in January. While Epic Games is taking this as a win, Wilson White, Google’s VP for government affairs and public policy, said the tech company will appeal the verdict. Epic Games hopes this court decision will force Google to allow app developers to use alternative payment systems within their apps or run their own app stores on Android. Right now, Google gets a 30% cut of in-app purchases.

My Bet of the Week a month ago was that the video game developer would prevail against Google, and it looks like I was right. Stay tuned for an official recap of all the bets I made this year on the movements in the tech industry.

OpenAI Inks Content Licensing Deal with Axel Springer

ChatGPT is getting a boost from the journalism realm since OpenAI signed a global licensing deal with Axel Springer. The new content partnership allows ChatGPT to summarize news stories and events from Politico, Business Insider, and more publications under the global news publisher’s umbrella. ChatGPT’s answers will begin to include attribution and links to full articles, even paywalled content typically limited to paid subscribers. OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap said in a release that this partnership will help provide people with new ways to access quality, real-time news content powered by AI.

It looks like OpenAI is making some strong bets on journalism. This deal comes after the AI company launched a licensing partnership with the Associated Press in July to use its news archive to train its AI models. Axel Springer has also agreed to provide content as training data.

Tesla Recalls US Vehicles & Launches New Humanoid Robot

Tesla is recalling more than 2 million of its vehicles, nearly all in the US, to update software and add some new system alerts and warnings for drivers using the Autopilot function. This comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded a two-year investigation into crashes that happened while Tesla drivers had Autopilot activated. The recall will update where Tesla’s Autopilot function can operate and increase the amount of alerts drivers get while using the self-driving feature.

Tesla’s vehicle recall news came a day after the company unveiled the second generation of its Optimus humanoid robot, which can walk, squat, and hold an egg. It’s unclear what more the robot can do or will be able to do when it eventually goes to market.

More news updates from Musk’s companies:

  • X is expected to bring in roughly $2.5 billion in ad revenue in 2023 after major advertisers left the platform. This is down about 50% compared to last year.
  • Tax filings show that Musk plans to launch a STEM-focused K-12 school in Austin with a $100 million donation. The planned school could eventually expand to a university.
  • Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones got his X account restored after Musk ran a poll on the platform to decide his fate. Jones’ controversial reinstatement came with a three-hour-long X Spaces with Musk, Andrew Tate, and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

  • Meta‘s newest social app, Threads, is expanding to Europe with a few tweaks to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act. Elsewhere in Meta’s family of businesses, Quest 2, 3, and Pro users can now stream and play Xbox Cloud Gaming titles with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership.
  • Spotify confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s testing a new feature that will let users create AI-powered playlists via text-based prompts. The digital music service didn’t say when the feature will expand with a full launch.
  • The Entertainment Software Association announced that it won’t be hosting its annual video game tradeshow E3 any longer after over two decades. The decision came after ESA canceled this year’s tradeshow when gaming giants backed out to host their showcases.
  • The New York Times hired Quartz founder Zach Seward as its new editorial director of artificial intelligence initiatives. In this newly created position, Seward will establish how the NYT will and won’t use AI in the newsroom.
  • ByteDance is scrapping its next VR headset from its subsidiary company, Pico, after sales fell short for the Pico 4, which hasn’t even launched in the US yet. The Information reports that Pico is working on a more high-end headset similar to Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro.
  • To celebrate the release of Pink Friday 2, Nicki Minaj teamed up with Republic Records and Karta, a metaverse studio, to launch a virtual shop in Roblox dubbed “Nicki Minaj’s Gag City.” Fans can enter the shop to tap into 3D experiences inspired by the rap star’s music and purchase digital items.

Nearly 20% of teens said they are almost constantly visiting or using YouTube and TikTok, a new report by the Pew Research Center found. As more kids get online to learn, play, and create, I’m going to bet that that figure will double by this time next year.