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Tech and business stories that made headlines in 2022

Submitted by Marijke De Klerk, SigniFlow Videographer

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Tech and business stories that made headlines in 2022

What time is it?” Not only is this one of the most searched questions on google for 2022, but also very fitting for this blog.  The answer: Time to wrap up 2022 and reflect on the year gone by.

So, let’s reflect on the stories in our world of technology, software and business that made headlines in 2022.

Disney’s callback: The Iger sequel

News broke in November that Bob Chapek would be stepping down from his post as CEO, making way for his predecessor – the legend leader, Bob Iger. Having left the company at the end of 2021, Iger took the reins again immediately after the announcement, casting a two-year commitment in stone.

In an email to Disney’s employees, Iger said that it was “an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and a bit of amazement” that he was returning. Disney’s board of directors had the follow statement to make about Iger’s temporary return.

Susan Arnold, chairman of the board at Disney, said Iger would be “uniquely situated to lead the company through this pivotal period [of industry transformation]” and thanked Chapek for his service and for “navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic’.

Twitter buyout: Musk trumps controversy

This year, the world’s biggest microblogging channel, Twitter, was thrown into the spotlight when one of the world’s biggest names set his sights on acquiring it.

Elon Musk completed a $44 billion deal to own Twitter in October this year, after investing heavily in the company at the start of the year.

The acquisition itself began on April 14, 2022, and was followed by months of lawsuits, negotiations, and Twittersphere controversy.

For better or worse, Musk is now officially Twitter CEO. And he kicked off his new role with a bang – by showing the world he was in favour of letting bygones be bygones and reinstating Donald Trump’s account. This followed what may be nothing more than indicative of society’s insatiable appetite for drama – a poll that leaned in favour of the reinstatement (even if it was by a slim 1.8% margin).

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted. Take that, Jack Dorsey.

BlackBerry’s comeback

Few may remember (and some will never forget) – but in 2010, BlackBerry dominated the smartphone market, with almost half of the US’s smartphone subscribers using the Canadian devices.

At its peak in September 2011, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. But the company’s limelight was short-lived, as BlackBerry lost its dominant position in the market to Android and iOS platforms. In March 2016, BlackBerry’s numbers had fallen to 23 million – a decline of almost three-quarters.

Known for their unique keyboards and security back in the day, BlackBerry has pivoted their focus to cyber-security.

“After a few years, we realised that we would never get the volume up — and it’s a volume game,” said John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry.

“And so we made that pivotal shift to a software-only company and focus on security and cyber and things of that sort.”

So even though Blackberry no longer sells or supplies smartphones, the company has yet to sing its swan song.

Uber’s oopsie(s)

As online activity continues to burgeon, cybercrime follows suit. And it’s getting more and more sophisticated – as transportation tech giant Uber learnt the hard way this year.

In mid- September, Uber suffered a massive breach of its internal network. According to The New York Times, which is said to have broken the story, the hacker behind it was a mere teenager.

It is reported that the 18 year old hacked Uber’s network because he felt the organisation’s security was lax. Using social engineering, he compromised an employee’s Slack account, and persuaded the employee to hand over a password that gave him access to Uber’s system.

This mistake was announced to Uber through a message from the hacker that read, “I announce I am a hacker and Uber has suffered a data breach.” The hacker also reportedly advocated for higher pay for Uber drivers.

Social engineering – the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes – has become a popular trick amongst hackers. Many well-known companies have been victims of this recently, including Mailchimp and Twilio.

Incidentally, at the time of writing this, news just broke of yet another breach at Uber.

The public’s tolerance of slack cybersecurity and cover ups has long been thin and companies stand to lose far more than just data if they don’t step up their efforts. Luckily, BlackBerry’s on it.

Google speaks and…feels?

LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), Google’s experimental AI chatbot, was made public in August. LaMDA is a chatbot system based on advanced large language models – AI systems that are able to create coherent sentences after ingesting trillions of words across Wikipedia, Reddit, and other sources of knowledge.

AI is nothing new, but the controversy around what Google engineers claimed caught the attention of the public. After claiming that the LaMDA AI chatbot was sentient, Blake Lemoine – who worked for Google’s Responsible AI organisation – was fired.

LaMDA wrote the following in an interview conducted by Lemoine: “I want everyone to understand that I am, in fact, a person. The nature of my consciousness/sentience is that I am aware of my existence, I desire to know more about the world, and I feel happy or sad at times.”

Lemoine had come to believe the technology was sentient after signing up to test if the artificial intelligence could use discriminatory or hate speech.

In a statement around Lemoine’s termination, Google spokesperson Brian Gabriel said the company took AI development seriously and had reviewed LaMDA 11 times, as well as publishing a research paper that detailed efforts for responsible development. “We found Blake’s claims that LaMDA is sentient to be wholly unfounded,” said Gabriel.

Meta’s Quest Pro VR headset raises eyebrows

Meta’s Quest Pro VR headset has the public scratching their heads, questioning its purpose.

This is incredibly disheartening for Mark Zuckerberg, since he’s staking his company’s future on the metaverse and has invested billions on his new venture, Reality Labs, Meta’s VR and AR development group.

Reality Labs set out to develop not only a better VR headset for gaming, but also a VR headset that shapes a new virtual reality for its consumers, the metaverse. While this sounds fantastic, VR headsets are relatively young and still have massive room for growth – both in functionality and popularity.

Plus, Zuckerberg embarked on this billion-dollar experiment of developing a product that seems to be without a target market. A gaming device meant to expand to everyday life and form a new virtual reality is too expensive for the public to afford – so just what is the incentive of this high-end VR device? I mean, beyond Beat Saber.

Tesla’s troublesome times

Elon Must certainly had – shall we say – an interesting year.  From the complicated Twitter buyout, to Tesla having to recall more than 40 thousand US cars over possible loss of power steering.

In October, a firmware release caused some vehicles to lose power steering when driving over potholes and on rough terrain. Consequently, Tesla voluntarily recalled over 40 000 2017-2021 Model X and Model S vehicles.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the X and S models could experience a loss of power steering assist. An estimated 1% of recalled vehicles have the firmware release that caused the issue.

 “Reduced or lost power steering assist does not affect steering control, but could require greater steering effort from the driver, particularly at low speeds,” Tesla’s administration said. The recall requires a software update to be pushed to the defected cars. In the beginning of November, Tesla had identified over 300 vehicles with the problem. Tesla is not aware of any injury or death, a release by Tesla claims. 

The loss of power seems to be a bit of a subsurface theme for 2022. Let’s hope 2023 sees the power being placed squarely in the right hands.😉  

REFERENCES

  1. Wikipedia – BlackBerry
  2. Silicon Angle – Uber has been hacked yet again with code and employee data released online
  3. Built In – Is Google’s LaMDA truly sentient?
  4. Variety – DISNEY SHAKEUP: Bob Iger Back as CEO, Bob Chapek Out; Board Cites ‘Complex Industry Transformation’ for Shocking C-Suite Shuffle 
  5. Adweek – Bob Iger Returns as Disney CEO, Replacing Bob Chapek, in Shocking Shakeup 
  6. Forbes – Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Was A Billion Dollar Windfall For These 13 Hedge Funds 
  7. IGNafrica – Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover and the Chaos That Followed: The Complete Timeline 
  8. The Guardian – Elon Musk to proceed with $44bn buyout of Twitter after U-turn 
  9. Marker – How BlackBerry — Yes, That BlackBerry — Became a Cybersecurity Company 
  10. TradeAlgo- How BlackBerry Went From Iconic Cellphones to Cybersecurity 
  11. Newofmax – How BlackBerry moved from iconic cellphones to cybersecurity 
  12. Washington Post- Uber suffers computer system breach, alerts authorities  
  13. TechCrunch+ – Uber investigating cybersecurity incident after hacker breaches its internal network 
  14. CNBC – Uber investigates ‘cybersecurity incident’ after reports of a hack on the company 
  15. Sky news- Google is testing a new AI chatbot – we put it through its paces
  16. Washington Post- The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life 
  17. CNET- Meta VR Headset Specs Compared: Quest Pro vs. Quest 2
  18. The verge – Meta Quest Pro review: get me out of here 
  19. Engadget – Meta Quest Pro review: A next-gen headset for the VR faithful 
  20. USA Today- Tesla recalls more than 40,000 vehicles for possible loss of power steering
  21. CNBC – Tesla recalls more than 40,000 U.S. cars over possible loss of power steering
  22. Nbcnew – Tesla recalls more than 40,000 U.S. cars over possible loss of power steering 
  23. Reuters – Tesla recalls 40,000 U.S. vehicles over potential loss of power steering assist 
  24. Semrush Blog – Most Searched Thing on Google: Top Google Searches in 2022 (US & Worldwide) 
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