Hashtag Trending Feb.1-Software issues hit automakers; Poor performance linked to RTO mandates?; Microsoft continues to push Edge over Chrome

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Software problems are hitting automakers hard, Tesla’s shares take a hit as Elon Musk’s compensation is reversed by a judge in a shareholder lawsuit, a study concludes that poor performance is more likely for companies that are forcing return to office and does your Chrome browser look different? It might be the old Microsoft switcheroo…

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All this and more on the earn while you learn edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US.  

General Motors (GM) is facing issues with bugs in the systems of its electric vehicles. These have led to a range of problems, both technical and operational, impacting customers, the company’s reputation, and its financial performance. 

Owners of affected GM EVs, such as the Chevrolet Blazer EV, have experienced various technical problems including flickering screens, looping error messages, and issues with charging. These glitches not only degrade the user experience but also raise concerns about the reliability and safety of the vehicles. For example, a software malfunction in a car can potentially lead to critical failures in vehicle operations, posing safety risks.

These are not only affecting customer satisfaction, they are having a big impact on the bottom line of the auto maker. GM’s decision to halt sales of the Chevrolet Blazer EV due to software issues directly affects the company’s revenue and market share. Additionally, GM recorded a $1.7 billion accounting charge related to the high cost of stockpiled battery cells, which it won’t be able to fully recover. 

Software problems have forced GM to delay the launch of several key EV models, including the Chevrolet Equinox EV, Silverado EV RST, GMC Sierra EV Denali, and Cadillac Escalade IQ. These delays hinder GM’s ability to compete effectively in the rapidly growing EV market.

GM isn’t the only company that is struggling with this transition. 

Sounds easy to say, huh? Every company is now a software company. 

Those of us who grew up in IT know all too well that building quality software on tight time frames ain’t easy. And we know all too well about what project delays can do. 

Looks like GM and other automakers are finding this out the hard way.

Sources include: Axios

Tesla’s shares took a bit of a dive when a Delaware court voided CEO Elon Musk’s $56 billion compensation package. 

The ruling, based on the lawsuit filed by a Tesla shareholder, concluded that Tesla’s board failed to demonstrate the fairness of the compensation plan or evidence of substantial negotiation with Musk. 

This decision led to a 3 per cent drop in Tesla’s share price in after-hours trading.

The 2018 compensation package, the largest in public corporate history, was pivotal in making Musk a centibillionaire. It gave Musk stock options, contingent on Tesla achieving specific market capitalization and revenue targets. 

The court case questioned the fairness of this package, highlighting Musk’s control over Tesla and the flawed process leading to the board’s approval.

Musk’s response to the ruling was critical of incorporating businesses in Delaware, and he suggested a poll about relocating Tesla’s incorporation to Texas.

But for the rest of us, the ruling highlights the challenges of ensuring fairness and transparency in executive compensation, protecting the rights of all shareholders, especially in high-profile, high-stakes situations like Musk and Tesla.

Sources include: CNBC 

They call it Nightshade. It’s a new tool developed by researchers at the University of Chicago, and it’s seen a remarkable uptake with 250,000 downloads in just five days. 

The tool is aimed at artists, and is designed to disrupt AI models that scrape and train on artworks without consent. 

Nightshade alters images at the pixel level, making them appear as entirely different content to machine learning algorithms. This “poisoning” of AI models can lead to the generation of inaccurate imagery based on user prompts.

The overwhelming response to Nightshade indicates a strong desire among artists to protect their work from unauthorized AI training. The tool’s popularity extends globally, reflecting widespread concerns over the use of unlicensed data in AI model training. Nightshade’s approach is to increase the cost of training on unlicensed data, making licensing images from creators a more viable option.

Following the success of Nightshade, the team, also known for their earlier tool Glaze, plans to release a combined version of both tools. Glaze, which has received 2.2 million downloads since April 2023, aims to protect an artist’s signature style from being learned by AI models. The combined tool will offer both defensive and offensive capabilities against AI model training on unlicensed artworks.

The project leader, Ben Zhao, has expressed surprise at the high level of enthusiasm for Nightshade and anticipates releasing an open-source version in the future. The team’s work highlights the growing tension between AI development and artists’ rights, emphasizing the need for ethical considerations in the training of AI models.

Sources include: VentureBeat

There’s a reason why one of my favourite phrases is that irony is dead. 

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has argued against copyright protections when it comes to using online content for building AI models; it attempted to use the same law to protect its own AI model, Llama.

Meta’s argument to the US Copyright Office is that the vast amount of copyrighted text, imagery, and data used to train AI models, such as Llama, should not be protected under copyright law, considering it as “fair use.” This stance suggests that everything available on the internet is fair game for AI training purposes. 

But, when an initial version of Llama leaked online and was posted on GitHub, Meta invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to demand its removal, asserting copyright over its own AI model.

Despite Meta’s efforts, the attempt to remove Llama from GitHub was unsuccessful. The GitHub user who posted Llama argued that the model’s specifications did not have sufficient originality to be copyrightable, as they were derived from works used to train Llama.

All of this from the company that makes billions by circulating everyone else’s content.

On a more serious note, the growth of AI may have finally force us to have a meaningful discussion about the balance between protecting intellectual property and fostering innovation in AI development.

Sources include: Business Insider 

And a couple of quick stories that caught my eye. I saw this one in Forbes and then looked up the study, and there’s a link in the show notes.

According to a recent research paper published by University of Pittsburgh, compelling evidence suggests that organizations are leveraging Return-To-Office mandates not to enhance firm value, but rather to reassert control and shift blame for poor performance onto employees. Contrary to the belief that RTO boosts company value, the study revealed that RTO mandates are more likely in firms with poor recent stock performance and have had no significant impacts on firm profitability or stock-returns.

You can check it out yourself.

And another story in Reuters noted that some of the big tech companies, Google, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon have taken a bit of a hit due to these companies’ investments in AI. It turns out that revenues are up, but so are costs and investors may be putting these companies in the penalty box. Alphabet (Google) shares fell by 6 per cent and that’s a lot. Wait til investors figure out how much Mark Zuckerberg has spent hoarding the world’s supply of GPU’s

Maybe this is why Microsoft announced that it’s put together a team to find ways to run AI in a less costly manner.  

Anyway, none of these companies will go broke and nobody will lose their job at the CEO level, but it points out that when hype takes over, there are going to be big swings in share prices in tech – and where have we seen that before?

Sources include: Reuters and the University of Pittsburg

Finally, 

If you think your Chrome browser looks a little different, maybe that’s because you shifted to Microsoft’s Edge without knowing it.  

How did that happen? Well, it turns out, according to Microsoft, that there is a bug that inadvertently might cause a switch of browsers for users of Windows 10 and 11. Now this came about because Microsoft had your best interests at heart – they wanted to simplify browser switching for you. 

Some of the more cynical among you might argue this incident reflects Microsoft’s strategy to push Edge and its services, including Bing, through less than clear system notifications and setup prompts. 

But what’s the big deal? Edge, utilizes the same Chromium engine as Chrome, and offers a similar browsing experience and a stronger integration of Microsoft’s ecosystem, from account sign-ins to Microsoft 365 applications.

You didn’t agree to it. Picky, picky, picky…

Seriously, we should always give clear consent to any change from our preferences. And we have to take Microsoft at their word that this is a bug, it is convenient that these types of bugs never seem to push people to Firefox.

And users are expressing some frustration at how pushy Microsoft is in trying to get you to shift over. Andrew Cunnigham, another tech writer complained in a recent post about being asked multiple times to shift his browser preferences. I can’t vouch for that; I use a Mac. 

And I’m not claiming that Apple is lily white pure on this either. Because for the last time, if I’d wanted Safari, I’d have chosen Safari. 

We wouldn’t tolerate this anywhere else. If instead of “do you want fries with that,” you never hear “here’s your fries you didn’t ask for. Don’t ask. It’s a bug.”

So it does point out the need for clear boundaries and user consent in software updates and changes.

Sources include: Ars Technica 

And that’s our show…

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a daily news show and every Saturday, we have an interview show called the Weekend Edition.  

We love your comments. Please let us know what you think. You can reach me at jlove@itwc.ca  or leave a comment under the show notes at www.itworldcanada.com/podcasts

I’m your host Jim Love, thanks for listening and have a Thrilling Thursday.

 

The post Hashtag Trending Feb.1-Software issues hit automakers; Poor performance linked to RTO mandates?; Microsoft continues to push Edge over Chrome first appeared on IT World Canada.

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