Technology media highlights - January 2024

Technology media highlights - January 2024

The Briefing

|
29 January 2024
|
8 minute read
  Key highlights
  • As an election approaches in the US, political experts worry about the use of AI in election interference. 
  • Tech layoffs aren’t letting up, with some affected employees turning to social media to share their stories. 
  • Apple’s new VR headset is available for pre-order, but app developers haven’t bought in yet. 
  • Japan successfully landed on the moon for the first time this month, while NASA has hit roadblocks with recent projects. 
  • In the gaming world, indie title Palworld used dark humor to hit the top of the charts. 

Concerns circle about the political implications of artificial intelligence, even as major tech companies release new AI features. 

It’s an election year in the United States, and while the general election is still months away, many experts are already concerned about the possibility of AI-powered interference. In New Hampshire, an AI-powered robocall deepfaking President Joe Biden’s voice circulated, urging citizens not to vote in the state’s upcoming primary. 

Foreign governments have used technology to interfere with American elections in the past. A lengthy FBI investigation determined that Russia used social media to interfere in the 2016 election. There’s evidence that the Kremlin interfered in the 2020 election as well. 

However, artificial intelligence has become much more accessible over the past four years, giving bad actors even more power to interfere with current events. New AI-generated technology has made it easier than ever to generate fake news and social media content in just a few seconds. Recent studies have indicated that Americans are very susceptible to AI-generated fake news headlines. In one instance, 46% of respondents thought a false headline about the government manipulating the stock market was true. 

The Briefing-tech-2-blog1

This comes at a time when new AI tools are hitting the market left and right. Google recently added generative AI features to the Chrome web browser to help users stay organized. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also recently announced that the company is continuing to invest in large-scale generative AI tools and the infrastructure to support them. 

 

 

Tech-25

Major tech layoffs are continuing into 2024, with many employees turning to social media to cope. 

The tech industry grappled with layoffs throughout 2023. Large tech companies and startups alike had expanded hiring throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but weren’t able to sustain that growth. This resulted in mass layoffs, which have continued into 2024. This includes changes at Alphabet, as X Lab and YouTube have both made cuts.  

TikTok also laid off 60 employees this month, although the social media app continues to perform well. Ironically, many workers affected by tech layoffs over the past year have turned to TikTok to share and discuss their layoffs. This is particularly common among Gen Z tech workers, who tend to be more comfortable sharing these intimate aspects of their lives online. 

These videos allow those who have been laid off to connect with each other online. In some cases, employees have even filmed their termination meetings in an effort to hold their employees accountable. However, many industry professionals worry that this trend will erode trust between employers and employees. 

 

 

Tech-26

Apple’s VR technology struggles to find its footing.

Apple is gearing up for the launch of its Vision Pro VR headset, which is set to hit the market on February 2nd. However, a little less than 200 apps have been configured for the new headset, indicating that developers are hesitant to buy into this new technology. 

The Briefing-tech-2-blog2

VR technology was billed by many as the “next big thing” during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much of the world stuck at home, virtual reality gave people the opportunity to have immersive experiences. However, VR products still haven’t seemed to reach their full potential. This is partially due to the lack of content available for them. Avid gamers haven’t seemed to connect with VR titles, and development studios are hesitant to invest in them given the lack of consumer response. 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom in the VR world. Disney recently shared a video of a concept for a VR floor called HoloTile. It allows users to walk in any direction continuously, working like a multi-directional treadmill. While the product is still in the experimental stages, it could make VR games much more immersive and realistic should it ever hit the market. 

 


Get the key highlights of the technology industry directly to your mailbox.

 

 

 

Tech-27

NASA encounters challenges while Japan makes progress in space exploration. 

Japan’s first lunar lander touched down successfully on the moon in mid-January. This unmanned lander, named SLIM, uses innovative optical navigation for more accurate landings. With this landing, Japan becomes only the fifth country to land on the moon. 

While Japan has made huge progress with this landing, NASA’s US-based team faces challenges. The agency announced that it had lost contact with its Ingenuity helicopter on Mars on January 18th. They regained contact with the helicopter two days later, but concerns remain regarding its future. 

The helicopter initially landed on Mars in 2021 and has proven itself to be very reliable in that time, completing 71 flights prior to this one. The 72nd flight was meant to be a test flight, as Ingenuity had started showing signs of wear and tear on recent excursions. 

This comes after a failed US moon lander mission earlier this month, which NASA launched in partnership with Astrobotic. They have also delayed a manned mission to the moon in partnership with SpaceX until 2026. These partnerships with private companies are relatively new for NASA, and while there’s huge potential for innovation, there’s also much more risk involved. 

 

 

Tech-28

Palworld, a bizarre Pokemon-esque action game, is taking Steam by storm. 

Japanese indie game studio Pocketpair shocked the gaming industry this month with the release of Palworld, an open-world action survival game that has been described as “Pokemon with guns”. The game has already sold over 5 million copies on Steam and Xbox Game Pass. Throughout the game, players catch creatures, craft items, and generally try to survive

The Briefing-tech-2-blog3

Although the game seems similar to Pokemon titles and other popular survival games, it quickly evolves into something much darker. The title’s runaway success indicates that consumers are craving games that aren’t afraid to push the envelope. 

However, this new hit isn’t without its fair share of controversy. The imagery is so similar to Pokemon games that it has sparked plagiarism concerns. Some have even speculated that generative AI was used in the game’s development, although there isn’t much convincing evidence of this yet. Despite the controversy, it’s already poised to be one of the most notable games of this year. 

Opportunities for deeper insight

The current tech landscape feels overwhelming, with so many new products and features hitting the market each month. While innovation is happening at a rapid pace, both consumers and businesses might struggle to keep up with these developments. Tech companies will need to address their audience’s concerns to thrive in this difficult market. 


Areas of particular interest include: 
  • Space exploration: What is the current public sentiment regarding space exploration? How do successful moon landings affect the broader tech industry?

  • AI risks: How susceptible are consumers to malicious AI-generated content? How will AI affect perceptions of politics around the world?

  • Virtual reality: Why are consumers so hesitant to adopt VR technology? What can tech companies do to make these technologies more accessible? 


If you’re interested in launching a study on these topics, or others, Potloc would be happy to partner with you. 

Contact us

Related Posts

- Automotive

Automotive media highlights - January 2024

- Financial Services

Financial services media highlights - January 2024

- Healthcare

Healthcare media highlights - January 2024