This year, the tech felt like a simulation • TechCrunch
This year in tech, too much happened and very little made sense. It was as if we were controlled by a random number generator that would dictate the whims of the tech industry, leading to several “biggest news of the year” happening over the course of a month, all completely disconnected from each other. others.
I can’t help but think of a really good tweet I saw last month that summed up the absurdity of the year – it was something like “Meta laid off 11,000 people and that’s not is that the third biggest tech story of the week.” Normally, a social media giant laying off 13% of its workforce would easily be the biggest story of the week, but that was when FTX went bankrupt and everyone was impersonating companies on Twitter because somehow Elon Musk hadn’t thought about how things would go horribly wrong if someone could buy a blue check Oh, good times.
When I say we feel like we’re living in a simulation, what I mean is that sometimes I hear about the latest tech news and I feel like someone threw in a few words in a hat, picked a few and tried to connect the dots. Of course, that’s not really what’s happening. But back in January, would you have believed me if I told you that Twitter owner Elon Musk polled users to decide he would unban Donald Trump?
These absurd events in technology have consequences. Crypto meltdowns like the FTX bankruptcy and UST scandal hurt real people who invested large sums in something they thought was a good investment. It’s funny to think how you would react ten years ago if someone told you that Meta (oh yeah, that’s what Facebook is called now) is losing billions of dollars every quarter to build virtual reality technology that no one seems to want. But these management decisions are no joke to the employees who lost their jobs because of these choices.
Where does this lead us? We are at a point in the history of technology where nothing is too absurd to be possible. It’s both inspiring and horrifying. It’s possible for a team of employees at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island to win a union election and successfully hold their own in the face of terrible adversity. It’s also possible for Elon Musk to buy Twitter for $44 billion.
Artificial intelligence technologies such as Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT encapsulate this delicate balance between innovation and horror. You can create beautiful works of art in seconds, and you can also endanger the livelihoods of working artists. You can ask an AI chatbot to teach you the story, but there’s no way to know if their answer is factually accurate (unless you do some additional research, in which case you could have done your own research to start).
But perhaps part of the reason AI generators have gained such mainstream appeal is that they seem almost natural to us. This year’s tech news seems so bizarre that it might as well have been generated by ChatGPT.
Or maybe the reality is actually stranger than anything an AI could come up with. I asked ChatGPT to write tech news headlines for me, and it came up with these snoozers (besides a few factually inaccurate headlines, which I omitted for journalistic reasons):
- “Apple’s iOS 15 update brings major improvements to iPhones and iPads”
- “The new range of autonomous delivery robots from Amazon is controversial”
- “Intel Announces New Line of Processors with Advanced Security Features”
Rather boring! Here are some real things that happened in tech this year:
- Tony the Tiger debuted as a VTuber.
- Someone claimed to be a fired Twitter employee named Rahul Ligma, and a gaggle of reporters didn’t get the joke, meaning I inadvertently had to explain the “ligma” joke on four different tech podcasts.
- Three people have been arrested for operating a Club Penguin clone.
- One of the Justice Department’s prime suspects in a $3.6 billion crypto money laundering scheme is an entrepreneur-slash-rapper named Razzlekhan.
- The new Pokemon game has a line of dialogue with the word “cheugy”.
- Donald Trump dropped an NFT collection.
- A bad Twitter feature update has impacted the shares of a pharmaceutical company.
- Elon Musk’s biggest rival is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida.
- FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan says Taylor Swift has done more to educate Gen Z about antitrust law than she ever could.
- Meta is selling a $1,499 VR headset to use for remote work.
- The UK Treasury created a Discord account to share public announcements, but was immediately spammed by people using emoji reactions to make dirty jokes (and speaking of the UK, there have been three different Prime Ministers since September .)
These are strange times. If the rules are made up and the points don’t matter, let’s at least hope that if the absurdity continues in 2023, the tech news is more fun than harmful. I want more Chris Pratt voicing Mario live-action, and less tech CEOs convicted of fraud. Is it too much to ask?