Hello there, welcome to another round of weekly Global tech roundups. This week’s edition features Meta’s quest to wriggle itself out of European and Canadian laws coupled with proposed trials with the Facebook platform.
Also, Elon Musk’s Space X is back again with its missile launch and then, there are new innovations in the realm of AI.
This week, Meta said it will not accept the terms of a new law by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, that would compel the social media giant to pay news providers for news content on their platforms. Meta is doing away with Facebook’s News tab in a few countries which include France, Germany and the UK.
SpaceX chief, Elon Musk has finally announced that the Starship rocket is ready for launch. This is coming after its initial failed attempt which saw the rocket go on flames. Musk will now approach the Federal Aviation Administration, to obtain permission to launch.
There was a breakthrough in health this week brought about by AI, as Steven Vasilescu, a biomedical engineer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the founder of NeoGenix Biosciences, developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that could revolutionize the treatment of infertility and detect low sperm count in males faster.
We will share details of these news items and more in this week’s global roundup. First, a summary of the bulletin.
- Meta to shut its Facebook news tab in a few select countries
- Musk announces Starship rocket launch
- Scientist develops AI tool to treat low sperm count in males
- China expands iPhone ban to other government agencies and departments
- Microsoft will no longer offer Teams as part of its 365 bundle in Europe
Meta to shut its Facebook news tab
Meta is doing away with Facebook’s News tab in a few countries. It will remove the dedicated section in the UK, France and Germany in early December.
Unlike in Canada, where the company has blocked news content to protest a law that would compel it to pay publishers in the country, Meta says news organizations can continue to post links, Reels and so on to Facebook in those three territories. Users shouldn’t have any issues with accessing news content there either.
According to Meta, this effort is to funnel resources toward services and products users care more about, and the changes are set to take effect in early December.
Meta says it will honour existing Facebook News deals with publishers in the UK, France and Germany. However, it won’t renew those pacts or enter into new ones in those countries. Moreover, the company doesn’t “expect to offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”
As news content currently comprises less than three per cent of the content displayed in users’ Facebook feeds, Meta asserts that users are primarily focused on short-form videos, connecting with others, and discovering opportunities, interests, and passions
Musk announces Starship rocket launch
SpaceX chief, Elon Musk has announced that the Starship rocket is finally ready for launch. This is after a series of recent engine tests. However, before the highly anticipated launch can take place, SpaceX must obtain clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to a report, it is the most powerful rocket ever made. In April this year, the Super Heavy rocket had its maiden flight testing but encountered a technical issue during the test mission that led to a controlled explosion, prematurely ending the flight.
The immense force generated by the Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor engines caused the launchpad to disintegrate, resulting in debris being scattered beyond the launch site. However, it seems the technical issues have been resolved following Elon Musk’s announcement.
The report further explained that SpaceX engineers have developed and tested a water-cooled flame deflector to address the issues encountered during the initial flight, This innovative system, constructed from steel, is specifically designed to withstand the intense heat and force generated by the rocket as it leaves the launchpad. Read more here.
Scientist develops AI tool to detect low sperm count
Dr. Steven Vasilescu, a biomedical engineer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the founder of NeoGenix Biosciences, has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that could revolutionize the treatment of infertility and remedy low sperm count in males faster.
The AI tool called SpermSearch is a cutting-edge AI system designed to aid in the identification of viable sperm in semen samples, specifically focusing on men with a condition known as non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), where they have no sperm in their ejaculate. Traditionally, embryologists would manually search for healthy sperm by surgically removing a portion of the testes, a time-consuming and potentially inaccurate process that could take several hours.
SpermSearch, however, can analyse and identify healthy sperm within seconds by processing images of the samples immediately uploaded to the computer. To achieve this remarkable speed, Dr. Vasilescu and his team trained the AI by exposing it to thousands of images of sperm within complex tissue samples.
“It can highlight a potentially viable sperm before a human can even process what they’re looking at,” he says.
In a scientific paper published by the UTS biomedical engineering team, SpermSearch was found to be 1,000 times faster than an experienced embryologist. Read more here.
China expands iPhone ban to other government agencies
China’s plan to expand the ban on iPhones in sensitive government departments to government-backed agencies and state companies signals increasing challenges for Apple in its largest foreign market and global production base.
This move comes as part of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to reduce reliance on foreign technology and American software and circuitry, putting Apple’s position in the Chinese market at risk. According to a report, several agencies including central government regulators have already instructed their staff not to bring iPhones to work, confirming a previous report from the Wall Street Journal.
Furthermore, Beijing intends to extend this restriction to a wide range of state-owned enterprises and government-controlled organizations. Although there is no formal or written injunction yet, the ban on personal devices is expected to vary in strictness among different state firms and organizations.
The significance of this potential restriction lies in China’s aim to minimize foreign technology use in sensitive environments. For Apple, China is a crucial market that contributes about 20% of its revenue, and it serves as the primary manufacturing location for iPhones through sprawling factories that employ millions of Chinese workers. However, if the ban is enforced, it could erode Apple’s market position and disrupt its supply chain. Read more here.
Microsoft to remove Teams from its 365 bundle in Europe
Global tech corporation Microsoft has announced that it will no longer offer Teams as part of its 365 bundle to enterprise customers in Europe. This move aims to pacify European Union (EU) regulators who are investigating the company based on possible anti-competition activities.
For context, Slack, a software company that offers a service similar to Teams, accused Microsoft of attempting to kill the competition. In a complaint filed to the European Union in July 2020, Slack accused Microsoft of offering the service alongside its popular productivity suite, Office.
By doing so, Slack argued that the decision forced millions to install the app. What’s more, they could not uninstall it if they wanted. However, it was only last month that the EU announced that it had begun an official inquiry into the matter.
Explaining why it was removing Teams from the 365 bundle, Nanna-Louise Linde, Vice President of Microsoft’s European Government Affairs, said: “Today we are announcing proactive changes that we hope will start to address these concerns in a meaningful way, even while the European Commission’s investigation continues and we cooperate with it.”
The changes, according to Linde, will affect Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites for business customers in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Further into the press statement, Linde said that the removal of Teams from the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans will commence on October 1, 2023.
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