Spaces, Twitter’s live audio conversation offering, is officially here. Following months of testing with a small user base this feature is ready to presumably take on Clubhouse, which has the cachet of being invite-only, iOS-only and hosting chats with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.
Has Spaces got what it takes to gain traction? Maybe, but it will have to overcome two obstacles. Firstly, Twitter has slapped on a minimum follower count of 600. This might help keep out spam and troll accounts but there are plenty of individuals and organisations who will miss out on hosting a moderated talk for now.
Secondly, you’d never know Spaces actually existed unless you were already a user of Twitter’s other daring new(ish) feature, Fleets. Yes, that’s the row of icons above your timeline that you almost never use. Once inside Fleets, swipe to choose Spaces. It’s almost like they don’t want anyone to use it, which is strange considering how reportedly keen Twitter was to buy Clubhouse.
I’ve popped into a couple of live chats on both Spaces and Clubhouse over the last few months and they don’t seem that different. However, Twitter is getting ready to monetise its offering: a select group of users will soon have the ability to ticket their events and put a cap on the number of attendees. Perhaps those celebs who have tapped into the podcast market during the pandemic will see this as a new revenue stream.
Meanwhile, in Clubhouse – despite the invite-only hurdle – there is a more egalitarian feel. I tuned into a nine-hour discussion of Musk’s brain-computer technology, hosted by a club called Early Adopters – Startups. The organisers posed the question: if Neuralink was available now, would you use it?
One might assume this chat would be packed to the gills with Musk fans but it was surprisingly balanced, raising issues of ethics and security as well as speculating on medical applications. There were even questions from individuals who clearly hoped Neuralink could help with mood disorders as well as neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s.
Quite a few speakers made it clear that they would not be willing to have such an experimental device implanted in their brain. And rightly so. Musk held a product update event last August and there was no product, no date for consumer availability nor a timeline for clinical trials. Not much has changed.
Not much, that is, aside from last week’s departure of Neuralink president and co-founder Max Hodak. Tweeting about leaving the company, Hodak said he hadn’t been working there for some weeks but offered no explanation.
Hodak’s departure would have coincided with Neuralink’s release of a video of Pager, the macaque monkey, playing Pong with his mind. If this is their technology at work, it is truly amazing (this video is the only evidence that has been offered to date). Unlike previous research in the area, Pager doesn’t have wires trailing from his skull but rather a concealed brain implant that has “paired” with his neural activity to allow him to navigate onscreen simply by thinking about it. Imagine the implications for those with paralysis.
The next step, naturally, is Neuralink for human use. Musk believes we will be lining up for these devices like we would the latest smartphone. Neuralink’s mechanical engineer Robin Young has said she sees it being used to treat all sorts of ailments from insomnia and depression to removing fear from the equation if you wanted to indulge in some rock climbing.
Aside from issues related to the invasiveness of a brain implant, the legal, ethical and social implications are head spinning. Could someone on trial for murder claim Neuralink was responsible if it had been calibrated to remove fear? A futuristic version of the Twinkie defence?
Ethically speaking, we’re creating a world of haves and have-nots if those who can afford Neuralink benefit from the cognitive advantages, while everyone else falls behind. These arguments have been used for any kind of human enhancement in general: when it is corrective – eye glasses – it brings the individual up to a normal standard but when it is for enhancement – when athletes use steroids – it gives the individual an unfair advantage.
But we are talking about a whole new level of enhancement when such technologies not only affect your brain state but are controlled by a smartphone app that facilitates the processing and storage of neural data by a private company. These devices and their data could also be hacked.
Suffice to say my answer to the question was no, I would not use Neuralink if it was available. I’m content to have my personal data processed and tracked the old-fashioned way.
Elon Musk Says He’ll Pay $11 Billion in Taxes in 2021 But Twitter Wants ‘Proof’
Elon Musk took to Twitter to clarify once and for all that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes this year.
If the number of times Elon Musk could count when someone has asked him to pay the full taxes, he would be a very rich..wait, never mind. The Tesla boss is rich beyond any private individual has been in history, reports said.
Musk has increasingly been facing criticism from many politicians and many others who insist he has not been paying taxes as compared to the profits his companies have been making. On Sunday, the SpaceX CEO took to Twitter to share that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes.
For those wondering, I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021
But some of the questions did not stop. One person tweeted how they needed to see Musk’s tax returns while yet another asked how much percentage was that of his total income.
A few were, however scathing of the government who thought they will add that amount to their pockets rather than using it for some proper development.
Wow that’s enough to give each person in the world almost $2 million but instead the government will just stick it in their pockets— greg (@greg16676935420) December 20, 2021
Why not $200 billion? Asking for a Senator— litquidity (@litcapital) December 20, 2021
Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren has tweeted to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop “freeloading off everyone else” after Time magazine named him its “person of the year”.
In response, Musk shot four tweets in which he said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s angry mom who yelled at everybody. He tweeted, ““And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.” “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”
He added further, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”
Musk responded by saying that he “will pay more taxes than any American in history this year”. This Twitter exchange left netizens divided as even though many supported Warren and agreed that Musk should pay more taxes, others felt that he was already doing enough.
Musk’s Tesla is worth about $1 trillion. Over the last few weeks, he has sold nearly $14 billion worth of Tesla shares.
The Tesla boss has been pushing for his colonize Mars agenda for years now, and has made it very clear in some occasions that he would rather spend the money on putting humanity on the red planet, than pay his taxes. “My plan,” the SpaceX founder tweeted about his fortune, “is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”
Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures
Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.
Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.
It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.
“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.
Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.
Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.
“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.
But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”
By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”
“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.
Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream
At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”
On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.
Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.
Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.
The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.
Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.
The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.
The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.
Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.
In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.
Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.
Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.
But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.
“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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