February 16, 2023

Top stories today: 1) Bing AI goes mad, 2) You.com launches multimodal AI search, 3) Apple delays AR headset announcement to June, 4) Elon Musk is Twitter CEO for at least another year, and 5) CBO projects deficits at 6% of GDP, debt could balloon to 195% of GDP.

Hi, and welcome to today's Bay Area Times daily newsletter. Top stories today: 1) Bing AI goes mad, 2) You.com launches multimodal AI search, 3) Apple delays AR headset announcement to June, 4) Elon Musk is Twitter CEO for at least another year, and 5) CBO projects deficits at 6% of GDP, debt could balloon to 195% of GDP.

0. Data and calendar

All values as of 3 AM PT / 6 AM ET, other than S&P500 close (1 PM PT / 4 PM ET).

All times are ET.

1. Bing AI continues to go mad

  • Bing AI continues to be criticized for its gross errors, rudeness, and hallucinations. As we have pointed out before, Bing's AI is likely as unfit-for-usage as Google's. - The VergeSimon WillisonDigital Trends

  • Microsoft claims 71% approval rating. That's actually a low number for a free search engine, again in line with the product being very early. - Microsoft

  • Elon again is worried: "Sounds eerily like the AI in System Shock that goes haywire & kills everyone":

2. You.com launches multimodal AI search


  • It gives you snippet-like answers other than plain text. "Instead of making up a bunch of numbers, which every other language model would do, we’ll just show you our stock app right there inside the conversation," said founder Richard Socher. - Techcrunch

  • Nothing that Google can't copy. That's the problem with most of these new AI searches. They are not 10x better than Google, which still is much better in understanding queries and giving you custom snippets based on what you want.

3. Apple delays AR headset announcement from April to June

  • Likely $3000 price tag, double than Meta's pro headset ($1500). - Bloomberg

  • Can Apple create a new major category? Based on Meta's performance, and unless Apple can really solve AR (which is not likely with today's technology), we expect sales to be in the billions, peanuts vs. Apple's $394B annual sales.

4. Elon Musk interview: Twitter CEO for 1 more year, vision is everything app

  • To stay as CEO for 1 year: "I’m guessing toward the end of this year should be a good timing to find someone else to run the company. I think it should be in stable condition around the end of this year."

  • Vision is everything app: "Everything app, where it's maximally useful. It does payments, provides financial services, provides information flow, [secure] communications. Be as useful as possible, as entertainment as possible, and also to be a source of truth."

  • Advice: be authentic: "If you read a press release from a corporation, it just sounds like propaganda. So I would encourage CEOs and companies and legislators and ministers and so forth, to speak authentically."

  • Worried about one world government: "All through history, civilizations have risen and fallen. But it hasn't meant the doom of humanity as a whole, because there's been all these separate civilizations separated by great distances."

  • Concerns about OpenAI and Google: "At the time, I was concerned that Google was not paying enough attention to AI safety. So I and other people created OpenAI, although initially it was created as an open-source non-profit, and now it is closed-source and for-profit."

  • Thinks we need to regulate AI safety. "I think we should have a similar [system] for artificial intelligence because I think its actually a bigger risk to society than cars or planes or medicine. This might slow down AI a little bit, but that might also be a good thing."

  • How to improve education: "Explain to children why we're teaching a particular subject. Teach sciences as a solution to a problem."

  • Getting 6 hours of sleep every day. "A mere 80 hour workweek would be fine, and that's what I aspire to."

  • Where are the aliens? "If we have really been around for 13.8 billion years, if so, shouldn't there be aliens all over the place? The crazy thing is that I've seen no evidence of alien technology or alien life whatsoever. I think I'd know. I don't think there's anyone who knows more about space than me.

  • Importance of extending civilization beyond Earth: "I think it's actually a troubling thing if there are no aliens, as well, what that actually could mean then is that civilization and consciousness is like a tiny candle in a vast darkness and a very vulnerable tiny candle that could easily get blown out. And I think we should therefore take great care with what could very well be a tiny candle in [darkness] and make sure that it does not go out. And that we extend the light off consciousness beyond Earth, and do everything we can do ensure that the light of consciousness does not go out."

5. CBO: Deficits to average 6% of GDP over next 10 years

This could lead debt-to-GDP to balloon to 195%

  • US could default in July if no deal is reached. - WSJ

  • Does the GOP have any cuts ideas? They have been clear that they won't touch entitlements, plus they want higher defense spending. Where will savings come from? Also, there are no proposals of increasing regulatory efficiencies, for example, reforming the FDA, where drugs can take a decade to get approval.

6. Earnings roundup: everything up edition

  • Shopify tumbles after reducing its revenue growth projection from 20% to high-teens.

  • Roblox jumps as sales rise 17% to $899M, still losing money (EPS -$0.48).

  • Twilio surprises on profitability ($0.22, vs exp. -$0.09), will buyback $1B.

  • Roku continues its trend of slower growth, will cut cost further.

  • Zillow steady as losses accumulate as it unwind home-buying business.

7. Pre-seed/seed companies that have an office grow 3.5x faster

  • Early-stage innovation requires face-to-face interactions, suggests a small poll (only 37 companies analyzed). The conclusion is likely true, although this poll is far from scientific. - LinkedIn

8. Charlie Munger again bashes crypto with few arguments

  • Idiots, stupid: "I think the people who oppose my position on crypto are idiots. It's just ridiculous that anyone would buy this stuff. You can't think of anything on Earth that has done more for the human race than currency, national currencies. If someone says that I'm going to create something that replaces the national currency, [it's] not even slightly stupid, it's massively stupid. [The] governments were totally wrong to permit it. I'm not proud of my country to allow this crap."

  • Complete straw manning: ignores crypto's protection against tyranny and inclusiveness. Munger doesn't address the obvious elephant in the room: crypto permits currency ownership and transfers without the permission of anyone, which can be extremely useful in a world where most people live in dictatorships, for example. The global access to USD stablecoins also can be extremely useful for global commerce. It's easy to criticize when you have easy access to U.S. banks, but most of the world doesn't.

9. Other headlines

  • U.S. retail sales jump 3% in January, more than the expected 1.9%.

  • House panel subpoenas CEOs of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft with regard to content moderation.

  • Tesla caves, agrees to double supercharger network and open it to all EVs, suggesting that its market lead may be threatened.

  • California population has dropped by 500K+ people since Covid.

  • TikTok CEO interviewed by WaPo, tries to minimize Chinese influence.

  • Amazon cutting out many European distributors, going to brands directly to expand margins.

  • Ex-Googler says company culture today is horrible: "no mission, no urgency, delusions of exceptionalism, and mismanagement."

  • Jasper.AI launches Business option: custom-tailored AI based on company content.

  • Replit launches Ghostwriter Chat: conversational AI built into IDE.

  • Apple may be sued by Justice Department for antitrust.

  • Stripe burned through $500M+ in 2022.

  • Figma's $20B Adobe purchase being investigated by EU.

  • Why China has yet to launch open generative AI tools.

  • WallStreetBets founder, ousted, sues Reddit.

  • Bento.me launches as the beautiful alternative to Linktree.

  • Fully remote work to be ended at Activision.

  • Fidelity to hire 4K employees, in contrast to most white-collar companies.

Crypto roundup

  • Binance expects to pay fines to CFTC, SEC, and/or DOJ: Binance CSO.

  • Celsius proposes sale to NovaWulf, <$5K creditors would get ~70% back, >$5K would become shareholders.

  • SEC wants U.S. funds to use qualified custodians to store crypto.

  • Commissioner Peirce gives a measured rebuttal of the proposal.

  • FTX 2.0 negotiates return of $400M from Modulo Capital hedge fund.

  • FTX's Bahamas liquidators claim FTX Bahamas transferred $7.7B to FTX US.

  • FTX Judge denies the appointment of independent examiner, which could have cost $100M+.

  • SBF's two other bond co-signers revealed to be Stanford professors.

  • Gary Wang just got himself a Bloomberg profile, with no super-relevant news.

  • Tornado Cash developer to remain in jail as Netherlands trial continues.

  • Staking is a security, argues director of regulatory affairs of private blockchain group.

Washington and more

  • Mark Meadows subpoenaed by special counsel.

  • Pence said his subpoena is "unconstitutional", willing to fight in the Supreme Court.

  • Trump may come out in support of GOP ballot harvesting, mail-in ballots.

  • China balloon was originally aimed at Hawaii, U.S. official says.

  • Matt Gaetz not being charged by DOJ in sex trafficking investigation.

  • George Santos might have married Brazilian woman to help her with citizenship.

  • Scotland's Leader resigns, partially because of her unpopular pro-trans policies.

  • 5-day office policy for city workers likely to be relaxed in NYC, as vacancies rise.

10. Interesting tweets, memes, and images

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