Silicon Valley Bank explanation, PMD fires, Meta cuts NFT plans
Here’s a roundup of the tech news you may have missed this week.
PMD fire is still going on
Personal mobility devices (PMDs) have been the talk of Singapore society since they arrived on the scene.
From the first early days before major regulations, to requiring a license to own, to being outright banned from footpaths, there has always been one constant in all of this – PMD explosions and fires.
Less than a month after an e-bike was caught on video bursting into flames, another case was reported this week of a PMD catching fire in an HDB home at Pipit Road.
Preliminary investigation into the cause of the fire suggests that it was of electrical origin from the PMD, which was in full charge when the fire occurred.
The Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) has also posted an infographic on how to avoid PMD fires, which can happen due to reasons such as improperly charging the batteries or using unauthorized models.
Singapore is not the only country battling PMD fires.
Recently in the US, a dog was caught in a fire stemming from an overheated PMD battery, and a fast-spreading fire in New York City last week was also caused by an e-bike.
If you own a PMD, please take the necessary safety precautions to avoid fire from these devices.
Google is working with artificial intelligence to support health causes
In news of tech companies stepping up to help the healthcare sector, Google is currently working on an AI that can be used for ultrasound diagnosis and cancer treatment.
Currently, the tech giant is partnering with Jacaranda Health to research AI-based ultrasound treatments for mothers and babies in public hospitals, while also working with Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan to research how AI can detect breast cancer via ultrasound as an alternative to mammography . .
TikTok’s science and technology feed, POFMA obligations
Tiktok is launching a dedicated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) feed on its app.
Separated from the usual entertainment-focused content, the STEM feed can be used to display and discuss anything related to STEM, and to encourage discussions among researchers and people knowledgeable in the fields.
This comes after talks to ban TikTok in the US, with one of the reasons cited being that TikTok could be harmful to both children and teenagers.
While there is no confirmation that this will happen anytime soon, the STEM feed could make TikTok a much more educational app for younger audiences, and in turn be less likely to be classified as a threat to them.
This comes shortly after the Singapore government added the short video app to the list of internet companies liable under the Protection Against Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA). This means that the platform must do its part to combat fake news online, comply with all instructions given by the POFMA office on falsehoods, and adhere to guidelines of practice.
Google Pixel 7a and Pixel 8 leaks
Leaks of the upcoming budget version of the Google Pixel 7, the Pixel 7a, are already surfacing.
Recently, a Vietnamese website, Zing News, shared images of an alleged prototype of the Pixel 7a. They claim the phone’s display will run at 90hz, similar to the Pixel 6 and 7 non-Pro. It will also have two 12-megapixel main cameras, 8GB of RAM and may come with 128GB of storage.
What’s even crazier is that while the Pixel 7a hasn’t even been officially announced, there are also leaks about the design of Google’s next flagship phone, the Pixel 8.
The Pixel 8 leak seems to suggest a design that brings back the curved edges that were present in the Pixel series before the release of the Pixel 6.
Meta cuts NFT support on Facebook and Instagram
There was a time when Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, were all the rage.
Meta, the parent company of social media apps Facebook and Instagram, jumped on the NFT hype train then, but has now pulled all support for the tokens.
This is a rather confusing move, simply because when Meta changed its name from the Facebook name, it was supposed to usher in a new era of the metaverse, essentially having a “social world” in the virtual reality domain.
Part of the metaverse also included NFTs, digital objects that could be displayed in a virtual reality world, which were valued with real money or with cryptocurrency, whichever the creators preferred.
Cutting support for NFTs will only hinder the push against the concept of the metaverse.
But to be fair, Meta’s own venture into the metaverse seems to be pretty half-hearted, with their own in-house Metaverse app still looking pretty unpolished (and hasn’t been heard from since).
With the recent layoffs in Meta as well, it will probably be a while before we hear of any sort of initiative being planned for the metaverse.
What’s with the Silicon Valley Bank collapse?
The biggest news to hit the tech sector in the US is the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)
As you might have guessed from the name, it is the bank that many US startups go to to keep their assets. The bank then used the customers’ cash to invest heavily in US government bonds, which backfired when the US central bank aggressively raised interest rates.
This led Moody’s, a firm that rates financial institutions, to threaten to downgrade SVB’s rating, causing SVB to sell securities at a loss… which also backfired.
The move spooked the people and companies holding money in the bank, leading to massive withdrawals, a drop in stock prices and eventually a complete halt to trading before the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stepped in to seize the assets. More can be read here if you are interested in the whole situation.
But if you want a really simplified version of the whole story in one minute, you can watch this video by TikToker, build_in_public, who explains the whole debacle using Microsoft Bing’s AI (and a whole lot of ….. monkey businesses ).
Keep your bananas safe everyone.
Dominic loves technology and games. When he’s not busy water-cooling his computer parts, he does some pro wrestling.