Tech News Now: The Tesla fallout

Big tech earnings season will continue after the bell Thursday, with Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Free Report, Apple  (AAPL) – Get Free Report and Meta  (META) – Get Free Report all reporting their highly anticipated results.

Microsoft  (MSFT) – Get Free Report and Google  (GOOG) – Get Free Report reported Tuesday, and Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report reported last week. Nvidia  (NVDA) – Get Free Report is set to round out the Magnificent Seven earnings Feb. 21. 

We’re keeping a close eye on all Magnificent Seven tickers as analysts and investors parse the results and brace for more. 

Elon Musk’s compensation saga continued late Wednesday, unsurprisingly on X, where the Tesla CEO posted a poll to determine whether Tesla should leave Delaware and reincorporate in Texas. 

SpaceX inked a transportation deal for its yet-to-be-successful Starship project and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his peers were grilled before another Senate judiciary panel hearing. 

Let’s get into it. 

Related: The 6 strangest things Elon Musk said on Tesla’s earnings call

Tesla: The fallout from denial of Musk pay package

After a Delaware judge struck down Musk’s nearly $56 billion compensation package Tuesday, Musk asked his 170 million X followers whether Tesla should leave Delaware and reincorporate in Texas. 

Something more than a million users voted, with 87% voting in favor of the move. 

At the conclusion of the poll, Musk said that Tesla would “move immediately to hold a shareholder vote to transfer state of incorporation to Texas.”

This is not the first time Musk has made seemingly major decisions by polling his fanbase on X. 

In 2021, he asked Twitter whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock, and then did so. In 2022, he asked Twitter whether he should reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account, which had been suspended following the Jan. 6 insurrection, and then did so. And in December 2022, he asked Twitter whether he should step down as its CEO; Linda Yaccarino later became chief executive of the (former) bird app. 

Related: Elon Musk is threatening to leave Delaware; here’s why Tesla is there in the first place

A big deal for Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Starlab Space, a joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus that is developing a commercial space station, said Wednesday that it had selected SpaceX to launch its space station into low-Earth orbit. 

Starship, the enormous rocket Musk has said is intended to bring man to Mars and beyond, will launch the station before the International Space Station is decommissioned, which is scheduled for 2030. 

SpaceX has so far conducted two test flights of Starship, both of which ended in mid-air explosions. When Starship will fly again is unclear. 

“Starship,” SpaceX said, “will fundamentally change how we access space, with entire space stations like Starlab launched on a single mission.” 

Related: The critical differences between Elon Musk’s first and second Starship flight

Tech executives grilled at Senate hearing

The CEOs of X, Snap, Meta, Discord and TikTok all gathered before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. The hearing was focused on the child sexual exploitation that occurs on these platforms. 

Yaccarino, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and Discord CEO Jason Citron were all subpoenaed to appear before the committee. Zuckerberg and TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, appeared voluntarily. 

The hearing focused on Zuckerberg and Chew, with Zuckerberg — after prompting from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) — apologizing directly to the families of children who had been harmed by social media.

A key focus of the hearing was a series of bills from committee members that are intended to rein in the social-media companies. Prominent among these is the Kids Online Safety Act. Several senators also called for the repeal of Section 230, which stipulates that social-media companies are not responsible for the content users choose to publish on their platforms. 

“Mr. Zuckerberg,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, “you have blood on your hands.”

Watch the hearing here

Related: Facebook whistleblower praises Mark Zuckerberg’s recent troubles as a ‘historic day’

The AI rundown: Mastercard antifraud efforts

Now to the world of artificial intelligence: Mastercard  (MA) – Get Free Report is now diving into AI, but it’s not trying to compete with ChatGPT. 

The payments giant told CNBC Wednesday that it had built a proprietary AI model designed to help banks identify and address fraudulent transactions. 

The majority of its technology here was created in-house, though CEO Ajay Bhalla said that the company is relying on open-source models “whenever needed.” The model is trained on transaction data from Mastercard’s vast ecosystem, which includes 125 billion annual transactions. 

“The beauty of Mastercard’s ecosystem is we see data from all our customers globally from these transactions,” Bhalla said. “What that does is it helps us actually see fraud and patterns across the ecosystem globally.”

Related: ChatGPT is leaking users’ passwords, report finds

And OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, released the results of a study designed to evaluate whether access to GPT-4 (an advanced version of ChatGPT accessible only through a subscription) could aid bad actors in developing a biological threat. That’s a concern shared by the White House, the United Nations and several AI researchers. 

The results found that access to GPT-4 “may increase experts’ ability to access information about biological threats,” OpenAI wrote in a blog post. Still, the company said that it was “uncertain” about how meaningful its results were and that it was vital to develop more knowledge regarding this specific threat. 

“Overall, especially given the uncertainty here, our results indicate a clear and urgent need for more work in this domain,” OpenAI said. “Given the current pace of progress in frontier AI systems, it seems possible that future systems could provide sizable benefits to malicious actors.”

Read the study here

Contact Ian with AI stories via email, ian.krietzberg@thearenagroup.net, or Signal 732-804-1223.

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