This week, Elon Musk hinted at turning X into a subscription site, and mega-casinos grappled with cyberattacks. Investors received a wake-up call regarding the value of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). There were also lawsuits against Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents and OpenAI.
Here are the top highlights in tech for week 38 of 2013, running from Monday, September 18, 2023 to Sunday, September 24, 2023.
1. Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents sued for siphoning funds from FTX
FTX Group filed a lawsuit against Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents for exploiting the enterprise for personal enrichment. Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried are accused of taking millions of dollars from FTX funds to purchase property and cover personal expenses. This lawsuit comes ahead of their son’s criminal trial beginning October 3, 2023.
The lawsuit names a $16.4 million luxury home in the Bahamas as the largest purchase made with investors’ money. The property totals nearly $19 million with all other costs included. FTX claims that Bankman and Fried did not contribute any personal funds to the purchase. The lawsuit also claims that the couple received $6.8 million into their joint accounts, and $90,000 in other benefits paid for by FTX. The company seeks damages and compensation for these funds and assets.
In a statement given to the Associated Press, Bankman and Frieds’ lawyers said the lawsuit was false. They also claimed that such a lawsuit undermined their son’s upcoming trial and gave no returns to FTX clients.
Also Read: Fall of FTX -What Happened?
2. X may become a subscription service, says Musk
Elon Musk said that X (formerly Twitter) may charge users a “small monthly payment” to access the platform. He also hinted that the change would be a way to combat bots (automated accounts) which are expensive to host on the platform. This was in a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Musk also mentioned that X had 550 million monthly users generating up to 200 million posts every day. However, he did not indicate how many of these were bots. He also did not disclose when the new subscription would begin or how much it would cost.
X already has X Premium (formerly Twitter Blue) that costs $8 per month for verification and additional features. These include the ability to edit posts, write longer posts, and receive priority rankings on the platform’s search results. X is yet to release official figures about its user base. So far, X Premium has an estimated 827,615 subscribers according to independent research.
3. Casino giants hacked, along with three other firms
MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and three other unmentioned firms have been hit by ransomware attacks this week. All five organizations are clients of Okta Inc., an identity management company. Its chief security officer, David Bradbury, told Reuters that the other affected companies are in retail, manufacturing, and technology. He did not name these companies, but said Okta was actively involved in official investigations into the breaches.
The hacking group behind these incidents is ALPHV, which claimed the MGM breach last Friday. The group demanded a deal for the stolen data, although the actual ransom figure is still unclear. At the same time, another group called Scattered Spider claimed the MGM breach. It is still unclear whether Scattered Spider was acting independently or as an ALPHV affiliate in the ransomware attack.
According to Okta, their clients face cyberattacks that follow consistent patterns. Hackers impersonate the organization’s employees and contact their IT help desks. They then claim they forgot their login credentials and ask for duplicate access. Since companies like MGM and Caesars are multinationals with numerous employees, they may easily fall for such an attack.
MGM has not commented on the hack except mentioning it as a “cybersecurity issue.” Caesars acknowledged that they are investigating the breach.
4. Authors sue OpenAI for copyright infringement
Well-known authors including John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and George RR Martin are suing OpenAI for using their copyrighted work without permission. The suit also includes Sylvia Day, Jonathan Franzen, David Baldacci, and other members of the Authors Guild. The authors claim that ChatGPT is a massive enterprise that relies on “systematic theft on a mass scale.”
In the lawsuit, Mr. Martin claims that ChatGPT generated a prequel to “A Game of Thrones” titled “A Dawn of Direwolves.” The AI-generated outline included the same characters in his existing books, which infringes copyright. There are other similar examples for each author in the suite.
Authors Guild CEO, Mary Rasenberger, said that generative AI may “destroy our incredible literary culture” and must be stopped in its tracks. OpenAI has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
As a result of growing author objections to AI, Amazon recently changed its policy on ebooks to minimize AI content. Authors now must declare whether their content on Kindle Desktop Publishing is AI-generated or AI-assisted. This will enable the platform to comply with intellectual property rights. Amazon is also restricting authors to three self-published books per day to minimize AI content.
5. NFTs are now useless, study says
A new study by dappGambl indicates that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have lost most of their value in less than two years. NFTs, which are digital representations of art and traded similar to cryptocurrency, became popular in 2021. Today, 95% of NFTs are effectively worthless. Just under 3,500 NFTs now have any value, which is about $5 to $10 each. That’s in stark contrast to the million-dollar price tags of these tokens just a couple of years ago.
The study indicates that less than 1% of these tokens are valued above $6,000, and nearly 80% of NFTs are unsold. The NFT market is effectively a buyer’s market, where supply exceeds demand. Considering that almost 23 million people hold NFTs, this market may remain unchanged for a long time going into the future.
One of the most expensive NFTs was the CryptoPunk 5822 which sold for $23.7 million in 2022. That’s the equivalent of 800 Ethereum, the main NFT cryptocurrency, at that time. Today, however, a great majority of NFTs have a market cap of zero ETH, indicating a major loss for block chain investors. The study points to the volatility of the NFT space, as well as cryptocurrencies. The researchers caution investors from overlooking due diligence when buying digital assets.