This week, the Unity CEO retired amid rising backlash from game developers, some of whom also issued death threats to Unity’s employees. Meanwhile,the “Godfather of AI” spoke about the risks of artificial intelligence.
The Firefox browser shared an upcoming feature to spot fake product reviews. Google’s default status on Apple’s devices is also prominent this week just as it has been in the past few weeks. For this week, a new report found that Google’s [payment to Apple to be the default search engine earns Apple a whopping 16% of its revenue. Finally, California passed a powerful privacy protection law.
Here are the highlights in detail.
#1. Unity CEO retires amid backlash from developers, including death threats
Unity President and CEO John Riccitiello stepped down from his role this week. The statement released by Unity said that Jim Whitehurst will be the interim CEO. He is the former president of RedHat, which was acquired by IBM. Roelof Botha will move from lead independent director to chairman of the Unity Board.
Riccitiello held the CEO position at Unity for a decade. He transitioned the Unity monetization strategy from a perpetual license to subscriptions. He also led the company to its initial public offering (IPO) in 2020.
The change comes after Unity announced pricing changes for game developers last month. Subscriptions would include new runtime fees that would favor Unity but hurt developers’ budgets. Unity apologized and revised the fee structure five days later after developer backlash. Following the announcement, Unity had to close some of its offices because of death threats to its employees. However, runtime fees will still take effect in 2024.
#2. AI pioneer warns of growing risks
Psychologist and computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton spoke to CBS’s 60 Minutes this week about artificial intelligence (AI). Hinton is called the “Godfather of AI” because of his work on artificial neural networks, which make up the brain of AI. He resigned from Google in May this year because of concerns about AI. The 75-year-old worked on this technology for the last 10 years.
In the interview, Hinton acknowledged the benefits of AI particularly in healthcare. AI systems are excellent at recognizing medical images and designing better drugs. However, he expressed numerous risks of AI. For example, Hinton disputed the idea that AI cannot be better than the human mind. Instead, the learning algorithms keep teaching themselves based on the data they receive. Eventually, AI workings become so complex that humans cannot understand them.
Hinton also said that AI systems may soon be able to write their own code. If AI can modify itself in such a way, then it will be beyond human control. To avoid that outcome, Hinton suggested that more experiments should be conducted on AI systems. This would reveal more about the inner workings of AI and regulate its use.
#3. Firefox reveals Review Checker feature
In May this year, Mozilla, which owns the Firefox browser, acquired Fakespot. The startup created a technology that can identify fake reviews on websites like Amazon, Walmart, eBay and TripAdvisor. This week, Mozilla revealed that this technology will be part of Firefox version 120 in November. It will be called Review Checker, as reported on MS Power User.
Review Checker rates reviews on a scale of A to F. A and B reviews are authentic, while C reviews could be either real or fake (50/50). Reviews from D to F are unreliable, so users should be cautious about trusting them. Review Checker will have a price tag icon on the Firefox browser. Users can click the icon, then select “Yes, I’ll try it” to activate it on product pages.
Fake reviews are illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act 5(a). A 2021 study revealed that 90% of consumers rely on reviews before making a purchase. 67% of consumers also said that fake reviews are a serious problem. Review Checker seeks to address this challenge directly on the browser.
#4. California’s Delete Act becomes law
California’s governor Gavin Newsom signed the SB 362 Act (the Delete Act) into law this week. It requires the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) to create a tool that connects all data brokers in the state. Residents can then request their personal data to be removed from all the brokers through a single platform. The tool should be ready by 2026. Data brokers will have 45 days to delete customer data when requested, or else face fines or other penalties.
A data broker is a business that collects personal information from consumers without their consent and sells it to third parties. They gather data from numerous sources, including public records, social media sites, and search engine histories.
Under current privacy laws, deleting personal data is a tedious process. Individuals would need to request data removal from each broker individually. There are 527 data brokers in the California registry today. Under the Delete Act, the CPPA tool will simplify the process.
#5. Bernstein warns of the Google-Apple search engine deal
Bernstein Research revealed that Google pays Apple up to $20 billion per year to remain the default search engine on Apple’s devices. The report was released to The Register this week. In 2017, Bernstein found that the information services agreement (ISA) between the two tech giants was worth $3 billion annually. Considering that Google is currently facing an antitrust trial, Bernstein warned that this agreement would be lost if Google lost the case.
According to the report, the ISA makes up 16% of Apple’s annual profits. If Google is found guilty of anticompetitive behavior, Apple would feel the biggest impact. Google has similar agreements with Samsung and Mozilla, although the precise figures are unknown. These deals may also be lost, dealing a blow to the respective companies.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) claims that Google is buying their dominance in the search engine market through these deals. Google is already the default search engine on Android devices and makes profits from search revenue. Google then uses ISAs to lock in iPhones and iPads. To resolve this issue, Apple could add a drop-down list of search engine options for users to choose from. However, the antitrust case is expected to be lengthy, with no solutions on the table so far.