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News & Analysis

Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- April 12, 2021 3 MIN READ
Pager plays Monkey Pong using his mind. Source: Neuralink

Welcome to Monday and the latest tech news from around the world. 

Don’t forget to tune in for the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz.com.au  every weekday, 2-2.40pm. Watch online, download the ausbiz app or via 7Plus.

Alibaba’s $3.7bn fine

The Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on local tech under the guise of anti-monopoly laws – Tencent and Baidu have already felt Beijing’s wrath – has now hit Jack Ma’s Alibaba, with regulators fining the world’s biggest e-commerce company, 18.3 billion yuan (A$3.7bn) for anti-competitive behaviour – about 4% of its annual revenue.

Alibaba issued a statement saying it “accepts the penalty with sincerity and will ensure its compliance with determination.”

The fine comes in the wake of Chinese regulators blocking the float of Alibaba’s financial arm, Ant Group, late last year, and then Ma disappearing from public view for a few months after he criticised that decision.

The market seems cool with the record fine through, with Alibaba shares up 5% in Monday morning trade in Hong Kong.

 

Musk mind powers

One of Elon Musk’s side hustles, Neuralink, a five-year-old startup looking to implant wireless computer chips into the brain to deal with neurological problems such as dementia and paralysis, released footage last week of a macaque called Pager playing “mind pong” using his mind.

“First @Neuralink product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs,” Musk tweeted.

“Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again. The device is implanted flush with skull & charges wirelessly, so you look & feel totally normal.”

He previously called the chip “a Fitbit in your skull” after showing off one in a pig last year

Here’s the footage – while it looks like Pager’s sucking on a vape, he was trained to use a joystick first up before going solo on the Neuralink chip. Having built this game back in the 1970s using a Dick Smith Electronics kit, we can’t wait to play it again using only mind powers.

 

LinkedIn scrape

Following the Facebook data scrape involving around 533 million users comes news that a similarly sized archive from LinkedIn is being offered for sale on a hacker forum.

CyberNews reports that the names, email addresses, phone numbers, workplace details, and more from 500 million LinkedIn profiles was allegedly scraped by a threat actor, and is now up for auction. It’s not known when the data was extracted, but that figure is around two-thirds of the 740 million users on the Microsoft-owned professional networking  platform.

Source: CyberNews

statement from LinkedIn said the information did not come from a data breach, and “is actually an aggregation of data from a number of websites and companies.”

“No private member account data from LinkedIn was included in what we’ve been able to review,” the company said.

But then it appears news of that sale flushed out others, with CyberNews reporting that a new collection of 327 million more LinkedIn profiles was offering for sale for $7000 worth of bitcoin.

More here.

 

Apple’s Fortnite win

Apple had a victory of sorts in Australia’s Federal Court last week, with Justice Nye Perram granting a three-month stay on legal action by US games maker Epic, best known for Fortnite, suing the computer giant over being banned from the App store last year.

Epic Games filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union in February alongside legal action in the UK, US and Australia.

The local case got underway in December, with Apple is seeking to have the matter thrown out, arguing the matter belongs exclusively before the California courts.

Justice Perram granted Apple a temporary stay for Epic to bring a case in the California courts.

“If at the end of three months no suit has been commenced, the stay will become permanent,” he wrote in his judgment.

“If such a proceeding is commenced within that period, then the stay will continue but with liberty to apply in the event that the court in the Northern District declines to determine the claims”.

Justice Perram said Epic must pay 95% of Apple’s legal costs “to reflect the fact that Epic has resisted to a minor extent Apple’s efforts to bring this litigation to an end”.

If you want to follow the US battle, here’s one of the latest court filings.

Quantum of buses

The NSW government has enlisted Sydney quantum computing startup Q-CTRL to investigate how to improve public transport in the state.

Transport minister Andrew Constance said the tech could be used to map transport modes and crowd movements simultaneously in real time, and automatically update schedules.

“We could see all trains, busses, ferries, trams and motorways essentially ‘talking to each other’ to find out where customers are and deploy resources where needed. It could be used for massive public events, like New Year’s Eve or Vivid Festival,” he said.

The quantum computing research project is one of several initiatives being launched as part of the Future Transport Technology Roadmap.

 

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