From Google’s sentient AI to the Rebel Wilson controversy – Here’s your June 14 news briefing

From Google’s sentient AI to the Rebel Wilson controversy – Here’s your June 14 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Oil rigs are seen at Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas drilling, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

To start off, we’re looking into:

Russia’s energy exports remain at a record-high

A new report found that, even though it’s been trying to lead the charge in shunning Russia and cutting off its economy, some EU member states have actually been the biggest buyers of Russian oil since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war in February.

According to the CREA report, the EU as a bloc has made up about 61% of the imports of Russian oil from February 24 to June 3, with China coming in as the second-biggest buyer and India as the third. The report also said that India, France, China, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia increased imports during the first 100 days of the invasion.

However, the EU is also in the midst of putting more restrictions on Russian oil that will cut down this dependence and consumption further.

Binance gears up for growth

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Binance is seen on their exhibition stand at the Delta Summit, Malta’s official Blockchain and Digital Innovation event promoting cryptocurrency, in Ta’ Qali, Malta October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

The entire value of the crypto market saw its value dip below the US$1 trillion mark for the first time since January 2021 on Monday, according to CoinMarketCap. And Celsius Network, which is a huge US crypto lending company, froze all withdrawals and inter-account transfers to stabilize liquidity.

But every market dip poses an opportunity for cash-rich companies to acquire, hire and expand. And so, that’s precisely what the world’s largest crypto exchange is up to. During the Consensus 2022 conference, Binance co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao was asked about its competitor Coinbase’s recent hiring freeze.

Zhao responded that the company was leveraging the crypto winter to the max. “We have a very healthy war chest, we in fact are expanding hiring right now,” Zhao said, adding that the company is also “kicking into high gear in terms of M&A activity.”

Has Google really created a sentient AI?

Google sentient AI

A Google engineer named Blake Lemoine was put on paid leave after posting a transcript of his conversation with the company’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) on his Medium account, claiming that instead of simply creating a language system, Google actually made a sentient AI.

The conversation he posted included in-depth discussions about death, grief, research ethics and meditation.

But Google wasn’t happy when he posted it, saying that there wasn’t enough evidence to say that LaMDA is actually sentient, arguing that because it’s an AI that’s focused on understanding language, it’s just very good at using words in a way that makes them sound like real, coherent thoughts without necessarily being real.

To end, we’ll look into:

What’s going on with Rebel Wilson?

Last Friday, Wilson posted a photo of her and her partner, Ramona Agruma, saying, “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince … but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess #loveislove.”

The next day, the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald wrote that they knew about the relationship before Wilson had come out and had given her a day and a half to comment on it.

This annoyed many people, especially from the LGBTQ+ community, who said it was unacceptable to pressure people to come out. But those at the paper defended themselves, saying they were just asking questions and wouldn’t have necessarily even run the story.

But days passed, and the anger continued to boil. With that, the column was taken down, and the journalist, Andrew Hornery, has apologized, saying, “we mishandled steps in our approach.”

An editor at the paper, Bevan Shields, also issued an editor’s note, saying that part of an editorial team’s daily responsibilities included “simply [asking] questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.” Many didn’t appreciate this, saying it’s none of their business.

We asked Anne-Marie Zanzal, who works with people coming out later in life to the LGBTQ+ community, about her thoughts. Click the link below to read what she had to say.

In other news …

📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: Global stocks dropped again on Monday, with the dollar hitting a two-decade high, as investors flee equities pushing the US S&P 500 index down 20% into a bear market. There is now speculation that the Fed could increase rates this week by 75 basis points. Shares in Asia also tumbled on Monday, with multiple major regional indexes across APAC dropping over 3% each.

🛢Even though global oil supplies are tight, the global economy is cooling, so with that uncertainty, oil prices yo-yoed, with Brent crude futures settling at US$122.27 a barrel.

💰Bitcoin dipped to its lowest point since December 2020 at US$22,975.

🇨🇳China’s economic data: Aside from the nerve-wracking Fed meeting on Wednesday, a bunch of Chinese economic data, such as retail sales for last month, will be published on Wednesday.

🇭🇰Hong Kong COVID: The city saw 104 imported cases on Monday, now that there are relatively more flights with the comparatively eased travel restrictions. But officials have said that this is within expectations. Meanwhile, stimulus payment cash handouts have been expanded to include expats and foreign students.

🛎Recession? Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has come out to say that while the odds of a recession have increased, it probably won’t be too deep.

🇱🇺US-China officials meet: US National security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, met on Monday in Luxembourg to talk about security concerns, including Russia and Ukraine. The conversation lasted five hours and was described by an anonymous official as “candid, in-depth, substantive and productive.” No specific details were provided.

🎬Box office hits: Throughout the pandemic, there was a lot of concern that streaming would be the future and that the cinema-going experience would be a thing of the past. But, “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Top Gun: Maverick” numbers are showing otherwise. Over US$390 million has been brought in internationally by “Jurassic World” in its debut, while “Top Gun” has climbed to a global total of over US$700 million.

👨‍⚖️Charged: Actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with four counts of sexual assault against three men by the police and is due in court in the UK on Thursday.

🎙Heard’s first interview since verdict: Amber Heard has given her first public interview since the jury’s ruling in her high-profile legal case with ex-husband Johnny Depp.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai