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To start off, we're looking into:
The “Godfather of AI” leaves Google
The backstory: Right now, it probably seems that no matter where we look, everyone’s talking about AI. It’s either progressing, gaslighting us, taking our jobs, something – and it doesn’t seem to be slowing or stopping anytime soon.
One of the pioneers in this field is Geoffrey Hinton. Google spent about US$44 million a few years ago to buy a company started by Hinton and two of his students in 2012 that made huge leaps in things like speech recognition. And for the past 10 years or so, he's been working part-time at Google, where he's become one of the biggest voices in the AI space, so much so that the 75-year-old is also dubbed the “Godfather of AI.”
The development: Now, Hinton has left Google, saying to The New York Times that the world of AI is quite “scary” and a part of him regrets his life’s work. He also said he left the company so he could speak a bit more freely about the dangers of AI.
Click the link here to read more about just what he had to say about the tech.
Fighting new diseases and pandemics
The backstory: Since the 1970s, around 40 infectious diseases have been discovered, with the WHO warning they’re appearing at a rate the world hasn’t seen before. This includes Ebola, SARS, Zika and COVID.
More recently: There are several reasons these infectious diseases are popping up or reappearing. They include things like antimicrobial resistance, which is when a microorganism – a bacteria or a virus – changes and becomes resistant to medications that used to fight it effectively. Or climate change – because the habitats we share with other animals and insects also change. For example, with the Earth becoming warmer, mosquitoes and all the diseases they carry can now cover more regions than before.
The development: Now, with no quick fixes in sight, governments, industry experts and public responders are trying to band together to get a heap better at responding to these outbreaks.
Click the link here to see how.
Hollywood on strike
The backstory: The WGA is the Writers Guild of America, and it represents about 11,500 people involved in writing all kinds of movies and TV shows. Back in 2007/2008, the WGA went on strike, with writers refusing to work for 100 days. This cost the LA economy an estimated US$2 billion. At the time, popular shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Office” and “The Simpsons” had to make up for the lack of material by running shorter seasons. Other blockbuster shows like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Entourage” postponed their seasons altogether, and a couple of shows were completely canceled. This is also around the time that we started seeing a boom in reality TV because, well, you don’t need anyone to write for an unscripted show.
More recently: For the past six weeks, the WGA has been trying to negotiate with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) when it comes to working conditions and pay. One of the major issues here is streaming and the residuals that writers get from it – or, really, the residuals they aren’t getting.
The development: On Monday, the WGA said the decision to strike got unanimous approval from its leadership, with studios’ responses to the negotiations just not cutting it. During the announcement, the WGA also accused studios of “stonewalling” the discussion on topics like AI in screenplay production.
But, the AMPTP says it offered writers a significant compensation increase and improvements in residual payments for streaming shows. The organization also said that it would improve the offer, but the WGA is asking for too much.
To end, we'll look into:
Met Gala 2023 highlights
The Met Gala is basically the biggest night in fashion. Every year on the first Monday in May, Vogue Magazine puts on a charity dinner at Lincoln Center in New York City, supporting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This year, the hosts were Penélope Cruz, Michaela Coel, Roger Federer, Dua Lipa and, of course, Vogue's Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour.
The costume exhibition theme was “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” honoring the legacy and aesthetics of late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld with over 150 of his pieces. The dress code for everyone attending was “in honor of Karl.”
The German designer worked with iconic fashion houses like Balmain, Chloé, Fendi and Chanel, plus his own self-titled brand. But his legacy doesn’t come without its downsides. During his life, Lagerfeld made offensive statements about marginalized groups and public figures, criticized the plus-sized fashion movement and was known for also being misogynistic. On Sunday, the model safety and advocacy group the Model Alliance hosted a protest of this year’s theme outside of the Met Gala steps.
“The choice to honor Lagerfeld embodies the dissonance of an industry that claims to be progressive, that celebrates body positivity and survivors on the one hand, and then reveres figures like [Lagerfeld] without even acknowledging their regressive views,” Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, told Jezebel.
There were a few notable absences from this year’s event, especially from Met staples like Lady Gaga and Blake Lively, though it’s not entirely clear why they didn’t go.
Some of the designers assigned to attendees took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the theme. A noted pink-hater, Lagerfeld once said, “Think pink. But don’t wear it.” There was a lot of pink on the red carpet last night, from Viola Davis in magenta Valentino, Quannah Chasinghorse in ballet-slipper Prabal Gurung, Sidney Sweeney in peach Miu Miu, Naomi Campbell in carnation Chanel to Ashley Graham in blush Harris Reed.
Not everyone went the ironic route for the theme. Other standout on-theme looks were: Jeremy Pope in custom Balmain, Gigi Hadid in Givenchy, Lil Nas X in Dior Homme, Devon Aoki in Jeremy Scott, Anok Yai in Paral Gurung, Brian Tyree Henry in a piece by Lagerfeld, Sora Choi in Thom Browne, Bad Bunny in Jacquemus, Anne Hathaway in Versace, and David Burne with a Budnitz-brand bike.
And, let’s not skip past the odder tributes – mainly to Lagerfeld’s beloved cat Choupette – with Doja Cat rocking Oscar de la Renta and prosthetic cat features. And, of course, Jared Leto terrorizing the red carpet in a giant Choupette cat costume.
In other news ...
📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 1.08% at 2,803.07 at the time of writing.
- Dow Jones dropped 1.08% to 33,684.53.
- Nasdaq Composite decreased 1.08% to 12,080.51.
- S&P 500 fell 1.16% to 4,119.58.
- The Hang Seng Index gained 0.2% to 19,933.81.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
- US stocks closed lower on Tuesday as fear around the banking sector continued to loom and ahead of the conclusion of the Fed’s policy meeting.
- According to CME Group’s FedWatch, there is an 85% chance of a rate hike of 25 basis points to a range of 5% to 5.25%.
- On top of this, to add to the cocktail of concerns, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that the US would hit its debt ceiling earlier than expected.
- Over in Hong Kong, stocks gained, reversing losses earlier in the day.
- Losses were driven by China’s unexpected manufacturing activity tumble in April, which marked the first drop since December, putting a bit of doubt on the evenness of China’s post-COVID recovery.
- This is even though gaming revenue in Macau in April grew to a three-year high, up 450% to 14.7 billion patacas (US$1.8 billion). And May Day has seen a spike in mobility in the country.
- But earlier losses were erased after HSBC, which is Hong Kong’s largest commercial bank, surged 4.5% HK$58.65 with profits spread across all major geographies.
👄Some comments and chatter:
- “We think that the concerns around the bank sector, combined with uneasiness regarding the debt ceiling — and most importantly, apprehension over the uncertain future Fed rate policy stance — are all contributing to this risk-off sentiment. So in an area like the bank sector that already was under stress, we’re also seeing greater unease because of these other contributing factors,” said Greg Bassuk, CEO of AXS Investments.
- “The China reopening theme has not fully played out. [The reopening] “will provide substantial support to the recovery in consumer spending, which in turn will support domestic earnings in many sectors,” Jack Lee, who manages China A-shares funds at Schroders, said in a report.
🛢Oil: With the debt ceiling worry, the Fed decision impending and China’s spotty recovery with the lower-than-expected manufacturing activity, oil benchmarks both saw their biggest one-day percentage drops since January of this year. Brent fell 5% to US$75.32 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 5.3% to end at US$71.66 per barrel.
👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, bitcoin gained 2.47% at US$28,767.70.
🕊Weeklong truce in Sudan: We could be seeing the fighting that started mid-April in Sudan start to wind down soon. Now, the generals of the two battling security forces have agreed to a new temporary truce, according to the foreign ministry of South Sudan. Starting Thursday, a week-long truce between the two sides will reportedly kick off along with peace talks. Neither of the two forces has publicly confirmed this yet, though.
💣Russian casualties in Ukraine: With Ukraine and Russia still fighting over Bakhmut, Ukrainian officials have said they’re using the battle to get rid of as many Russian troops as they can to shrink Russia’s reserves. According to recent US intelligence, there have been over 100,000 Russian casualties, with 20,000 of those killed in action, in the last five months. Half of those come from the Wagner mercenary company, which has been attacking Bakhmut. On top of that, another 80,000 Russians have been wounded in Ukraine since December.
🚓Hundreds of arrests made in international drug trafficking: The US Justice Department and FBI have been running a fentanyl and opioid trafficking investigation spanning three continents for years now. They’re calling it the “largest-ever operation targeting the trafficking of fentanyl and opioids on the dark web.” On Tuesday, they announced that 288 people were arrested over the past two years, and more than 850 kilograms of drugs were seized. Authorities say they’ve also seized 117 weapons and US$53.4 million in cash and crypto in the operation.
📄Uganda passes anti-LGBTQ law: Same-sex relations have been banned in Uganda since it was still under British rule. Last month the country’s parliament introduced a law that criminalizes other gay activities, but the president requested that some parts of it get toned down a bit. Now, parliament has passed a new version of the law that’s still very strict, including a provision for long jail terms and even the death penalty. But the president hasn’t signed it yet – he has the option to sign it, veto it or send it back over to the parliament for more revisions.
🚭Australia’s new vaping ban: Like in many other parts of the world, Australia has seen a rise in youth vaping of tobacco products that’s become a health concern. Now, the country is launching a recreational vaping ban. The ban will make it so vapes will only be available in pharmacies and will have “pharmaceutical-type” packaging and disposable vapes will be totally banned.
⚡New renewable energy target talks: A two-day meeting for climate talks kicked off in Berlin on Tuesday with representatives from countries all over the world. Germany is calling for governments to start setting an ambitious target for renewable energy to “ring in the end of the fossil fuel age” to help fight global warming.
⚽FIFA may blackout Women’s World Cup: FIFA is arguing that, even though viewership for the Women’s World Cup is about 50-60% of the men’s event, broadcasters in five European countries – Italy, France, Germany, Britain and Spain – are lowballing the event, offering 20-100 times less than they would for the men’s games. So, the football body has said that unless the offers are made more fairly, it may blackout the broadcast in those countries.
🤑Coinbase launches international exchange: The crypto industry keeps butting heads with US regulators, and different crypto exchanges and platforms are starting to leave the country. Now, Coinbase Global is making its own moves, launching a new product for professional investors on an international scale. On Tuesday, it announced this development, launching Coinbase International Exchange. The company’s CEO has also said that if there isn’t more regulatory clarity in the US soon, it may consider relocating entirely.
🚫Samsung bans ChatGPT: South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has banned employees from using generative AI services like ChatGPT after some of them uploaded some sensitive code to the platform. The company worries that data like this might be stored on external servers, making it more likely to leak and harder to delete for security.
🥤Buffett in Japan: Warren Buffett, the famous billionaire investor, is in Japan meeting with the country’s top five investment houses about some future partnerships. According to insiders, he met with bigwigs from the top firms in his suite to talk trade over his favorite beverage – glasses of Coca-Cola. Buffett has publicly talked about wanting to be a major partner with these Japanese firms in future business endeavors.
🚫Google and Apple want to limit AirTag stalking: Apple AirTags and other Bluetooth tracking devices are used to keep track of important items, but there’s the risk that these trackers can be misused to stalk, harass and rob people. Now, Apple and Google are teaming up to stop this misuse with new standards that require “unauthorized tracking detection and alerts” across Android and iOS devices.
🍌Please don’t eat the art: At Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea, a student who had skipped breakfast got hungry enough to eat a banana right off the wall. It was actually taped there as part of the Comedian, an artwork worth around US$160,000 by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The museum told CNN the artist had been informed and wasn’t likely to press any charges against the hungry museum-goer.
🤭We’ll have what she’s having?: The internet is going wild over reports that on Friday, during the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, a woman let out a sound – or more like a moan – that some interpreted as if she was having a “full body orgasm.” Since all the gossip, other concertgoers have come out with different theories. One is that she may have had a narcoleptic “sleep attack” that would explain the outburst. Either way, we’ve got to admit that Tchaikovsky does it for us, too.
🐜The Met Gala’s best look: We mentioned some of the standout Met Gala looks, but one guest was particularly showstopping at the event – a cockroach. The insect was uninvited and turned heads at the show as it made its way up the carpeted stairs ahead of Rihanna and A$AP Rocky’s arrival. Not many guests of this fashion-forward night are bold enough to show up in nothing at all. New York, baby.
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