From Google's "wokeness" dilemma to Freddie Mercury's house for sale – Here are today's Headlines

Recently, Google's AI tool Gemini has been dragged on social media for generating inaccurate images.

From Google's "wokeness" dilemma to Freddie Mercury's house for sale – Here are today's Headlines
People are silhouetted in front of a Google logo during the inauguration of a new hub in France dedicated to the artificial intelligence (AI) sector, at the Google France headquarters in Paris, France, February 15, 2024. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

To start off, we're looking into:

​​Google pauses Gemini AI

Recently, Google's AI tool Gemini has been dragged on social media for generating inaccurate images, specifically by replacing white people with people of color in historical imagery. Critics say the tool shows bias, especially regarding historical figures or imagery. While OpenAI's Dall-E has faced criticism for producing overly stereotypical images of race and ethnicity, it seems Google has overcorrected in the opposite direction, with some saying it's trying to be too "woke." So now, Google has paused Gemini's image generation of people while it works on the issue. Here's the backstory.

"Gemini's AI image generation does generate a wide range of people. And that's generally a good thing because people around the world use it. But it's missing the mark here," said Jack Krawczyk, senior director for Gemini Experiences. 

Egypt-UAE US$35 billion deal

Egypt UAE
People walk outside the main branch of UAE Central Bank in Abu Dhabi, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Ben Job (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES/File Photo

The UAE just pledged a US$35 billion investment in Egypt. This investment is part of a huge project to develop a high-end area called Ras El-Hekma along Egypt's Mediterranean coast, which Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly thinks is the biggest deal in the country's history. Here's the backstory.

"This deal will be the beginning of correcting the course of the Egyptian economy," said Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, calling it "a message of confidence" from the UAE.

India’s chip investments

India semiconductor industry
A man stands next to a sign of the brand of Tata Motors' passenger electric vehicles 'Tata.ev ' at Bharat Mobility Global Expo organised by India's commerce ministry at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, India, February 1, 2024. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Last year, India announced plans to become a major chip player, aiming to attract foreign firms to set up operations and invest in the country. Now there's some movement on its chipmaking plans. There's reportedly US$21 billion worth of semiconductor proposals on the table, and the government is evaluating them to figure out how to assign taxpayer support between foreign chipmakers, local ones or a mix of the two. Here's the backstory.

"I can safely tell you that the names that you mentioned have submitted these big, very credible, very significant investment proposals," said India's Minister of Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar to Press Trust of India.

To end, we'll look into:

Wireless charging for EVs

wireless charging electric vehicles
Tesla cars charge at charging stations in Beijing, China, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Many nations are focusing on increasing the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in the fight against climate change. EVs are more energy efficient and reduce emissions, but there are some challenges to replacing gasoline cars entirely. One big one is range anxiety – nervousness among EV drivers about how long they can go without recharging their car. And to make that anxiety worse, the charging infrastructure to support all these new energy vehicles just isn't where it needs to be yet.   

But, EV makers are looking into the potential of wireless charging for vehicles. Some companies are already trialing the tech. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks closed lower after reaching record highs last week, with investors waiting for inflation data later this week.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks fell on Monday as investors took profits after recent gains.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Domino’s Pizza rose 5.85% after announcing a dividend increase and buyback program expansion.
  • Software company HashiCorp surged 14% after an upgrade from Morgan Stanley.
  • Bitcoin rose to its highest price in more than two years, climbing above US$54,000 on Monday.
  • In Hong Kong: Chinese EV maker Nio fell nearly 5%, while Xpeng shed over 1%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: The US will release important data this week, including wholesale inventories, GDP and consumer income figures.
  • In Hong Kong: China will release key data like the official PMI and Caixin manufacturing PMI.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

More headlines ...

📰Russia/Ukraine update: Following the recent death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his ally Maria Pevchikh said that they were in the final stages of a prisoner swap before his death and that Russian President Vladimir Putin had him killed to avoid his release. She said Navalny and two US nationals were to be exchanged for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB security service hitman in jail in Germany. "Navalny should have been free in the next few days because we had secured a decision to exchange him," Pevchikh said. "I received confirmation that the negotiations were at their final stage on the evening of 15 February."

Despite sanctions to stop Russia from getting technology that can be used in weapons in its war with Ukraine, €450 million (US$488 million) worth of "high priority items" reached Russia from the EU, and almost a quarter of that was shipped directly from Europe, according to EU officials. Turkey, the UAE, Serbia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia were some of the countries involved in helping Russia evade the EU's sanctions. 

🗞️Middle East update: Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh announced his resignation on Monday following pressure from the US to shake up the Palestinian Authority, as there will be a need for a political restructuring to govern any Palestinian state after the war. His resignation was accepted by Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas, who asked him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Over the weekend, a US airman set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy to protest the war in Gaza. He live-streamed himself self-immolating after shouting "Free Palestine" and lighting himself on fire while wearing military fatigues. An Air Force spokesperson said on Monday that he died in the hospital on Sunday night.

📩Hungary approves Sweden for NATO: Sweden and Finland both submitted bids to join NATO after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but Sweden's application has been held up by Turkey and Hungary. Turkey finally voted in favor last month, leaving Hungary as the last holdout. On Monday, Hungary's Parliament voted yes for Sweden to join NATO nearly two years after it first submitted its membership bid.

✈️Xi to visit Serbia: Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon make his first foreign trip post-pandemic, and there has been a lot of speculation about which countries he plans to visit. His first confirmed stop on this trip is Serbia, which the country's President Aleksandar Vučić confirmed. Belgrade and Paris are also rumored to be potential stops for Xi.

🥼South Korean doctor protests: Last week, two-thirds of South Korea's young medical interns and doctors walked off their jobs to protest a government plan to increase medical degree quotas at universities. The plan is meant to deal with a physician shortage in one of the world's fastest-aging societies. On Monday, the government said that the doctors have until the end of February to return to work, or they could be punished for the disruption they've caused for patients at several major hospitals.

South Korea doctor protest
South Korean doctors march to the Presidential Office to protest against the government's medical policy in Seoul, South Korea, February 25, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Soo-Hyeon

📄Boeing safety report: Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has been through the wringer over the last few years, with devastating crashes leading to groundings of its 737 Max line. Most recently, a piece of a Boeing plane's fuselage blew off shortly after takeoff, so the spotlight has been on the company's safety procedures and factory oversight. A much-anticipated report from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was released on Monday, and regulators found a bunch of issues with Boeing's communication and training processes have impacted the company's safety culture. The FAA has asked Boeing to review its recommendations over the next six months and come up with a plan to address these shortcomings.

🧑‍✈️Cathay Pacific pilot shortage denied: Since COVID, Cathay Pacific has been dealing with a shortage of pilots, leading to the airliner having to cancel a lot of flights. But, after an association of Cathay pilots said the airliner is continuing to face a staff shortage, Cathay denied this and said it's running at 70% of its pre-pandemic capacity while also recruiting more employees.

🤑BYD's pricey new car: Chinese EV maker BYD introduced its most expensive car, the Yangwang U9, on Sunday. It's a 1.68 million yuan (US$233,450) high-performance EV meant to compete with models from rivals like Ferrari and Lamborghini. The car will initially be exclusively for the China market, the company said at a live-streamed event in Shanghai, and it can reach 100 kmh (62 mph) in 2.36 seconds and reach a top speed of 309.19 kmh.

🌔Wonky moon communication: We recently reported that Japan successfully touched down on the moon with its uncrewed Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), but some issues with its solar panels meant it would lose contact with Earth. Surprisingly, SLIM has awakened and is responsive after a two-week lunar night, which the space agency wasn't counting on. In other wonky moon landing news, though, the US private spacecraft that landed on the moon last week ended up sideways, meaning its solar panels will run out of juice earlier than hoped. It's expected to stop working on Tuesday.

🥶Cold weather for Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Observatory has warned Hong Kongers to brace for a drop in temperature over the next nine days to lows of 14 C (57 F). But temperatures are expected to jump back up to a maximum of 26 C (78 F) by March 5.

🚗Car registration plate "D": The personalized number plate "D" went for HK$20.2 million (US$2.5 million) in the Transport Department's Lunar New Year auction, making it the third-priciest after single-letter car plates "W" and "R," which sold for HK$26 million (US$3.3 million) and HK$25.5 million (US$3.2 million) in 2021 and 2023.

🚄Hydrogen MTR: We reported yesterday that the first hydrogen bus made its debut journey in Hong Kong. The MTR is also planning to test hydrogen-powered trains on its light rail system with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality.

🏠Freddie Mercury's home for sale: Rock legend Freddie Mercury, the frontman of Queen, passed his London home bought in 1980 to his longtime friend Mary Austin when he passed away in 1991. She's held on to it for more than 30 years, but now it's going up for sale, listed at £30 million (US$38 million). Austin says that now that her kids are grown, it's time to move on to the next chapter in her life, although she's hoping another creative will become the new owner. A lot of the inside decor and design is just how Mercury left it.

Freddie Mercury house
Source: Knight Frank/Barney Hindle
Freddie Mercury house
Source: Knight Frank/Barney Hindle

Quiz Time!

What country just made a US$35 billion development investment in Egypt?

  1. China
  2. India
  3. UAE
  4. Israel

Enjoying our TMS Headlines?

Forward it to a friend! After all, sharing is caring.

Anything else? Hit reply to send us feedback or say hello. We don't bite!

Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [3]