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Tech Top 5 News
Microsoft Launches AI-Powered Search Engine
Microsoft has announced the latest version of its search engine Bing, powered by an upgraded version of the same AI technology that underpins chatbot ChatGPT. The company launched the product alongside new AI-enhanced features for its Edge browser, promising that the two will provide a new experience for browsing the web and finding information online.
Unlike ChatGPT, the new Bing can also retrieve news about recent events. Microsoft calls this the “Prometheus Model,” which is more powerful than GPT 3.5 and gives users more relevant, timely and targeted results with improved safety.
The tech giant further revealed that the new Bing is available in a limited preview on desktop, and everyone can visit Bing.com today to try sample queries and sign up for the waitlist.
The company also said that a mobile experience would also be in preview soon.
It said it spent significant resources trying to make the model safer, including working with OpenAI technology as an adversarial user to try to find potential problems in the system, as well as training the AI model to police itself by rooting out biases, in part by teaching the system to recognise offensive content and, therefore, ideally avoid it.
Twitter Outage Caused by Employee’s Mistake
Last week, Twitter’s major outage occurred because an employee mistakenly deleted important data from an internal service.
The outage left users unable to tweet or retweet and being faced with the error message: “You are over the daily limit for sending tweets.”
According to Twitter’s website, that limit is supposed to be 2,400 tweets a day, but users were still presented with the error if they had not tweeted at all. In a private message, a Twitter employee described it as “a massive outage.”
About 90 minutes after users began reporting problems, the company tweeted: “Twitter may not be working as expected for some of you, sorry for the trouble, we’re aware and working to get this fixed.”
According to tech newsletter, Platformer, the outage happened because data from Twitter’s internal service for these rate limits was deleted by accident, and the team which worked on that service had left the company in November.
That month, Musk sent all Twitter employees an ultimatum at midnight, telling them to commit to working “extremely hardcore” or leave the company. It told staff they needed to work “long hours at a high intensity” to “build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0.”
The incident is the social media site’s first apparent widespread service disruption since billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter as CEO in late October.
NCC Advises Samsung Phone Users to Update their Apps
To save mobile phone users in Nigeria from cyber attacks, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), through its Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), has advised Samsung users to update their Galaxy App Store.
The commission gave the directive after its team discovered multiple vulnerabilities in the Samsung Galaxy App Store.
This isn’t the first time this body is creating awareness to protect its citizens.
The NCC-CSIRT discovered the vulnerabilities in the Galaxy App Store application on Samsung devices that are running Android 12 and older.
While warning that cybercriminals are continuously devising new means of compromising their targets, NCC-CSIRT said, “we advise phone, and computer users advised users not open files from people they do not know, not to click ‘OK’ and immediately exit the application if they receive a warning that opening an attachment or link can damage their computer or files and to promptly share an unknown email they believe to be genuine with a security or Windows administrator to assist in determining whether the file is secure.”
In a related advisory, following the discovery of several phishing apps on the Google Play Store, NCC-CSIRT had also advised users not to give out sensitive information through untrusted platforms.
NCC-CSIRT’s advisory on the discovery said the apps, which have been downloaded 450,000 times in total, can be games or investment services but are designed to steal sensitive user information.
While some malicious apps have been removed, others are still active on the store.
According to the advisory, after installing and opening the app, it will contact a remote server which will reply with instructions on what to do. These instructions typically include phishing pages that will be displayed to unsuspecting users to collect their sensitive information.
Zoom Set to Lay Off 1,300 Employees
Zoom has said it will lay off about 1,300 employees, representing about 15 per cent of its workforce.
The Video Communications company has become the latest company hit by the mass layoffs that have rocked the global tech industry since late last year.
In a memo to employees, Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan said the layoffs would impact every part of the organisation. Yuan also said he and other executives would take a significant pay cut after acknowledging he made “mistakes” in how quickly the company grew during the pandemic.
While taking full responsibility for decisions that led to the layoffs, Zoom CEO in the memo said, “As the CEO and founder of Zoom, I am accountable for these mistakes and the actions we take today– and I want to show accountability not just in words but in my own actions. To that end, I am reducing my salary for the coming fiscal year by 98 per cent and foregoing my FY23 corporate bonus”.
Yuan said executive leadership team members would reduce their base salaries by 20 per cent for the coming fiscal year and forfeit their fiscal year 2023 bonuses.
Report: Online Learning Opened New Career Paths for Nigerian Women
A recent report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has shown that the recent increase in women’s access to online learning has opened new career paths.
The study also found that one in three Nigerian women surveyed reported positive career or business outcomes after taking online courses, including finding a new job, setting up a business, or improving job performance. The research is part of the “Women and Online Learning in Emerging Markets” report from IFC, created in partnership with the global online learning platform Coursera and the European Commission.
It also found that one job is created in Nigeria for every 30 people trained on Coursera.
The study uses data from Coursera to quantify women’s participation in online education, identify challenges to greater participation, and provide recommendations for the public and private sectors to improve lifelong learning opportunities and outcomes for women.
Tech Personality of The Week
This week’s tech personality is Temie Giwa-Tubosun.
Temie is the founder of LifeBank, a business enterprise in Nigeria working to improve access to blood transfusions in the country.
LifeBank is a medical distribution company that uses data and technology to discover and deliver essential medical products to hospitals in Nigeria.
The LifeBank App is a web application that connects blood donors to patients in need of blood transfusion during emergencies. It launched in 2013 during the World Blood Donor Day celebration and currently has over 1500 people registered. The Life App is a web app, so people do not need to waste their data to download it. All they need to do is sign up at Lifebank.ng and wait to be called to donate blood or use it to request blood when needed.
The technology and logistics Hub has its headquarters in Lagos and was incubated at the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba.
In 2016, Temie met with Mark Zuckerberg during his first visit to Nigeria. She was one of the two women Zuckerberg referenced in his town hall meeting.
In the past four years, the company has distributed about 26,000 products to more than 10,000 patients in close to seven hundred hospitals in Nigeria.
Utilising multimodal logistics (drones, boats, bikes, and tricycles), the tech hub delivers hospital supplies swiftly.
In 2020, Giwa was awarded the Global Citizen Prize for Business Leader for addressing blood shortages in Nigeria and LifeBank’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, Giwa was named the winner of Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize, which held in Accra, Ghana. The win for LifeBank was worth $250,000. The Prize got applications from more than 10,000 startups from 50 of Africa’s 54 countries.