The top 12 tech stories of 2022

The tech sector’s vulnerability to the vagaries of geopolitics and the macro-economy has become clearer than ever in 2022, as IT giants lay off workers en masse, regulators crack down on tech rule-breakers, nations negotiate data privacy, the EU-China chip war expanded, and the Ukraine war disrupted business as usual. Through it all the classic tech themes—including innovation and the struggle to strengthen cybersecurity—continued as ChatGPT was released, Broadcom tried to buy VMWare, a Mac renaissance blossomed, and teenage hackers brought major companies to their knees. brought. Here are our editors’ picks for the dozen stories that rocked the world of tech in 2022.

US-China chip war and the end of globalization

chips / processors / memory cards Fancycrave (CC0)

Geopolitical tensions between the US and China spilled over into the semiconductor sector in 2022, as US President Biden’s administration issued new export controls in December that bar US companies from selling advanced semiconductors – as well as equipment used to manufacture them – to certain Chinese manufacturers to sell. , and then expanded those restrictions in December. Industry insiders said the restrictions were a sign that the era of ever-increasing globalization was over, and lamented that the restrictions would wreak havoc on the supply chain for all kinds of products – from computers to electronic vehicles – built on chip technology, and catching. businesses of all kinds in the crossfire between the two global superpowers.

Broadcom to buy VMware for $61 billion

Handshakes, mergers and acquisitions, M&A

While the tech M&A market generally eased during 2022, big-money deals continued to abound, including Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activation Blizzard for $68.7 billion (still under regulatory review). However, the highlight for the enterprise computing sector was undoubtedly silicon giant Broadcom’s deal to buy virtualization powerhouse VMware for $61 billion, announced at the end of May. The idea is to improve Broadcom’s bottom line, provide synergies between software and hardware products, and strengthen offerings for multicloud computing environments. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, which poses a bit of a problem: regulators in the US, UK and EU have launched pending inquiries and are likely listening to critics who say Broadcom has a history of buying companies, shutting down R&D, and raising prices.

ChatGPT amazes the world

artificial intelligence conceptual digital image

The test release of ChatGPT, the OpenAI Foundation’s latest project, combines natural-language processing with search capabilities to create surprisingly naturalistic essays and content, and has taken the internet by storm. According to reviewers, it’s a system that would easily pass a Turing test, creating extremely human-like responses to writing questions, but still betraying many of the mistakes made by previous AI-based systems – among other things, it makes things up, is limited by the biases of the information it seeks, and does not specify the origin of the information it uses. Although it is likely to be useful as a compositional aid or aid under certain circumstances, it is generally unlikely to replace human-created writing any time soon.

US-EU data treaty: 3rd try a charm?

joe biden cyberceomeeting public domain wh

US President Joe Biden’s November executive order to implement rules for the Transatlantic Data Policy Framework gave hope to companies easing the burdensome legal work required for EU-US data transfers. The move came after the European Court of Justice struck down two previous agreements – Privacy Shield and Safe Harbor – on the grounds that the US did not provide adequate protections for personal data. Under the new agreement, companies can sign up to the framework agreement rather than signing separate agreements with multiple companies. Don’t celebrate just yet though. The deal still needs to clear various EU bodies and has been criticized for the same central issue that sank the earlier deals: lack of protection against US state surveillance.

A Mac renaissance begins

Macbook Pro M1 Pro 2021

The decline in PC sales has been seen in many quarters, with rapid changes in demand caused by pandemic-driven changes in work patterns, among a host of other factors. Still, Apple’s share of the overall endpoint market has grown, especially in some market segments. The latest market share data suggests that the company has significantly outsold all of its competitors in the tablet space, as well as making big gains in laptop sales. In particular, first-time buyers of Apple products are on the rise, indicating a surge of renewed interest. With Mac sales reaching the highest peak in company history, and Apple’s continued work to bring Macs and iPads together as productivity companions, the company is poised to make further inroads into enterprises.

Elon Musk buys Twitter, is rejected as CEO

Musk: Twitter can be available for free - for these Nutzergruppen

Emerald mine heir, (in)famous serial entrepreneur and manufacturer of dangerous cars Elon Musk has finally bought Twitter for a total of $44 billion, after a long will-he-or-won’t-he fan dance that doesn’t seem to be long enough was for him to do due diligence. The legal battle over his attempts to back out of the deal escalated in late October, and once the sale was finalized, Musk wasted no time making hugely unpopular changes, engaging in far-right conspiracy theory, and firing many employees who was accused of turning the lights on at the social network. He has since pledged to step down as chief executive after a Twitter poll made it clear that users wanted him, though he said with characteristic good grace that he would stay on until he found someone else “foolish enough to take the job take.” While it’s debatable whether a social media company is, in fact, a “tech company,” business leaders of all stripes are surely watching Musk for lessons on how not to run a company.

Lapsus$ hackers wreak havoc throughout technology

An anonymous hooded figure composed of binary code stands in a virtual corridor of circuits. Cosmin4000/Getty Images

Microsoft announced in March that its systems had been compromised by the Lapsus$ hacking and ransomware group, which released key source code for several of the company’s products, including Bing, Bing Maps and Cortana. The group used a social engineering attack to compromise a corporate account and gain access to Microsoft’s data. A list of the group’s victims includes other major companies such as Samsung, Nvidia, Vodafone and Okta. Arrests in the UK and investigation into the group’s tactics have shown that Lapsus$ is made up of inexperienced teenage hackers using “poorly thought out” techniques. Ultimately, the group’s activities highlighted the dangers of one of the biggest cybersecurity problems – ransomware – and showed that the highest technical sophistication is not a requirement for hacking groups to succeed against even hardened targets.

EU adopts Digital Services Act

European Union, EU Etienne Ansotte/EU

European flags in front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 22, 2016.

The latest attempt to “clean up” the internet came in the form of the EU’s Digital Services Act, which imposes heavy fines—up to 6% of global revenue—on companies that fail to comply with new legal duties imposed by the regulation. be imposed. These duties are wide-ranging, and include protecting children from ad profilers, verifying the authenticity of goods sold online, and preventing online violence against women. This is a stark contrast to the US approach to online media regulation, which gives platforms such as Facebook and Twitter considerable freedom from liability, and would mean serious changes in the way many large internet companies do business – the EU has Twitter has already warned, in particular, that in terms of the provisions of the new law it will have to clean up its act significantly. Businesses have through the year to comply with its provisions.

FTX collapses, prompting calls for crypto regulation

virtual transactions - digital money - cryptocurrency - blockchain thinkstock

Amid allegations of internal mismanagement and misconduct, cryptoexchange FTX collapsed in November, dealing a heavy blow to the cryptocurrency sector and wiping out $8 billion in assets. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas in December and extradited to the US to face criminal charges. It’s been a typically volatile year for crypto, and the FTX crash has put the sector’s volatility squarely in the news. Experts have predicted dark days for cryptocurrency if regulators do not bring cryptocurrency trading under some sort of regulatory framework.

Layoffs are wiping out the tech sector

lead through layoffs ThinkStock

Companies like Amazon, Meta and Google have long led the way in technology leasing, and this year set the tone again, albeit for different reasons. The three tech giants — along with many other smaller tech companies — have cut thousands of jobs this year as the tech sector labor market falters in the face of global economic headwinds. Amazon alone is reportedly set to lay off 20,000 employees, underscoring the extent of the sea change in the tech job market. The layoffs are a sharp reversal from the earlier stages of the pandemic, when larger tech employers in particular went on a hiring spree to take advantage of a surge in demand for cloud-based services. As the boom faded, revenues fell, ushering in a year of uncertainty and staff cuts.

War in Ukraine causes technological retreat from Russia

Russian sanctions Ukraine war

Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February illustrated how geopolitical upheaval can affect tech companies as much as businesses in any other sector. The invasion drew near-universal condemnation, and major tech companies responded in kind, halting sales to Russia and blocking them from using their services there. Hardware companies such as IBM, Intel, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia have all suspended sales to Russia, while service providers such as AWS and Google have stopped accepting new customers and—in some cases—suspended services to the country. Media companies and social networks have tightened restrictions on Russian state media content to help combat disinformation as well.

The Great Return? Big Tech is calling back workers

professionals in the midst of a binary stream Gremlin/Getty Images

The easing of the pandemic in 2022 has led many companies, which previously allowed employees wide latitude to work remotely, to begin rolling workers back into their offices, with Microsoft taking the first shot at the return-to-work revolution in February. Other tech companies, including Google and Apple, followed suit. While most companies (not including Twitter, which has fired anyone unwilling to work full-time in the office) do not require employees to be in the office five days a week, managers have a significant amount of pushback from some workers, like many, have become accustomed to the work-from-home routine and are not eager to start commuting again. Remote work’s effect on productivity is a matter of heated debate, with different studies showing different impacts of the practice, and the argument about the benefits of in-office work is likely to continue indefinitely.

(Marc Ferranti contributed to this story.)

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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