Australia: The big tech crash: farce in motion, tragedy to come

Driver in last year's fatal Alawa crash sentenced to eight years in prison

  Driver in last year's fatal Alawa crash sentenced to eight years in prison Peter Lynch, 22, will spend at least four years in prison after pleading guilty to driving in a dangerous manner, manslaughter, and recklessly endangering life.Peter Lynch pleaded guilty to driving in a dangerous manner, manslaughter, and recklessly endangering life, following the crash in the early hours of May 16, 2021.

Every financial collapse reads as farce in retrospect. It was true of the 1630s tulip mania and the 1720s South Sea Bubble. True, too, of the fast-moving Web3 and Web 2.0 collapses, with an added bonus: they can be recognised as farce in real-time.

Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried and Mark Zuckerberg (Images: AAP/Private Media) © Provided by Crikey Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried and Mark Zuckerberg (Images: AAP/Private Media)

Strutting emperors from the domain of cryptocurrencies and social media platforms have been stripped of their imperial grandeur to reveal vaudeville villains who, it seems, were hiding in plain sight all along. This is a good thing — and it’s through these towering personalities that journalists are starting to report what’s happening. It’s how we’ll come to understand it.

Fatal NT helicopter crash investigated

  Fatal NT helicopter crash investigated Police and the national transport safety investigator are probing a helicopter crash in the Northern Territory that killed a 47-year-old man.The 47-year-old solo pilot died at the scene of the crash, which occurred south of the community of Ramingining around 2.45pm on Tuesday.

  The big tech crash: farce in motion, tragedy to come © Provided by Crikey

How the social media smash-up is breaking big tech’s power

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It’s important to remember, too, that as the collapses leach into the “real” economy — you know, the one where most of us live and work — there’ll be plenty of room for the individual tragedies of lost jobs and diminished savings.

The implosion of the attempts to use cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens to financialise the decentralised Web3 — built around its verifiable blockchains and tokens — is the least surprising part of the story.

As critics are reporting — like Matt Levine in Bloomberg’s “Money Stuff” column — a trawl through the comments of Sam Bankman-Fried, disgraced CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, makes it look like the Ponzi-like characteristics of his company were a feature, not a bug. Surely there was something in the “Bahama-based” tag that should have been a giveaway?

Northern Territory buffalo industry figure Norm Fisher identified as victim of fatal helicopter crash in Arnhem Land

  Northern Territory buffalo industry figure Norm Fisher identified as victim of fatal helicopter crash in Arnhem Land The livestock industry is in mourning following the death of 47-year-old Norm Fisher, who was killed when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Arnhem Land earlier this week.   (Supplied: Facebook) The man killed in a helicopter crash in the Northern Territory's east Arnhem Land earlier this week has been identified as a prominent livestock industry figure whose family has been in the industry for decades.Norm Fisher, 47, died when a helicopter he was flying crashed south of Ramingining on Tuesday afternoon.Authorities said he was the pilot and sole occupant of the vehicle, and died at the scene.

Journalists have struggled to understand and explain cryptocurrencies. It appears, now, that some of that may have been due to the start-up funding FTX was providing. Still, it’s possible there’s something useful in the security that the decentralised verification of the blockchain offers (assuming certain aspects can innovate to prevent planet-destroying levels of carbon-consuming electricity).

As ever, behind the specific cases seems to have lain good old-fashioned fraud. But one of the lessons we were all supposed to take away from the 2008 financial crisis was not to invest in — or, worse, build our economy around — things we don’t readily understand.

Now for the good news. Despite all the noise, there’s just not enough money in crypto and NFTs to hurt enough people or nations — other than those, like El Salvador, which saw it as a shortcut to development.

However, it’s not good news in the theatre that is the ongoing tech crash shaking out Web 2.0, aka the social web, where it’s the once-larger-than-life characters — Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg — who are putting on the show.

Judge rules Jen Psaki must be deposed in lawsuit over alleged 'collusion' with Big Tech to censor speech

  Judge rules Jen Psaki must be deposed in lawsuit over alleged 'collusion' with Big Tech to censor speech A federal judge ruled Monday that former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki must offer deposition in lawsuit claiming she helped the WH collude with Big Tech to censor speech. Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana on Monday rejected a motion by attorneys for Psaki to block a court-ordered deposition, and said there is public interest in "determining whether First Amendment free speech rights have been suppressed."Monday’s order follows a ruling from U.S.

It’s new tech, but it’s an old story: over-spending on cheap (usually borrowed) money crashing into a falling stock market and rising interest rates. Toss in flamboyant billionaires who don’t really understand what they’re investing in but who find irresistible the status offered by ownership of the medium.

We saw an all-Australian production of this movie back in the 1980s when three oligarchs (or would-be oligarchs) overpaid for the three commercial television networks: Frank Lowy at Ten, Christopher Skase at Seven and, most notoriously, Alan Bond at Nine. Within a couple of years, all the networks went broke, leaving old-money Kerry Packer laughing all the way to the bank.

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Humble Elon Musk buys Twitter to protect civilisation, he says

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Now, while things are playing out differently for Facebook and Twitter, the market is suggesting the same ending. The stock price over at Zuckerberg’s place has been sliding ever since he announced the Meta rebrand — and has kept heading down as, quarter by quarter, the company has updated its multibillion-dollar spend on the metaverse.

Victoria having Labor pains

  Victoria having Labor pains A new poll has Victorian Premier Dan Andrews losing ground to the Liberals' Matthew Guy as preferred premier, and former PM Kevin Rudd warns there are just five years to prevent war with China.To another state election now and Simon Holmes à Court’s Climate 200 is thinking it’ll back up to 10 candidates in the NSW election in March, Guardian Australia reports, including business consultant Joeline Hackman, who is taking on the state’s environment minister James Griffin in Manly. It’d be more than double the number (four) it backed in the Victorian election, but there’s a Coalition to unseat in NSW.

The latest figure is $54 billion, without any indication that what Silicon Valley’s “lean start-up” thinking calls a sell-ready “minimum viable product”. The market reckons the company is now worth less than 30% of what it was before it launched itself into the metaverse. That’s, um, more than half a trillion dollars of lost value.

At least Zuckerberg has a way out of his hole: stop digging. There are still very comfortable returns to be made from the cashflows out of his advertising platforms, even if they lack the adrenalin rush of their once-stellar growth. Shrug, that’s the product life cycle for you.

For Elon Musk over at Twitter, not so much. In taking over Twitter, he’s burnt about the same amount as Zuckerberg’s metaverse play. The market is marking him by proxy — specifically Tesla. An investors’ darling just a year ago, it’s worth half what it was then, in part off the back of the reputational damage of the Twitter acquisition.

Again, he’s got a “stop digging” option — put Twitter into bankruptcy or give it away (or even just stop tweeting). Go back to something simpler (like, as the joke now goes, rocket science).

But for the billionaire Silicon Valley boys, being stars of the show seems to matter more than the damage they’re doing off-stage.

The post The big tech crash: farce in motion, tragedy to come appeared first on Crikey.

Scott Morrison thanks colleagues on eve of censure over secret ministries scandal .
As parliament readies to consider a censure motion against the former prime minister over his secret ministries, the opposition formally decides against rebuking Scott Morrison — though one MP looks likely to cross the floor.The motion, which will condemn Mr Morrison for secretly appointing himself to five ministries without telling his cabinet colleagues, parliament or the public, will be debated and approved by the House of Representatives, where the government has a majority.

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