Tech Digest daily roundup: Britishvolt collapses into administration


The battery startup Britishvolt has collapsed into administration after talks about a rescue bid from several investors failed, putting 300 jobs at risk. Britishvolt filed notice to appoint an administrator in the insolvency courts on Tuesday. The Guardian understands that professional services firm EY is waiting in the wings to handle the administration. Staff were told the “majority” of its 300 employees would be immediately made redundant on Tuesday morning, sources with knowledge of the announcement said. The Guardian

Tech bosses could face jail time for failing to protect children online, after the government conceded to a backbench rebellion. Nearly 50 Tory MPs wanted to amend the Online Safety Bill to introduce two-year sentences for managers who fail to stop children seeing harmful material. The government had been facing defeat, with Labour also supporting the move. Under a deal with the rebels to stave off defeat, ministers have now promised to introduce similar proposals. BBC 

Russian cybercriminals have been discovered trying to circumvent the restrictions on  ChatGPT and use the advanced AI-powered chatbot for their nefarious purposes. Check Point Research (CPR) said they spotted multiple discussions on underground forums where hackers discussed various methods, including using stolen payment cards to pay for upgraded user accounts on OpenAI, bypassing geofencing restrictions, and using a “Russian semi-legal online SMS service” to register ChatGPT. Tech Radar 

Nick Cave has said that ChatGPT and AI songwriting are “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”. ChatGPT is a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models and is fine-tuned with both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. The 65-year-old singer and songwriter addressed the growing interest in the chatbox service in his blog The Red Hand Files. He revealed that he received plenty of song submissions from his fans that were generated on ChatGPT. Independent 

Wikipedia should be treated differently to the big social media firms in the Online Safety Bill, a leading member of its foundation says. The encyclopaedia is written and edited entirely by thousands of volunteers around the world. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Rebecca MacKinnon also says a proposed change to the bill,would “limit freedom of expression”. The bill aims to protect people from harmful content online. The Wikimedia Foundation is the not-for-profit organisation which hosts the encyclopaedia. BBC 

Firing powerful lasers into the sky can divert lightning, a study has found for the first time. Experts hope that the findings could lead to lasers being used to provide better protection for vital infrastructure, such as airports and launchpads. Protections have fundamentally moved on very little since Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in the 18th century, but scientists at Ecole Polytechnique in France have been working for decades to use lasers as virtual lightning rods which can be fired into the air to attract lightning and pull it away from buildings. Telegraph 

The bill for Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is coming due, with the billionaire facing unpalatable options on the company’s enormous debt pile, ranging from bankruptcy proceedings to another costly sale of Tesla shares. Three people close to the entrepreneur’s buyout of Twitter said the first instalment of interest payments related to $13bn of debt he used to fund the takeover could be due as soon as the end of January. That debt means the company must pay about $1.5bn in annual interest payments.

Chris Price
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