Billionaire Elon Musk is continuing to clash with Twitter over the accuracy of its bot count, and hinted today that he may try to renegotiate the $44 billion deal. Musk told attendees at a Miami conference that a deal at a lower price wasn’t “out of the question,” reported Bloomberg. Musk’s potential bid for a lower price is an unexpected twist, given that the SpaceX exec agreed to pay a 38 percent premium on Twitter when he reached a deal with the company’s board back in April.
“Currently what I’m being told is that there’s just no way to know the number of bots,” Musk said at the conference. “It’s like, as unknowable as the human soul.”
Musk’s potential bid for a lower price is an unexpected twist, given that the SpaceX exec agreed to pay a 38 percent premium on Twitter when he reached a deal with the company’s board back in April.
Last Friday, Musk had announced that a buyout of Twitter was “temporarily on hold” due to concerns that the number of bots on the platform was much higher than the company estimated. The billionaire tweeted that his team would do an independent analysis on bot count and also tried to crowdsource bot estimates from his own followers. Musk was later reprimanded by Twitter’s legal team for revealing — in a tweet, of course — the company’s methodology for estimating the proportion of bot accounts across the platform.
Earlier today, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal explained in a series of tweets that external estimates of bots are likely wrong, since the platform includes private data in its count.
“Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share),” tweeted Agrawal.
Musk responded to Agrawal’s explanation with a series of his own tweets, one that included a single poop emoji. Musk also suggested that Twitter verify whether users are human or not by calling them on the phone.
Tesla expert Dan Ives — an analyst at financial advisory firm Wedbush Securities — put the chances of Musk going through with the deal at under 50 percent. If Musk chooses to walk away, he’ll be subject to a $1 billion “kill fee”. But according to legal experts who spoke to The Washington Post, Twitter could sue Musk for the financial damages inflicted on the company due to the hasty reversal of the deal.
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Canada's population added 1.15 million people since last year: StatsCan – CBC News
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Ottawa rolls out voluntary code of conduct for AI
The federal government is unfurling a voluntary code of conduct for generative AI as anxiety persists over its proliferation and pace of development.
Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced the code on Wednesday at the All In artificial intelligence conference in Montreal, where Canadian technology companies including OpenText and Cohere pledged to sign on.
The document lays out measures organizations can take when working in generative AI — the algorithmic engine behind chatbots such as ChatGPT, which can spit out anything from term papers to psychotherapy.
The government says the measures align with six key principles that include equity, transparency and human oversight.
Amid both excitement and angst over the seemingly boundless scale of AI advancement, the federal government in June tabled a bill outlining a general approach to AI guardrails and leaves details to a later date, saying it will come into force no sooner than 2025.
Artificial intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio, who has stated the legislation puts Canada on the right path even as progress remains too slow, says public fear still hangs over the sector and that more investment toward safety and standards is essential.
‘We’re not there yet’: Metrolinx CEO won’t provide opening date for troubled Eglinton Crosstown LRT
Metrolinx is refusing to provide an update on an opening date for the long-delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT line, citing technical issues in the testing and commissioning phase that are continuously pushing the finish date further down the road.
“Any prediction of an opening date at this stage of the project will just be an estimate, and I’m not comfortable giving that,” said Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster.
“When I give you a date it must be something I believe in and we’re not there yet.”
Phil Taberner, the project’s vice president, says construction is “pretty much” complete except for a small section near Eglinton-Yonge.
He said testing and commissioning is considered a “high-risk” part of the project, and that they’re anticipating “faults and issues” that will take an “unpredictable” amount of time to rectify.
“We want the tests to be rigorous, and we want to identify these issues,” he said. “This then gives us the assurance that we’ve got a robust, safe and reliable railway.”
Verster says Metrolinx has a “really good idea” of the approximate opening date, even though he chose not to divulge it. The transit agency intends to give an update every two months, with the next one slated for November.
“Given the facts of what has caused the different delays. I am very excited about the Eglinton Crosstown. We are not that far away,” said Verster.
History of delays, legal disputes
The 25-stop, 19-kilometre line was last slated to be up and running in the fall of 2022, but construction has stretched on long past that.
The regional transit agency attributes some of the challenges behind the delay to the COVID-19 pandemic, repairs to the existing Yonge-Eglinton subway station, and the consortium of four companies, Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), contracted by Ontario’s previous Liberal government to design and build the Crosstown.
Work began on the Crosstown in 2011 and Metrolinx previously announced completion dates of 2020 and 2021.
The repeatedly delayed and over-budget project has been stymied amid reports of some 260 quality control issues, which Verster said is now down to 225.
It’s also faced legal threats from CST. In May, the consortium alleged that Metrolinx failed to retain an operator for the unfinished transit line. Verster confirmed Wednesday that the courts sided with Metrolinx and CTS has to follow the agreed path of arbitration.
The transit line, also known as Line 5, is expected to run along Eglinton Avenue from Mount Dennis in the west to Kennedy in the east.
Internal Metrolinx documents obtained by CBC Toronto last year show that the budget for the project has ballooned to nearly $13 billion, a figure that includes 30-year maintenance costs. That’s more than double the initial estimates.
Fire Metrolinx CEO, NDP says
Toronto-St. Paul’s Coun. Josh Matlow, who’s been critical of the project’s delays, is renewing his call for a public inquiry into Metrolinx’s handling of the project since it’s been more than a decade since work started.
“If Phil Verster is going to do a press conference, actually provide some information,” said Matlow.
“You have a duty and a responsibility to tell the public the truth and be accountable for the hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, tax dollars and the years of delays that have hurt communities and devastated businesses.”
Susan Bazarte owns one such business. She’s been running Eglinton Fast Food Inc. for 14 years and has been operating for the entire duration of construction.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Bazarte. “I almost want to close.”
Verster says he’s accountable for delays and is “doing everything possible” to get the project over the line.
On Wednesday, the Ontario NDP demanded action over to the LRT’s continued delay. Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden called for the newly appointed Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria to fire Verster.
Verster makes nearly $900,000 and is the fifth-highest paid public servant in the province, the party pointed out.
“Consumed by scandal, Ford’s Conservatives have lost control of the province’s transit agency and the vital Eglinton Crosstown,” he said. “It’s clear they can’t build transit projects in this province, and people are left waiting for transit that feels like it will never arrive.”
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