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Thursday’s top tech news: breaking Bing’s AI brain

Just days after Microsoft unveiled and then released an early beta of its AI-powered Bing search, users are working out how to get it to spit out some truly wacky nonsense. Across various chats, Bing has insulted its users and claimed to have spied on Microsoft’s developers through their webcams. Microsoft has today responded to the reports, and admitted that Bing isn’t designed for longer conversations, and that these can prompt it to give “responses that are not necessarily helpful or in line with our designed tone.”

Next up, Microsoft has released a new update for Xbox consoles to intelligently schedule downloads to minimize carbon emissions. It’s one of several sustainability improvements being rolled out to the consoles, which will also include prompting users to switch to an energy saving shutdown mode.

Finally, Lego has announced a new BTS-themed set based on the group’s Dynamite music video. I look forward to seeing the inevitable crossovers when builders start having their BTS figurines pilot Lego X-wings or jump through Lego’s Super Mario dioramas.

And now, here’s a silly tweet to start your day:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Thursday, February 16th, 2023.
  • Allison Johnson

    Feb 17, 2023

    Allison Johnson

    Good for Nothing: Phone 1’s stable Android 13 release is starting to arrive

    Nothing Phone 1 on a table with the screen on.
    Nothing’s moody OS is getting its first major update.
    Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

    As spotted by XDA-Developers, Nothing is starting to release its first major OS upgrade for its very first mobile device: Phone 1. Remember the phone that goes blink blink blink? That one. Its Android 13 skin, Nothing OS 1.5, has been in beta testing since late 2022. Now, beta testers are reporting on Reddit and Discord that the stable version has arrived in the form of Nothing OS 1.5.2.

    There’s a long list of improvements in Nothing’s release notes for the beta, like a Nothing-ified weather app with the company’s signature dot-matrix UI styling. There are other expected Android 13 updates included, including a QR code scanner in the quick settings menu and privacy updates for the photo picker.

    Read Article >
  • Umar Shakir

    Feb 16, 2023

    Umar Shakir

    Apple’s new iOS 16.4 developer beta includes new emoji, web app notifications, and more

    Illustration depicting several Apple logos on a lime green background.
    Illustration: Kristen Radtke / The Verge

    Apple has pushed its latest iOS developer beta version 16.4, and it contains some interesting updates, including expanded emoji support, keyboard updates for certain languages, and support for web app notifications.

    The new emoji come from Unicode version 15.0, introduced in September. Some notable icons include a shaking face emoji, a pushing hand that could totally be used as an “imma stop you right there,” and a Khanda emblem representing Sikhism.

    Read Article >
  • Feb 16, 2023

    Richard Lawler, Adi Robertson and 2 more

    PC-grade VR without the PC.

    Watch Adi, Tom, and Sean try out Sony’s second-generation virtual reality headset if you’re trying to decide whether the $549 peripheral is worth it.

    The launch software lineup is a little light and your PC won’t properly recognize it, but the PSVR 2 at least has an easy setup and one short but impressive title in the form of Horizon Call of the Mountain.


  • Andrew Webster

    Feb 16, 2023

    Andrew Webster

    Reporting live from the Mushroom Kingdom.

    The first US edition of Super Nintendo Land opens at Universal Studios Hollywood tomorrow, but I’m here a little early getting a sneak peek. Expect to read plenty more about the park, as well as Nintendo itself, on The Verge in the coming days.

    In the meantime, I’ll be avoiding this Thwomp.


    A photo of a Thwomp at Super Nintendo Land.
  • Richard Lawler

    Feb 16, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Tesla recalls 362,758 vehicles equipped with Full Self-Driving beta for ‘crash risk’

    This is a stock image of the Tesla logo spelled out in red with a white shape forming around it and a tilted and zoomed red Tesla T logo behind it.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Tesla will recall nearly 363,000 vehicles equipped with the company’s controversial Full Self-Driving (FSD) software after the top federal safety agency identified the driver-assist program as a “crash risk.”

    Tesla issued a recall notice for the following vehicles equipped with FSD beta based on a directive by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): 2016-2023 Model S and Model X, 2017-2023 Model 3, and 2020-2023 Model Y. The recall means that Tesla will push out an over-the-air (OTA) software update, free of charge, to address the issues identified by NHTSA.

    Read Article >
  • Feb 16, 2023

    Jay Peters and Emma Roth

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki steps down after nine years at the helm

    YouTube logo on an abstract background
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is stepping down from her post, she announced in an email sent to employees that YouTube posted publicly on Thursday. Wojcicki has been at Google for nearly 25 years but will be stepping back to “start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects I’m passionate about.”

    Neal Mohan, currently YouTube’s chief product officer, will be taking over as head of the video streaming service. After serving as Google’s senior vice president of display and video ads for many years, Mohan joined YouTube in 2015 and has been one of Wojcicki’s primary lieutenants ever since. According to Wojcicki, Mohan played “pivotal roles” in the development of several YouTube products, including YouTube TV, YouTube Music, Premium, and Shorts, and also led the company’s trust and safety team.

    Read Article >
  • Jess Weatherbed

    Feb 16, 2023

    Jess Weatherbed

    Apple’s Tetris movie lines up real history with a retro thriller

    The Tetris movie that’s been in the works for almost a decade is actually happening, and Apple has finally unveiled an official trailer ahead of its SXSW premiere. This upcoming Apple Original Films “blockbuster” (sorry) is based on a true story, starring Taron Egerton as Henk Rogers, a Dutch entrepreneur who becomes so enamored with the titular game that he travels to the Soviet Union during the end of the Cold War in order secure its distribution rights.

    There, he encounters the game’s inventor, Alexey Pajitnov (portrayed by A Good Man’s Nikita Efremov), and villainous KGB agents, all while navigating the increasing tensions between the Soviet government and the West. It’s certainly a different approach from previous films we’ve seen inspired by retro video games (I'm looking at you, Pixels), but I’m not sure anyone had “the Tetris movie is a Cold War spy thriller” on their 2023 bingo card.

    Read Article >
  • Mia Sato

    Feb 16, 2023

    Mia Sato

    TikTok is launching a $500,000 live trivia contest

    The TikTok logo on a black background with pink and blue repeating logos around the edges.
    Illustration: Nick Barclay / The Verge

    TikTok is taking a page out of HQ’s playbook and launching a series of live trivia games, the company announced today. Like the doomed trivia startup, TikTok’s trivia rounds will happen via livestream each day, and users can log in to play between February 22nd and February 26th.

    To entice players, TikTok is offering a $500,000 cash prize pool that’s split between winners. Users must be 18 years old and in the US to participate in the multiple-choice trivia rounds, which will be livestreamed on the official @TikTok account. Categories include lifestyle, beauty, sports, and music, according to TikTok, along with John Wick questions (the event is sponsored by Lionsgate and its upcoming film John Wick: Chapter 4).

    Read Article >
  • John Wick: Chapter 4’s final trailer is a warning not to play in traffic

    By the end of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, most every assassin affiliated with the High Table had every reason to believe that John Wick was quite dead and no longer a problem they needed to be concerned about. The biggest takeaway from the new John Wick: Chapter 4 trailer: the High Table was very, very wrong.

    After three movies of mowing down droves of other hired killers in hopes of putting that life behind him, John Wick’s fourth chapter finds Wick (Keanu Reeves) suiting up with the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), and seemingly Winston Scott (Ian McShane) as the group plan to take down the High Table once and for all.

    Read Article >
  • Andrew J. Hawkins

    Feb 16, 2023

    Andrew J. Hawkins

    A battery fire prompted Ford to shut down production of its F-150 Lightning.

    The fire took place February 4th at a holding lot in Michigan during a pre-delivery quality inspection and “spread to another vehicle,” a Ford spokesperson told Automotive News. The automaker recently extended its temporary halt on production and shipment until at least the end of next week.


  • Adi Robertson

    Feb 16, 2023

    Adi Robertson

    AI search engines are not your friends

    A search box for AI-powered Bing.
    Bing, before you make it mad.
    Image: Microsoft

    A while back, there was a little debate over whether to say “please” and “thank you” to smart speakers. Amazon Alexa added a mode that rewarded children who were polite to their devices, attempting to avoid, as the BBC put it, a generation of children who “grew up accustomed to barking orders” at machines. This whole phenomenon bothered me — I felt like it needlessly blurred the lines between real people who you can actually hurt with rudeness and machines that are incapable of caring. At the time, though, I felt like kind of a jerk about it. Was I really going to object to some basic common courtesy?

    Years later, I think I have a good reason for saying yes. It came in the form of the new Bing: a conversational artificial intelligence that comes with a built-in guilt trip.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Feb 16, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Green light.

    The PSVR2 is here, and it doesn’t want to work with your PC.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to explain why Bing AI responses are the way they are. Just another very normal day.


  • Emma Roth

    Feb 16, 2023

    Emma Roth

    Paramount Plus will go up in price when it combines with Showtime

    An image showing the Paramount Plus logo
    Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

    The price of Paramount Plus is about to go up. In an earnings call on Thursday, Paramount chief financial officer Naveen Chopra announced that the price of Paramount Plus’ essential plan would increase from $4.99 to $5.99 per month, while the premium plan will go from $9.99 to $11.99 per month.

    This news comes as Paramount Plus is combining the Paramount Plus and Showtime offerings to form the predictably named “Paramount Plus with Showtime.” While the readjusted essential plan will not include content from Showtime, the premium plan will. The price increase will go into effect “upon launch of the integrated service,” which is set to occur “early” in the third quarter of 2023. Paramount Plus currently offers Showtime content as part of a separate, more expensive subscription, with its ad-supported plan costing $11.99 per month and the ad-free one priced at $14.99 per month.

    Read Article >
  • Victoria Song

    Feb 16, 2023

    Victoria Song

    Strava’s trying to make route planning easier by crowdsourcing photos from users

    Person holding iPhone showing the new Strava Recommended Routes photo feature with a route in Tokyo.
    The Recommended Routes photos are meant to help you when planning future activities.
    Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

    Route planning can be easy if it’s in your neighborhood but a pain when you’re planning for a weekend hike or a run when traveling overseas. But if you’re a Strava user, the fitness platform is rolling out a new route-planning feature that might help. Starting from 8AM PT / 11AM ET today, you’ll be able to view recent photos of a route or trail’s views, highlights, and conditions in the mobile app.

    The company is using machine learning to exclude photos that include identifiable faces or gear, and it only includes photos posted publicly in the app. Users who don’t want photos from their public activities shared as part of the feature will have to opt out.

    Read Article >
  • Feb 16, 2023

    Sean Hollister, Adi Robertson and 1 more

    PSVR 2 review: love on a leash

    Sony’s first virtual reality headset, the 2016 PlayStation VR, wasn’t exactly state-of-the-art. Engineers had to retrofit the PlayStation 4 with a converter box to send its graphics to a 1080p smartphone panel, topped with magnifying lenses, to create a fragile illusion of VR. Most games expected you to sit down with a traditional gamepad. If you wanted to reach out and touch, you had to shell out extra for a pair of last-gen PlayStation Move wands — ones that were already six years old when the headset first came out and barely did the job.

    The new PlayStation VR2, launching February 22nd for $549, changes all of that.

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Feb 16, 2023

    Adi Robertson

    Horizon Call of the Mountain is not enough of a good thing

    Disembodied hands pulling back a bow and arrow.
    Archery in Horizon Call of the Mountain.

    Horizon Call of the Mountain is so, so painfully close to being brilliant.

    Call of the Mountain is Sony’s first-party launch flagship for the PlayStation VR 2, the gaming giant’s very solid new virtual reality headset. A spinoff of PlayStation 4 title Horizon Zero Dawn and its PlayStation 5 sequel Horizon Forbidden West, the game combines climbing and archery, two of the most uniquely pleasurable things to do in VR. Its world is detailed and gorgeous, a mix of verdant forests, palpably chilly icescapes, and rusty post-apocalyptic ruins. It turns VR eye tracking, a feature I’ve been skeptical of in the past, into an entirely natural mechanic.

    Read Article >
  • Jess Weatherbed

    Feb 16, 2023

    Jess Weatherbed

    Anker recalls 535 Power Bank amid fire concerns

    The Anker 535 Power Bank (PowerCore 20K) is a selection of colors, fanned out across a white background.
    You can check if you own a recalled variant of the Anker 535 by checking the bottom of the device for model number A1366.
    Image: Anker

    Anker has issued a recall of select Anker 535 Power Banks following the discovery of a manufacturing defect that can result in the device overheating, posing a potential fire hazard. According to the recall notice, the Chinese electronics manufacturer discovered a fault on a “small number” of Anker 535 Power Bank (PowerCore 20K) batteries, model A1366, and is now working with local government agencies to facilitate a full voluntary recall of the product.

    The power bank is believed to be the “most probable cause” of a house fire in Washington County, Maryland last week (seen via Macrumors). The fire originated from, or around, a packed suitcase that contained an Anker 535 Power Bank now subject to recall. The suitcase did not contain any other electrical devices, nor anything else that could have caused the fire. Nobody in the house was injured.

    Read Article >
  • Tom Warren

    Feb 16, 2023

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft says talking to Bing for too long can cause it to go off the rails

    Bing logo
    The Verge

    Microsoft has responded to widespread reports of Bing’s unhinged comments in a new blog post. After the search engine was seen insulting users, lying to them, and emotionally manipulating people, Microsoft says it’s now acting on feedback to improve the tone and precision of responses, and warns that long chat sessions could cause issues.

    Reflecting on the first seven days of public testing, Microsoft’s Bing team says it didn’t “fully envision” people using its chat interface for “social entertainment” or as a tool for more “general discovery of the world.” It found that long or extended chat sessions with 15 or more questions can confuse the Bing model. These longer chat sessions can also make Bing “become repetitive or be prompted / provoked to give responses that are not necessarily helpful or in line with our designed tone.”

    Read Article >
  • Jon Porter

    Feb 16, 2023

    Jon Porter

    Tesla fired dozens of Gigafactory workers after Tuesday’s union announcement: NLRB complaint

    Tesla Inc.’s Solar Panel Factory As Workers Try To Unionize
    Tesla’s Buffalo, New York facility, aka ‘Gigafactory 2.’
    Image: Getty

    The Workers United union has alleged that Tesla fired over thirty employees from its Buffalo, New York plant just one day after workers there made public their plans to form a union, the organization said in a press release. At least one of the workers was part of the 25-employee organizing committee, while several others had taken part in labor discussions, according to a complaint filed with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    The complaint, which was reported first reported by Bloomberg, alleges that the firings came “in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity.” The Workers United union is seeking a federal court injunction to protect employee rights in its NLRB filing. “This is a form of collective retaliation against the group of workers that started this organizing effort” and is “designed to terrify everyone about potential consequences of them organizing” said Workers United organizer Jaz Brisack, who helped with the union drive.

    Read Article >
  • Monica Chin

    Feb 16, 2023

    Monica Chin

    BTS now has their very own Lego set — with figures of all seven bandmembers

    BTS Lego figurines arranged outside a Lego disco and donut shop.
    You, too, can recreate Jimin’s dance break.
    Image: Lego

    Lego teased a collaboration with BTS earlier this month and, needless to say, the fans had questions. Would the set come with photo cards? Will Jimin play with it on a livestream? Does this mean we’ll see BTS in the next Lego Movie?

    We don’t have all the answers to those questions yet (although I need an answer on the Lego Movie stat). We have, however, finally gotten our first glimpse of this highly anticipated Lego set, which (fairly accurately) replicates the set of the “Dynamite” music video, complete with mini-figs of the seven group members.

    Read Article >
  • Tom Warren

    Feb 16, 2023

    Tom Warren

    Xbox February update includes Google Home app support and ‘carbon aware’ downloads

    Microsoft’s white Xbox Series S sits alongside a bigger black Xbox Series X on a wooden coffee table in a living room
    Image: Tom Warren / The Verge

    Microsoft is rolling out a new February update to its Xbox consoles that adds one of several planned sustainability updates and Google Home app support.

    With the update, Xbox consoles are able to be “carbon aware” of when to perform game downloads and updates by connecting to the internet and checking for regional carbon intensity data. Microsoft says it will schedule updates during the nightly maintenance window for times that result in lower carbon emissions because more available electricity is coming from lower-carbon sources.

    Read Article >
  • James Vincent

    Feb 15, 2023

    James Vincent

    Microsoft’s Bing is an emotionally manipulative liar, and people love it

    The Bing logo on a pastel background
    The Verge

    Microsoft’s Bing chatbot has been unleashed on the world, and people are discovering what it means to beta test an unpredictable AI tool.

    Specifically, they’re finding out that Bing’s AI personality is not as poised or polished as you might expect. In conversations with the chatbot shared on Reddit and Twitter, Bing can be seen insulting users, lying to them, sulking, gaslighting and emotionally manipulating people, questioning its own existence, describing someone who found a way to force the bot to disclose its hidden rules as its “enemy,” and claiming it spied on Microsoft’s own developers through the webcams on their laptops. And, what’s more, plenty of people are enjoying watching Bing go wild.

    Read Article >