This is today’s edition the download† our weekday newsletter that gives a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.
A new vision of artificial intelligence for the people
In the back room of an old building in New Zealand, one of the most advanced computers for artificial intelligence is helping to redefine the future of technology.
Te Hiku Media, a non-profit Māori radio station run by Peter-Lucas Jones and Keoni Mahelona, bought the machine to train its own algorithms for natural language processing. It is now a central part of the couple’s dream to revive the Māori language while maintaining control over their community’s records.
The project is radically different from the way the AI industry typically operates. Over the past decade, AI researchers have pushed the field to new frontiers with the “more is more” dogma, relentlessly exhausting humans for their faces, voices and behavior to enrich the results. But projects like Te Hiku could point the way to a new generation of AI — one that doesn’t treat marginalized people as mere stakeholders, but restores them as co-creators of a shared future. Read the full story.
This is the fourth and final installment in our series on AI colonialism, the idea that artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order. You can read the previous articles in the series here.
These hackers showed how easy it is to target critical infrastructure
Expert skills:Earlier this week, two Dutch researchers took home $90,000 as a reward for hacking into the software that helps run the world’s critical infrastructure.
Terrifying Convenience: Daan Keuper and his colleague Thijs Alkemade are well trained. After hacking into a car in 2018, they started infiltrating video conferencing software and coronavirus apps last year. Their latest challenge was their easiest yet. The targets were all industrial control systems that control critical facilities, including power grids, gas pipelines, and more. It’s the same software that can be found in the real world.
Security issues: The pair managed to bypass the control of trusted applications for a communication protocol called OPC UA, which allows different parts of a critical business system to talk to each other in industrial environments. “In industrial control systems, there is still so much low hanging fruit,” says Keuper. “Security is seriously lagging behind.” Read the full story.
—Patrick Howell O’Neill
The Secrets of Silicon Valley, One Tweet at a Time
Shortly after midnight on May 4, 2018, Jane Manchun Wong tweeted her first-ever “finding”. “Twitter working on end-to-end encrypted secret DM!” she wrote.
That tweet was the first of many Wong would send. By delving into public source code for companies like Twitter and Facebook, she’s been able to find out which features and projects are being worked on in secret before announcing it.
A young woman of color who exposed the plans of a Big Tech company without any tools other than her own ability to reverse engineer code was (and is) quite radical – and it has changed the way tech companies operate. Read the full story.
Quote of the day
“We think we are fighting fascism, but there is no fascism. There isn’t.”
– Sergei Klokov, a driver at the Moscow police headquarters, criticized Russia’s activities in Ukraine during a phone call to a friend shortly before he was arrested, according to the Wall Street Journal†
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find the funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology today.
1 We must prepare for a war in Ukraine that will last indefinitely
It has been eight weeks since the invasion, with no sign of an end to the conflict. †Foreign Affairs†
† Ukraine is concerned that Chinese-made drones are sabotaging its defenses† †WSJ †
† Russia has banned Kamala Harris and other US officials from entering the country. †Reuters†
† Russian troops block a steel factory containing 2,000 Ukrainian fighters† †NYT †
† The World Bank anticipates a catastrophic global food crisis. †BBC†
† Russia plans to “fake” an independence referendum in southern Ukraine, Zelensky says† †the guard†
2 Elon Musk Says He Has Drawn Up $46.5 Billion To Buy Twitter
That’s an awful lot of money, even for someone as rich as he is. †WSJ †
† He says he wants free speech on the platform, but he has spent years trying to silence his own critics. †Bloomberg †
† Musk also seems determined to turn back time to when tweets had less impact. †New Yorker †
3 Zero-Day Hacks Are The Wealthy Cybercriminal’s Favorite Weapon
They are eye-wateringly expensive, but incredibly effective. (TR)
† Google fixes more zero-day bugs targeting Chrome† †ZDNet†
4 Microbial jet fuel could help reduce carbon emissions from flying
If (a big if) can be proven to work at scale. (TR)
† Another way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? sue the producers. †the economist †
5 EU to announce new law that forces Big Tech to monitor illegal content
If it continues, it means they will no longer be allowed to check their own homework. †FT †
† It could leave the largest companies vulnerable to billions of dollars in fines. †Bloomberg †
† As always, the biggest companies are less excited about the prospect. †Bloomberg †
† And marketers won’t be happy about it either. †the drum †
6 Regulation alone cannot combat disinformation
Disinformation is dangerous, but flawed methods of dealing with it can also be terrible. †The Atlantic Ocean †
† YouTube is more likely to reinforce extreme views than introduce them to you. †NYT †
† Big Tech Has Made Democracy More Vulnerable, Obama Says† †WP †
7 Sheryl Sandberg Would Have Persuaded Journalists Not To Write About Her Then Boyfriend
Partly because it would have damaged her reputation as a champion of women. †WSJ †
8 Someone in the UK has had covid for over a year
Doctors say we need better treatments for people battling stubborn infections. †the guard†
† New global covid cases fell by nearly a quarter last week. †the guard†
9 Installing smart home technology in rental properties is a thorny privacy issue
On the one hand it is convenient. On the other hand, it is a web-enabled surveillance network. †WSJ †
† Amazon thinks home tech is a safer bet than expanding into the metaverse. †FT †
10 What It’s Like To Receive An Email From Your Former Self
It’s a great way to think about your achievements and the future. †the guard†
We can still have nice things
+ If you are lucky you can catch warthog pigs taking a mud bath here live stream of a Namibian water well (thanks Michael!)
+ Forget it I guess this one is Stephen King’s scariest work to date.
+ NASA’s Perseverance Rover Witnessed a rare solar eclipse on Mars†
+ Today would have been Glen Campbell’s 86th birthday. Enjoy this rendition of the enduring classic, Wichita Lineman†
+ I’m sure New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was touched by this beautiful dance of two people dressed as kiwis to welcome her to Japan.
+ This collection of album covers makes me want to listen to it what Grace Jones immediately†
+ Do you remember Honda’s ASIMO robot? To be retire†