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The week that was
A look back at the tech world from the past week






A nice cup of serendipity
Cool bits and bobs from around the web





Rules of Engagement
Ethics and legal matters regarding tech engagement

 

The Kiwi Farms Protests
In last week’s newsletter I featured an article about CloudFlare’s ill-conceived defiance in the face of mounting pressure to stop protecting a hate group. Said hate group coordinated a stalking campaign against a trans twitch streamer via a forum known as ‘Kiwi Farms.’ It’s good that this forum was deplatformed, but much more significant from a broader tech PoV are the implications for big tech of CloudFlare being forced into submission like this. CloudFlare is the latest high-profile instance of a previously untouchable mega corporation eating crow after actually losing a tug of war with the general populace. LINK + LINK

Copyright Stalking
A string of spurious copyright strikes by a disgruntled YouTuber against his detractors has once again shed light on the ridiculous fact that those on the receiving end of a copy right strike must submit all of their personal information to the striker if they want to appeal the claim. There are still no safety mechanisms in place to protect against false claims. Considering the proliferation of Apple’s airtags as a stalking tool, it’s not hard to see how such a situation could quickly get out of hand. LINK + LINK + LINK

When the Ninja stops Twitching
Two more of Twitch’s hottest streamers have called it quits this week, further adding to the platform’s woes. Pokimane, as might be guessed from the name, was a high-profile Pokémon streamer, whilst Ninja was the poster child for Fortnite, and even for Twitch in general at the height of his popularity. Both are so filthy rich that they’ll never have to work another day in their lives if they don’t want to, but the fact that they’ve both broken down like this despite being a king and queen of streaming is a reminder of just how brutal the industry is for its creators. LINK + LINK

Tech's Gamling Problem
Tech has had a gambling problem for decades, in a way, it was built by gambling. Venture capitalists bet on and against young upstarts like Steve Jobs as if they were racehorses, and modern incarnations of tech gambling can be seen in the gaming space’s lootboxes, or the crypto space’s Russian roulette style value fluctuations. Governments around the world threw open the flood gates last year for privately run casinos such as gambling apps, and many people are finding that they may well have previously been able to leave yesterday’s casino, but that today’s casino is no longer willing to leave their phone. LINK

Smart Watching the Kids
Amidst the hype and build-up around Apple’s annual showcase event, a few things caught my attention as I did my usual preliminary rumour rummaging. First of all, the apple watch appears to be a smash hit with parents looking to keep their children away from smartphones whilst easily tracking them. The more advanced biometrics and lowered pricing also fit into the company’s ambitions to end traditional passwords. Finally, there’s the rather conspicuous ramping up of Apple’s own advertising efforts, not a good look after all the pomp and circumstance around the iOS 14 privacy changes that devastated rivals such as Facebook. LINK + LINK + LINK

Rechargable Crabatteries
Researchers have identified a special compound in crab shells that would solve a notable issue faced by zinc-based battery tech. Zinc based batteries need water, but this water also corrodes key components of the battery, leading to rapid performance degradation and battery failure. Crab powered batteries would be efficient, rechargeable, and recyclable. They’ll even be cruelty free if the compound can be synthesized at scale, which its abundance in nature is a promising indicator of. LINK

CB Talk To Me
The holy grail of general purpose of AI is to make the computer resemble humans as closely as possible. Yet upon completing his multi-week test of several mental health apps, video essayist Jacob Geller opined that “rather than figuring out how to make a computer therapist act most like a human, automated therapy has instead chosen the psychological approach that makes a human most resemble a computer.” The other two links are companion articles to this video essay. They add further nuance to the questions of how AI might meaningfully enrich and empower mental healthcare without the critical human element being lost or diluted. LINK + LINK + LINK

Love is a Battlefield
In 1983, Pat Benatar sang about how love is a battlefield. In 2022, love is a battlefield. Ukrainian hackers tricked Russians soldiers into revealing their coordinates by pretending to be attractive women eager for a hookup. The Russian soldiers subsequently got blown…up, by Ukrainian artillery, along with their entire base. This practise is known as catfishing, and it’s part of the reason why people looking to find love online are increasingly resorting to tactics such as pouring their hearts out in publicly accessible ‘date me’ documents. Dating apps, for their part, are coming up with such novel solutions as only matching verified bots and scammers with each other. LINK + LINK + LINK

How Long Will This Toy's Story Be?
How does one create a toy that can survive fads? It’s always been the billion-dollar question for toy makers throughout the ages but is more broadly applicable for pretty much any product or service these days. Don’t read this article as being just about toys, read it within the context of a culture so deeply entrenched in hype and trends that entire cycles of relevance can now come and go in the blink of an eye. LINK

Computer Models of Models
As the fashion industry eyes the conversion of its models into avatars, it is critically important to be mindful of the risk that AI porn generation poses to the safety of these models. Deepfakes are already a notable problem facing those in the public eye in particular, but if the likenesses of models are digitized in a professional manner, it may get a lot worse. Without proper care the shortcomings currently inherent to AI image generation, such as their propensity to add weird details or distortions could become all too easy for bad actors to circumvent. LINK + LINK

Forever Young LINK
Ok Doomer LINK
Positive Peer Pressure LINK
Free Games Galore LINK
Gaming Yoga LINK
Ad and subtract LINK
Squeeze and Release LINK
AWSome job breaking it guys LINK
NFTerminology LINK
The Future of Fortnite LINK
AI Creepypasta LINK
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*Imagery, courtesy of Dall-E


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