Come on you Apps! Do you wanna live forever!?

Planned obsolescence is the great big elephant in the room of every big reveal event and expo in the contemporary tech world. As a quick refresher, planned obsolescence is the technical term used to describe the practise of designing hardware to break down as quickly as legally possible. The goal is to enforce annual upgrades amongst users. Tech companies want you to believe that long lasting devices are technologically impossible, they’re not. LINK

Dissent from my iPhone

Apple had their big reveal event this past week and worryingly, there’s a sense of confused apathy pervading the conversation about it now that the dust has settled. To be fair, investors haven’t cared about these reveals for years because Apple’s so called ‘cultists’ will buy the new gear anyways. What stuck out to me though is Steve Job’s daughter calling Apple boring and uninspired in front of the entire tech world that her late father used to hold in the palm of his hand during these reveals. LINK + LINK + LINK

Tears in the iron data curtain

Activists continue to find new ways around Russia’s state censorship, which in and of itself wouldn’t be that big a deal if it weren’t for the fact that the Russian army is also being pushed back on the battlefield by Ukrainian forces. If Russia’s army gets worn down badly enough, it will no longer be able to suppress dissent at home or in annexed territories. This reminds me of the recent losses by tech titans against regulators, organised users, and against smaller, weaker rivals. Russia, were its army to be crushed, could end up an example of “an entity previously thought inviolable losing its grasp over a captive audience.” LINK + LINK

No mere child’s play

Roblox is tired of its reputation as a kids’ game, whilst YouTube actually wants the level of influence over the demographic that Roblox wields. YouTube should do something about its uh…more exotic child-oriented content first though. The world of what I’ll charitably call ‘nightmare fuel’ children’s YouTube is truly wild. Children are considered a gold mine because of their impressionable nature, lack of impulse control, and their propensity for intense peer pressure. YouTube’s moderation ranges from barely functional to non-existent for general users. Put these two things together, and I worry what new horrors might be unleashed upon the world. LINK + LINK + LINK

Plz vote for my team

Many apps such as discord have built-in browsers. The goal of in-app browsers is to harvest user data that privacy minded dedicated browsers such as firefox would otherwise wall off. It is this lack of safeguards that threat-actors are exploiting in order to steal their victim’s credentials with a trending new phishing attack referred to as a ‘browser-in-the-browser’ attack. The now infamous line ‘plz vote for my team’ is what’s often used to spur the prospective victim into action. LINK

Stroke of genius or assault on artists?

AI image generation is a highly controversial new trend sweeping across the creative landscape. It has proponents and detractors like all new technologies do, but its ostensible trespassing upon a sacred bastion of personhood, creativity, has detractors particularly riled up. The debate about whether or not AI image generators are a novel new tool or an affront to art strike at the very heart of our relationship with technology. LINK + LINK + LINK

The MonAI Lisa

Because of the safeguards against abuse, when users of AI image generators try to create work depicting human beings, the results can be truly surreal facsimiles of life rather than the intended result. Each image generator has its own style determined by its developers. Yet as more and more people have gotten their hands on the tech, patterns are inevitably emerging in what can most easily be described as a renaissance of the creepy pasta, viral repetitive images that pop up in unexpected ways in unexpected places. LINK

Fursona Non Grata

One of the most controversial aspects of AI image generation is how the algorithms behind them are trained, usually by crawling publicly accessible repositories. This is why some of the most useful parts of prompts are phrases like ‘trending on ArtStation.’ Whilst savvy and dedicated users can and do create truly novel and worthwhile work using AI image generation, the art communities that indirectly birthed these works are now being flooded with works that definitely won’t be put in the ‘award winning’ prompt pool anytime soon. LINK + LINK

But who’s art is it

Data privacy and ownership have always been complex and contentious issues, but the continued proliferation of AI powered creation tools has made the conversation that much more complicated, and that much philosophically fascinating. The crux of the issue is ‘when the algorithm is trained using data the programmers neither own nor asked consent for, who then owns the algorithm’s output?’ Furthermore, when new regulation comes into effect that changes the privacy landscape, what knock-on effects might there be for machine learning? LINK + LINK

No escApp

A prominent yet difficult to broach subject in our hyper-connected society is how to leave a digital group tactically and gracefully. The most immediately recognizable example for many will probably be the WhatsApp groups set up by family members to coordinate gatherings or keep in touch. It’s not as simple as just walking out the digital door because no one wants to be that one asshole punctuating everyone’s timeline with “X has left the chat.” Though it doesn’t always have to lead to drama, this is one of the ways in which our technology names and shames us for disengaging with it. LINK

The Queen’s death, sponsored by…

The death of England’s Queen Elizabeth was a big deal. She was a major historical figure that had a hand in shaping our current world after all. It might not, at first glance, seem like the tone-deaf, phoned in real-time condolences by big companies around the world would relate to the apparent apathy of Instagram’s users towards is reels, but hear me out. Ancient wisdom goes ‘fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, that’s not nice.’ People are growing numb to the carefully curated performative authenticity that used to work so well, and there’s no backup plan yet. LINK + LINK

IPrint Money

“If I Were a Rich Man” was a song from a 1964 musical called “Fiddler on the Roof.” Remade in 1993 into “Rich Girl” by Louchie Lou & Michie One. In 2004, Gwen Steffanie sang another remake of this version, and topped the charts with it. So, who gets to be rich off of Rich Girl in the end? Your guess is as good as mine, because music has long since stopped been about just singing a song people like, its big business, songs are an asset class unto themselves now. That’s partially why music streaming is so lucrative and complicated LINK

On the Verge of something great

There were two redesigns this week that I’d like to touch on, the website of a tech site I quite like, and the further growth of a technological pustule upon the otherwise beautiful face of what used to be THE smartphone. I hate Apple’s notch, I’m not alone in that. What I love is the contrast between the purposeful, if somewhat over-designed reimagining of The Verge, which seems to be going over relatively well, and the decidedly more mixed response to the ‘dynamic island’ that I suspect will have my own company’s iOS devs tearing their hair out soon enough. LINK + LINK + LINK

The Last of Us’ Inspiration LINK
Robot manicures LINK
Where does it hurt? LINK
The sound of silence LINK
Gotta catch em’ IRL LINK
Indonesia’s tech whisperer LINK
True Crime YT LINK
Talk emoji to me LINK
Truffle mafia LINK
Games within games LINK
Nintendo’s Monolith LINK
VT storytelling LINK
Who owns the ocean’s genes? LINK
Fabric computers LINK
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*Imagery, courtesy of Dall-E

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