Tech Beat by Namecheap – 10 February 2023
Get ready for some major tech disruptions as the year continues to unfold. We’re watching the rise of AI and a battle among tech giants. Then there’s Elon Musk’s vision for an American super app, while the pursuit of extending human life spans is also gaining momentum. Scientists are also looking to expand food selections to include products made with bio-based materials like mushrooms and seaweed. Read more about these trends in our article, Disruptive tech trends set to revolutionize 2023.
In other news
- Police bust a group that made a crime app. According to Gizmodo, police in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands arrested the team working on Exclu, an app used for the transfer of illicit goods and cash, as well as some of the users. The raids follow an investigation that goes back to 2020 across Europe which resulted in 42 arrests and the confiscation of millions of dollars in cash, cocaine, luxury goods, and firearms. Dutch police were able to access the Exclu system and messages before the raids, and police agencies from France, Italy, Sweden, and Europol were also involved. The raids also uncovered a cocaine processing facility and two major drug labs.
- ChatGPT breaks records—and OpenAI offers a way to detect AI text. The text-generating platform ChatGPT, run by OpenAI, has become a surprise sensation across the Internet. ZDNet reports the generative AI’s record-breaking growth, being labeled as the fastest-growing “app” in history with an estimated 100 million active users in January, a mere two months after its launch. Meanwhile, to pacify some of its critics, OpenAI released a tool to detect AI-generated text called OpenAI AI Text Classifier. According to TechCrunch, the tool has a success rate of around 26% and is trained on text from 34 text-generating systems. Although it has limitations, such as not detecting plagiarism, OpenAI believes it could be useful in preventing AI text generators from being abused when used in tandem with other methods.
- Google challenges ChatGPT with Bard—with challenging results for the company. OpenAI’s natural language creation software ChatGPT has finally provoked a response from the Internet behemoth. Search Engine Land reports that Google’s conversational AI service named Bard is in testing and will be available within weeks. The main advantage of Bard is that it will work directly in Google Search, which will save time for those of us mainly working with Google products. Bard is powered by LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), which was announced in 2021. Even though Bard is experimental, its launch has not been seamless. As reported by the BBC, in an advertisement showing off Bard, the service answered a query incorrectly, and immediately shares in Google’s parent company Alphabet sank more than 7%, dropping the company’s value by $100bn (£82bn).
- The new Bing—better than the old Bing? In yet more text AI news, Microsoft has integrated OpenAI’s GPT-4 model into Bing and launched a new version of its Edge browser with AI features. As TechCrunch describes, Bing now has a chat feature that provides a conversational experience and improved search with more relevant and up-to-date results. Bing cites its sources and offers feedback for results, but it may show ads for some shopping-related queries.
- Clothes designed to confuse face recognition tech. When it comes to facial recognition technology, it can often feel like Big Brother is watching us. Good news: we may soon have a fashion-forward solution to this problem. Italian designers have recently crafted an article of clothing that is designed to help protect citizens from the unwanted surveillance of facial recognition cameras.
- A new domain registrar and digital product platform has launched in beta. Spaceship.com is a cutting-edge provider in the domain, hosting, and email space that offers a way to improve how you use, configure and manage all the tools you need to have an online presence. To learn more and be part of the conversation, follow Spaceship on Discord or Twitter.
Tip of the week: Keep facial recognition apps in the dark
If you don’t quite have the budget to protect your identity using high-fashion couture accessories from Italy, there are a few easy ways to protect your privacy now.
The best way to protect yourself from facial recognition software is to limit your use of social media and private messaging apps that use facial recognition technology. Disable automatic photo tagging features, and consider using a profile photo that was taken from further back rather than a close-up. Try using avatar artwork in your profile photos, and don’t use the same profile image on more than one site.
In public, you can use colorful sunglasses, hats, facial masks, and scarves with busy prints to try and prevent the camera or software from recognizing you.
Finally (and this trick has been around for a very long time), you can place tape or privacy filters over webcams or other cameras to stop them from capturing your image when not in use. Many webcams now come with a built-in shutter for precisely this reason.