Tech Beat by Namecheap – 27 January 2023
This week in the news: fake reviews are everywhere. They haunt you as you try to choose products, services, and travel destinations. Most major e-commerce websites are flooded with fraudulent ratings and reviews, making it difficult to know who to trust or which choice is best. This week we examined the issue further in our article, Don’t get fooled: the truth about fake reviews.
In other news
- Leap seconds are to be discontinued by 2035. According to Ars Technica, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures has voted to phase out leap seconds by 2035 for 100 years so that time-focused scientists can work on a better alternative. Leap seconds are currently used to align time measured by humans (Coordinated Universal Time) with the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. When these seconds are not in sync, a one-second adjustment is applied to human time. However, leap seconds have been an issue for tech companies since their introduction in 1972, causing everything from network crashes to lengthy outages.
- Low-paid Kenyan workers helped make ChatGPT less toxic. Open AI has a dirty little secret. As reported in Time, Open AI’s ChatGPT service relies on an AI filter system to avoid generating objectionable content. And to create the filter, the AI needed to be fed examples of violence, hate speech, and sexual abuse so that it would be able to detect and filter out such content before it reached users. Time’s investigation revealed that OpenAI outsourced the work to Kenyans earning a wage of between $1.32 and $2 per hour. These workers had to sift through thousands of graphic content, and four who spoke to Time said they were mentally scarred as a result.
- Tech engineers use Wi-Fi routers to see people through walls. Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a revolutionary technique of sensing humans through walls by using two Wi-Fi routers to image a human’s 3D shape and pose. ZDNet reports the technology tracks key points on the body, allowing users to effectively see through solid walls and other barriers. When used for good, this tech could be scaled to monitor the well-being of elderly people or just identify suspicious behaviors inside your home.
- U.S. has had an influx of government-reported UFO sightings. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the US has recently released a report revealing about 510 sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) over the past 17 years. Most of these accounts were made by members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, who pass on the details of their observations through official government sources, and more than 350 of these reports came in during the month of March 2021. As mentioned in the official statement published by Gizmodo, the agency stated that this surge in reports is partially due to reduced stigma surrounding reporting.
- SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket causes unusual image over Hawaii. Speaking of odd aerial phenomena, scientists recently linked an unusual spiral structure in the atmosphere above Maunakea to the Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral on January 18. According to Gizmodo, in June last year, following the launch of another Falcon 9 and the delivery of the Globalstar FM15 satellite, a similar structure was noticed over Illinois. At the time, experts suggested this was caused by the venting of leftover fuel before deorbiting into the Pacific Ocean. It seems these unusual atmospheric effects are particularly linked to Falcon 9 launches, of which there are more than 100 planned in the next year.
- US lawsuit aims to break up Google. The US Department of Justice, along with eight states, has sued Google in a Virginia federal court over the company’s monopolizing of the digital advertising market. The Register reports that the according to the antitrust lawsuit, Google has used “anti-competitive, exclusionary and unlawful conduct to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies.” The lawsuit focuses on the buying and selling of online ads and the anti-competitive activity of the Alphabet-owned tech giant, including acquiring competitors, forcing advertisers and publishers to use its tools, and manipulating auction outcomes. A similar lawsuit was filed against Google by the DOJ and 11 states in 2020, which is scheduled for trial this September.
- Software engineer inspired by cult movie accused of stealing $300k. Inspired by the cult movie Office Space, a software engineer has been accused of stealing $300k from his employer Zulily through a series of fraudulent transactions, The Register details. This is the same amount stolen from the fictional software company featured in the movie. (If you haven’t seen the film, the characters plant a virus in the company’s accounting system that secretly deposits small amounts of money into their own accounts.) In this real-life version of events, the employee claimed he was just testing the company’s software and forgot to cancel the items he had ordered within the system.
Tip of the week: Fight fakes with a truly helpful negative review
Writing an honest negative review can be difficult, but it’s important for online shoppers to be aware of the real-life experiences of other humans. Here are some tips for writing an accurate, fair, and honest negative review:
- Be specific – don’t simply mention that you had a bad experience, but include details of what happened and why you were dissatisfied.
- Avoid personal attacks – stay focused on the product or service and avoid making comments about the employees or owners.
- Stick to the facts – don’t include any information that is not based in fact or exaggeration.
- Balance your review – if there were any positive aspects of the experience, make sure to include them as well.
Giving helpful and constructive feedback on a product or service will help other customers know which things to purchase or avoid. But it can also help responsible retailers and providers know what they need to work on or fix.