Deepfake Porn

Deepfake porn is now mainstream. And major sites are cashing in:

Deepfake videos hosted on three of the biggest porn websites, XVideos, Xnxx, and xHamster, have been viewed millions of times. The videos are surrounded by adverts, helping to make money for the sites. XVideos and Xnxx, which are both owned by the same Czech holding company, are the number one and three biggest porn websites in world and rank in the top ten biggest sites across the entire web. They each have, or exceed, as many visitors as Wikipedia, Amazon and Reddit.

One 30-second video, which appears on all three of the above sites and uses actress Emma Watson’s face, has been viewed more than 23 million times – being watched 13m times on Xnxx. Other deepfake videos, which have hundreds of thousands or millions of views, include celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Indian actress Anushka Shetty. Many of the celebrities have continuously been the targets of deepfakes since they first emerged in 2018.

Welcome to the future.

Things are going to continue to get a lot more messy thanks to technology.

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Ethics, Technology

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“Because greatness is rare.”

Jerry Seinfeld penned an op-ed in The New York Times today:

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why.

Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.

You found a place in Florida? Fine. We know the sharp focus and restless, resilient creative spirit that Florida is all about. You think Rome is going away too? London? Tokyo? The East Village?

They’re not. They change. They mutate. They re-form. Because greatness is rare. And the true greatness that is New York City is beyond rare.

As a former New Yorker and someone who’s father was born in Brooklyn and raised Queens, I can tell you betting against New York is a bad idea.

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Community

25 hours, 39 minutes

Bob Sorokanich writing for Road & Track:

There’s a new record in Cannonball land: Drivers Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt announced today that they completed the cross-country drive from New York City to Los Angeles in 25 hours, 39 minutes, narrowly beating a claimed “sub-26-hour” record publicized in May and besting their own record of 27 hours, 25 minutes that was announced in November 2019.

That’s fast.

This is my favorite detail:

Vehicle modifications include a 45-gallon trunk-mounted fuel cell and visual changes, like a reshaped front grille with a decoy badge to make the Audi resemble a Ford Taurus-based Police Interceptor when viewed from a distance.

In a VINwiki video on YouTube, one of the drivers admits breaking their previous record felt a little empty, that it was too easy.

Categories:

Vehicle

Don’t mess with Dana’s payday.

This past Monday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi penned an op-ed piece in The New York Times, saying gig workers deserve better in response to California’s new law, Assembly Bill 5, requiring companies like Lyft and Uber to classify their drivers as full-time employees:

Why not just treat drivers as employees? Some of our critics argue that doing so would make drivers’ problems vanish overnight. It may seem like a reasonable assumption, but it’s one that I think ignores a stark reality: Uber would only have full-time jobs for a small fraction of our current drivers and only be able to operate in many fewer cities than today. Rides would be more expensive, which would significantly reduce the number of rides people could take and, in turn, the number of drivers needed to provide those trips. Uber would not be as widely available to riders, and drivers would lose the flexibility they have today if they became employees.

So Uber’s business model can’t support drivers-as-employees. Boohoo.

Let’s be clear though: Uber was not established to provide a flexible lifestyle for drivers.

So what is Khosrowshahi proposing?

I’m proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off. Independent workers in any state that passes this law could take money out for every hour of work they put in. All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps.

Let’s not forget the terms under which Khosrowshahi was hired after Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as Uber’s CEO in 2017:

Dara Khosrowshahi could get a huge payday — totaling more than $100 million according to a source — if Uber’s IPO valuation hits $120 billion and stays at that level for 90 consecutive days.

The Uber CEO will also get the payout for selling the company for $120 billion, according to a disclosure the company’s its S-1 documents.

Having a bunch of fairly paid employee drivers at Uber could take a serious bite out of that $100 million carrot.

Categories:

Business, Career

Galaxy Watch? More like Local Community Ignored. I got nothing.

Last week Samsung announced their new Galaxy Watch 3. I’m looking at these photos over at The Verge and it has to be the most uninspired smartwatch ever made. It looks like a throwback watch from the 90s you’d find in the Macy’s “On Sale” display next to the $5 sunglasses.

Over at Engadget, Cherlynn Low reminds us Samsung is still very much dedicated to copying Apple’s features and slapping a different name on them:

With the Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung is also playing a bit of catch-up. ECG is a feature Apple already unveiled in the Watch Series 4, and it’s not the only existing tool the Galaxy Watch 3 is adding. Samsung is calling one of these “trip detection,” which is basically a different way of saying “fall detection” — something that debuted on the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Samsung says its version will only recognize falls when “engaged in dynamic motion not when still,” though.

Trip detection. Sure.

This all gets back to very plausible theory by John Gruber he posited this past June that Google just doesn’t care about Android anymore:

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

This theory was given further substance when Google announced last week Wear OS would lose access to Google Play Music months before the YouTube Music App would be available:

Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?

I think a lot what’s happening in the tech world today gets back to what I and a lot of other people feel is big tech companies working in areas outside their core competencies.

Remember when Apple made great iPhones that featured great maps, email, and search software built by Google? Remember when Apple didn’t try to make it’s own Maps application (that I still find not as reliable as Google’s)? Remember when Microsoft wasn’t making mobile devices covered in Alcantara? Remember when Amazon wasn’t making smart glasses?

Categories:

Product