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.

Categories:

Ethics, Technology

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cat·a·lyst – a person or thing that precipitates an event

John J. Mooney, an Inventor of the Catalytic Converter, Dies at 90:

Mr. Mooney was a high school graduate working as a clerk at a gas company when his colleagues encouraged him to pursue a college education. After earning a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, he went on to receive 17 patents during his 43-year career with the Englehard Corporation in Iselin, N.J. (now the Catalyst Division of the German chemical manufacturer BASF).

Among them was the three-way catalytic converter, which has been described by the Society of Automotive Engineers as among the 10 most important innovations in the history of the automobile.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that tailpipe emissions from the newest passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, trucks and buses generate about 99 percent less smog-producing exhaust and soot than those from the 1970 models did.

Sup, Jersey.

Microsoftware, definitely not hardware. LOL. Oops.

Microsoft is permanently closing its retail stores:

Microsoft on Friday announced it will permanently close its 83 Microsoft Store retail locations. It will instead focus on its online store at Microsoft.com, where customers can go for support, sales, training and more.

Microsoft said its retail team members will help on the website instead of in store. A Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC that all Microsoft employees will have the opportunity to stay with Microsoft.

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in a blog post. “We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”

Translation: Hardware is hard. We were a day late and a dollar short.

Also, alcantara was a really bad idea.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Crownless

Tom Maxwell, reporting for Input Magazine, says Apple may lose the digital crown on next year’s Apple Watch:

While most rumors corroborate the idea that Watch Series 6 will be an iterative update, there’s also been talk of Apple making big changes with the next iteration, Series 7. It’s been reported by several outlets that Apple is considering bringing Touch ID to the Apple Watch so that users can unlock their Watch and authenticate purchases without an iPhone nearby. In one mock-up published by EverythingApplePro, the new Series 7 even sees Apple drop the iconic Digital Crown in favor of a touch-sensitive strip that accepts fingerprint scans and can also be swiped for navigation. With the Series 7 likely still a full generation out, though, we’re not going to hold our breath on that one.

Input Editor-in-Chief, Joshua Topolsky, tweeted out on April 13th, “Horrible”, in reference to the above article. Of course disgust, confusion, and anger are common responses to things people don’t (yet) understand.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Topolsky decried the removal of the Home button on the iPhone X. If Twitter had search functionality worth a damn I’d look.

The point is, don’t knock it ’till you try it. Until then, shut the fuck up.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Quibi and mindshare versus marketshare

Quibi, the newest video-streaming kid on the block launched yesterday:

Quibi, the oddly-named mobile streaming service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, was downloaded over 300,000 times on launch day, according to preliminary data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. That’s only 7.5% of the approximately 4 million installs Disney+ saw when it launched in the U.S. and Canada on November 12, 2019. However, it was enough to send Quibi’s app to nearly the top of the charts on the App Store. Today, Quibi is the No. 3 app on the Apple App Store, but only No. 29 on Google Play.

The disparity once again highlights iOS’s mindshare versus Android’s marketshare. Sure, Android’s install base towers over iOS’s but iOS users spend more. How many millions of shitty, budget Android pocket computers are out there, not being used by people because they’re not fun to use?

Related news: This morning, Philip Elmer-DeWitt referenced a Piper Sandler survey revealing (not surprisingly), “A record 85% of U.S. teens own an iPhone, a record 88% want one.”

“we will end up creating a dystopic information environment”

David Kaye, writing for The LA Review of Books on, The Digital Deluge and the Age of AI:

The public’s impression of AI is that it is machines taking over, but — for now, for the foreseeable future, and certainly in content moderation — it is really human programming and the leveraging of that power, which is a massive one for corporations. The machines have a lot of difficulty with text, with all the variations of satire and irony and misdirection and colloquial choppiness that is natural to language. They have difficulty with human difference and have facilitated the upholding of race, gender, and other kinds of biases to negative effect. Even worse, as the scholar Safiya Noble argues in her book Algorithms of Oppression, “racism and sexism are part of the architecture and language of technology.” And all of this is not merely because they are machines and “cannot know” in the sense of human intelligence. It is also because they are human-driven.

We often do not know the answers about meaning, at least not on a first review. The programmers have biases, and those who create rules for the programmers have biases, sometimes baked-in biases having to do with gender, race, politics, and much else of consequence. Exacerbating these substantive problems, AI’s operations are opaque to most users and present serious challenges to the transparency of speech regulation and moderation.

When systems scale, shit gets crazy.

Not the Descendants of Cellular Phones

Geoffrey Fowler, in an article written for the Washington Post, considers the $1,000 to $1,400 price range of Samsung’s new Galaxy phones as, “hard to justify as much more than a luxury.”

John Gruber responds:

This is the same nonsense we hear about Apple’s phones, post-iPhone X. Yes, phones that cost $1,000 or more are expensive. Yes, that’s outside the budget for most people. But why in the world would anyone argue this is ”hard to justify”? Phones are, for most people, the most-used computing device in their lives. They are also their primary — usually only — camera. A good camera alone used to cost $500-600.

Gruber is correct, but there’s another problem I haven’t seen anyone address that’s been bothering me for quite some time, and that is: these are not phones, they’re pocket computers (feel free to come up with a better name).

If you look at a Galaxy S20 or an iPhone 11 Pro as the descendants of cellular phones, then, yes these are very expensive phones.

Now, on the other hand if you look at these as what they are: the evolution of computers, miniaturized, with the ability to shoot video, watch video, shoot photos, edit photos, map your trips via GPS, browse the Internet, send & receive email, send & receive text messages, read books, listen to music & podcasts, and maybe occasionally make & receive phone calls (to name just a few), then their price tags don’t seem that outlandish (whether or not most people take advantage of all these capabilities is another story).

As George Carlin said:

Because we do think in language. And so the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.

They’re pocket computers, not phones.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Essential Shuts Down

From The Verge:

Essential is shutting down less than three years after the startup unveiled its first smartphone. The company’s only complete product, the Essential Phone, sold poorly and received mixed reviews. A follow-up phone was canceled, and a number of other promised devices — like a smart home assistant and operating system — never materialized.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Samsung won’t fold on the Fold.

The Galaxy Fold is still extremely fragile, and Samsung knows it:

The updated Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally making its way into the world after a months-long delay by Samsung to shore up its hardware when it became apparent from review units (including The Verge’s) that the foldable phone was too fragile. Unfortunately, it seems that the “fixed” version of the Fold is still extremely fragile. And based on a new video Samsung released begging owners to treat their new phones with a “special level of care,” Samsung knows it. A new durability test from popular YouTube channel JerryRigEverything proves it.

You just won’t let it go, will you, Samsung?

Admit it, you have derailed.

We’re not and have never been powerless victims to our devices.

Over at The Verge, Michael Zelenko writes about the Light Phone 2 and the high hopes of the low-tech phone:

The survey, sent out to Light backers, was focused on a straightforward question: What features would you like to see on the Light Phone 2? What they were really asking, though, was thornier: How minimalist should a minimalist phone be?

In a 2017 Wired story about the futility of minimalist devices, David Pierce identified it as the “this one thing” problem. Every customer has just “one thing” they absolutely need to have their minimalist phone do in order for it to replace their current device. But everyone’s “one thing” is different. In my 2018 review of the Light Phone 1, my “one thing” was texting. If only it texted, I said, the Light Phone would be an ideal minimalist device for me.

Some Light Phone 2 survey respondents indicated that their “one things” were basic tools like directions, maps, or a notes app. But others had maximalist requests: emojis, podcasts, encrypted messaging, additional micro SD slots, even WhatsApp and a Facebook app. The Light team had to tread a fine line.

The idea of the Light Phone is great. I love ideas, but ideas are the ‘caterpillars’ to the device ‘butterflies’ they can become and how an idea manifests itself in the real world might not work as perfectly as it did inside your brain.

In my own life I’ve tackled pocket computer addictions, distractions, and temptations from the other direction. For at least 5 years I’ve disabled notifications on all but a few of what I consider ‘essential’ apps on my iPhone: Mail and Messages. No other apps on my iPhone require notification badges, pop-ups or lock screen alerts. Not even my most used apps like Overcast, YouTube, Instagram, Slack, Safari, or Spotify. I also mute group text threads with my long-time, ball-busting friends from high school. I deleted the Facebook app years ago, and recently deleted the Twitter app. My iPhone is a fairly quiet device throughout the day.

This erroneous idea that we’re powerless victims to our devices is bullshit.

Pocket computer upgrade cycles

Americans are waiting three years to replace their phones, study finds:

A new study released by Strategy Analytics reflects the current state of the smartphone industry. Apparently, consumers in the US — Baby Boomers, in particular — are increasingly delaying their smartphone purchase for three or more years. In addition, the average iPhone now remains active for 18 months, while the average Samsung phone remains active for 16.5. The era of yearly phone upgrades is over. Smartphone shipments have been dropping around the world over the past year, and some analysts even believe the industry is bound to suffer its worst decline ever in the coming months.

I buy a new pocket computer about every 2 years. I’m currently using an iPhone X I bought in 2017. It still has solid battery life and is snappy as ever. I’m a geek and I like gadgets and I might get a new iPhone this fall, but I could easily wait until next year to upgrade.

LG’s “hybrid” smartwatch

Engadget’s headline: LG’s first hybrid smartwatch is mix of ambition and compromise

Ok, that smartwatch represents neither ambition nor compromise, that’s called shitty design. It looks like something a freshman year product design student would turn in for their first assignment.

You’re not convinced yet? Check out this tweet from Avi Greengart showing the flapping watch hands in action. That’s straight up hilarious.

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