Tech News of the Week for 2/27/2024 [MTG029]

Posted on Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024 | Series: Moar Tech Garbage
Google does a good thing, for a change, ChatGPT Gets Weird, Walmart Making Moves to Grow Their Ad Business, and more!


[00:00:01.210] Announcer: Welcome to Tech news of the Week with your host, that one duck that didn’t go south with the other ducks.

[00:00:08.610] Ned: Welcome to tennis halves are walnuts. This is our weekly tech news podcast.

[00:00:14.280] Ned: Where Chris and I take a look at four interesting stories that we found on the Internet, and I’m going to kick it off this week with Google does a nice thing. I know. I’ll give you a moment.

[00:00:28.730] Ned: Do you need five and a juice box? We give the Goog a pretty hard time here on chaos lever, so I thought, hey, it might be nice to acknowledge when they do something swell.

[00:00:41.640] Ned: Not that it makes up for the way they’ve utterly destroyed the search experience. Episode pending on that, or how they continually deprecate things that are legitimately good.

[00:00:51.380] Ned: Google reader never forget. But maybe in some small, very small way, this starts to make amends. And that thing is AI. Because of course, it’s fucking AI.

[00:01:07.360] Ned: Can’t spell 2024 without AI. Oh no, wait, you can narry an A or an I to be seen. So that’s ironic.

[00:01:18.080] Chris: I mean, chat GBT might spell it that way, maybe.

[00:01:22.200] Ned: So it’s AI, but it’s a good AI thing, I swear. Just hear me out.

[00:01:27.790] Ned: A legitimate challenge in computing is identifying the contents of a file and how to properly process it. This can be for legitimate files like source code being rendered properly in an IDE, or for potentially malicious files like a script masquerading as a JPEG.

[00:01:46.860] Ned: The current approach used by most programs is a combination of the lib magic library and a set of handcrafted heuristic rules. Google found this to be insufficient for processing the billions of files they deal with daily in Gmail drive, and other services.

[00:02:06.330] Ned: But you know what’s really good at identifying patterns? AI. I don’t know how to pronounce it, but it’s magika. Magika?

[00:02:16.210] Chris: I think it’s magika.

[00:02:17.700] Ned: Magika. We’ll go with that. Magika is a model developed by Google to identify with a 99% accuracy rate, which is 20% higher than lib magic, the contents of a file.

[00:02:31.190] Ned: The inference model itself is only 1MB size, and it can run on a regular cpu with millisecond response times. And now the code and model are being released as open source by Google under an Apache 2 license.

[00:02:46.970] Ned: The security researchers at Google are rightly concerned about the potential for AI to help malicious attackers, and they’re trying to balance the scales by opening up some of their security tools to the public.

[00:02:59.450] Ned: Good job, Google. Maybe you can open source reader, too.

[00:03:04.490] Chris: Canada attempts to outlaw the flipper zero device to stop car theft.

[00:03:10.650] Chris: So cars get stolen. This has been true since we have had cars. Fun fact, some of the very first cars ever created included everybody’s favorite model T didn’t even have door locks. You wouldn’t download a horse our great grandparents must have been saying to themselves, why would you steal a car?

[00:03:31.890] Chris: They drank a lot. It was pre prohibition. Anyway, the latest cheap gizmo to scare the olds is called the flipper zero. It markets itself as the, quote, multitool device for geeks, which it is. It can basically read, manipulate, and playback a number of wireless signals. Its stated goal is to, quote, “explore,” important word, “any kind of access control system”, rfid, radio protocols, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It’s cheap, it’s handheld, and it’s allegedly a lot of fun.

[00:04:10.870] Chris: Based on the headline I read earlier. However, I bet you’ve done the math on the problems this device is causing.

[00:04:18.450] Chris: Turns out, at least according to the good people up north, intrepid car thieves have found ways to use Flipper Zero to read the wireless signals between the fob and the car.

[00:04:31.190] Chris: And since a lot of modern cars don’t actually use a key to turn the engine anymore, just the fob. Well, tldr hello Flipper, bye bye car. The canadian government thinks this is enough to want to outlaw the device that is the flipper device, not outlaw the car manufacturers who have put no effort whatsoever into securing communications between a $60,000 investment and the only thing that’s supposed to allow access to it.

[00:05:02.040] Chris: It’s won’t someone think of the children levels of legislative idiocy? Except in this case, it’s won’t someone think of the BMW?

[00:05:09.890] Chris: I predict this prohibition will fail because they always do. This is also why I drive a car with no technology in it. Laws like this only encourage manufacturers to continue making insecure things.

[00:05:24.710] Chris: Although, if BMW is listening, I would not stand in the way of prohibiting halogen headlights. Surely that’s a cause we can all get behind.

[00:05:36.090] Ned: Absolutely, yes. Good lord.

[00:05:39.630] Ned: Chat GPT creeps everyone out. Well, I mean, more than usual. Chris, have you ever read naked lunch?

[00:05:47.860] Chris: I don’t want to talk about it.

[00:05:49.790] Ned: Uh, for those unfamiliar, it’s a drug fueled mess of a book with prose that barely coheres a completely disjointed storyline. And lots and lots of sodomy. Like a lot.

[00:06:04.250] Chris: Specifically said, I don’t want to talk about it.

[00:06:06.550] Ned: Well, this Tuesday passed. It seems as though Chat GPT was taking its own naked lunch break, only with less sodomy as far as I know.

[00:06:16.560] Ned: Users started reporting on Reddit that chat GPT was, “going insane”, “having a stroke”, or “finally snapped”

[00:06:25.130] Ned: Chat GPT responding with nonsense or simply incorrect information is nothing new, and I’ve personally seen other LLMs get stuck in a response loop where they repeat the same phrase a hundred or more times. But the shit that Chat GPT was producing was almost poetry.

[00:06:45.130] Ned: Here’s a few choice examples posted in the subreddit.

[00:06:48.750] Ned: Asked to compare two backpacks: The tetrad 60L conceives more of a pathless traveled countenance with gnarls and swaths to the dunes and grains, or the chip kiosk and the long drawn shudder.

[00:07:04.310] Ned: Asked about feeding honey nut Cheerios to a dog: Over a gleam in the twang that says divvy this round of lore or lend a moan to my kind leak, Cosmo cavalcade.

[00:07:17.290] Ned: Asked about the Bill Evans trio on vinyl: Nobody can breath and smell it through the pink convolutions of gristle laced with crystal snot time shit and black blood fillers of flesh.

[00:07:32.030] Ned: Just kidding. That last one was from naked lunch.

[00:07:35.810] Ned: OpenAI has acknowledged the issue and is supposedly working on a fix, but I don’t know, we could all probably use a little more William S. Burrows in our life and a little less overly confident middle aged man, which seems to be Chat GPT’s default tone.

[00:07:51.250] Chris: Also, just a pro tip. If any of this conversation has made you curious about the naked lunch movie.

[00:07:58.410] Ned: Don’T.

[00:08:02.170] Chris: Advertising continues taking over everything, and it’s just the saddest thing.

[00:08:08.830] Chris: Yeah, honestly, that might be all we need to say after hearing that headline. Walmart big box behemoth is buying Vizio. Vizio is a low cost tv maker that has actually been a huge selling brand at Walmart for a long time. But this purchase isn’t about making Vizio into their house brand like the Walmart version of Amazon Essentials or something. No, no, Walmart literally announced that they are buying Vizio to, quote, grow their ad business.

[00:08:47.610] Chris: How is this related, you may ask? Well, Vizio smart tvs are powered by the smartcast OS, which of course allows users to watch free content online, supported, of course, by ads. Also, of course. Of course. Of course.

[00:09:06.190] Chris: Something about a horse? Wait. This means that smartos cast collects that sweet, sweet data, which can then be sold to make more ads.

[00:09:19.250] Chris: Can I not just watch old reruns of Sledgehammer in peace? The money in ads is well known, but the story goes into some frankly shocking numbers. The scale will hurt your feelings. According to reports Amazon made $47 billion in ad revenue last year.

[00:09:46.650] Chris: That sounds like a typo. Was that enough for them, you may ask? Well, of course not. Surely you’ve heard that they’re rolling out ads on Prime Video, mandatory, unskippable, on a program platform that you pay for.

[00:10:05.970] Chris: Similarly, Roku is teaming up with Instacart to try for some advertising synergies. And increasingly, freaking grocery stores are working on advertising platform strategies. Maybe I was wrong and have been wrong this whole time. The future isn’t snow crash. It’s minority report.

[00:10:27.210] Chris: Either way, what are we doing here? Both of those are cautionary tales.

[00:10:32.890] Ned: They’re not meant to be emulated, people. Unlike taking out a sniper with a rocket launcher, which is something I think we can all get behind. All right, that’s it. We’re done. Go away now. Bye.

Show Notes

Moar Tech Garbage

Episode: 029 Published: 2/27/2024

Tech News of the Week for 2/27/2024

Google does a good thing, for a change, ChatGPT Gets Weird, Walmart Making Moves to Grow Their Ad Business, and more!

Intro and outro music by Ned Bellavance copyright 2022


Chris Hayner

Chris Hayner (He/Him)

Our story starts with a young Chris growing up in the agrarian community of Central New Jersey. Son of an eccentric sheep herder, Chris’ early life was that of toil and misery. When he wasn’t pressing cheese for his father’s failing upscale Fromage emporium, he languished on a meager diet of Dinty Moore and boiled socks. His teenage years introduced new wrinkles in an already beleaguered existence with the arrival of an Atari 2600. While at first it seemed a blessed distraction from milking ornery sheep, Chris fell victim to an obsession with achieving the perfect Pitfall game. Hours spent in the grips of Indiana Jones-esque adventure warped poor Chris’ mind and brought him to the maw of madness. It was at that moment he met our hero, Ned Bellavance, who shepherded him along a path of freedom out of his feverish, vine-filled hellscape. To this day Chris is haunted by visions of alligator jaws snapping shut, but with the help of Ned, he freed himself from the confines of Atari obsession to become a somewhat productive member of society. You can find Chris at coin operated laundromats, lecturing ironing boards for being itinerant. And as the cohost on the Chaos Lever podcast.

Ned Bellavance

Ned Bellavance (He/Him)

Ned is an industry veteran with piercing blue eyes, an indomitable spirit, and the thick hair of someone half his age. He is the founder and sole employee of the ludicrously successful Ned in the Cloud LLC, which has rocked the tech world with its meteoric rise in power and prestige. You can find Ned and his company at the most lavish and exclusive tech events, or at least in theory you could, since you wouldn’t actually be allowed into such hallowed circles. When Ned isn’t sailing on his 500 ft. yacht with Sir Richard Branson or volunteering at a local youth steeplechase charity, you can find him doing charity work of another kind, cohosting the Chaos Lever podcast with Chris Hayner. Really, he’s doing Chris a huge favor by even showing up. You should feel grateful Chris. Oaths of fealty, acts of contrition, and tokens of appreciation may be sent via carrier pigeon to his palatial estate on the Isle of Man.