Five Minute Blockchain – No. 46
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Reasonable AI Policy:
“I expect you to use AI (ChatGPT and image generation tools, at a minimum) in this class. In fact, some assignments will require it. Learning to use AI is to skill, and I provide think tutorials in Canvas about how to use them. I am happy to meet and help with these tools during office hours or after class.
Be aware of the limits of ChatGPT:
- If you provide minimum effort prompts, you will get low-quality results. You will need to refine your prompts in order to get good outcomes. This needs work.
- Don’t trust anything it says. If it gives a number or fact, assume it is wrong unless you either know the answer or can check in with another source. You will be responsible for any errors or omissions provided by the tool. It works best for topics you understand.
- AI is a tool, but one that you need to acknowledge using. Please include a paragraph at the end of any assignment that uses AI explaining what you used the AI for and what prompts you used to get the results. Failure is a violation of academic honesty policies.
- Be thoughtful about when this tool is useful. Don’t use it if it isn’t appropriate for the case or circumstance.
Credited to: Sarah Dillard, Wharton University
LastPass breach is an ongoing nightmare
If there is one thing which should not happen to a password manager is that it has a breach, and this is what happened at LastPass on November 30, 2022. One thing making the mess even messier is the attackers, step by step, gained even more control, e.g. by stealing the customer back-ups and then getting the encryption keys.
There is a notable difference between physical and biological systems; different rules and effects drive them. In the physical domain, the control over outcomes is high. You can make the production of even very complex products perfect over time.
In the biological domain, you have less control – one effect or input in the system can have none or multiple products. Populations, ecological systems, and human communication have structure but can only partially be controlled.
To demonstrate the difference, look no further than Elon Musk. His actions on Twitter are affecting his reputation. According to Bloomberg, the negative perception of Musk has adverse effects on Tesla, the buyers and the stock.
Phantom climate credits
Finding from an investigation by a German newspaper and a nonprofit:
“The research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2bn (£1.6bn) voluntary offsets market, has found that, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions.”
Note: Several early-stage projects funded by TruBlo are working on data capturing for carbon, agriculture and other data where trust in the entries is a crucial challenge: CERES, Crowd-Field Companion, CO2Path, FarmerConnect, LoRa Trust.
Enforcing GDPR takes too long in Europe.
Europe has established far-reaching privacy laws. But enforcing them is a laborious process, and it might take years until a violation is fined.
“…many of the rights have been nearly impossible to exercise because legal challenges based on the law have often languished at the Irish Data Protection Commission, which handles most GDPR complaints against Big Tech.
According to the agency’s own statistics, the Irish Data Protection Commission had a backlog of more than 300 outstanding GDPR complaints as of the end of 2021, many dating back to 2018.”
China is the Worlds biggest face-recognition dealer
A study by the Brookings Institute says China is now the world’s biggest exporter of face recognition.
“The report finds that Chinese companies lead the world in exporting face recognition, accounting for 201 export deals involving the technology, followed by US firms with 128 deals. China also has a lead in AI generally, with 250 out of a total of 1,636 export deals involving some form of AI to 136 importing countries. The second biggest exporter was the US, with 215 AI deals.”
While the technology has many practical use cases, it can and is used for surveillance. With powerful AI image processing, the technology can be used by repressive, authoritarian states. The study warns that some countries starting to use such technology could shift away from democracy and freedom because the technology allows them to enforce repressive policies.
Brookings: Exporting the surveillance state via trade in AI
Multiple billions, multiple years
Microsoft will invest billions over “multiple years” into Open AI, which makes ChatGPT and DALL-E. Microsoft had already invested one billion earlier.
OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic (Time Magazine)
If you can’t beat them, join them.
Stock photo and visuals platform Shutterstock signed a deal with Open AI.
“Customers of Shutterstock’s Creative Flow online design platform will now be able to create images based on text prompts, powered by OpenAI and Dall-E 2. Key to the feature — which does not appear to have a brand name as such — is that Shutterstock says the images are “ready for licensing” right after they’re made.”
Competitor Getty images are currently in a lawsuit against Open AI competitor Stability AI.
Slay is a new social media app created by a team in Germany. The goal is to be a “positive social media network for teenagers”. Essentially the platform allows making compliments to others. It seems to be a hit. In just four days, it became No. 1 on the iOS App Store in Germany and is now gaining traction in the UK.
Too big, too dominant
Google is in serious legal trouble. In the US, the company is facing an antitrust investigation. The basis is that Google is considered a monopolist in the digital ad business. Platformer has an in-depth look at the case and why it is a treat to Google.
Bank of America has published a report claiming that digital currencies (Central Bank Digital Currencies) are “inevitable” because they could simplify regional or global money flows.
“We view distributed ledgers and digital currencies, such as CBDCs and stablecoins, as a natural evolution of today’s monetary and payment systems.”
In addition, a research report by Blockdata (available for free) lists 15 enterprise use cases for blockchain technology. Expected areas of blockchain use are simplifications for capital markets and digital identity management.
Blockdata: The state of CBDCs in 2022 (published December 7, 2022)
Blockdata: Blockchain’s Evolution and Enterprise Use Cases, and the Hunt for the Killer App (January 11, 2023)
Potential for a common currency in Latin America
Lula da Silva, president of Brazil:
“Why not create a common currency with the Mercosur countries, with the BRICS countries? I think that is what is going to happen. You can establish a currency for trade that the central bank sets.”
Crypto must be covered
European banks might have to cover any crypto holdings with certain capital levels. This is the goal of a draft text, which might become law in the future.
- Prediction: Bitcoin not to pass price of $30K in 2023, 56 experts say (Coinmarketcap)
- Why is crypto bouncing back (January 26 @bitcoin at 23K) (Coindesk)
- Venture Investments into blockchain continue to free-fall (Cointelegraph)
- Coinbase’s Chief Product Engineer will leave with a $105 million paycheck (DL News)
- First nuclear-powered bitcoin mine to open in 2023 (CNET)
- Crypto Regulation Worldwide, comparison (Coinbase)
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five Minute Blockchain – No. 45
Estimated reading time: 4 min 45 seconds
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We know from years of research that people will always use technologies in ways that their creators did not intend. In other sectors and industries, governments and governance bodies create rules, laws, and regulations to constrain and limit malicious or dangerous uses of potentially harmful products. But advances in artificial intelligence and algorithmic, data-centric technologies have slipped the leash and operate largely outside of those kinds of assessments and controls.”
– Janet Haven, Predictions for Journalism 2023 (Nieman Lab)
Predictions for Journalism
The above quote is from a series of articles published by Nieman Lab. Each year Nieman asks journalists about their predictions for the year. Below are links to some additional quotes and predictions relevant to the cross-section of trust/content/blockchain.
“The activist, scholar, and poet Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
AI couldn’t care less. Journalists will care more (Jennifer Brandel, Hearken)
“For a fact-checking effort to gain trust, the arbiters of truth cannot also be its distributors.”
Belling the cat: The rise of independent fact-checking at scale (Kavya Sukumar, Lightrock India)
“This new type of app isn’t a platform itself but instead pulls together various platform and content streams to offer a single, seamless networked experience.”
Journalism realizes the replacement for Twitter is not a new Twitter (Andrew Losowky, Vox Media)
All predictions –> Nieman Lab
Interview: Open AI founder Sam Altman talks about future products, risks for society, possible video platform
Sam Altman, the founder and CEO of Open AI, said that the current license with Microsoft is not exclusive. Last week Microsoft announced the intention to use ChatGPT, a text-generating platform released by Open AI, to create better answers on Bing in the future. Microsoft is a significant shareholder after $1 billion in the AI company last year.
The interview included questions about safety and whether new AI tools will disrupt societies – such as in education or office work. Altman said: “There are societal changes that ChatGPT is going to cause or is causing. A big one going on now is about its impact on education and academic integrity, all of that.”
In addition, Altman said that reactions are negative and positive, sometimes from the same group of people: “We hear from teachers who are understandably very nervous about the impact of this on homework. We also hear a lot from teachers like, ‘Wow, this is an unbelievable personal tutor for each kid'”.
Getty Images announces lawsuit against Stability AI over copyright infringement
Getty Images, a global provider of licensed photos, announced a lawsuit against the company behind the popular generative AI tool Stable Diffusion. The stock image company argues that the AI company processed millions of images without training the AI software without a license. The suit has been filed in London, meaning that the verdict will be made outside of the US, potentially influencing future regulation of visual and text AI tools.
Learn how to use Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
The myriad of published texts, photos and videos available online opens the door for a new form of intelligence: OSINT stands for “Open Source Intelligence”.
It is an umbrella term for various techniques to find evidence on digital platforms. The methods are used by intelligence units as well as investigative journalists.
A typical application is to geo-locate a picture or a video. Or use small segments of such material to collect evidence of what happened in the Ukraine war in a specific town. One well-known group using OSINT is “Bellingcat“, located in the UK. The techniques can be learned. The link below leads to a four-hour, free training for the basics of OSINT.
UNHCR uses a blockchain payment platform to help Ukraine war refugees
What would be a modern way to efficiently and with accountability distribute financial aid to people displaced through war? The UNHCR uses a blockchain payment platform for this. Launched in December 2022, the solution is currently used in Ukraine.
From an article published by UNHCR: “The pilot phase of the project is designed specifically for Ukraine but can be adapted worldwide.”
The current solution uses the Stellar blockchain and distributes funds as a stablecoin equal to one US Dollar. Recipients can receive funds after installing an app on their smartphone. Cash conversion is possible in 4,500 MoneyGram locations in Ukraine or elsewhere in Europe. The statement did not say what commissions would be charged for such transactions.
Non-Crypto Applications of Blockchain discussed in Davos
Experts, politicians and top managers are talking about blockchain as a technology at this year’s gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Despite the crypto crash, there are some positive views where blockchain technology is performing well.
Quote: “Despite the crypto crash, “the underlying tech has performed perfectly,” Schulman said. “The promise of a distributed ledger is that it can be faster and cheaper to settle transactions simultaneously with no middlemen. That’s an important thing.”
Others are far more critical and do not believe in any value from the blockchain for crypto or other use cases. One example is economist Nouriel Roubini, who has voiced his concerns over a blockchain. In Davos 2023, he said blockchain is a “fad” and “no more than a glorified database”. Roubini does not believe that blockchain entries can create trust without an institution verifying that the information is correct – for example, in food logistics.
- Founders Fund sold off most of its crypto venture portfolio in March 2022, well before the crash, generating a $1.8 billion return. Financial Times
- Musk’s Twitter Saw Revenue Drop 35% in Q4, Sharply Below Projections (The Information)
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us via email@example.com.
Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash
Five Minute Blockchain – No. 44
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 33 seconds
Medium starts a dedicated Mastodon instance
“Online publishing platform Medium, originally created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, announcedtoday that it’s embracing the open source Mastodon platform by creating its own instance to support its authors and their publications. The company said it’s launching me.dm, a Mastodon community that will offer reliable infrastructure, moderation and a short domain name to make it easier for authors to share their usernames, among other things.”
Who is speaking?
Microsoft recently announced a new AI service called VALL-E, which is focused on creating synthetic voices. Using the system, even a short recording of an original voice is sufficient to create an artificial voice which sounds almost like the original.
“… it maintains tone, timbre, a semblance of accent and even the ‘acoustic environment’, (for instance, a voice compressed into a cell phone call).”
The human ear is not easy to deceive. But with the newest services, we might see a surge in deceiving phone calls or audio recordings, opening a new field of work for dis- and misinformation investigations.
Don’t ban Chat GPT in schools – teach with it
Chat GPT poses a problem for schools: What if pupils write a prompt, get a decent answer and hand in the result as their work? Would it be cheating? Kevin Roose (@kevinroose), writing for the New York Times, suggest this:
“Instead, I believe schools should thoughtfully embrace ChatGPT as a teaching aid — one that could unlock student creativity, offer personalized tutoring, and better prepare students to work alongside A.I. systems as adults. Here’s why: The first reason not to ban ChatGPT in schools is that to be blunt, it’s not going to work. Sure, a school can block the ChatGPT website on school networks and school-owned devices. But students have phones, laptops and any number of other ways of accessing it outside of class. (Just for kicks, I asked ChatGPT how a student who was intent on using the app might evade a schoolwide ban. It came up with five answers, all totally plausible, including using a VPN to disguise the student’s web traffic.)”
The New York Times ($)
ChatGPT Tutorial and Crash Course
Would you like to learn what ChatGPT is or get some advice on how to use the (currently free) platform? Here is a link to an excellent video to get started.
YouTube Link: ChatGPT Tutorial
How to use AI art and ChatGPT to create an entire website
People are already going further. Here is a quick way to create a complete website using the tool.
YouTube Link: Create a website using ChatGPT
How to use ChatGPT to make YouTube videos
The use cases are almost without limits. This one does not create videos directly but uses ChatGPT to write scripts for videos very quickly, including a demonstration of extending initial answers through additions towards facts, etc. There is some product placement here (for a video maker), but the case is interesting.
YouTube Link: How to make a YouTube video using ChatGPT
Gemini vs Genesis: It’s complicated
One legal fight between crypto companies draws a lot of attention right now, specifically as it became more complicated today.
It is the one between Gemini and Genesis.
Summary: The two companies started a project called “Gemini Earn”. Users of Gemini could hold their crypto assets on Genesis and receive interest. Such lending projects worked as long as crypto was on the way up. But since last year, they have come under pressure when the value of crypto holdings fell. In the case of Genesis, the company started blocking any funds withdrawals in November last year. This resulted in angry demands from Gemini to give back the assets.
This week the case became much more complicated: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged both companies with offering an unregistered financial service. As Genesis is now busing sued along with Gemini, this will block any payback of the crypto assets to the original owners for a long time.
- Gizmodo found that CNET has been quietly publishing articles based on ChatGPT for months, not indicating that a machine wrote the articles. LINK
- CNET explains why it uses AI writing tools like ChatGPT and promises to mark future articles written by such technologies. LINK
Thank you for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash