/ Weekly Takeaways

40% of the Internet is fake, AI can now generate real faces and How Silicon Valley failed us in 2018

Ongoing studies show that the majority of the internet is made up of fake content, people and sites

The headline basically says it all - in a number of recent studies - it's become abundantly clear that the majority of what is online isn't real. This has been most prevalent over the last few years with the issues of bots in advertising - where publishers have been under legal heat for charging for ad clicks that weren't performed by people. This issue has also manifested itself in our elections and with Instagram influencers. Here's a decent write up on it: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/how-much-of-the-internet-is-fake.html

Key Takeaway

Despite attempts to automate the detection of fake people and content, we're still a long ways away from finding silver bullet solutions. This issue is reminiscent of a pre-Google era, in which we had to hunt for useful websites prior to having a proper search engine that would weed out poor quality content. With Google itself falling prey to the new issues of fake content - we'll need to wait until the next Google comes along... Or maybe you'll create it...

AI can now generate realistic faces based on just a handful of photos

Classified under "We're getting close to really creepy here", Nvidia has created AI tech that can create photos of people that don't exist. http://www.openculture.com/2018/12/artificial-intelligence-creates-realistic-photos-of-people-none-of-whom-actually-exist.html

Key Takeaway

It used to be easy to root out a fake social media account by doing a reverse image search on someone. We won't even be able to do that anymore as we now have the means of generating completely unique headshots.

How Silicon Valley failed to stick to its ethical promises in 2018

In a great opinion piece on TechCrunch this week - they run through a number of the areas in which 2018 was a terribly dark year for tech. Here are the main points:

  • Sexual misconduct was far more pronounced amongst tech leaders thanks to the #metoo movement
  • Facial recognition software has lead to assassinations, and massive invasions of privacy (Jamal Khashoggi was identified by his assassins using facial recognition tech developed by SoftBank, and Taylor Swift used similar tech to collect data on concert attendees to alert authorities to potential stalkers)
  • Data leaks and sales were the focus of political discourse this year as Facebook got caught up in congress hearings related to the Cambridge Analytica issues

The rest of the article does a great job of the 2018 roundup - not necessarily all of it bad: https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/24/silicon-valleys-reckoning/

Key Takeaway

2018 was a very dark year, but not necessarily because of things that took place in 2018. This year was our year of exposure to the realities of a data-driven world. We have more public acceptance of both our dependence on and fear of our addiction of our screens. That's not to say that 2019 will be better, but hopefully with acceptance comes action.

Happy new year!

40% of the Internet is fake, AI can now generate real faces and How Silicon Valley failed us in 2018
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