The Download: AI objectification, and SBF charged

The Download: AI objectification, and SBF charged thumbnail

Melissa Heikkila, our senior AI reporter tried Lensa. She was hoping to achieve results similar to colleagues at MIT Technology Review who created realistic avatars. Instead, she got tons and tons of nudes. Out of the generated 100 avatars, 16 were topless, while another 14 depicted her in extremely skimpy clothes and overtly sexualized poses.

Melissa is of Asian heritage. Many avatars featured generic Asian women, clearly based on anime and video-game characters or, most likely, porn. Another Chinese colleague had similar results with reams upon reams upon reams of pornified avatars.

Lensa is not surprising in her hypersexualization Asian women. Stable Diffusion is an AI model that draws on a large open-source data base compiled from scraping images from internet. The problem goes beyond the training data. Read the complete story .

How it feels being sexually objectified in an AI

You can read more about Melissa’s thoughts on Lensa’s avatars that reflect sexist or racist stereotypes in The Algorithm her weekly AI newsletter. She reflects on how it felt to be sexually objectified by an AI. Read full . story

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The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Sam Bankman-Fried has been charged with fraud
US authorities say the FTX founder’s plan was to defraud investors right from the start. (The Verge)
Bankman-Fried’s Stanford Law School professor parents are also under scrutiny. (NYT $)
The US Department of Justice is divided over whether to charge Binance, too. (Reuters)
Effective altruism devotees are furious at the founder. (Vox)

2 Limitless clean energy could be on the horizon
The US Department of Energy is poised to confirm that a fusion reaction has created a net energy gain for the first time today. (WP $)
Scientists have been trying to make the breakthrough happen for almost 100 years. (The Atlantic $)

3 Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council
At a time when it arguably needs it more than ever. (TechCrunch)
Twitter is playing around with blue, gold and gray check marks, for some reason. (Vox)
The company is auctioning off fancy chairs from its gutted HQ. (Motherboard)
Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history. (MIT Technology Review)

4 CRISPR gene editing has slowed Alizheimer’s progression in mice
If applied to humans, the technique may prove even more effective. (New Scientist $)

5 AI is hunting for EV metals
In theory, it could make mining more efficient and less destructive. (Wired $)
Machine learning could vastly speed up the search for new metals. (MIT Technology Review)

6 China is readying a rescue package for its chip sector
To the tune of $143 billion. (Reuters)
Beijing has filed a complaint against US semiconductor restrictions. (WSJ $)
Europe’s chip industry is still playing catch up. (FT $)
Corruption is sending shock waves through China’s chipmaking industry. (MIT Technology Review)

7 India’s gig workers are facing a bleak future
Many people took the jobs as a last resort. They are now stuck with them. (Rest of World)

8 What it’s like to pretend to be an AI chatbot
In other words, a person pretending to be a computer pretending to be a person. (The Guardian)

9 The Pizza Rat video is still making its creator money
Seven years after it originally went viral. (Insider $)

10 The thumb drive has a surprisingly dramatic origin story
Including patent disputes, account falsification, and a jail sentence. (IEEE Spectrum)

Quote of the day

“FTX operated behind a veneer of legitimacy Mr. Bankman-Fried created…that veneer wasn’t just thin, it was fraudulent.”

–Gurbir Grewal, director of the US enforcement division, lays out the charges against Sam Bankman-Fried, reports ABC News.

The big story

Why it’s so hard to make tech more diverse

June 2021

Tracy Chou has a long history of working to expose Silicon Valley’s diversity issues. She was an engineer at Pinterest and published a blog post asking tech companies to share data about how many women were on their engineering teams. This revealed how homogeneous the top tech companies were.

About one year later, she founded Block Party to combat online harassment. Block Party gives users more control over the tweets that appear in their feeds and mentions.

Here, we speak with Chou, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur, to find out more about the challenges facing entrepreneurs like her and what they are up to in order to make a difference in the tech sector. Read the full story.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

This is cool–NASA is working on a robotic arm to withstand temperatures of minus-280 degrees.
Why Welsh language music is having a moment right now–cwl!
How to be a better multitasker? Taking notes.
How three intrepid women set a climbing record scaling the Rayu route in northern Spain.
I need a bread warmer in all of my radiators, stat.

Read More