👎 Cash Cow
ION Group perpetuate ransomware attacks by paying ransom | Google’s ChatGPT rival | Apple’s newer, stupider iPhone
Good morning screen addicts. No Preamble! No time! Go!
This week was not good 👎. Uh oh, that’s now a hat-trick of bad weeks. Maybe the world should consider not being so awful.
Google’s response to ChatGPT is pathetic and gruesome
A ransomware attack ‘upended derivatives trading all over the world’ — so guess what? The ransom was paid
New way to measure your dick just dropped: the iPhone Ultra.
🤡 Google are literally being so predictable that it’s painful to watch
So this week, like a sweaty, crowd-pleasing politician, Sundar Pichai announced Google’s ChatGPT rival. It’s called Bard. Terrible name, terrible execution. This smacks of desperation and unpaid overtime. Bard is of course built with LaMDA, the language model that made a name for itself last summer because a Google engineer thought it was sentient, and ‘a sweet kid’. Literally… so embarrassing for everyone involved.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of what Bard can do — I like to think you come here to enjoy yourself. I will say that Google had already been chatting about a conversational AI search system for a while (I wrote about it in 2021), so I imagine this feels like a huge slap in the face for them, having to scramble to release something that’s the same as something else that already exists. But honestly, after reflecting a little bit on all this and having an enlightening conversation with a very smart friend, I’ve come to realise that all of this is extraordinarily loathsome and degrading.
I’ve said this before, but if I HAVE to interact with a machine, I would like it to be obvious — and by that I mean, I do not want some kind of bullshit verification system that tells me X is a human and Y is a machine. I want the machine to sound like a machine. I don’t want to spend my time on the internet being patronised by silly human-like toys. And I absolutely do not need capitalists to ingest our experiences, quantify them, and spit them back out at me. I admit it’s nicer and easier to just ask a question and get a response (like ChatGPT provides), but I also would rather look at a list of websites produced by humans, that contain information that I can trust is correct (mostly).
The same goes for all generative AI. Look at this image of like… I dunno, a character from Batman reimagined with a more steampunk style? I don’t care what the prompt was. I’m not complaining that this exists, because that’s a fine and cool thing to make digital art out of, but literally… five years ago a human could have made this and we would have scrolled straight past it. But now that an AI has done it — and even though it didn’t bother to put legs in or render the hands in a way that makes sense — we marvel at it purely because it is a mark of technological progress.
The people who used the systems to produce this don’t care about art, and they definitely don’t care about their audiences. The fact that they can churn out so much content so quickly means that it doesn’t have to be good. The 24-hour TV show called ‘Nothing, Forever’ which was streaming on Twitch has already been taken down for being accidentally transphobic. The people who created it must have thought this would happen eventually — why would it be any different to other AI projects? It’s all trained on the same society, which contains the same hateful people. We don’t need, and will never need, a ‘TV show’ that content-wise is absolutely awful, but just so happens to run for 24-hours straight; nor do we need an endless stream of forgettable discount fan art. What does all of this prove? Who does it entertain? What’s the GOAL here? Honestly…
💸 A ransom has been paid so that the financial sector continues to thrive — thank god!
Last week, a hacker group called LockBit encrypted and threatened to leak key data from ION Group, a company that makes trading software for the financial sector. This disruption “upended derivatives trading around the world”. Oh no… not derivatives trading! Holy shit I can’t go ONE DAY without trading some derivatives, it’s so funny that my life was completely unchanged by this event.
Now… THIS week, ION Group decided to pay the ransom and get their files back. Or rather, a “very rich unknown philanthropist” provided the money for the ransom — this totally tracks; philanthropists often fund industries they know nothing about.
🔔 DING! That noise means it’s school time:
Paying these ransoms does not guarantee immediate data recovery, or even full data recovery
What it does guarantee is that the hacker group stays funded, and then attacks organisations that are actually useful, like the UK post office (that was their last target)
So, people who pay the ransoms are short-sighted, and not very bright — which I guess perfectly illustrates the state of the financial sector
Also just want to point out that a company which does nothing more than help banks and hedge funds trade in abstractions with greater speed and efficiency is literally not a company worth saving. It could disappear tomorrow and none of us would notice. Actually, we’d all probably be better for it. Paying this ransom is harmful not just because it means ION and ‘derivatives trading’ are both still in tact, but also because they have actively funded a group of people who’s intention is to do harm for money.
So, in this case, not only were they not worth saving, but society is now worse off as a result. This is why having proper security is so important — it’s not about protecting our precious financial institutions (or other cash-cow targets); it’s about ensuring that we don’t continue to fund hacker groups who are motivated only by greed. Unfortunately for everyone else, the financial sector can afford to be short-sighted and ‘fix’ problems like this as they come up — maybe one day the only two industries that still exist will be finance and cybercrime. They’ll just fund each other in a circular economy and finally be content.
📱 Okay but do you have an Ultra?
This week one of my RSS feeds kindly let me know that Tim Cook has decided there needs to be a new, even better class of iPhone: the Ultra. This will be heavier, stupider, and more expensive than even the Pro and Pro Max. I would say that Apple are taking the piss, but are they? Their customers love demonstrating their wealth and striving for immortality via the consumption of expensive products. They just love it.
It must be tough for them though — having iPhone tiers added above the current best iPhone. Like working at a company for years only to have new people recruited above your station — no promotion for you! Actually the way Apple products are made reminds me of that episode of Fraiser where he and Niles get into an expensive exclusive spa, and spend the whole time not enjoying themselves, but rather wondering what was hidden behind the gold door. Could they get even more exclusive, even more expensive treatments?
They’ll never be happy; just like Fraiser and Niles, Apple users are completely insatiable. They would sooner drown landfills with perfectly good, but technically ‘not the best’ iPhones than pass up the opportunity to own an Ultra. Good for them. I respect anyone who has attainable goals even if they’re as stupid and unsustainable as this.
Right anyway, that’s enough… GOODBYE x