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17 July Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 76

They are Among Us 

Not mentioning that company today. Even though they are in the news for chair-shuffling instead of bringing in some fresh new minds (worth an eye roll). Or even the news about them suggesting the right “friends” to ISIS recruiters? Nope. Or maybe the employee they fired who abused the work given data to stalk women? Naah.. It is tempting because the list goes on. But life is too short.

Instead, let’s turn to the most bizarre internet drama of all times. A mind-boggling story that does deserve a discussion: Instagram’s biggest mystery. (Oh darn..that company is slithering it’s way in again) A (self-proclaimed) new species of robots has joined the photo platform and is now following the worldwide trend of creating Internet drama and drawing attention to themselves. It is quite a long story, but an interesting one. 

Lil Miquela is an Instagram famous “girl” with 1.1m followers and two singles on Spotify. She deals with brands like Lil MiquelaPrada and is an open supporter of immigrants’ rights and Black Lives Matter. And she was hacked by Bermuda.

Bermuda is quite the opposite, being a hard core Trump supporter, who does not believe in climate change. In her attack on Lil Miquela’s she deleted all her Instagram photos and blackmailed her to "tell the world the truth in a matter of 48 hours" or she would do it for her. In the end she gave the account back, all posts reappeared and Lil Miquela shared the big news with the world. That she is not a real human

The most interesting thing about all of this is the question of who is behind this. Lil Miquela's "creators" are trying to make us believe she was built by Caine Intelligence (self-proclaimed "Leaders in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence" 😒). Caine was accused by Brud, a competitor, of having a stated goal of *ugh* creating the perfect AI sex slave. Brud then took it into their own hands to steal (rescue?) Lil Miquela to give her a kind of freedom, where she could "live up to her full potential". Brud apparently told Lil Miquela that she was based on the life and mind of a human being (Miquela Sousaand) - until the hacking incidence, Lil Miquela had not been aware she wasn't a real human, and she was highly disappointed by her “friends” at Brud. They apologised in a statement, which she refused to accept. You just can't write this stuff.

Brud has now also created their own male AI called Blawko. The drama ensues with Lil Miquela distancing herself from Brud, while Blawko is still an avid supporter of that company. And because obviously we don't have enough human drama to follow today, here's a timeline depicting all of the important events that took place.

Everything about this screams 'ugly PR stunt' - but trapped within it is the nugget of value that showcases the state of our technology dialogue today. There is a little corner in our heads that wants this to be real, which would open up a whole new debate about what it means to be human. Something that the Wolfson-HAT symposium coming up in 3 weeks will also be exploring - see how I slipped in a plug?

One more thing..If there are two companies in the States who actually created a living form of AI, there is a big possibility they are not the only ones…They might be among us already.

Elsewhere in Techland

FitBit has announced it will use Google's new Cloud Healthcare API. Let me just put an official quote from Google here: "Google Cloud’s goal for healthcare is very much a reflection of Google’s overall mission: to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." That sounds like the opposite of giving us power over data - it sounds like giving the health industry power over our data, and waiting for the inevitable disaster of a very ugly data breach. To be fair, it is an amazing opportunity in today's world to use health related data for good, but a centralised model may not be a good one. Really.

Impress your Friends with this Game

While we are on AI, Check out this fun little scavenger hunt game. It’s called "Emoji Hunt" powered by AI operated by Google. You play the game by testing (read: training) the ability this knowledge engine has to recognise objects, bringing it a bit closer to our everyday lives. We all most do our part to hasten the inevitable robot apocalypse (Tabitha would be proud). Play it here

Nice Try, Big Guy

Have you ever heard of the Facebook phone, QWIKSTER by Netflix or Wave by Google? Me neither. Have a look at this entertaining list of product failures. It is incredibly comforting to know that even the big guns shoot fire into the dark sometimes.

 Tweet of the Week


Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

HAT News

Huge thanks to the Ctrl-Shift wunderkinds who hosted a brill collection of the great minds in data portability last week. Here's to changing the world. 

If you aren't coming to the HAT-Wolfson Annual Symposium on the Digital Person, 31 May 2018, what on earth are you doing?

There's a party coming. 5th of July in Cambridge. Request your invite.☀️🥂🍦 

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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