🦋 Bluesky spreads its wings
Edition 62 of BWG
👋🏻 Hey, friends! Welcome to edition 62 of Basic Web Guy.
I've been using Proton Mail over the past month and it's a great (and private) alternative to Gmail. If you're looking to change up your email platform, I recommend it!
🦋 Bluesky social is now available to everyone. It's official, Bluesky has dropped its invite-only access and has opened its doors to all. While the platform may look like just another Twitter clone on the surface, if you look deeper, you'll see that the platform is decentralized, which means it will soon be interoperable with Mastodon, and eventually, Threads.
"The idea is that Bluesky users will be able to opt into experiences that aren’t run by the company and bring their profiles with them to rival apps on the network," writes The Verge's Alex Heath.
In addition to developing interoperability, Bluesky CEO Jay Graber recently explained to Business Insider that the company has been working to create a positive experience for users.
"Over the past year, we've been giving ourselves space to make sure that things like the underlying infrastructure and moderation capacities are built up," she said. "Now, we're just about ready."
I never thought I'd say this, but social platforms are moving in the right direction. By decentralizing, they're giving up some control by allowing for interoperability with other platforms. I'm hopeful these changes will usher in a new era for social media, which is much needed.
🧑💻 Earlier this week, I wrote about the risks related to China-backed hacking campaigns intended to disrupt critical U.S. infrastructure. Now, I've learned that Chinese hackers had access to such American infrastructure for a period of at least five years.
A report released on Wednesday by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency shows that a state-sponsored cyber group known as Volt Typhoon compromised critical infrastructure "primarily in Communications, Energy, Transportation Systems, and Water and Wastewater Systems Sectors—in the continental and non-continental United States and its territories, including Guam."
FBI director Christopher Wray recently explained to Congress last week that "[c]yber threats to our critical infrastructure represent real world threats to our physical safety."
Axios details more information on the hack, noting that "Volt Typhoon has been seen controlling some victims' surveillance camera systems, and its access could have allowed the group to disrupt critical energy and water controls."
A more detailed report will be released next week.
☎️ The FCC has banned AI-generated voices in robocalls and texts amid growing concern "the technology can be used to deceive or mislead people," notes The Wall Street Journal.
"Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters," said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. "We're putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice."
This comes after an AI-generated robocall using President Biden's voice was used with the intention to prevent people from voting in the New Hampshire primary.
Moving forward, callers who use AI must receive consent from the people they're calling or robotexting, according to the Journal.
AI has already been a threat to elections around the world as deepfakes emerge. "U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she’s “very worried” about the possibility of AI disrupting the 2024 presidential election," notes Semafor.
The FCC's decision to prevent AI-generated robocalls and texts is a small but notable step to preventing deepfake election misinformation. Let's hope it's not too little too late.
🤖 Google has renamed its AI chatbot. Gemini replaces Bard as the company's generative AI assistant, paving the way for Gemini to be Google's de facto chatbot. Android users can even replace the Google Assistant of "Hey Google" fame with Gemini.
"Our mission with Bard has always been to give you direct access to our AI models, and Gemini represents our most capable family of models," writes Google's Sissie Hsiao. "To reflect this, Bard will now simply be known as Gemini."
The company has a lot riding on Gemini. The Verge notes that "Gemini might matter just as much" as Search. "Now Google needs to prove it can keep up with the industry, as it looks to both build a compelling consumer product and try to convince developers to build on Gemini and not with OpenAI."
It appears Google may be working towards this very mission as it looks to compete with OpenAI's ChatGPT.
Regarding AI chatbots, Hsiao added that "[w]e continue to take a bold and responsible approach to bringing this technology to the world."
1 fun thing
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