😔 Feeling sentimental
More people would prefer a simpler life without screens. Plus: celebrity deepfakes come to YouTube, one state government to use ChatGPT, and more.
If you’re feeling burned out from all the screen time, you’re not alone. More and more people are feeling overwhelmed by social media, online news, incessant notifications, and even streaming services. This has left many feeling sentimental and longing for the simpler times of the past.
A recent Fast Company article notes findings from a Harris Poll, showing that “most Americans would prefer to live in a simpler era before everyone was obsessed with screens and social media, and this sentiment is especially strong among older millennials and Gen Xers.”
I can relate to this sentiment. Looking back to the early 2000s (pre-iPhone), I recall a time when fewer things were begging for my attention. When I needed directions, I’d print them out from Mapquest. I made more calls and sent fewer texts. When I wanted to get together with friends, we’d all somehow miraculously show up at the same place and time unannounced. Perhaps this is because we all had the same “third place,” a term I don’t feel is used as often today. Technology was still available, it just wasn’t invasive. My Nokia phone did everything I needed it to at that time.
And yet, as technology has advanced, we’re often left with the desire of a slower, more simpler life. An Axios article notes that many are often reminiscing of the past.
There's been a pronounced generational tipping point: Boomers, Gen Xers and elder millennials are now the last people who remember what it was like to use a pay phone, a paper map, a typewriter, etc. — and they're being rapidly outnumbered by younger adults who don't.
Axios also adds that there’s growing curiosity among younger generations of what life was like before today’s immersive tech.
“They're turning to vintage TV shows like "Friends" and "Seinfeld" to catch a glimpse, or asking questions on Quora and Reddit about what life was like,” notes Axios. “Dinner table conversations have Gen Zers asking their elders: How did you meet up with people? How did you find what you wanted to buy?” 🤷♂️
But even with all that reminiscing about a simpler, less tech focused life, our devices are helpful in our daily lives and help us stay connected when needed. “Instant phone access to your children and other family members in case of emergency is just one example,” Axios notes, adding that “[t]he ability to take infinite photographs and store them safely online is a great joy — and sure beats dropping off rolls of film for a week at a photo shop (or drugstore) and hoping the pictures don't come back blurry.”
If we’re ever feeling sentimental, at least we can still hold on to some items from our past. Even Gen Z has been buying CDs, and we can also just turn off our devices.
🤳🎥 Celebrity deepfakes have been appearing on YouTube over the past few months, hocking a fake $6,400 government “holiday package,” which apparently can cover all of your bills. The scam includes deepfakes of Taylor Swift, Joe Rogan, Steve Harvey, Oprah, and more.
I learned of this Youtube deepfake scam through 404 Media, which reported the story on Tuesday, nothing that “YouTube is struggling with AI-generated true crime simulations, while celebrity AI clones are also hawking products on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.” And these videos are getting a lot of views. 👀
“Ads connected to this scam have been viewed more than 195 million times on YouTube according to a playlist of more than 1,600 videos compiled by a tipster who shared them with 404 Media,” writes Jason Koebler.
AI is making it easier to clone the voices of celebrities. We should expect to see more deepfakes like this in the near future.
🏛️ Government employees in Pennsylvania will begin using ChatGPT to help with admin tasks, according to a press release by the state. The pilot program will be limited to certain administrative employees for now, but could expand in the future.
“I believe Pennsylvania can be a national leader in the safe and responsible use of generative AI in our government operations – and this first-in-the-nation pilot with OpenAI will help us safely and securely learn from and use this important technology to serve Pennsylvanians and empower our workforce,” said Governor Josh Shapiro.
State employees will use the enterprise version of ChatGPT, which “has additional security, privacy, and management features not found in the consumer version.”
This comes just two months after Brazilian Councilman Ramiro Rosário used ChatGPT to write a bill, which ended up becoming law.
🍪 Google’s Chrome is eliminating cookies but the company will benefit more than we will. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Google’s removal of cookies from Chrome doesn’t mean we won’t be tracked online. In fact, the company is making way for a new setting that will give Google control over its ad network. The EFF writes:
This year also saw the rollout of Google's planned "Privacy Sandbox" project, which also uses a lot of mealy-mouthed marketing to justify its questionable characteristics. While it will finally get rid of third-party cookies, an honestly good move, it is replacing that form of tracking with another called the "Topics API." At best, this reduces the number of parties that are able to track a user through the Chrome browser (though we aren’t the only privacy experts casting doubt toward its so-called benefits). But it limits tracking so it's only done by a single powerful party, Chrome itself, who then gets to dole out its learnings to advertisers that are willing to pay. This is just another step in transforming the browser from a user agent to an advertising agent.
But really, we should be using Firefox anyway.