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Some Interesting Articles You Might Enjoy


Two articles about AI I found interesting and one about the mysterious Dark Patterns.

From Forbes: Games sites AI tricked into publishing nonsense

There are many websites that just scrape the web then have their AI generate articles essentially repeating what others have said as if it is a new article. They design the AI to write the article so it rings Google's bells and gets high search results.

The members of Reddit's World of Warcraft subreddit figured out some unscrupulous site was scraping their postings and filling a blog. Google was linking to it and they used it to sell whatever their product was. They decided to imagine a ridiculous new feature and talk about how excited they were about it.

Naturally, the blog picked came up with "key takeaways" and regurgitated all the foolish imaginations. Fun article.

Schneier on the Need for Trustworthy AI

He says,

But you don’t know how the AIs are configured: how they’ve been trained, what information they’ve been given, and what instructions they’ve been commanded to follow. For example, researchers uncovered the secret rules that govern the Microsoft Bing chatbot’s behavior. They’re largely benign but can change at any time.

Schneier is a brilliant guy and an expert on security, but, here he's just plain dumb. The same is true for anything you read from anywhere. Even theoretically trustworthy sources like our doctors. What have they read? Are pharmaceutical companies pressuring them? Is the insurance company making demands? We don't know.

Every source of information we have is subject to the exact same problems as AI. And we don't know how these factors affect the reporting they do.
  1. How are they configured? What biases do they have. How were they brought up?
  2. How are they trained? A college graduate from the conservative Hillsdale College will choose and write different political articles than a Berkeley graduate. They were programmed differently.
  3. What information do they have?
  4. What instructions were they commanded to follow from management?

News agencies don't like to jeopardize their sources. Will they honestly report bad things about companies or people who support them with information, news or advertising dollars? The New York Times had a head of their Berlin Bureau during the Second World War who got great information from the Germans. The NY Times won lots of awards for their reporting during the war because of that access. The NY Times bureau chief was a Nazi who denied the concentration camps and the holocaust. Much of their award-winning reporting was simply German lies, but won Pulitzer prizes and gave the NY Times access to stories before their honest competitors.

The full article is here.

FTC Report shows the rise of Sophisticated Dark Patterns

These dark patterns are a hot topic for the last couple of years. They are the new name for the most startling finding from security researchers and the FTC. Unscrupulous companies try and get you to buy their stuff and even try and confuse you so you'll buy more. Who could have imagined they wouldn't all be clear, forthright and honest?

The FTC's news release.

Date: September 2023

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