Tech Digest daily round up: Tom Cruise deep fake goes viral on TikTok


Tom Cruise
No, that isn’t Tom Cruise you’re watching on TikTok – it’s just a scarily good deepfake, writes The Metro. In three videos uploaded to @deeptomcruise, the 58-year-old can be seen practising his golf swing, falling over in a store, telling an anecdote about Mikhail Gorbachev and performing a magic trick with a coin. Only… it isn’t Tom Cruise. These are highly slick deepfakes, which are either fascinating or terrifying, wherever you stand on the technology. The channel @deeptomcruise has notched up 1.1 million likes and 380,000 followers, as well as nearly 12 million views on its three videos, as people freaked out over the uncanny replica of Tom.

Almost four in 10 university students are addicted to their smartphones, and their habit is playing havoc with their sleep, research has found. A study of 1,043 students aged 18-30 at King’s College London found that 406 (38.9%) displayed symptoms of smartphone addiction, as defined by a clinical tool devised to diagnose the problem. More than two-thirds (68.7%) of the addicts had trouble sleeping, compared with 57.1% of those who were not addicted to their device. See The Guardian. 

Volocopter, a Germany flying taxi company, has raised €200m (£172m) ahead of its first commercial flights in 2023, reports The Telegraph. The start-up builds electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles – or EVTOLs – that are designed to taxi customers around cities. Volocopter is among a handful of firms racing to get their flying taxis into operation. Atlantia, a toll-road and airport operator, Continental, a tyre-maker, as well as funds managed by BlackRock, have all poured money into the company’s Series D funding round. The company plans to start launching commercial flights in Singapore by 2023 with tickets already on sale for 15-minute tourist flights for €300. 

A China-linked cyber-espionage group has been remotely plundering email inboxes using freshly discovered flaws in Microsoft mail server software, the company and outside researchers said on Tuesday – an example of how commonly used programs can be exploited to cast a wide net online. In a blog post, Microsoft said the hacking campaign made use of four previously undetected vulnerabilities in different versions of the software and was the work of a group it dubs HAFNIUM, which it described as a state-sponsored entity operating out of China. See Reuters for full story. 

Image: Jordan Uhl.

The BBC has an interesting article today on NFT (non-fungible token) technology and how it is being used to sell art. Canadian Musician Grimes (pictured above) has sold several pieces of digital artwork at auction, raising a total of $6m – and their new “owners” do not own the work itself, meaning it can still be seen and shared online. While the art in question does not have a physical presence the same way a painting or sculpture does, the token represents ownership – but not the work itself. Instead, the token is recorded on a digital ledger and can be re-sold. The artwork can go up or down in value, but the owner of the token never possesses the original digital file. See story here:

The owner of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday has bought New Scientist magazine in a £70 million deal. Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) said its consumer media business snapped up the weekly science and technology title from a group of investors led by former Ministry of Defence special adviser Sir Bernard Gray. Founded in 1956, New Scientist has a weekly circulation of around 120,000, of which just over half are based in the UK. Lord Rothermere, chairman of DMGT, said: “New Scientist is a world-renowned publication loved by its readers, and we are both thrilled and proud to welcome it to the DMGT family.” See story here:

Chris Price
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