Tech Digest daily roundup: AI argues for and against itself at Oxford Union


The Oxford Union has heard from many great debaters over the years, but this week added an artificial intelligence engine to its distinguished speakers. The AI argued that the only way to stop such tech becoming too powerful is to have “no AI at all”. But it also argued the best option could be to embed it “into our brains as a conscious AI”. The experiment was designed to ignite conversation on the ethics of the technology. The Megatron LLB Transformer, used for the debate, was developed by the Applied Deep Research team at computer chip firm Nvidia and based on earlier work by Google. It was given access to a huge range of data – including the whole of Wikipedia, 63 million English news articles from 2016 to 2019, and 38 gigabytes worth of Reddit chat. BBC 

Duran Duran star Nick Rhodes has said artificial intelligence is the “new frontier”. The renowned British new wave group have launched a non-fungible tokens (NFTs) collection in a world-first collaboration with an artificial intelligence (AI) artist named Huxley. The band had previously partnered with the team behind Huxley, using AI to create a music video for their single, Invisible, in a technological first. Rhodes, who is part of the chart-topping group alongside Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor and John Taylor, said: “This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s great to be first when you can, but honestly if we were 10th I would have still dived in just as quickly, because this is a new frontier.” Yahoo!


Facebook has alerted around 50,000 people who the company believes were targeted by “cyber mercenaries” – private companies often hired by authoritarian states to spy on individuals. The victims included “journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes, [and] families of opposition and human rights activists” the company warned in a threat report published on Thursday. The mercenaries targeting these individuals were similar to NSO Group, the Israeli spyware firm recently sanctioned by the US government, but Meta said: “NSO is only one piece of a much broader global cyber mercenary industry.” Alongside the alerts sent to victims, Meta said it had disabled seven entities that had been targeted people in over 100 countries as well as issued cease and desist letters. Sky News 

An auction house in France is selling the rights to the world’s first SMS. The text will be sold as an NFT. And as for the message itself? Well, it simply reads ‘Merry Christmas’. While you’d be forgiven for assuming the first SMS ever sent read “Hello World”, the first text was in fact “Merry Christmas”. The 15-letter message was transmitted through the Vodafone network on December 3, 1992 and received by a Vodafone employee at a Christmas party. Neil Papworth, the (at the time) 22-year-old software programmer from the UK who created the SMS for his client Vodafone, previously said he had no idea just how popular texting would become. Crazy, hey? Well, the Merry Christmas text will be sold out of Aguttes Auction House as an NFT. Gizmodo

UK mobile phone operators like Vodafone (VOD.L) and Tesco Mobile (TSCO.L), can no longer sell customers devices that are locked to their network as of 17 December. Ofcom, which had first announced the ban in October, said this should make it easier for consumers to move to a different network with their existing handset. All phone companies will have to adhere to the new rule, including O2, Three and Sky Mobile. Some companies have still been selling mobile phones that can’t be used on other networks, unless they are unlocked. But this can be complicated for customers and cost around £10 ($13) too,” Ofcom said. Half of customers who try to unlock their phone have difficulties doing so, including long delays or loss of service, the regulator found. Yahoo!

Chris Price
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