This is today’s edition of Download, Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.
The viral AI avatar app Lensa took my clothes off—without my consent
When Melissa Heikkilä, our senior AI reporter, tried out the new viral AI avatar app Lensa, she was hoping to get the same results as other colleagues at MIT Technology Review, who had similar results. realistic yet beautiful avatars—think astronauts and mighty warriors. Instead, she has a lot of nude photos. Of the 100 avatars created, 16 are topless, while another 14 depict her in extremely skimpy clothes and openly suggestive poses.
Melissa has Asian heritage. Many of the avatars are of Asian women in general explicitly modeled after cartoon or video game characters, or most likely pornography. Another coworker with Chinese heritage got the same result: a bunch of erotic avatars.
It’s not surprising that Lensa exaggerates Asian women. Its results were generated using Stable Diffusion, an AI model pulled from a huge open source dataset synthesized by collecting images from the internet. But the problem runs deeper than the training data. Read full story.
How does it feel to be sexually objectified by AI?
You can read more of Melissa’s thoughts on Lensa’s avatar reflecting sexist and racist stereotypes in Algorithm, her weekly AI newsletter. In it, she reflects how she feels when the model returns more realistic portraits of herself as she tells them she’s male and the problems with Lensa tell us about AI more widely. Read full story.
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I’ve scoured the Internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Sam Bankman-Fried Has Been Accused Of Fraud
US authorities say the FTX founder’s plan was to defraud investors in the first place. (precipice)
+ Bankman-Fried’s Stanford Law School professor’s parents are also under surveillance. (NYT $)
+ The US Department of Justice is divided over whether to charge Binance. (Reuters)
Effective altruistic devotees are furious with the founder. (Vox)
2 Infinite clean energy can appear
The US Department of Energy is ready to confirm that a fusion reaction has produced a net energy gain for the first time today. (WP $)
+ Scientists have been trying to make a breakthrough for nearly 100 years. (Atlantic $)
3 Twitter has disbanded the Safety and Trust Council
At a time when it is said to need it more than ever. (TechCrunch)
+ For some reason, Twitter is playing around with blue, yellow, and gray checkmarks. (Vox)
+ The company is auctioning off fancy chairs from its gutted headquarters. (motherboard)
+ The potential demise of Twitter could wipe out major records in recent human history. (Technology Review MIT)
4 CRISPR gene editing slowed Alizheimer’s progress in mice
If applied to humans, the technique could be even more effective. (new scientist $)
6 China is ready for a rescue package for its chip sector
To the tune of $143 billion. (Reuters)
+ Beijing has filed a complaint against the US semiconductor restrictions. (WSJ $)
+ Europe’s chip industry is still catching up. (FT $)
+ Corruption is rocking China’s chip industry. (Technology Review MIT)
7 Indian gig workers are facing a bleak future
Many have taken the job as a last resort. Now they are stuck with them. (The rest of the world)
8 What it’s like to pretend to be an AI chatbot
In other words, a person pretending to be a computer pretends to be a human. (Guard)
9 Pizza Rat Videos Still Monetizing Creators
Seven years after it first went viral. (Insiders $)
10 USB Drives Have a Surprisingly Dramatic Origin Story
Includes patent disputes, account tampering, and prison sentences. (IEEE Phổ Spectrum)
Quote of the day
“FTX operates behind the legitimacy shell that Mr. Bankman-Fried has created… that cover is not only thin, but fraudulent.”
—Gurbir Grewal, director of US law enforcement, brings charges against Sam Bankman-Fried, reports ABC news.
Why is it so hard to make technology more diverse?
Tracy Chou has a long history of working to expose Silicon Valley’s diverse issues. As an engineer at Pinterest, she published a widely circulated blog post calling on tech companies to share data on the number of women working on their engineering teams and gather feedback. Their feedback in public databases shows that there are still many homogeneous engineering teams at leading companies. .
About a year later, she founded a company called Block Party that targets online harassment by giving Twitter users more control over which tweets appear in their feeds and mentions. .
Here, we check in with Chou, who is based in San Francisco, to learn more about what it takes to make a change in tech and what entrepreneurs like her are doing. face to face. Read full story.
We can still have good things
+ This is great—NASA is working on a Robot arm to withstand a temperature of minus 280 degrees.
+ Why? Welsh music having a moment right now—cwl!
+ The secret to being a better multitasker? Note.
+ How three brave women make merit climbing record extension of the Rayu route in northern Spain.
+ I need a Warm up the bread in all my radiators, stat.