#73 — Still written by a human
Hello from Washington, DC!
This week, people all over the internet have been playing with the text-generating AI ChatGPT, giving it more or less ingenious tasks to solve.
You give it a prompt, and it gives you a text. Chat GPTs writing is almost indistinguishable from human writing, creating a few consequences. For example:
Teachers worldwide struggle with how to examine homework when a complex argument in an essay could be written entirely by AI.
Product reviews will increase exponentially and no longer provide customers with any value since they will all be written by AI and posted by bots.
Phishing scam farms will improve exponentially since this new technology will make the interactions much more realistic and don't demand the capacity for the scammer to write good English. They are all set, using deep fakes for profile pictures, and ChatGPT for the conversation.
Cover letters and personal statements will become useless tools for assessing individuals and their writing skills.
The amount of smart-ass content on LinkedIn will increase. You no longer need writing skills, time, or original thought to generate a LinkedIn post.
Dissecting the generated text, one can tell that it is trained on human writing. The text is grammatically correct and informative. But comparing it to a skilled human writer, you realize something is still missing. The magic touch. Because excellent writing is about connecting with the human inside us, and human is one thing AI won't ever be. Unfortunately for all writers, it does look like it will soon be able to fake it.
Apple begins to move production out of China, but it might already be too late
TECHNOLOGY / GEOPOLITICS / CHINA
In recent weeks, Apple has accelerated plans to shift some of its production outside China, long the dominant country in the Apple supply chain. However, research has shown that moving 10% of Apple production out of China would take around eight years. This timeframe could become a huge problem for Apple, for example, if China decides to act on its plans to invade Taiwan and sanctions similar to those against Russia are implemented.
Apple is now facing the consequences of its heavy dependence on China, where roughly 98% of the company's iPhones have been made. In November, turmoil in the Zhengzhou factory - with as many as 300,000 workers making iPhones and other Apple products in a factory run by Foxconn - helped Apple propel the shift. Violent protests from workers upset about wages and Covid-19 restrictions could be seen in videos where they threw items and shouted, "Stand up for your rights!". The Zhengzhou factory is a giant "city within a city", making about 85% of the Pro lineup of iPhones at one point.
Last week, there were new protests in several Chinese cities during which some demonstrators demanded President Xi Jinping step down. China analysts are now worried that criticism over Covid-19 restrictions could build into a movement against the government. This comes from more than five years of heightened US-China geopolitical tensions over China's rapidly expanding military footprint and US tariffs on Chinese goods.
All these events have weakened China's status as a stable manufacturing centre, and Apple no longer feels comfortable having so much of its business tied up in one place.
Better late than never, Apple suppliers are now being told to plan more actively for assembling Apple products elsewhere in Asia, particularly India and Vietnam, and look to reduce dependence on Taiwanese assemblers. The long-term goal is to ship 40% to 45% of iPhones from India, currently standing for a single-digit percentage, according to Ming-chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities who follows Apple's supply chain.
Iranian government-backed hacker group linked to social-engineering campaign targeting activists and journalists
GEOPOLITICS / CYBER SECURITY / IRAN
According to Human Rights Watch, the hacker group APT42, supported by the Iranian government, targeted human rights activists, journalists, diplomats, and politicians working in the Middle East in an ongoing social engineering and credential phishing campaign.
Human Rights Watch first became aware of APT42's latest espionage campaign after one of its employees received suspicious messages on WhatsApp from someone pretending to work for a think tank based in Lebanon. A link included in the message directed the target to a fake login page that captured their email password and multi-factor authentication code.
In an analysis conducted alongside Amnesty International's Security Lab, Human Rights Watch identified 18 additional victims who had been targeted as part of the same campaign, and 15 of these targets confirmed that they had received the same WhatsApp messages between September 15 and November 25. In addition, on November 23, a second Human Rights Watch staff member received the same WhatsApp messages from the same number that contacted other targets.
For the three people whose accounts were known to be compromised – a correspondent for a major US newspaper, a women's rights defender in the Gulf region, and an advocacy consultant for Refugees International – the attackers gained access to emails, cloud storage drives, contacts and calendars. In at least one case, the attackers also performed a Google Takeout, a service that exports all of an account's activity and information, including web searches, payments, travel and locations, ads clicked on, YouTube activity and additional account information.
APT42 — sometimes referred to as TA453, Phosphorus and Charming Kitten — supports Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence collection efforts and has launched more than 30 confirmed operations against various nonprofit, education and government targets globally since 2015.
European Commission spends €387,000 on a Metaverse hosting events no one visits
TECHNOLOGY / METAVERSE / EUROPEAN UNION
Last month, the European Commission hosted a party in the metaverse. However, the initiative – which intends to get young people excited about the EU – has been criticised since initially, there were claims that only a handful of people attended the party on a virtual tropical island.
EU executives now claim 300 visitors attended the party after confirming the numbers with the site's developers. However, the European Commission unveiled its metaverse platform on social media mid-October. But even some of the department's staff have been unimpressed by the project and its 31-second promotional video.
The European Commission's foreign aid department has spent €387,000 to develop a metaverse to spread the word about its notoriously misunderstood "Global Gateway" investment plan. The project is part of plans from the Commission to fork out €300 billion by 2027 to build new infrastructure in developing countries.
The EU's metaverse attempt is a less than stellar overall experience, and many critics find that €387,000 could be spent on better things than a metaverse. But, to be fair: the graphics appear on par with what Meta has going on in Horizon Worlds—and Mark Zuckerberg dumped millions of dollars into that project.
Double-check the headlines
Just making sure you didn't miss any major world events this week.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Katie Sigmond, who has nearly seven million followers on TikTok and posts workout and modeling videos, faced legal trouble after the stunt.
This excellent report from Oxford University's Reuters Institute, How we follow climate change: climate news use and attitudes in eight countries, gives good insight into how people access news and information about climate change.
You should pay for journalism. The International Federation of Journalists says that 67 journalists and media staff have been killed worldwide this year, up from 47 last year. Additionally, 375 journalists are imprisoned for their work, with the highest figures in China, including Hong Kong, Myanmar and Turkey. Last year's report listed 365 journalists behind bars.
This time of year, we sometimes get together with friends or family we have known forever. Often, that means becoming the version of ourselves we were when we first met, even though we have changed. However, I recommend intentionally challenging your role and seeing what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
We usually stick to traditional drinking recipes during the Holidays. But the type of holiday drink that is traditional varies worldwide. So, why not explore someone else's tradition for a change? The Washington Post has gathered an excellent selection for you to try.