Geekly Update - 27 May 2021

Category: Tech-News

Have artificial intelligence and surveillance tech made “1984” a reality today, or do we have three more years to figure out a solution? Will Facebook no longer silence users who post things that the social media giant doesn't like? And are talking parrots now taking over programming tasks at Microsoft? Get answers in today's Geekly Update... it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Speaking about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, Microsoft’s President and chief legal advisor Brad Smith says: “I’m constantly reminded of George Orwell’s lessons in his book 1984. You know the fundamental story…about a government who could see everything that everyone did and hear everything that everyone said all the time. Well, that didn’t come to pass in 1984, but if we’re not careful that could come to pass in 2024.” One word, Brad: “China”.

In a turnabout, Facebook says it will no longer censor and deplatform users who post items discussing the notion that the COVID-19 virus was a man-made concoction originating from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The change was announced “In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of Covid-19.”

And yet, there’s this from Facebook. “Starting today, we will reduce the distribution of all posts in News Feed from an individual’s Facebook account if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners.” Translation: if you post about topics that we decide are verboten, you will be silenced. Would those be the same fact-checking partners that made ideologically motivated judgments about the Covid origin story?

Geekly Update 05-27-2021

If learning a programming language sounds too heady, try just having a conversation with your computer about the software you want to create. Microsoft announced at their Build developer conference that their Open AI with GPT-3 natural language model can translate spoken text into PowerFx code. Be careful if you have a parrot in the room. (See the photo accompanying this article.)

If however, you want a functional software product that’s beyond the capabilities of a talking parrot, you might want to think about learning JavaScript, Python, PHP or another of today’s popular coding languages. This article from ZDNet has handy links to courses offered by Udemy, Coursera and other online learning sites.

Wired Magazine just published an interesting story titled “The Full Story of the Stunning RSA Hack Can Finally Be Told”. This 17-minute read details how the crown jewels of Internet security were stolen from a corporate security giant, back in 2011. Sadly, not much has changed in that area.

Read the sad story of how “Europe’s Last Dictator” and other authoritarian government figures are cracking down on online journalists and activists who use Telegram and YouTube to expose graft and human rights abuses in those countries. If there is a silver lining here, it’s that those same platforms make it harder for autocratic thugs to get away with it in secret.

Researchers at University College London trained people to use a robotic extra thumb and found they could carry out two-handed tasks with one hand. Participants reported that the appendage felt like a part of their body, indicating that the brain adapted to the device.

Amazon spent almost $8.5 billion this week to to buy MGM Studios, one of the world's oldest film studios. Amazon probably took that sum from the petty cash fund, and now controls the rights to the James Bond and Rocky franchises. It’s a coup for Amazon Prime Video and their production arm, Amazon Studios, which now has the option to create reboots, sequels, and spin-offs on these and dozens of other MGM classics.

You know what they say about free lunch? That cliché may be coming to bite users who rely heavily on Google Photos. The service will no longer provide unlimited free storage for photos and videos, starting June 1st. Going forward, you’ll be limited to 15GB of free storage allotted to your Google account. If you need more bits, Google One plans cost $2 a month for 100GB of cloud storage. There’s one caveat: any media you stash in Photos before July 1 won’t count against your 15 GB limit.

I can’t decide if this is cool, or a sad commentary on society. Gran Turismo, a simulated racing video game, will be part of the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Virtual baseball, softball, cycling, rowing and sailing will also be part of the digital Olympic games. The phrase “Olympic champion” will no longer mean what it once did.

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome! Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 27 May 2021"

Posted by:

Dave Baker
27 May 2021

Olympics is going downhill really fast!!

Posted by:

John S
27 May 2021

A friend of mine was put into Facebook jail for talking about the show that her community theatre group was going to put on in the summer. The name of the Broadway musical? American Idiot, based on the Green Day album.

Posted by:

27 May 2021

Re. Amazon's "Petty cash fund"; excellent choice of words.😂🤣

Posted by:

27 May 2021

Face what? Read their "Terms of 'Service'" (it is to laugh, ha, ha) never touched it and I plan to keep it that way.

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
27 May 2021

The CISCO Network Academy offers two (related) free courses to learn Python (I'm learning now). If you are interested in learning the Python programming language, or you simply want to get started learning software development, these two courses take the student from the most basic fundamentals to understanding both software development and the Python programming language. I recommend it without reservation. The only things you have to provide are a computer (desktop or laptop) and the willingness to put in the time and effort to do the learning:

Posted by:

David Mosby
27 May 2021

AI, like gunpowder, and many other "advances" has
the caveat of WHO has control of it, the good guys, or the bad guys.

Posted by:

27 May 2021

Facebook claims not to be a publisher to avoid being sued for the content. Surely censorship of the content makes them a publisher.

Posted by:

06 Sep 2021

The complete course catalog for the CISCO Network Academy can be found here:

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