Patch Notes #4
Deepfakes, AR, China, bugfixes and performance improvements
Happy Super Bowl from Las Vegas to those who celebrate! Friendly reminder that Taylor Swift is not a government psyop. Yes, in case you were blissfully unaware, this is a thing people believe.
A scammer used video AI deepfakes of a company’s CFO and several other employees to populate a Zoom in order to scam an employee into transferring $25 million.
The scam was initially uncovered following a phishing attempt, when an employee in the finance department of the company's Hong Kong branch received what seemed to be a phishing message, purportedly from the company’s UK-based chief financial officer, instructing them to execute a secret transaction. Despite initial doubts, the employee was convinced enough by the presence of the CFO and others in a group video call to make 15 transfers totaling HK$200 million to five different Hong Kong bank accounts.
This probably warrants it’s own separate post, but that is … crazy? Either this is an incredible false flag operation to stall AI progress (doubtful), or a big flashing warning sign about how weird things are going to get from here.1
Sebastian pointed out the Prisoner’s Dilemma card from Patch Notes #2 is not a true prisoner’s dilemma because life in Magic: the Gathering has non-linear utility. If you’re at 12 health, choosing silence and getting snitched on and taking 12 damage will kill you, whereas if you’re at 20, you will survive.
This differs from the classical prisoner’s dilemma where snitching vs remaining silent results in changes in the length of the sentence which has linear utility — getting sentenced for three years is exactly three times as worse as getting one year.
I wasn’t able to find a lot online about non-linear prisoner’s dilemmas, but this one paper suggests that non-linear utility functions in repeated prisoner’s dilemmas increase conditions for cooperation due to risk-aversion, which is exactly what happens with the Magic card! You can’t risk dying, so you (almost always) snitch.
I went in ready to be annoyed at this video of Casey Neistat wearing an Apple Pro Vision around Manhattan, but it was entertaining, and more importantly I think really does portend the future:
The sci-fi vision of seamless AR computing is actually here now, and while this version — with a $3499 price tag and impractical size — won’t be mainstream, I think there’s a good chance we look back fifteen years from now at this device just like we do at the first iPhone that started the mobile computing revolution we now all take for granted.2
The Hero Wars Ad Collector is a YouTube treasure trove of all the fake gameplay ads for Hero Wars (you know, the mobile game ads you’ve probably seen that are nothing like the actual game?).
Here’s one of roughly a thousand videos they’ve collected:
When the U.S. Embassy in China posted a photo of the world’s tallest animals on a Chinese social-media platform last week, it was making a point about animal conservation. But the post quickly became an outlet for the frustration of China’s army of mom-and-pop stock-market investors.
I guess you need a Schelling point for people to congregate at to discuss potentially censorable things, and the US Embassy Weibo account is a natural place for this?
Mr. and Mrs. Psmith’s Bookshelf reviews Fuchsia Dunlop’s Invitation to a Banquet: Fuchsia Dunlop’s other cookbooks are great — we have Every Grain of Rice and The Food of Sichuan on our shelves — but Invitation to a Banquet is not a normal cookbook, and instead is a selective history of Chinese food. Anyway this review is a fun one, and talks about the pork-belly shaped stone displayed at the National Palace Museum in Taipei (which I have seen, right near the jade cabbage!), as well as going to some, um, darker places near the end.
Dan Wang’s annual letter is always a great read on China — I’m late to the party, but in case you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it (sadly he’s said going to stop writing them). I’ll leave the bits on China for you to read directly, but I really liked this bit near the end:
The main tension I see in America is that while the real world is getting better, the Internet is getting much weirder. That is, mainstream activities (like selling goods to people) are improving, but the online fringes are becoming incomprehensible. One of the questions I ask my SF friends is what the entrepreneurial 20-year-olds are doing these days. Are they starting a billion-dollar company, or are they more interested in becoming a memelord who is trying to incite a movement on the Internet? I’m not sure we’re seeing a surge of exciting startup creation, but we sure are seeing a lot more online craziness.
The Internet is a very big place. I suspect we’re still under-rating its importance in society. So I wonder how this tension will resolve… will the mainstream integrate the Internet fringes, or will the fringes engulf the American mainstream? Americans today already are able to be polarized around any issue, no matter how picayune, so I’m nervous about how much more strangeness the online world is able to produce.
The permaweird is here.
Also I propose that this type of attack be henceforth named “astrophishing” as a combination of astroturfing and phishing. “AIstrophishing” if you want to get cheeky.