Talking Microsoft Tay on ABC 702 Sydney

ABC logoJust before before Easter, Microsoft let their youth-targeted chatbot named Tay loose on Twitter and other social networks — and it was a disaster.

Tay was meant to hold conversations with Americans aged 18 to 24, which is why it’s named after Taylor Swift. But the project was terminated after just 16 hours, because the bot started tweeting abuse at people, and even went full neo-Nazi, declaring that “Hitler was right I hate the jews.”

Art Technica reported some analysis of what went wrong. Davi Ottenheimer summarised the problem as “weak intelligence weakened by weakness”, and pointed me to more detailed research by Russell Cameron Thomas.

I spoke about this disaster with Robbie Buck on ABC 702 Sydney, debunking some aspects of the mainstream news stories along the way.

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This audio is ©2016 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking technology on ABC 720 Perth, episode the third

ABC logoThe Christmas Day attacks on Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox and the supposed culprits, Lizard Squad, featured in this week’s “Tech Wreck” segment on ABC 720 Perth. Also, fake fingerprints and Facebook’s end of year review.

Lizard Squad had claimed responsibility for the attacks, and stopped them when Kim Dotcom paid them off. I reckon that was a mistake. Meanwhile, infosec journalist Brian Krebs thinks he’s identified Lizard Squad members, and later reported that at least one has been arrested.

A hacker presenting at the Chaos Computer Club conference in Germany demonstrated how he could recreate a fingerprint just from photographs.

And the Facebook thing? Just read this guy’s story.

The presenter is Jamie Burnett.

I’ve delayed posting this audio because there was a problem. I normally record off the ABC’s internet feed, but the link dropped out part-way. Journalist Will Ockenden was kind enough to pull the audio from the ABC’s archiving system, but that was interrupted by bushfire alerts. What to do?

I decided I’d post it as-is, because this is what Perth listeners would have heard, and it highlights just how serious Australia has to get during our hot, dangerous summers.

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The next “Tech Wreck” segment is on ABC 720 Perth this Tuesday 6 January 2015 at 1430 AWST / 173 AEDT.

The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Weekly Wrap 216: The return, the throat, the stress

The Tower at Dusk: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 21 to Sunday 27 July 2014 is just about to end, after a month of virtual silence on this website. I’ve been active elsewhere, just not here. So what’s the story?

I’ve been exhausted. A few weeks ago I made the mistake of spending a Friday evening in a Sydney mass-market bar with ordinary people, and I seem to have picked up some sort of disease. An infection. A lurgy. Whatever. As far as I can tell, it’s something that’s currently doing the rounds in Sydney. A sore throat with fatigue that’s difficult to shake. So I’m not too worried, just annoyed.

I also went for nearly a week without a computer, when my MacBook Pro had to go in for repairs. That was more disruptive to my work patterns than I’d hoped. Maybe I’ll write about that soon. Maybe not. The short version is that an iPad is just not the same.

And as a third disruption, there was a technical crisis that affected the clients of my other little business, and which took over my attention for two long days. I don’t think I’ll write about that at all, because it’s annoying.

The combined result, however, is that I’ve only had energy to focus on those things, plus the things that I’d committed to do and which generated immediate revenue. Well, some of them anyway. And everything else has been burned.

I plan to back-fill the missing posts of media appearances and the like, but they’ll have to wait for about a week. Meanwhile, this Weekly Wrap contains the links to the stuff that is available now, and a plan for the week ahead. And a photo.

Oh, and I should also mention that on Thursday and Friday I had the distinct pleasure of presenting a two-day “Writing for the Web” course at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). It made a lovely change from my usual solitary work.

Articles

Here’s everything I’ve written since Weekly Wrap 211.

Media Appearances

Quite a few since the last Weekly Wrap, but none this week. Watch out for blog posts as I publish the backlog.

5at5

Is listing them here pointless? Just head over to the 5at5 site, and either subscribe or browse back through the recent editions.

Corporate Largesse

None this week. I’ll report the rest in the next Weekly Wrap.

The Week Ahead

Monday is about finishing a column for ZDNet Australia and producing an episode of The 9pm Edict, as well as wrapping up some geekery for a client.

Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be in Sydney covering the ADMA Global Forum for Crikey and Technology Spectator. I’m particularly looking forward to meeting Bob Garfield, co-presenter of WNYC’s On the Media.

Also on Tuesday evening I’m heading to the OpenAustralia Foundation pub night.

On Thursday there’s a media briefing on various information security matters by Cisco and, in the evening, drinks with executives from Oracle.

Friday will see me wrapping up whatever media objects need completing, and then the weekend is unplanned.

And at various points through the week I’ll be trialling a Microsoft Nokia Lumia 930 smartphone, their latest flagship model, with particular attention being given to the camera.

[Photo: The Tower at Dusk, being a shot of a mobile phone tower at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains earlier this evening.]

Talking Apple vs Android on ABC Download This Show

Marc Fennell, Claire Reilly and Stilgherrian on Download This Show

ABC logoJust like last time, one segment of this week’s Download This Show was also turned into a video segment, the one where Claire Reilly and I were talking about what we’d like to see Apple’s iOS adopt from Google’s Android, and vice versa.

Yes we spoke about Windows Phone too.

In the great battle between Apple and Android phones — what if they stopped making war and started reproducing? We’re asking what iPhone features you would like in an Android, and what Android features you would like in an iPhone.

The video is over the fold, immediately below.

Continue reading “Talking Apple vs Android on ABC Download This Show”

Talking internet security on 2SER’s “The Wire”

The Wire logoLast week I recorded an interview on the state of internet security with The Wire, the current affairs program for Australia’s community radio network produced by 2SER in Sydney. It went to air on Monday night, 5 May.

This year has seen some major internet security breaches — from Heartbleed to iOS. But between these headline grabbing flaws there are numerous smaller bugs that pop up every day. As our devices and services become ever more ubiquitous, and flaws continue to popping to, we take a look at internet security.

I spoke with journalist Josh Nicholas for maybe 15 minutes, so this 4-minute edit is very much a condensed version. However we did manage to cover such subtleties as Apple’s secretive approach to security vulnerabilities, Heartbleed, bug bounties, and calls for better disclosure of vulnerabilities — that last link being to a story I wrote this week.

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The audio is ©2014 2SER-FM 107.3. It’s also available at The Wire program website — that’s exactly the same as what you can hear here, it’s just that the audio file here has my branding — and you can also listen to the entire episode.