Very Smart Wallets

Dateline: Brussels, 21st May 2024.Jamie Smith, commenting on Vitalik Buterin’s “proof of personhood” discussions (which serve to highlight the central importance of digital identity in the new economy), notes that innovation is “so often about combining two existing ideas together in a new way”. He cites the combination of digital wallets and artificial intelligence as a locus for such innovation and I have to say that I agree with him. And as it happens, I’m in Brussels today talking about this with 400 other smart people at my good friend Rik Coeckelbergs’ excellent The Banking Scene 2024 conference.Share Read moreVery Smart Wallets

What's the Metaverse? Where's the Money?

On Thursday 23rd May at 8.30pm London (3.30pm New York and 5.30am Sydney), my co-author Victoria Richardson and I will be on Zoom discussing our new book “Money in the Metaverse”. All subscribers to this substack will receive a Zoom invite to come and join us! After a few introductory remarks it will be an open discussion and we look forward to your questions, observations, criticism and suggestions. If you are not a subscriber, subscribe today and you can take part in the discussion!Subscribe nowBy way of an introduction to the book and the topics it covers, here is the preface to the book that was written by my good friend and online pioneer Eva Pascoe.“Imagination is the air of mind” – Philip James Bailey. If you, like me, are a frustrated Metaverse explorer, then you will find it hard to put this book down. I read it on a flight from London to San Francisco and I was so engrossed in it that on touchdown I thought that the flight had been unusually short!David and Victoria deliver a dazzling glimpse of what could be possible in the Metaverse. They paint an image of secure digital identities that can not only be attached to individuals like you and me, but also to companies or groups. They explore the feasibility of person-to-person transactions and the swapping of tokens, as well as looking at the role that banks and financial institutions might play in providing customer-centric guardrails for security and trust.Virtual worlds…What's the Metaverse? Where's the Money?

A 'Bluey' kids party in Las Vegas upset a lot of children and parents

If you’re going to take your kid to a party based on a movie or TV show, please make sure it’s an official event. Remember that viral Willy Wonka experience that looked like a scene cut from Breaking Bad? Well, now there has been a very similar incident for the beloved children’s show Bluey. The catastrophe in question took place at a Las Vegas hot dog restaurant, which, first of all, LOL. The restaurant, Dirt Dog, apparently promised games, face-painting, and the chance to meet Bluey, the beloved animated pup. Whoever planned this event, which, thankfully, was free, didn’t quite grasp the immense popularity of Bluey with children and parents alike. Hundreds of people showed up, the Daily Mail reported. The restaurant workers did janky face painting. There weren’t enough treats for the number of folks who showed up. And, importantly, Bluey was just someone dressed in a cheap-looking onesie. SEE ALSO: ‘Bluey’ special episode ‘The Sign’ has viewers in tears The outrage was even picked up by local Las Vegas news. To be fair to Dirt Dog, the restaurant appeared to be trying to do something low-stakes and fun for kids. But it seems like the response and interest far exceeded what they expected. Again, people freaking love Bluey. Tweet may have been deleted Here are some of the posts online reacting to the debacle. Tweet may have been deleted Tweet may have been deleted Tweet may have been deleted This Bluey blunder doesn’t seem entirely on the level…A 'Bluey' kids party in Las Vegas upset a lot of children and parents

What's Duolicious? I tried the 4chan dating app.

Online dating is getting a little too niche. There’s an app for vegans, farmers, rich people, Christians, the musically-inclined, and Christian farmers. So inevitably there’s a dating app for the chronically online, too. Available only on web or Android devices, Duolicious is the dating app for the “Based and true love-pilled,” according to its website.Completely free and open software, the site is marketed towards Reddit and 4chan users and has gotten a rep online as the “femcel dating app.” (“Femcel” refers to a woman who’s an “incel,” involuntarily celibate.) I guess if you’re in the market for a GF who’s willing to put up with “ironic” racism and edgelord humor, then the “4chan dating app” is the best place to be. At least this app doesn’t require you to look like you have your life together. SEE ALSO: Dating culture has become selfish. How do we fix it? The first Duolicious user apparently signed up last August, according to the site’s anonymous creator on X (formerly Twitter). Earlier this month, the site went viral, rocketing its user base from 5,000 users to over 50,000, according to its website. However, like many other dating apps, Duolicious is overwhelmingly male, with 15 men to every one woman — so not much of a “femcel” app at all. This demographic insight comes from user data that was scraped from the website. And while the app is indeed a big, online sausagefest, that shouldn’t stop you from seeking the cringe internet love you so…What's Duolicious? I tried the 4chan dating app.

Threads is testing new multi-column feature that will make it so much better

Threads is nice and all, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could, you know, organize the posts in some meaningful way?Worry not, a better way to tread through Threads (sorry) may be coming. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared an upcoming feature, currently in testing: multi-column view. Those of you who remember TweetDeck, one of the best third-party Twitter (now X) clients that was acquired by Twitter and hidden behind a paywall, know just how powerful a short-form social media site can be when you have an option to view multiple topics/lists as columns, especially on a big display. Post by @zuck View on Threads Now, Threads is doing something similar on the web. Zuckerberg didn’t give a lot of details, but the screenshot he shared shows a TweetDeck-like multi-column view with one column displaying the default, For You posts, and the other three showing posts related to certain topics such as “pickleball,” “workout,” or “surfing.” SEE ALSO: You came back to Threads. Here’s how it can keep you. There’s no word on how widely accessible the test is, or when the feature may launch properly, but it’s nice to see given how empty Threads looks when viewed on a large-resolution display, which is most home monitors these days. Also, given that Threads currently has no paid tier, it’s likely that the multi-column view on Threads will be free. This certainly beats Twitter, which is asking for $8 a month in order to access the multi-column view featureThreads is testing new multi-column feature that will make it so much better

TikTok is testing hour-long video uploads

In a move that may terrify YouTube, TikTok is testing hour-long video uploads. First spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, the app is testing the feature with a limited group of people in select markets. The feature won’t be widely available anytime soon, TikTok told TechCrunch. Post by @mattnavarra View on Threads These 60-minute videos step into YouTube territory, with the expansion of long-form content giving TikTok an even bigger slice of social media users. TikTok told the publisher this option can give creators more scope to delve into content such as longer demos, lifestyle tutorials, and storytelling. SEE ALSO: TikTok might launch ChatGPT-generated search results TikTok has been slowly increasing its video limits, going from an initial 15-second maximum at its launch to 15 minutes back in October 2023. In January of this year, the app was spotted testing 30 minute-long uploads.The platform also revealed a new creator rewards program in March, announcing that high-quality videos over a minute-long will result in cash rewards.TikTok is testing hour-long video uploads

Schumer’s slow-walk on AI ‘regulation’ is a nothing but a boon for Big Tech 

Artificial intelligence poses serious risks to privacy and safety, and we urgently need protective federal regulation in the United States. The European Union and China have already taken steps to protect their citizens. But, yet again, the U.S. efforts have been slow — and, to be frank, embarrassing.  In an unfortunate turn of events, any efforts to move forward with AI legislation in Congress requires the support of one man: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).  Last spring, Schumer made a series of high-profile announcements to show he was serious about tackling AI. Since then, the few concrete actions Schumer has taken have yet to produce results, and have been overly reliant on the very industry insiders who need to be reined in by regulation.   Now, at long last, we have the Schumer AI report, and it is a clown car of the obvious, vague and toothless.  Schumer himself has acknowledged the risks of letting regulation be driven by a “few big powerful companies” — deep-pocketed Big Tech CEOs — and publicly vowed not to let that happen. And yet he appears to value their opinion over anyone else’s.  So what has he done?  Schumer hosted a set of secretive, closed-door insight “forums” — invite-only, featuring tech CEOs and others who are already banking big money off AI in a Wild West environment. These forums were unprecedented in nature: he locked out reporters, the public, and numerous experts who have contributed to the large evidence base about the impacts of AI that need to be…Schumer’s slow-walk on AI ‘regulation’ is a nothing but a boon for Big Tech 

Election-related AI bills test bipartisan support for regulation  

Two bills aimed at regulating how artificial intelligence (AI) is used in elections advanced out of a Senate panel Wednesday along party lines, posing a test for how lawmakers can come together across the aisle to pass regulations on the evolving technology.   Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted to advance two election-related AI bills opposed by most Republicans on the committee just hours after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) bipartisan AI working group released its long-awaited AI roadmap.   Wednesday’s debate around the election bills highlights how a partisan divide could hamper efforts to regulate AI despite bipartisan support for setting rules for the new techology and boosting funding for domestic innovation.   The committee voted on three bipartisan bills led by Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.): the Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act, the AI Transparency in Elections Act, and the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act. Only the first, which would require the Election Assistance Commission to issue guidelines to help election administrators address AI’s impact on elections, advanced with bipartisan support from the committee.   The other two — one that would ban the use of deceptive AI in political ads, and another thatwould require disclaimers on political ads with AI generated content — faced opposition from most Republicans on the committee despite having GOP co-sponsors.   Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), argued they could “tamper” with a “well-developed legal regime” to take down false adds and “create new definitions that could reach well beyond deepfakes.”…Election-related AI bills test bipartisan support for regulation  

Voter ID, Again

Dateline: Woking, 13th May 2024.A Very British Solution to Voter IDIn 2004, the former Prime Minister of our United Kingdom, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson wrote in a newspaper that if he were ever asked to produce an ID card as evidence that “I am who I say I am” in “any other venue, public or private” then he would “take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever emanation of the state has demanded I produce it”. This was before his government introduced (pointless and expensive) mandatory voter ID requirements at polling stations. Which is why I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Mr. Johnson was turned away from his local polling station after forgetting to bring acceptable photo ID. And I would I loved to have been a fly on the wall even more when he turned up with his driving licence to eat in front of the baffled clerk at the polling station.ShareIDentity Britain doesn’t have an actual ID card, or a functioning digital identity infrastructure, but fortunately Britain doesn’t have a problem with voters being impersonated at the polling station in the first place, so it doesn’t matter. Voter ID in the UK is a sort of security theatre designed to keep everyone happy.A rigorous ID requirement would be problematic, because a quarter of the British electorate lack either of the principal photo ID documents, a passport or a driving licence. Hence when you go to…Voter ID, Again

QAnon conspiracy theories are surging on Elon Musk's X. Here's proof.

On Jan. 6, 2021, QAnon conspiracy theorists played a significant role in inciting Donald Trump supporters to storm the Capitol building in D.C., hoping to overturn the 2020 election in favor of Trump.Days later, Twitter suspended tens of thousands of QAnon accounts, effectively banning most users who promote the far-right conspiracy theory. Now, a new study from Newsguard has uncovered that since Elon Musk acquired the company, QAnon has had a resurgence on X, formerly Twitter, over the past year.QAnon grows on XTracking commonly used QAnon phrases like “QSentMe,” “TheGreatAwakening,” and “WWG1WGA” (which stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All”), Newsguard found that these QAnon-related slogans and hashtags have increased a whopping 1,283 percent on X under Musk.From May 1, 2023 to May 1, 2024, there were 1.12 million mentions of these QAnon supporter phrases on X. This was a huge uptick from the 81,100 mentions just one year earlier from May 1, 2022 to May 1, 2023.One of the most viral QAnon-related posts of the year, on the “Frazzledrip” conspiracy, has received more than 21.8 million views, according to the report. Most concerning, however, is that it was posted by a right-wing influencer who has specifically received support from Musk.The Jan. 2024 tweet was posted by @dom_lucre, a user with more than 1.2 million followers who commonly posts far-right conspiracy theories. In July 2023, @dom_lucre was suspended on then-Twitter. Responding to @dom_lucre’s supporters, Musk shared at the time that @dom_lucre was “suspended for posting child exploitation pictures.”Sharing child…QAnon conspiracy theories are surging on Elon Musk's X. Here's proof.