DeepFake Clones, Fake NFTs, Databricks Record Funding, And More In This Week’s Top News

Last month, Apple announced that it will be introducing new child safety features in three areas, developed in collaboration with child safety experts. After backlash from various industry experts including whistleblower Edward Snowden, Apple has now decided to back down from this initiative. On Friday, Apple issued a statement saying that they have taken the feedback of customers, researchers and advocacy groups into consideration and have decided to step back for now. “We have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features,” read the statement. According to Snowden, no matter how well-intentioned, Apple is rolling out mass surveillance to the entire world with this. “Make no mistake: if they can scan for kiddie porn today, they can scan for anything tomorrow,” warned Snowden in a tweet.

Banksy Meets Pranksy


According to reports, infamous street artist Banksy’s website was allegedly hacked to host an auction for a work of digital art(NFTs), which was sold for more than $300,000. The listing, as shown above, was titled Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster, posted on the OpenSea marketplace by Pranksy, and was bought in exchange for 100 ethereum tokens. Speaking to CNBC, cybersecurity expert Jake Moore said that NFTs are still in their infancy and will attract cybercriminals and scammers. “The makeup of NFTs lends itself to being abused even more due to the lack of a physical product or service,” said Moore. NFTs, short for non-fungible tokens, have become quite a rage since the $69 million auction of Beeple’s collage by Christie’s. One reason behind NFTs rising popularity is the technology it’s based on—blockchain. NFT is a collectible digital asset that is authenticated via a “blockchain”, a publicly accessible online database, which is not owned by any central authority. The owner of an NFT gets rights to an authentic piece of art at least until now. With news of fake Banksy art auctions doing the rounds, the foundations of NFTs too will come under scrutiny.

Google To Invest $1.2B in Germany

On Tuesday, Google announced that it is investing $1.2 billion by 2030 to expand its cloud computing infrastructure in Germany and to increase the use of renewable energy. Marking the 20th anniversary of Google in Germany, the search giant has decided to inject more money to support the country’s digital initiatives. Starting this year, Google will be investing approximately 1 billion euros in Germany’s digital infrastructure leading up to 2030. Google has also launched a new Cloud region in Berlin-Brandenburg with a broad investment plan in renewable energy.

Hire A Face 

Hour One, an end-to-end video creation platform is banking on deepfake style facial clones which are a synthetic persona of people who give away rights to use their faces for commercial purposes while getting paid for it.  With Hour One, one can select a virtual advertiser and convert static listings to video to improve communication and sell-through or convert text-based learning content to teacher-led video, to deliver more immersive and effective learning experiences. Whenever a client picks a certain synthetic face, the owner who has allowed it to be cloned gets paid. Hour One’s platform will allow people to make money through multiple virtual jobs but it might also open up a whole new can of worms as these synthetic faces, if hacked, will have serious security issues for the owners of these clones such as identity theft. Imagine being locked out of your smartphone or your house which flaunts a smart lock that IDs your face.

Facebook’s AI Botch up

Source: The New York Times

Facebook has apologised for an embarrassing and “unacceptable” error by its algorithm. In a year old video that surfaced recently, users who were watching a video featuring black male were given a prompt to “keep seeing videos about primates”. According to NYT,  Facebook’s Dani Lever released a statement admitting that their AI is still “not perfect” and they have to make more progress. “We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations,” read the statement.

AI Patent Rights Hit A New Roadblock

A US based computer programmer’s filed patent applications in 17 countries claiming his AI project, DABUS (‘Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience’) is the inventor. While countries like Australia have been more receptive to these claims, a US court, however, has decided against. A judge ruled that a computer or an algorithm cannot be granted the patents for its innovations. As per the law, an inventor has to be an individual–a human being–to be awarded a patent. The AI inventor project, which DABUS is part of, argues that their AI should be listed as an inventor and are not pushing for a patent right. This is a landmark judgement considering how the US tops the charts when it comes to AI innovations and patents. 

Databricks Valuation Hits A New High

(Image credits: Crunchbase)

On Tuesday, the data and AI company Databricks announced a $1.6 billion, bringing the total funding to almost $3.6B. The Series H funding, led by Morgan Stanley, puts Databricks at a record $38 billion post-money valuation. Founded by the creators of Apache Spark, Databricks is an enterprise software company known for developing widely used projects such as Delta Lake, MLflow, and Koalas for data engineers and data scientists. Read more here.

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Ram Sagar
I have a master's degree in Robotics and I write about machine learning advancements.

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