Amazon's stupid robots, London's fake paintings, and it's TNW TIME!!!
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Hello, carbon-based lifeforms!

You can opt out any time you like but you can never leave

Howdy folks!

I recently published an article criticizing big tech. But here I am, using a computer built by Dell running an operating system made by Microsoft to talk trash.

I buy my kid's medicine on Amazon Prime. I watch Netflix. If Google decided to shun me, I'd be out of a job immediately. I rely on Google services for almost everything related to my day-to-day work.

Yet I still have the audacity to badmouth these corporations. What a hypocrite I am, sitting here biting the hands that feed me. Right?

But honestly, what choice do I have?

Business runs on Google. And Microsoft. And Amazon. We can boycott Ring doorbells, choose to use a non-Google search engine, and throw away our computers. But we can't stop using big tech services.

If I buy a hamburger, book a hotel, or wait for a traffic light to signal it's safe for me to cross the street: I'm helping big tech train its AI.

It's not just people who sign up for things or download stuff who need to worry anymore.

I can't choose not to participate in Tesla's beta tests or Ring's neighborhood surveillance. My options are to avoid society altogether or to help train harmful AI. That's it.

I can opt out, but I can never leave.

For most of us, that's fine. We're willing to make the exchange. After all, what's the worst that could happen? An Amazon employee uses our robot's camera to take nudes? A cop accesses our Ring doorbell data without a warrant?

But what happens if the Department of Homeland Security decides that your lifestyle is no longer acceptable? What if the US government decides that all Muslims, trans people, atheists, or Chinese-Americans need to be registered?

We tend to believe that, were a big tech outlet to do something truly evil, the US government could shut them down. But, isn't it the other way around?

The US could exist without the Republicans or the Democrats. But the government would almost certainly shut down if Amazon or Microsoft decided to play hardball and pull the plug.

Who's really in charge?


Tales from the arXiv archives

Call me Mysterio

As any fan of Marvel's Cinematic Universe can tell you, a drone swarm and some decent special effects can take you pretty far in life. 

Take Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal in the above image) for example. He took on the likes of Spiderman with the cutest little baby-Predator drones you've ever seen. 

Here in the real world though, we can't just rely on MacGuffin industries (not a real company) to do all the hard work for us when it comes to rounding out our personal plots.

If you or I want to take over the world and make our marks as a supervillain, we're going to have to learn to control drones the old-fashioned way: on Github.

Luckily for us, there's a team of researchers in Russia who are doing the kind of work that's traditionally been relegated to the Hank Pyms, Tony Starks, and Richard Reeds of the fictional science world.

Check out this pre-print paper to learn how scientists in Moscow are creating novel gesture-based drone swarm control mechanisms.

And read more here on Neural.

The future is now. 



What we’re writing


Amazon tells Tesla to hold its beer in contest for stupidest-robot-ever-built I have nothing but ire and disdain for these foolish products. 


AI study suggests a London gallery’s been exhibiting a fake for years Pfft. Humans have been saying it for years, but suddenly a robot chirps and the museum's all ears.


Scientists want to ‘copy and paste’ the human brain onto a computer chip And I want a flying Lamborghini that runs on optimistic thoughts. Let's all keep wishing.


TikTok’s algorithm is helping ‘psychics’ exploit Gabby Petito’s death These people are disgusting.


How multi-skilled AI could chart a path to human-like intelligence I'm more of a single-skilled kind of human myself. 

What we’re reading


Adobe adds AI-powered masking tools to Lightroom (Engadget)


Eric Schmidt: Misinformation is about to get so much worse. (The Atlantic)


An Inconvenient Truth About AI (IEEE Spectrum)

Something profound from the internet

Lol. The robot can't even grab the drink. A human has to put it in the cup holder. What a joke. 


Our favorite AI video of the week

It's never a bad time to remind yourself how absolutely dreadful robots are at... everything.

The following video runs out of steam pretty quickly, but the first few minutes are HILARIOUS. 

Click the image to watch on YouTube:


Well, bye

P.S. This newsletter was delivered later than usual, because we got quite busy hosting TNW Conference on Thursday and Friday. We had a blast! Missed the event? Tickets for next year's edition are already available 🔥



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