After the Second World War, Britain fought a war in Malaysia (then Malaya) to protect its interests in tin and rubber. CC-licensed photo by The National Archives UK on Flickr.
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There’s another post coming this week at the Social Warming Substack on Friday at about 0845 UK time. Free signup.
A selection of 10 links for you. Feeling tyred? I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. On Mastodon: https://newsie.social/@charlesarthur. Observations and links welcome.
Surgeon General warns that social media may harm children and adolescents • The New York Times
Matt Richtel, Catherine Pearson and Michael Levenson:
The nation’s top health official issued an extraordinary public warning on Tuesday about the risks of social media to young people, urging a push to fully understand the possible “harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”
In a 19-page advisory, the United States surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, noted that the effects of social media on adolescent mental health were not fully understood, and that social media can be beneficial to some users. Nonetheless, he wrote, “There are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”
The report included practical recommendations to help families guide children’s social media use. It recommended that families keep mealtimes and in-person gatherings free of devices to help build social bonds and promote conversation. It suggested creating a “family media plan” to set expectations for social media use, including boundaries around content and keeping personal information private.
Dr. Murthy also called on tech companies to enforce minimum age limits and to create default settings for children with high safety and privacy standards. And he urged the government to create age-appropriate health and safety standards for technology platforms.
…Moreover, social media spaces can be fraught for young people especially, the advisory added: “In early adolescence, when identities and sense of self-worth are forming, brain development is especially susceptible to social pressures, peer opinions and peer comparison.”
The advisory noted that technology companies have a vested interest in keeping users online, and that they use tactics that entice people to engage in addictive-like behaviors.
“Our children have become unknowing participants in a decades-long experiment,” the advisory states.
Hope nobody’s surprised by this.
Facebook parent in talks with Magic Leap over augmented reality deal • Financial Times
Hannah Murphy and Patrick McGee:
Facebook’s parent company is in talks to create a multiyear agreement with augmented reality start-up Magic Leap, as the social media giant continues to pour billions of dollars into its ambition to create an avatar-filled online world called the metaverse.
According to people familiar with early discussions, Meta is exploring ways in which Magic Leap could provide both intellectual property licensing and contract manufacturing in North America to help it build mainstream AR products.
Magic Leap produces custom components, including high-tech lenses and associated software, which are key technologies that may be required to build a metaverse. However, people with knowledge of the talks said the partnership is not expected to yield a specific joint Meta-Magic Leap headset.
Two former employees said Magic Leap’s “biggest asset” is the sophistication of its “waveguides” — technology that allows thin glass in front of the user’s eyes to conjure up realistic images at different depths.
Meta declined to comment. Magic Leap would not confirm the talks, but said that partnerships were becoming a “significant line of business and growing opportunity for Magic Leap”.
As unspoken confirmations go, that’s a pretty clear one. Something of a lifeline for Magic Leap, which burnt through billions in venture capital (remember?). And both, of course, hoping to ride Apple’s coattails. Because…
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UploadVR is attending Apple’s June 5 event • UploadVR
UploadVR will attend the Apple WWDC23 keynote on June 5.
Rumored to have been in development for many years, numerous reports suggest a VR and AR capable Apple headset, believed to be branded Apple Reality Pro, will be publicly announced during WWDC23. Running for five days, Apple’s annual conference starts with a keynote address on June 5 at 10am PT.
UploadVR’s Ian Hamilton has been invited to attend the keynote in person. Draw from that what conclusions you may.
When Apple announced its latest annual conference back in March, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple planned to unveil the headset at WWDC23, and his recent reporting sticks by these claims. This was further reinforced by supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who stated last week it’s “highly likely” the headset will be revealed at WWDC23.
OK, upgrade that to “absolutely certain”. When the Watch was about to be announced, Apple invited fashion writers and (I think) horological journalists (you know, they write about watches). There’s no accident about abruptly inviting someone from a VR site to an event. Apple doesn’t do accidents.
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Farewell message • MacRumors Forums
This is my final message to everyone.
I will no longer be around, but you deserve a proper goodbye. I don’t want to share too many details right now because of the legality of things — but a multi-step sting has gotten my sister fired from Apple, and unfortunately I am afraid next is legal action being taken against both of us, separately.
I can’t believe I did this, I’m so sorry to my sister and Apple as a whole. I don’t know what else to say. I know she is destroyed, she also hates me right now, like I don’t even know that I have a sister anymore.
I don’t know if I even have a life beyond this, I don’t know what can happen at this point.
I enjoyed the ride, to any body out there who gets a source, keep the details at a minimum. It could be costly.
The breaking point was multiple, if not almost all who knew about FCP/Logic iPad development was given a unique combination of release dates — unfortunately the combination I shared on Twitter matched the combination given to my sister as the FCP+Logic timeframe, along with other small factors.
I may have shared too much here regarding this situation already, but goodbye. Thanks for taking the time to meet me. Learn from me and don’t let it happen to you or anyone you love.
I tried to look at this poster’s past, er, postings but they’re locked and the Internet Archive didn’t store them. But apparently they leaked details such as Apple’s Dynamic Island on the iPhone Pro 14, the capacitative buttons that won’t happen for the iPhone 15, and more. Apple has a process for finding leakers, and it’s pretty dedicated to it. Which makes me wonder whether it tolerates Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, or if he is just very clever at disguising sources, or uses much more upstream sources.
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Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown is here — and it costs $7.99 per month • The Verge
On Tuesday, Netflix revealed the details of how its crackdown on password sharing will affect viewers in the US and how much it will cost to keep extra people on your account.
If you have the Netflix Standard plan that costs $15.49 per month, then you have the option of adding one extra member who can use the service outside your household for $7.99 extra each month. Anyone who pays for the Netflix Premium package with 4K streaming has the option of adding up to two extra members, but each one will still cost another $7.99. Netflix subscribers on its two cheapest plans (Basic or Standard with Ads, which cost $9.99 and $6.99 per month, respectively) don’t have the option to add extra members to their account at all.
Netflix subscribers in the US who share the service “outside their household” will get an email about the company’s password-sharing policies beginning on Tuesday, according to the blog post.
…Netflix used to be very pro-password sharing — in March 2017, it famously tweeted, “Love is sharing a password.” (That tweet, as of this writing, is still up.) But in early 2022, it started testing ways to end the practice and get people to pay for accounts using Netflix outside of the account owner’s household.
This will be interesting. People aren’t going to give up their account, so this should add accounts, at the margin. The only question is what proportion, at a time when everyone’s feeling a bit squeezed.
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Instagram’s new app could be here by June • ICYMI
You might have read about a new, decentralized, social network Instagram is building for “creators and public figures.”
Codename: P92, Project 92 or Barcelona, as it’s been alternately called. Tagline: “Instagram for your thoughts.”
All new details have surfaced based on secret calls Meta has been having with select creators, hinting at a potential release in late June. Here’s what I was told by a creator who met with Meta:
1️⃣ The decentralized app is built on the back of Instagram but will be compatible with some other apps like Mastodon:
• There’s a single sign-on with your IG username and password
• You can sync up with your existing followers
• Your handle, bio and even verification will carry over from IG
• Users on other apps will be able search for, follow and interact with your profile and content
2️⃣ The app will have a centralized feed showcasing your followers and recommended content
You can post text updates up to 500 characters (that’s less than an Instagram caption, an extended tweet or a LinkedIn post so be concise!)
• You can attach links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes long
• You can engage with likes, replies and reposts
Rather as Instagram Stories stopped Snapchat’s growth in its tracks, this could block Twitter or even drain users away. Certainly gives no incentive for those who aren’t on Twitter to sign up to Musk’s service.
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Britain’s forgotten war for rubber • Declassified UK
The so-called “emergency” in Malaya – now Malaysia – between 1948 and 1960 was a counter-insurgency campaign waged by Britain against the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA).
The MNLA sought independence from the British empire and to protect the interests of the Chinese community in the territory. Largely the creation of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), the MNLA’s members were mainly Chinese.
But although the war in southeast Asia has long been presented in most British analyses as a struggle against communism during the cold war, the MNLA received very little support from Soviet or Chinese communists. Rather, the major concern for British governments was protecting their commercial interests in the colony, which were mainly rubber and tin.
A Colonial Office report from 1950 noted that Malaya’s rubber and tin mining industries were the biggest earners in the British Commonwealth. Malaya was the world’s top producer of rubber, accounting for 75% of the territory’s income, and its biggest employer.
As a result of colonialism, Malaya was effectively owned by European, primarily British, businesses, with British capital behind most large Malayan enterprises. Some 70% of the acreage of rubber estates was owned by European, primarily British, companies.
Malaya was described by one British Lord in 1952 as the “greatest material prize in South-East Asia”, mainly due to its rubber and tin. These resources were “very fortunate” for Britain, another Lord declared, since “they have very largely supported the standard of living of the people of this country and the sterling area ever since the war ended”. He added: “What we should do without Malaya, and its earnings in tin and rubber, I do not know”.
ChatGPT is taking ghostwriters’ jobs in Kenya • Rest of World
For the past nine years, Collins, a 27-year-old freelance writer, has been making money by writing assignments for students in the U.S. — over 13,500 kilometers away from Nanyuki in central Kenya, where he lives. He is part of the “contract cheating” industry, known locally as simply “academic writing.” Collins writes college essays on topics including psychology, sociology, and economics. Occasionally, he is even granted direct access to college portals, allowing him to submit tests and assignments, participate in group discussions, and talk to professors using students’ identities. In 2022, he made between $900 and $1,200 a month from this work.
Lately, however, his earnings have dropped to $500–$800 a month. Collins links this to the meteoric rise of ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence tools.
“Last year at a time like this, I was getting, on average, 50 to 70 assignments, including discussions which are shorter, around 150 words each, and don’t require much research,” Collins told Rest of World. “Right now, on average, I get around 30 to 40-something assignments.” He requested to be identified only by his first name to avoid jeopardizing his accounts on platforms where he finds clients.
In January 2023, online learning platform Study surveyed more than 1,000 American students and over 100 educators. More than 89% of the students said they had used ChatGPT for help with a homework assignment. Nearly half admitted to using ChatGPT for an at-home test or quiz, 53% had used it to write an essay, and 22% had used it for outlining one.
Collins now fears that the rise of AI could significantly reduce students’ reliance on freelancers like him in the long term, affecting their income.
Seems like a reasonable concern. As with the workers at Wendys, it’s actually the low-paid jobs that this is eating first.
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‘I’m making thousands using AI to write books’ • Newsweek
My journey into a new realm of high-tech creativity and storytelling began in August 2022. Armed only with my imagination and a handful of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, I ventured into the world of AI-assisted publishing without any map or guide.
My goal was straightforward: to craft a series of unique, captivating ebooks merging dystopian pulp sci-fi with compelling AI world-building. Today, I am on the cusp of releasing my 97th book, and was recently featured on CNN—all within nine months.
The “AI Lore books,” as I’ve come to call them, are a testament to the potential of AI in augmenting human creativity. Each book features between 2,000 to 5,000 words and 40 to140 AI-generated images. Generally, each one takes me approximately 6 to 8 hours to create and publish. In some instances, I’ve been able to produce a volume in as little as three hours, everything included.
This unprecedented rate of production is possible due to AI tools like Midjourney (version 5.1) for image generation, and ChatGPT (version 4), and Anthropic’s Claude for brainstorming and text generation. I sold 574 books for a total of nearly $2,000 between August and May. The books all cross-reference each other, creating a web of interconnected narratives that constantly draw readers in and encourage them to explore further.
…Though the stories contained are not sequential narratives, I think the serial fiction market of the late 1800s and early 1900s is probably the best historical analog here. People enjoy coming back to the same story-worlds again and again, and AI lets me produce rapidly at a consistent quality to meet their demand for more.
Let’s have a look..
““The Quatria Conspiracy: The Biggest Coverup In The History of History“ is a ground-breaking book for free-thinkers who are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it leads them. This incredible volume details the history of the biggest coverup of all time: that a forgotten ancient civilization called Ancient Quatria existed millions of years ago in Antarctica, and had a globe-spanning empire.”
Armed, you know, only with his imagination. And ChatGPT. Quite the arm-wrestle.
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Meta’s record €1.2bn fine came over objections of Ireland’s regulator, which didn’t want a fine • Independent.ie
Meta’s huge €1.2bn fine for Facebook data transfers to the US came about over the objections of the Irish data regulator, according to Europe’s data protection oversight authority.
Helen Dixon’s office had not initially included a significant fine, arguing that it would be “disproportionate” and serve little point on top of the main sanction of data suspensions. Her office also argued that it would be out of kilter with other regulatory precedents.
However, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) overruled the Irish data regulator, arguing that Meta’s infringement was of such a “significant nature, gravity and duration” that it deserved a big fine.
It’s not the first time that the Irish regulator has seen its recommendation on a proposed fine revised upwards on foot of objections from other European data protection authorities.
Under European law, the Irish office was obliged to circulate details of its draft decision to other European data protection regulators in advance of a final public verdict.
However, four of the 47 European regulators took issue with the Irish watchdog’s position, appealing it to the EDPB for mediation. The objectors’ main issues were that there was no fine and that Meta did not have to delete any data on US servers.
The EDPB agreed with the objectors, saying that Meta’s transgression deserved a substantial fine in addition to other “corrective” measures. It then ordered the Irish office to amend its decision and include a big fine.
Ben Thompson at Stratechery has argued that this decision is a huge (potential) obstacle to US companies doing business in the EU because moving data about “is the way the internet works”. Which is sort of true, except for the gigantic difference in how the US treats personal data and the EU does. (Especially the way that the US security services are happy to riffle through EU citizen data.) And as I observed, this will just become a negotiating chip in talks with the US about agriculture, food, and so on. The tension over data is nothing new: I was writing about the Safe Harbour negotiations back in 2000.
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|• Why do social networks drive us a little mad?
• Why does angry content seem to dominate what we see?
• How much of a role do algorithms play in affecting what we see and do online?
• What can we do about it?
• Did Facebook have any inkling of what was coming in Myanmar in 2016?
Read Social Warming, my latest book, and find answers – and more.
Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified
Re Netflix; I think your ‘People aren’t going to give up their account…’ comment is oddly timed as more and people do just that. I gave up mine some months back as I already had Amazon Prime and an Apple TV free trial – both include HDR and 4K streaming for no extra cost – unlike Netflix. I also paid for multi-stream for myself and a friend who lives in another house now after previously house-sharing – so would have fallen foul of their new policy.
What is odd is their campaign to get me to resubscribe is so appallingly bad. Their emails are full of things I despise like Rom-Coms, Royal Family dramas and childish crap. Either they know nothing about me after a decade plus of subscribing or their re-subscribe policy is pure scatter-gun randomness. All it has done is confirm for me I made the right choice.
Ah, no disagreement that people are giving up subscriptions because of costs. My point was that if you’re someone who has previously been freeloading on another account, you’ll either stop or you’ll take it up. If you stop, that’s no loss to Netflix compared to previously. (Arguably reduces load on servers fractionally.) If you, the freeloader, take up an account – even the additive one – that’s a win.
Yeah apparently it worked that way in Canada so you may be right.
I think in my case it would have tipped me over the edge as a primary subscriber. As a multi stream subscriber there were still only two streams ever at once unlike in bigger families. I was already paying the multi device premium (yes, true, it also ups the quality to HD) to allow my friend to use my account which wasn’t far short of the extra 7.99 – to have to pay that 7.99 on top of the multi-device premium would have been a straw too far for this camel 🙂
Re: MacRumors poster: Apparently he got every detail about Final Cut Pro/Logic Pro on iPad correct… except the date, which was WILDLY off (he said next year, iirc). When Apple made the announcement he had to know the game was up.