For our readers and listeners, it is with great sorrow that we announce the death of our CEO Fawn Annan. Fawn has been the driving force behind our publications for more than 25 years. Without her leadership, this podcast and so much more would not exist. We dedicate today’s podcast to her memory. There is a tribute to her at itworldcanada.com
Open AI becomes the fastest growing website on the planet. The European Commission calls for a voluntary code of responsible and ethical AI development. Reddit pulls a Twitter-like move and ups the cost of using its API. And Alexa won’t be using Samuel Jackson’s voice anymore.
Welcome to Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US and these the top tech news stories for June 1st, 2023.
Open AI became the fastest growing website on the planet. According to webflow agency VezaDigital who analyzed traffic on the top 50 most visited sites on the planet, OpenAI.com grew by 54 per cent in traffic volume in the month, the greatest increase of any of the top websites worldwide.
This follows on OpenAI breaking another record for being the fastest application to grow to 100 million users, breaking that barrier in under two months from its launch, making it the fastest growing consumer application in history. It took TikTok nine months to reach that level and took Instagram 2 ½ years according to data from Sensor Tower.
In March, close to 850 million unique visitors went to OpenAI’s website as it climbed nine positions in the global ranking to move to number 18. That vaulted it from number 51 on the list of top sites to number 18 in a little over a month.
One in nine visitors is from the US. Stefan Katanic, CEO of Veza Digital, whose firm did the study said that the growth is “indicative of a clear public interest in AI-powered solutions, which legislators are rushing to regulate before it spirals into uncharted territories, like artwork copyright and ethical challenges. Debates about AI are divisive, but one thing we can probably agree on is that AI is no longer the future – it is the present.”
Sources include: VezaDigital
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Executive Vice President for Digital, called for a voluntary code of responsible and ethical AI development. She believes that this voluntary code of conduct can play a significant role in ensuring that AI technologies are developed and deployed in a manner that upholds fundamental human rights, privacy, and democratic values. She also notes that she believes a draft code of conduct on AI could be drawn up in weeks, versus the months and possible years it could take to have legislative solution.
Vestager urged the United States to join the EU in a push for a voluntary code to provide safeguards while new laws are being developed.
The proposed code of conduct would encourage technology companies and developers to adopt best practices in AI, including transparency, accountability, and fairness. It should address concerns about the fair use of copyrighted content. As well it should aim to address concerns related to bias in AI algorithms and the potential misuse of AI technology.
Vestager suggested that Brussels and Washington could help drive the process, and that time was short given the amazing speed of AI development.
Sources include: Reuters
Abandoned Salesforce sites and communities in Salesforce’s Experience Cloud are posing a new cybersecurity risk according to security firm Varonis who calls these abandoned, unprotected and unmonitored instances – Ghost sites.
When these sites are no longer in use they can be abandoned, but not properly deactivated. As a result they aren’t monitored, tested or updated to protect against vulnerabilities. Varonis claims that they have found abandoned sites still fetching new data making them vulnerable to attackers.
These sites may have convincing layouts, content, and even valid SSL certificates, which can fool unsuspecting users into thinking they are visiting a safe and trustworthy platform.
Researchers stated, “The exposed data is not restricted to only old data from when the site was in use. It also includes new records that were shared with the guest user, due to the sharing configuration in their Salesforce environment.”
Organizations are encouraged to keep track of all Salesforce sites and manage not only their user permissions, but to deactivate sites that are no longer in use.
Sources include: The Hacker News
Researchers for Akamai’s Security Intelligence Unit have been tracking botnet activity and have found that successful DDoS, spam and other cyberattacks can be done with very little knowledge.
Botnets can be utilized for a range of malicious activities, including launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, spreading malware, conducting credential stuffing attacks, and engaging in fraudulent activities. These threats pose significant risks to businesses, individuals, and even critical infrastructure.
At one time, it took some degree of skill to develop these malicious tools, but the growth of ‘botnets-for-hire’ has lowered the barriers to entry allowing even those with little technical sophistication to do real damage.
The researchers quote a botnet called Dark Frost which researchers at Akamai identified. Despite what they term “cobbled-together” code from older botnets, Dark Frost had compromised over 400 devices.
Dark Frost uses code from the now infamous Mirai botnet. The author of Mirai put the source code out for the world to see and it has encouraged a trend of malware authors doing the same thing.
Looking at social media and Reddit, the researchers feel that they identified the actor behind this bot, likely a person in their early 20’s who “claims to have been a developer for a couple of years.” While this is probably a single person living in the US, they likely interact with a small group to share code.
The authors of Dark Frost appear to be selling their services but also looking for recognition. As one of the researchers said, “It is fame seeking money seeking fame.”
Researcher said that “Security companies and companies in general should start recognizing these threats in their infancy in order to stop them down the road when it’s an even bigger problem.”
Sources include: TechRepublic
The emergence of top-level domains (TLDs) dedicated to AI, such as “.ai,” has provided businesses with new opportunities to establish a distinct online presence and try to catch the wave of interest in Artificial Intelligence.
These AI domain names hope to showcase or brand the company as an innovator, attracting both customers and investors looking for AI solutions.
A company specializing in AI-driven chatbots might opt for a domain name like “chatbot.ai” to highlight its proficiency in this domain.
That has led to an explosion in the number of .ai domains. Registrations are up over 150 per cent in the past year versus a 27 per cent increase in .com domains over the same period according to Domain Name Stat. As of Nov 30, 2022 there were 174,000 .ai domains registered, but from approximately 60,000 in June of that year. Undoubtedly with the explosive growth of ChatGPT, the growth and number of domains will have increased to an even greater number.
But if you need to find a new AI domain, you are in luck. There are new AI apps that will help you find a domain and even register it – before they are all gone.
Sources include: Axios
Reddit, has announced that it is following Twitter’s lead and will start charging for use of its API services. The platform is reportedly asking for fees at levels that might shut down a number of popular third party clients, according to an article in 9 to 5 Mac.
While Reddit has assured the app developers that its fees would be “reasonable and based in reality” and that they “would not operate like Twitter, “popular app developers have vastly different ideas about what is “reasonable” or “based in reality.”
Reddit told Indie developer Chistian Selig, that the cost would be $12,000 per month for 50 million requests.
That would mean Selig’s app, Apollo, one of the most popular Reddit clients which made 7 billion requests last month would be charged about 1.7 million dollars a month or $20 million dollars a year for access to the Reddit API.
While it’s not what Selig referred to as the “obscene” charges from Twitter of 42,000 per 50 million calls, it’s still out of the reach of indie developers.
In terms of the average usage per subscriber, the cost would be double what the developer feels they are able to charge in terms of subscription fees, meaning they would lose money on every subscriber.
In comparison, Selig pays another platform about 166 dollars for the same 50 million API calls.
While Selig says that Reddit has been communicative and civil he doesn’t see the pricing as affordable. And while he hasn’t given up on Apollo, he does note that it will take “some thinking” noting that he doesn’t “have that type of money or would even know how to charge it to a credit card.”
While companies like Reddit and Twitter have a right to make money and recover their costs, Selig estimates that Reddit’s charges are perhaps 20 times their costs. So those increases may be an attempt to enhance the bottom line, but it’s more like that they will just kill the innovative development of these indie developers. Which is ironic, given that the official Reddit app came from the purchase of a popular third party Reddit client app called Alien Blue.
Sources include: 9 to 5 Mac
In a rather surprising development, Amazon has decided to discontinue its celebrity voices feature for Alexa, as reported by The Verge. The feature, which allowed users to have their virtual assistant interact with them using the voices of famous personalities, brought a touch of novelty and entertainment to the smart speaker experience.
For a limited time, Amazon offered the option to have celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa McCarthy, or even the legendary chef Gordon Ramsay lend their voices to Alexa, providing a fun twist to daily interactions. However, the availability of these celebrity voices will soon come to an end.
While the decision to discontinue the feature might disappoint some users who enjoyed the novelty, it is may be driven by fees for licensing agreements and other costs associated with maintaining these celebrity voice recordings.
Alexa is reported to be unprofitable and Amazon is struggling to find ways to make the service profitable. There are rumours as well that Amazon is developing its own generative AI to make Alexa more intelligent and responsive, hoping that might lead to opportunities for greater profitability.
So, if you’ve ever asked Samuel L. Jackson to set a reminder, or tell give you the weather report, the good news is that Jackson is back headlining a new Marvel movie called Secret Invasion. You can download the trailer to get your fix of the “sound of Fury.”
Sources include: The Verge
That’s the top tech news for today. We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.
Follow Hashtag Trending on Google, Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And you can even get us on your Alexa or Google smart speaker. You can even find us on YouTube but on YouTube we are called TechNewsDay.
We love your comments. You can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or on Mastodon as @therealjimlove on our Mastodon site technews.social. Or if that’s too much, just leave a comment under the text version at itworldcanada.com/podcasts and you can find all of the links in those text versions.
I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Thrilling Thursday!