TLDR 2024-04-02

AirPods Lite 🎧, Google deletes Incognito data 🥸, inside the xz exploit 👨‍💻

Big Tech & Startups

‘AirPods Lite’ to debut later this year, new report says (1 minute read)

Apple is expected to release multiple new models of its AirPods this year. A report says that a new lower-cost AirPods Lite, priced at $99, will be released sometime during the second half of 2024. There is little information about what to expect from the lower-cost earbuds. New AirPods Max are also coming later this year. The AirPods 4 will feature a new design and a USB-C charging case. The higher-end variant will feature noise cancellation.

Google agrees to destroy browsing data collected in Incognito mode (2 minute read)

Google has agreed to destroy or de-identify billions of web browsing data records collected from Incognito mode users as part of a proposed class action settlement. The settlement also mandates greater disclosure from the company about how it collects information in Incognito mode and puts limits on future data collection. The proposed settlement has been valued at around $5 billion, with plaintiffs receiving zero in damages unless they individually file claims.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Terraform Industries converts electricity and air into synthetic natural gas for the first time (4 minute read)

Terraform Industries' Terraformer is a machine that uses electricity and air to create hydrocarbons. It consists of an electrolyzer, a direct air capture system, and a chemical reactor. Roughly the size of two shipping containers, the machine produces pipeline-grade synthetic natural gas using energy from a one-megawatt solar array. The system converts clean energy into hydrogen at less than $2.50 a kilogram of H2 and the direct air capture system filters CO2 for less than $250 per ton, a world record.

Rollable OLED’s Moment Is Near (4 minute read)

Flexible OLED technology isn't new: the first foldable OLED display was released in 2018. Rollable displays are similar to foldable displays, but they have proven difficult to produce. Tecno Mobile and Motorola both recently presented rollable OLED concepts at the Mobile World Congress technology convention in Barcelona. Samsung also recently filed a patent for a future smartphone or tablet that rolls up like a newspaper.
Programming, Design & Data Science

xzbot (GitHub Repo)

xzbot is a toolkit for exploring the xz backdoor. It includes a fake vulnerable server to detect exploit attempts, a patch, a format of the backdoor payload, and a tool to trigger the exploit. A list of references for more information on the exploit is available.

Small Data, Big Compute (10 minute read)

The typical business analyst query significantly underutilizes compute. Large language models use a lot more compute and may bring on another expansionary era of bloat. Most companies will not have the budget to operate large language models on big data - most business use cases will inevitably operate on less than a million rows of data. The shift to small data will mean that data egress will no longer be a moat and open up an opportunity for new GPU cloud competitors to emerge.

The remoteness of remote work (21 minute read)

Effective long-term remote work requires specific skill sets and DNA to pull off. Many organizations suddenly transitioned to remote work during the pandemic. While it worked out great in the first year, it eventually became detrimental to creativity and collaboration, so some companies switched back to hybrid in-office work where employees come into the office several days a week. This article discusses how one company handled the transition to remote work and then to hybrid work and explains the lessons it learned from the experience.

The Internet Is Too Small for Data-Guzzling AI Companies (9 minute read)

AI systems are requiring larger and larger pools of data to learn from. The available pool of data is now getting too small, and at the same time, some data owners are blocking access to their information. The industry's need for high-quality text data could outstrip supply within two years. The data shortage is a frontier research problem, so many efforts to solve it are currently being done in secret as the solution could be a competitive advantage.
Quick Links

Apple AI researchers boast useful on-device model that ‘substantially outperforms’ GPT-4 (3 minute read)

Apple's on-device model takes into account both what's on users' screens and what tasks are active.

OpenAI Startup Fund: GP Hallucination (29 minute read)

Vespers Inc., a company that temporarily managed the OpenAI Startup Fund, may be a front company created with AI assistance that uses pseudonymous and/or fictitious individuals to serve as placeholder directors and executives.

10 > 64, in QR codes (17 minute read)

This explains how using decimal encoding slightly reduces the density of QR codes containing URLs, why it works, and how the technique allows shoveling maximum data into a URL in a QR code.

The Wi-Fi only works when it's raining (10 minute read)

A tree that was barely tall enough to interfere with a Wi-Fi bridge signal was weighed down just enough when it rained that the interference stopped.

OpenAI drops login requirements for ChatGPT’s free version (3 minute read)

The login-free version of ChatGPT will be rolled out gradually with additional content safeguards.

Microsoft unbundles Office and Teams globally following years-long criticism (4 minute read)

The move addresses concerns raised by the European Commission.
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