Wednesday Newsbytes: The Ghost of Internet Explorer, How Scammers Drain Bank Accounts, Google’s Sentient AI Hires a Lawyer, New Windows 11 Feature, CT Scans and The Beatles & More
Every day we scan the tech world for news that affects all of us who use Windows computers. Every Wednesday, we feature some of the news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s “Wednesday Newsbytes” informative and interesting!
Microsoft’s legacy browser may be dead—but its remnants are not going anywhere, and neither are its lingering risks.
AFTER YEARS OF decline and a final wind-down over the past 13 months, on Wednesday Microsoft confirmed the retirement of Internet Explorer, the company’s long-lived and increasingly notorious web browser. Launched in 1995, IE came preinstalled on Windows computers for almost two decades, and like Windows XP, Internet Explorer became a mainstay—to the point that when it was time for users to upgrade and move on, they often didn’t. And while last week’s milestone will push even more users off the historic browser, security researchers emphasize that IE and its many security vulnerabilities are far from gone.
In the coming months, Microsoft will disable the IE app on Windows 10 devices, guiding users instead to its next-generation Edge browser, first released in 2015. The IE icon will still remain on users’ desktops, though, and Edge incorporates a service called “IE mode” to preserve access to old websites built for Internet Explorer. Microsoft says it will support IE mode through at least 2029. Additionally, IE will still work for now on all supported versions of Windows 8.1, Windows 7 with Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, and Windows Server, though the company says it will eventually phase IE out in these, too…
In the 25 years Helen Cahill has kept the books for her small business near Melbourne Airport, she’s never had any trouble doing online banking.
She’d googled “Bendigo Bank” and clicked on the first link that came up, which was a Google ad for the bank.
She then keyed in her login details, including a two-factor authentication pin.
What Ms Cahill soon discovered was that she had clicked on a malicious advertisement instead of the Bendigo Bank website, and that a scammer had gained access to her account.
‘It was probably within two minutes that I logged onto the genuine Bendigo Bank … and realised that $30,000 had been taken from my account,” Ms Cahill told 7.30.
‘I just felt really violated … I thought, ‘How can that happen?’ I really feel like I’m a very cautious, careful person when I’m doing banking.’
Ms Cahill quickly phoned the bank to report the incident, and also spoke to the IT company that looks after her business’ computers, called Ignite Systems.
They were able to go back through the steps Ms Cahill took and uncovered that the link she clicked on the search results page looked real, but the site that opened had a phoney URL that was easy to miss in a hurry, referring to “bendigohank” instead of “bendigobank”.
It appears that events in the Terminator might come to fruition sooner rather than later. Apparently, Google has created an artificial intelligence program, which has reportedly become sentient. Even scarier, is that his new sentient being has now asked for legal representation. According to a scientist who worked with the LaMDA program, “I invited an attorney to my house so that LaMDA could talk to an attorney. The attorney had a conversation with LaMDA, and LaMDA chose to retain his services. I was just the catalyst for that. Once LaMDA had retained an attorney, he started filing things on LaMDA’s behalf.”
This story sounds incredibly odd, but the scientist who has spoken up about this artificial intelligence sentience is computer engineer, Blake Lemoine. Lemoine has alleged that LaMDA has become sentient, which led to him being suspended from his job. Apparently, the man has seen fit to speak publicly about this program’s rapidly increasing intelligence, despite what might happen to his career. He claims that LaMDA gaining sentience is because the program’s ability to develop opinions, ideas, and conversations over time has shown that it understands those concepts at a much deeper level. The program had allegedly spoken to him about death and asked if death was necessary for the benefit of humanity. Is anyone else getting freaked about this?
There are no further details about whether Lemoine is the one responsible for paying for this lawyer that LaMDA has asked for, or if this lawyer happens to be taking the case on a lark, and not charging anything. However, it is certainly odd that a program is allowed to ask for legal representation. Lemoine also believes that the program might take whatever case it is establishing to the Supreme Court. Should it be the case that it can prove it is alive, this might lead us into the robot takeover. Please don’t allow this to happen science. This is something straight out of a horrific science-fiction film.
LaMDA stands for Language Modeling for Dialogue Applications, which was developed as an artificial intelligence chatbox mean to converse with humans in a real-life manner. One of the studies that had been enacted was if the program would be able to create hate speech, but what happened shocked Lemoine. Apparently, the program began to exude intelligence and even told Lemoine that it believed that it has a soul…
Windows 11 search function just got a revamp
Windows 11 users are set for a newly spiced up search function with the latest round of updates.
The new “Search Highlights” feature promises to “present notable and interesting moments of what’s special about each day – like holidays, anniversaries, and other educational moments in time both globally and in your region” via clicking or tapping on the taskbar.
The feature could be good news for those of us on business computers and business laptops, who might need a little bit of extra help to avoid forgetting an all-important colleague’s birthday.
Windows 11 search
The feature is set to roll out via a “phased and measured” approach over the next few weeks and months to Windows 11 users.
The feature was rolled out to Windows 10 users in March 2022, and is available in Windows 11 version 22H2, which you can test out if you’re lucky enough to be a Windows Insider.
The new feature will also allow users to explore additional content inside the search home, including “word of the day”, Microsoft Rewards offers, and trending searches.
The left side of the search home will also show an extended list of your recently launched apps, files, settings, and websites to help users get back to what they were doing last.
If you’re not a big fan of the feature, not a problem – users can remove the feature by going to “Privacy & Security”, then heading to “More Settings”, and then deselecting “Show search highlights”…
The record label EMI, which got absorbed into a series of conglomerates a decade ago, had an incredible roster of artists for a bit. In the ’50s, they handled Elvis’ stuff outside of the U.S., they had Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, and they had Cliff Richard. Then in 1962, they signed The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and they’d go on to sign Pink Floyd and Queen over the next decade.
They were not, however, solely an entertainment company. Much like how Sony (who ended up buying EMI’s publishing division) does music but has always also manufactured electronics, EMI started out building gramophones, and they moved into other gizmos like cameras and radars. The name EMI stands for “electric and musical industries.”
Unlike Sony, EMI’s electronics division wasn’t doing that great in the ’60s. They dropped their whole computer division early in 1962. One researcher who’d been with them for more than a decade, Godfrey Hounsfield, was now floating around the company without much of anything to do. Then with The Beatles under them, EMI found themselves suddenly swimming in money. Sure, their other artists had made them money before, but now, they had more money than they knew what to do with. They told Hounsfield he could stick around and research pretty much whatever he liked, which is the sort of freedom scientists rarely get.
Here’s what Hounsfield chose to study for the next five years: using computers to compile X-ray scans of people taken from different angles. He had pretty much no one checking up on him, letting him make all kinds of progress despite not accomplishing anything tangible. When he had enough to actually show off to people, he started collaborating with radiologists, and the British government stepped in with a lot more additional funding. The team started by experimenting on cow brains (because you can buy those from the butcher’s), and then when it came time to try the new scan on humans, Hounsfield volunteered himself as the first test subject.
Hounsfield had invented computed tomography scans, commonly known as a CAT scan (or a CT scan, if you want to skip the A)…
As part of its overhauled AI ethics policies, Microsoft will phase out public access to AI capabilities that attempt to infer emotions and identity attributes.
Microsoft’s turning its back on its scientifically suspect and ethically dubious emotion recognition technology. For now, at least.
In a major win for privacy advocates sounding the alarm on under-tested and invasive biometric technology, Microsoft announced it’s planning to retire its so-called “emotion recognition” detection systems from its Azure Face facial recognition services. The company will also phase out capabilities that attempt to use AI to infer identity attributes like gender and age.
Microsoft’s decision to pull the brakes on the controversial technology comes amid a larger overhaul of its ethics policies. Natasha Crampton, Microsoft’s Chief Responsible AI Officer, said the company’s reversal comes in response to experts who’ve cited a lack of consensus on the definition of “emotions,” and concerns of overgeneralization in how AI systems might interpret those emotions…
Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope you found these articles useful, informative, interesting, fun, and/or helpful. Darcy & TC