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OpenAI finds Russian and Chinese groups used its tech for propaganda campaigns

The Washington Post (05/30/2024)
  • OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, has discovered that groups from Russia, China, Iran, and Israel have been using its technology for covert propaganda efforts aimed at influencing global politics.
  • Propaganda groups from the countries used ChatGPT to write social media posts, translate content and automate interactions.
  • While the operations gained minimal traction, their persistence raised alerts of AI being used to influence political outcomes.
  • A notable recent example was an Israeli group using AI to generate pro-Israel posts regarding the war in Gaza.

Massive pro-Palestinian college protests bring rare surge in discipline

The Washington Post (05/06/2024)
  • Recent pro-Palestinian protests across America’s college campuses have led to severe disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions, reminiscent of responses to 1960s Vietnam and 1980s Apartheid protests.
  • Unlike previous demonstrations, today’s protests pit supportive and opposing student groups against each other, with accusations of antisemitism adding complexity.
  • This divisiveness, combined with pressures on university presidents who risk job loss, marks a distinct shift from past protests, where opposition was less polarized and personal stakes for leadership were lower.

Meta Advertisers Say Automated System Has Been Glitchy for Weeks

Bloomberg (04/10/2024)
  • Over the past two months, digital advertisers have complained about the declining effectiveness of Meta’s (Facebook, Instagram parent company) digital ads.
  • Ad buyers report that costs have doubled or tripled while the effectiveness of campaigns has diminished, prompting some to shift more ad spending to Google and TikTok.
  • Some believe that the Chinese e-commerce giant Temu’s billion-dollar expenditure on digital ads to expand its US operations has driven up the cost of digital advertising.
  • Meta generates over $100B per year from digital ads.

AI Boom Reawakens Silicon Valley’s Housing Market

Bloomberg (02/10/2024)
  • The rise in artificial intelligence (AI) has rejuvenated Silicon Valley’s housing market.
  • More first-time buyers, many who work for major tech companies, can now afford million-dollar homes thanks to rising share prices which account for a big chunk of tech industry salaries.
  • The return-to-office push and slight dip in mortgage rates have also boosted Northern California housing.
  • Among the 50 biggest US metros, San Jose (median sales price $1.3M) leads in home-sales pace with 61% of new listings under contract within 14 days.

Why Americans’ ‘YOLO’ spending spree baffles economists

BBC (12/01/2023)
  • Despite high interest rates, inflation, and shrinking savings, US spending has perplexed economists by surging, as evidenced by the recent 9.6% year-over-year increase in Cyber Monday sales.
  • Consumer spending growth accounted for most of the 4.9% increase in Q3 GDP.
  • This growth largely derives from the “unprecedented” increase in accumulated US household savings following government pandemic stimulus programs.
  • However, this trend will eventually reverse as student loan repayments resume and growing credit card debt limit future spending power.

A Treasure May Be Off the Coast of Colombia, but Who Can Claim It?

The New York Times (NYT) (11/10/2023)
  • The San José, a Spanish cargo vessel ship sunk in 1708 by the British with treasure currently estimated at $20 billion, has ignited a complex international dispute over its claim.
  • While Colombian President Gustavo Petro plans to recover it, this initiative faces opposition from archaeologists, Spain, indigenous groups, and a US search group claiming 50% discovery rights for locating the shipwreck in the 1980s.
  • The article details why the recoverable treasure’s value is probably inflated and the justification behind ownership claims.

Picasso masterpiece depicting his young mistress sells for $139 million at auction

CNN (09/13/2023)
  • Pablo Picasso’s 1932 masterpiece “Femme à la montre” depicting his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter sold for over $139 million at Sotheby’s (NYC), making it the artist’s second most expensive auctioned work.
  • Part of the late philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau’s collection, this vibrant, detailed canvas from Picasso’s prolific year symbolizes his passionate affair with Walter, impacting his art and personal life.
  • The sale was part of a larger auction including works by Rothko, Warhol, and O’Keeffe expected to auction for over $400M.

How Tony Hsieh’s Friends And Family Milked Millions In His Drug-Fueled Final Months

Forbes (04/23/2023)
  • In the final months before the tragic death of Zappos (online shoe store) founder Tony Hsieh, he tried stimulating the Park City, Utah economy during Covid.
  • Hsieh paid his employees a 10% commission for making investments and purchases on his behalf.
  • His close circle, including family members, exploited this program by making bad multi-million dollar purchases and investments.
  • Hsieh’s deteriorating mental state amplified by heavy drug use made him vulnerable and triggered erratic behavior that culminated with him dying in a fire.

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep?

Outside (04/02/2019)
  • Scientists have found that the effects of acute sleep deprivation, or all-nighters, kicks in after being awake for 16-18 hours straight.
  • The first sign is a sluggish mind, with reaction times lagging to the equivalent of being legally drunk by the 24th hour awake.
  • After 24 hours, your brain starts forcing you into 10-20 second periods of “micro-sleep”.
  • After 35 hours, the brain’s emotion-emitting amygdala becomes 60% more reactive and the ability to regulate emotions declines.
  • Hallucinations are common after 48 hours awake.