This is week 40 of 2023, running from Monday October 2nd to Sunday October 8th. And we have prepared the top stories in the world of tech for this week, tailored for you.
This week, actor Tom Hanks discovered an AI version of himself, and voice actors spoke up about AI use. The FBI warned the public about tech support scams. They also indicted insider traders who used Xbox to share illegal information. In addition, Apple’s compliance with Chinese regulators presents significant challenges for developers.
Here are the highlights.
#1. Tom Hanks denounces an AI version of himself
Actor Tom Hanks shared an image of an AI version of himself on his Instagram page. The 67-year-old Oscar winner wrote over the image, “I have nothing to do with it.” The AI image comes from a promotional video for a dental plan. According to Hanks, the undisclosed advertiser used his likeness without his consent.
In May this year, Hanks spoke about artificial intelligence on The Adam Buxton Podcast. He said that the possibility of creating lifelike AI was both an artistic and legal challenge. He also expressed that audiences may not care whether the content they see is computer-generated or not.
This comes at a time when the Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (SAG-AFTRA) ended their strike. The strike began in May over the need for protection against AI use, among other challenges in the film and television industry.
#2. Apple begins enforcing compliance for its Chinese app store
In August 2022, the Chinese government began implementing a policy on mobile app creators. The policy is called Internet Content Provider (ICP). It requires app developers to apply for a license to distribute apps within China. Last week, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released a list of compliant app stores. Apple was not on it. So this week, the Apple app store updated its developer requirements to enforce ICP compliance.
The new requirements include three additional permits that developers will need to launch apps in China. These permits are for book and magazine content, religious content, and news content. These are in addition to the ICP license. For developers to get these permits, they must have a physical office in China. Alternatively, they can partner with a Chinese development company to host the backend code in China. This presents a major challenge for Apple developers who live and work internationally.
Apple’s compliance means that apps that don’t have Chinese documentation are locked out of the app store. These include apps like YouTube, X, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Apple now holds app developers responsible for their licensing. They must include ICP numbers and license details in the “App Information” tab for Chinese users. This move essentially locks out a majority of apps in the Chinese App Store.
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#3. FBI makes a PSA on scams targeting senior citizens
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), issued a public service announcement about the latest tech support scam. The scam is called “Phantom Hacker” and it targets senior citizens.
Over half the victims are over 60 years old. Between January and June 2023, victims have lost an estimated $542 million. The losses come from victims’ bank accounts, retirement savings, and investments.
The scam follows three phases. First, the scammers pose as a customer or tech support representative. They use a legitimate financial company as their cover. They contact victims by text, phone calls, or emails, offering a number to call for further assistance. The scammers direct the victims to download a malicious software program. The program falsely claims the computer has been hacked.
Next, the scammers pose as a representative of the financial company previously mentioned. They claim that the victims’ bank accounts have been compromised. The only way to safeguard their money is to transfer it to a safe account. If the victims become suspicious, the scammers move to the next phase. They pose as government officials, such as Federal Reserve employees. They convince the victims to transfer funds to an alias account for safekeeping, leading to losses.
The FBI encourages the public to report these scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Individuals should also refrain from clicking unknown links or calling unknown phone numbers.
#4. Insider trading via Xbox 360 chat and Signal app
The FBI arrested two individuals for engaging in insider trading through Xbox 360 chat and the Signal app. The indictment involves Anthony Viggiano, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, and his friend, Stephen Forlano. A third person, Christopher Salamone, pleaded guilty to the insider trading scheme. He is collaborating with law enforcement.
The scheme took place between October 2021 and May 2023. The three co-conspirators exchanged insider information to illegally profit from the stock market. They used Xbox chat and disappearing messages on the Signal app to conceal their communications.
Mr. Viggiano shared material non-public information (MNPI) about companies that employed him. MNPI is information about a stock or security that is not publicly available. MNPI can influence investment decisions, usually in the investor’s favor. The FBI came to know about the scheme because Mr. Salamone recorded conversations with Mr. Viggiano. Otherwise, the Xbox and Signal platforms are untraceable.
If found guilty, Viggiano could face up to 165 years in prison for securities fraud and conspiracy. The other parties face up to 20 years in prison each. However, Mr. Salamone may receive leniency since he is cooperating with the FBI to uncover the scheme.
#5. Voice actors raise concerns about AI
In an interview with Wired, radio journalist and voice actor Quincy Surasmith expressed his worry about AI. His work is featured in variousThai language cartoons. His voice also features on TV shows like Amphibia and The Ghost and Molly McGee. He hosts the Asian Americana podcast. Surasmith acknowledged that voice acting is a highly specialized skill, but generative AI may create more challenges for artists looking for work.
According to Surasmith, AI can already clone celebrity voices and narrate audiobooks. But he and other colleagues worry about their vocals being stolen. In the worst case scenario, their voices could be used in creating pornographic content, damaging their professional reputations. However, Dan Lenard of World-Voices Organization (WoVo) dispels these concerns. He believes that AI cannot completely duplicate human voices in terms of engagement.
Last week, Spotify and OpenAI announced their use of AI voice features in their products. OpenAI, for example, introduced voice features to ChatGPT. The contentious SAG-AFTRA strike also brought voice talent into the picture. It also highlights video game voice actors who may not be covered by the SAG-AFTRA negotiations. Until proper guardrails are in place, voice actors can only examine their work contracts for clauses about AI.