OpenAI whistleblower says he was fired for voicing concerns about security: Hashtag Trending, Monday June 10, 2024

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Jack Dorsey inadvertently funds a fascist? Was an  OpenAI Whistleblower fired For raising security concerns?  Silicon Valley’s Next Huge Fraud Trial.  Microsoft is making changes to Recall, but it’s going ahead…

These stories and more on this “ I won’t back down” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, let’s get into it.

Jack Dorsey was recently in the news when it was found that he’s given up on his Twitter rival Bluesky and to the dismay of many, appeared to be going back to X, the former Twitter.

But over the weekend it was also revealed the founder of Twitter gave $10 million to the Nostr protocol, aiming to support the “truly open” social platform. He also sent 14 bitcoins, worth around $245,000, directly to Nostr’s anonymous founder known only as “Fiatjaf.”

Well, Fiatjaf’s identity is anonymous no more. Business Insider has revealed he is Giovanni Torres Parra – a Brazilian developer who is an avowed supporter of Olavo de Carvalho, a deceased far-right conspiracy theorist with fascist and anti-LGBTQ views.

Parra has built websites proliferating de Carvalho’s ideology, which praised Brazil’s military dictatorship and spawned a reactionary movement. On social media, Parra’s bio read “Leftism is a disease.”

While hoping to create censorship-resistant platforms, Parra has mused that Nostr could become a “home for hate speech” from groups like “Nazis or racists or whatever.” His view? “We need these people, too.”

The revelation underscores an unsettling trend of elite Silicon Valley figures funding projects pushing back against content moderation under the guise of free speech – seemingly indifferent to the rise of extremism.

Dorsey has not commented on directing funding to someone so openly embracing an fascist influencer’s hateful rhetoric and disinformation. But the Nostr saga raises new concerns over whose values are really being coded into the next generation of social media platforms.

Sources include: Business Insider

OpenAI claims that it has never taken action against employees who criticized the company? One former employee begs to differ.

Leopold Aschenbrenner, a former security researcher on OpenAI’s elite “SuperAlignment” team, claims he was fired from the AI company after escalating critical security concerns to the board of directors.

The 19-year-old Columbia valedictorian says he flagged major vulnerabilities in OpenAI’s measures to prevent theft of model details and core IP. After a significant security incident, Aschenbrenner shared his prior memo detailing the issues with executives.

But OpenAI management was furious he had gone over their heads to the board. According to Aschenbrenner, HR criticized his worries about Chinese espionage as “racist and unconstructive.” He was soon terminated, officially for sharing the security memos internally against policy.

Aschenbrenner disputes this, saying exchanging safety ideas with outside experts was encouraged at OpenAI. He believes the real issue was refusing to retract his concerns and pushing management to keep security promises.

His firing adds to recent tensions at OpenAI. 90% of staff demanded the board resign over AI safety conflicts, while the SuperAlignment co-leads retired after Aschenbrenner’s dismissal.

Whether human-driven or AI-accelerated, security breaches could be catastrophic in the wrong hands. Aschenbrenner’s whistleblowing highlights critical governance questions as groundbreaking AI capabilities expand unchecked.

We’ve reached out to Ashenbrenner for an interview.

Sources include: Gigazine.net

The highest-profile Silicon Valley fraud case since the Theranos saga is about to begin in San Francisco. Michael Lynch, the former CEO of software company Autonomy, goes on trial Monday for allegedly deceiving Hewlett-Packard during HP’s disastrous $11.7 billion acquisition in 2011.

Prosecutors claim Lynch and his team inflated Autonomy’s revenues and financials, tricking HP into overpaying massively. The deal resulted in an $8.8 billion writedown for HP and helped precipitate the tech giant’s split into two companies in 2016.

Lynch has vehemently denied wrongdoing for over a decade, claiming HP simply mismanaged Autonomy post-acquisition under then-CEO Meg Whitman. But he has lost related civil and criminal cases in the US and UK.

If convicted of fraud charges, the British billionaire could face prison time. It’s a stunning fall for the former software executive, who raised over $1.2 billion for his Invoke Capital venture fund after being fired by HP following the botched merger.

Lynch was extradited from England just last year to finally face trial. With billions lost and reputations shredded, the monumental corporate takeover-gone-awry could make this an epic Valley courtroom battle.

High-stakes fraud clashes have become a recurring phenomenon in tech’s modern era of ambition, hype, and greed. This one could be Silicon Valley’s next landmark case.

Sources include:  Axios

Remember that we said last week that Microsoft’s Recall, or some version of it would go ahead despite the criticism? It appears that Microsoft is going ahead despite the criticism, although its making changes to try to appease some of its critics.

Well, Microsoft says it is “adjusting course” on its forthcoming Recall feature for new Copilot PCs after facing a torrent of backlash over privacy and security risks.

Recall is designed to help PC users easily find information they’ve previously viewed on their computer by taking frequent screenshots and indexing on-screen text and images. But security experts raised alarms about the potential for hackers to access this localized data trove.

In a blog post Friday, Microsoft announced it will now make Recall an opt-in feature turned off by default, rather than enabled automatically. Users will also need to sign in with biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition to enable Recall’s monitoring.

The company is further bolstering privacy by encrypting the Recall database storing those periodic PC screenshots.

The changes come after Meredith Whittaker from Signal messenger branded Recall “a dangerous honeypot for hackers” at this week’s Axios AI+ Summit, calling it “a serious hijacking of trust.”

While Recall does not sync data to the cloud, instead containing it locally, the original design drew concerns over ensuring appropriate user consent and security hardening.

Microsoft says Recall’s monitoring capabilities can be toggled for individual apps as well. But by dialing back the initially overzealous deployment, the tech giant aims to balance Recall’s utility with protecting customer privacy and device integrity.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a daily news show, with a weekend interview show we call the Weekend Edition.

Show notes are at technewsday.ca or .com  – either one works.

We love your comments.  Contact me at editorial@technewsday.com

I’m your host Jim Love, have a Marvelous Monday…

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