Vegard Skjefstad

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Tag: Technology (page 1 of 11)

Why Deepfake Technology Must Be Banned

On Friday, Samsung revealed that they are now able to create deepfake videos from a single photo. With that came another good reason why the technology must be banned.

Imagining seeing a politician in a viral video saying something absolutely outrageous. In today’s political landscape that shouldn’t be too hard. But in this case, it’s totally out of character for this particular opposition politician. What they are saying is incriminating, morally reprehensible, and an obvious political suicide. What the hell!? You can’t vote for this person now!

The problem with the viral video is that it isn’t real. Even though it looks authentic, it’s a fake video. It’s created by the current political leader’s campaign office, doctored to quickly spread false rumors about the opposition. And it works. They fall like a rock in the polls. Even if the video is later debunked as fake, the damage is irreversible. The video continues to spread like wildfire across the internet. It’s not only popular on niche political sites, but on main stream social media sites as well. And even if they know the video is fake, the main stream sites refuse to remove it.

If you think that this is a thing of a dystopian alternate future, I’m sorry to report that this is the present.

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WTF Happened To The Superbook?

The Superbook promised to be a technological masterpiece that would turn your smartphone into a laptop. But WTF happened to it?

The Superbook was revealed back in 2016. In a very successful Kickstarter campaign, creator Andromium Inc. showed a device that could turn your Android smartphone into a laptop for as low as $85. The idea was simple: Install Andromium’s custom launcher on your smartphone, connect it to the physical Superbook shell via USB and voila! Your phone is now a fully working laptop.

Despite renowned tech manufacturer ASUS’ repeated failed attempts to achieve the same1, people obviously have bad short-term memory. When the campaign ended on August 20, 2016, 16,732 backers had pledged $2,952,508 to Andromium Inc.

Then, in classic Kickstarter fashion, the waiting started.

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Android Phones Can Be Hacked – By displaying An Image

It should be no surprise by now that your phone can be hacked. But did you know it can be done just by you looking at an image on your phone?

Yes, I know this particular vulnerability doesn’t really pass as “news” anymore. It was patched on February 4, and The Inquirer reported about it over two weeks ago. But I drafted this post the day Google released the February Android security bulletin, and there’s no way in hell that effort will go down the drain. So this post gets published, news-worthy or not!

So what’s the issue? Let’s see what Google writes in their February security bulletin:

The most severe of these issues is a critical security vulnerability in Framework that could allow a remote attacker using a specially crafted PNG file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.

Android Security Bulletin β€” February 2019

Allrighty then…

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1 the Road

Back in 2016, an AI wrote a movie script. Fast forward to last year, when another AI took it upon itself to write a novel, 1 the Road.

The 2016 movie, Sunspring, was written by Benjamin, a long short term memory recurrent neural network. Sunspring was somewhat confusing, but if you want to watch it, it’s available in the post I wrote about the movie. Benjamin has since retired, at least his website now belongs to a non-artificial Benjamin1.

Since AIs don’t reliably create new AIs – yet – Benjamin was the brain child of a human, Ross Goodwin. Goodwin describes himself as a “creative technologist, hacker, gonzo data scientist, and writer of writers,” who uses technology to create works of art. In 2018, he set out on another adventure. Goodwin hocked a camera, a GPS, and a microphone to a computer, placed everything in a car, and went on a road trip from New York to New Orleans.

Using input from the camera, GPS, microphone, and the computer’s internal clock, a neural network would then narrate the entire trip. A printer in the back seat printed a hard-copy of story as it progressed.

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Electric Cars Are Total Nonsense!

Now that I’ve got the undivided attention of both the pro- and the anti-electric cars crowds, let’s get cooking.

I grew up in the small town of Notodden. As a kid, you normally ended up in one of three crowds: The petrolheads, the jocks, or the nerds. As a flimsy boy scout who played a lot of computer and role-playing games, it’s pretty obvious that I was quickly labeled a nerd. I had a few jock friends, but the petrolheads never really appealed to me in any way, shape or form. It’s a very prominent group of people in my home town, though, and the sub-culture most Norwegians associate with it. Not surprising, since they staged a damn riot back in 2007 when a section of the road they drive back and forth on was closed down. Documentary crews have also visited Notodden in numbers to poke their investigative sticks at the phenomenon.

When I left the city at the age of 18 to do my year of mandatory military service, I lost all touch with the petrolheads. But when I re-joined Facebook in 2016, I got another look at what was going on in that alternate universe. They share all kinds of – what’s the best way of put this – interesting stories. It’s often political material that doesn’t sit too well with my world view, and everything they come across that put their number one enemy, the electric car, in a bad light. Some of the articles are, interestingly enough, shared by my junior high science teacher.

One of the articles was a five year old interview with one Paul Rosenquist. I’ve never heard of him before I read the interview, but I assume most petrolheads know who he is. And old man Rosenquist certainly doesn’t like electric cars.

Paul Rosenquist. Photo: YouTube screen capture (

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