This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

new vision of artificial intelligence for the people

In the back room of an old building in New Zealand, one of the most advanced computers for artificial intelligence is helping to redefine the technology’s future.

Te Hiku Media, a nonprofit Māori radio station run by Peter-Lucas Jones and Keoni Mahelona, bought the machine to train its own algorithms for natural-language processing. It’s now a central part of the pair’s dream to revitalize the Māori language while keeping control of their community’s data.

The project is a radical departure from the way the AI industry typically operates. Over the last decade, AI researchers have pushed the field to new limits with the dogma “more is more,” relentlessly mining people for their faces, voices, and behaviors to enrich bottom lines. But projects like Te Hiku could point the way to a new generation of AI—one that does not treat marginalized people as mere data subjects but reestablishes them as co-creators of a shared future. Read the full story.

—Karen Hao

This is the fourth and final part of our series on AI colonialism, the idea that artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order. You can read the previous articles in the series here.

These hackers showed just how easy it is to target critical infrastructure

Expert skills: Earlier this week, two Dutch researchers took home $90,000 as a reward for hacking the software that helps run the world’s critical infrastructure.

Frightening ease: Daan Keuper and his colleague Thijs Alkemade are well practiced. Having hacked a car in 2018, they started infiltrating video conferencing software and coronavirus apps last year. Their latest challenge was their easiest yet. The targets were all industrial control systems that run critical facilities, including power grids, gas pipelines, and more. It’s the same software that can be found in the real world.

Security vulnerabilities: The pair managed to successfully bypass the trusted-application check for a communications protocol called OPC UA, which allows different parts of a critical-operations system to talk to each other in industrial settings. “In industrial control systems, there is still so much low-hanging fruit,” Keuper says. “The security is lagging behind badly.” Read the full story.

—Patrick Howell O’Neill

Spilling Silicon Valley’s secrets, one tweet at a time

Shortly after midnight on May 4, 2018, Jane Manchun Wong tweeted her first “finding” ever. “Twitter is working on End-to-End Encrypted Secret DM!” she wrote.

That tweet was the first of many that Wong would send out. By going into public source code for companies like Twitter and Facebook, she has been able to find out what features and projects are secretly working on before they announce it.

A young woman of color exposing the plans of a Big Tech firm without any tools apart from her own ability to reverse-engineer code was (and is) pretty radical—and it’s changed the way tech companies work. Read the full story.

—Tanya Basu

Quote of the day

“We think we are fighting fascism, but there isn’t fascism there. There isn’t.” 

—Sergei Klokov, a driver at Moscow’s police headquarters, criticized Russia’s activities in Ukraine during a phone call to a friend shortly before he was arrested, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 We need to prepare for the war in Ukraine to last indefinitely

It’s been eight weeks since the invasion, with no sign of a conclusion to the conflict. (Foreign Affairs)
Ukraine is concerned that Chinese-made drones are sabotaging its defenses. (WSJ $)
Russia has banned Kamala Harris and other US officials from entering the country. (Reuters)
Russian troops are blockading a steel mill with 2,000 Ukrainian fighters inside. (NYT $)
The World Bank is anticipating a catastrophic global food crisis. (BBC)
Russia plans to “falsify” an independence referendum in southern Ukraine, says Zelensky. (The Guardian)

2 Elon Musk says he’s lined up $46.5 billion to buy Twitter
Which is an awful lot of money, even for someone as wealthy as him. (WSJ $)
He says he wants free speech on the platform, but he’s spent years trying to silence his own critics is pretty thin-skinned to criticism. (Bloomberg $)
Musk also appears dead-set on turning back time to when tweets had fewer consequences. (New Yorker $)

3 Zero-day hacks are the rich cybercriminal’s weapon of choice
They’re eye-wateringly expensive, but incredibly effective. (TR)
Google is fixing more zero-day flaws targeting Chrome.

Read More


By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Language-preserving AI, and hackers showed it’s frighteningly easy to breach critical infrastructure
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Published Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2022 12:18:46 +0000

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