New CIA-cloned Backdoor
A new piece of malware called "xdr33" has been detected that mimics the CIA's Hive malware platform released in 2017 by Wikileaks. The malware is propagating using an F5 exploit, and once installed it functions as a backdoor that extracts sensitive data and enables further attack into the organization. MORE | TECH DETAILS
Amnesty International has revealed new research showing that the NYPD has over 15,000 cameras that can do facial recognition, including over 577 cameras in the most surveilled neighborhood of East New York in Brooklyn. The research was powered by thousands of volunteers who tagged the cameras across 3 boroughs. MORE
GitHub Automatic Vuln Scanning
LifeLock's parent company sent emails to over 6,000 customers saying their accounts had been accessed due to credential stuffing, i.e., someone getting their password from a breach or another source somewhere, and then using those passwords to get into their LifeLock accounts. MORE
Meta Scraping Suit
Meta is suing Voyager Labs for allegedly scraping data from 600,000 Facebook user profiles. It says they scraped posts, likes, friend lists, photos, and comments from profiles, and that they've done the same against Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and many other services as well. MORE
Top Risks 2023
Ian Bremmer's Eurasia Group put out a new report of top risks for 2023, and here are the top themes:
Weapons of mass disruption
Iran in a corner
Arrested global development
I would have expected to see AI on the list, but the report was probably finalized before the public rise of OpenAI. In a conversation with Scott Galloway, Bremmer put the risks into two main categories: 1) Individual Super-powerful Human Beings Surrounded by Yes-men, and, 2) New growth of extreme poverty after decades of improvement. Great analysis by Bremner and his group here, and I definitely see the danger of the first one with Putin and Xi. READ THE REPORT
Chinese Probe Across Taiwan Strait
The Chinese military sent 28 warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Straight last Sunday, joining 57 other planes in recent days. MORE
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OpenAI Launching Paid Version
OpenAI is about to launch a paid, experimental version of ChatGPT called ChatGPT Professional. They are currently signing people up on a waitlist, and I honestly can't remember a more enthusiastic example of "take my money" than how people are reacting. Its features will include: reliability, faster responses, and no throttling. We know a tech is hot when it comes out like 6 weeks ago people already miss it in their daily work when it goes down. MORE | TWEET | WAITLIST
Microsoft and OpenAI
Microsoft is about to put $10 billion into OpenAI. Is it just me or is Microsoft kind of killing it right now? Seriously impressed with their leadership in the last few years. I feel like they've been outplaying Google and Facebook in so many ways, and if this OpenAI investment pays off they're going to be crushing it. SEMAFOR ARTICLE | MORE
Tesla Cuts Prices
Tesla just massively cut prices on many of its vehicles to become more competitive. Reasoning for the discounts likely include: 1) the stock has faced recent pressure, 2) a number of their cars were too expensive to qualify for tax write-offs, and 3) general competition in the EV space. MORE
Meta Rescinding Offers
Meta is evidently struggling enough that it's rescinding full-time offers. MORE
China Covid Deaths
China has seen at least 60,000 additional deaths in the month since relaxing Covid lockdowns, although it's difficult to trust any official numbers. The number of deaths is expected to grow significantly due to 1) the country's elderly population, and 2) the lack of immunity from previous infections and/or vaccines. MORE
Eating Early is Better?
A new study has confirmed previous research showing that it's metabolically better to eat big meals in the morning rather than later. The study found late calories resulted in more fat storage and more hunger. MORE | STUDY
New research found teen suicides declined during the pandemic because of a reduction in bullying. MORE
IDEAS & ANALYSIS
The Chip Wars
I've not been following politics much, but I do love how Biden is handling the Chip Wars. He's not known for strength, but his getting the entire world to stop sending China advanced chips was brilliant. And he's now followed that up with major deals to build chips within US borders. I just feel like he's making all the right moves with regard to China right now, and especially around securing US access to advanced chips while denying theirs. MORE
Bullish on America, Bearish on China?
In a similar vein to the above, I'm surprised to be seeing and feeling a ton of positivity around America's prospects in the coming decade. The ideas are that 1) we're seeing a reverse of globalism, 2) more isolationism, 3) chips become more important, 4) energy becomes more critical, 5) war becomes more disruptive, and 6) a country's age demographics become increasingly important. A lot of this analysis is captured in the work of Peter Zeihan, who used to work at STRATFOR. I have been reticent to relax my worries about China's rising trajectory, but I'm becoming cautiously more optimistic based on the analysis of Zeihan and others. My problem with swallowing Zeihan's analysis whole is that I've not seen other China and strategic experts counter his views, and I find his opinions have too much certainty in them. It often sounds more like ideology than analysis to my ear, so I'm looking for smart counter narratives. But even putting his analysis to the side, I'm still happy about America's demographics, energy and food independence, and our chip manufacturing capabilities vs. China in the next decade. MORE
I hereby confess to being really bad at Mastodon. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it's some combination of the interface and the different conversational flow. I have tried to stop using Twitter and to use Mastodon exclusively, but it hasn't stuck for even a couple of days at a time. My personal opinion is that Twitter will likely survive and end up being even better than before within a couple of months, but even if I'm wrong I don't think it'll be Mastodon that replaces it. I think it's an interesting tool for small communities, but it doesn't have the "it factor" required to replace Twitter as a global discussion platform.
AI Journaling and Therapy
I've been thinking a lot about how AI, and specifically GPT, can help with personal growth. My main project for 2023 is a health app that helps you define and pursue your personal life goals and tracks your progress on that path. The first step in that process is actually the most difficult, i.e., defining who you are and what you want from life. There's a lot of overlap there with journaling and working through trauma in the sense that they're both all about transparency and engagement with who you really are.
What's so exciting to me about adding AI to the mix is that journaling is text. And so is chat. So if you want to "chat with a therapist" you can just start writing down how you feel in a journal and providing that content to the AI therapist. You can engage the ChatBot form directly and just have a conversation with a decent prompt to start you out, but I think it'll be even more powerful to use a profile as a prompt combined with a number of recent journal entries. So imagine you have a 1 page profile that defines your goals, your challenges, your key life events, your key beliefs and values, and then like 10 recent journal entries of a few sentences each. Now make that your prompt, and then engage the AI for a therapy session.
Not only can you just ask its default "voice" to respond to your questions, e.g., why do I feel so sad? Or why do I feel angry about this? Or, "I feel low-energy right now, help me get motivated."—but you can also tell it to respond as a professional psychoanalyst. Or as a Zen teacher. Or as a specific type of therapist. Now of course you should be careful with this, because AI/GPT is still an experiment, but I've done this exercise a couple of times already and the results have been stunning. It's one thing to talk to a psychoanalysis-trained therapist, but it's quite another to talk to a model that deeply understands psychoanalysis and has read nearly everything there is to read on it. And if current versions haven't, future versions surely will have. In other words, it's just like doctors diagnosing melanomas. Sure, the doctor is trained and is way better than someone off the street, but they're not as good as an AI doing it because they've just seen more melanomas.
In other words, AI better understands melanoma-ness. And very soon—if not already—AI will better understand psychoanalysis-ness. And human sadness. And trauma causes. And what therapy is best for the situation. Etc. This is what's so exciting to me about text. If you write, "Meh, don't want to get out of bed. Feel like such a failure right now.", and the AI is able to read your previous profile and combine that with asking clarifying questions in an empathic way, well, you have something extraordinary. And even setting aside a superhuman level therapist, it can already just be something there for you to interact with. Once the tech has some memory of previous conversations it can load that will be a pretty damn good facsimile of a good listener / friend for millions of people. Either way, this tech is about to be monumental for humans who need someone to talk to. MORE
Our UL Community had an amazing mid-month meetup on Thursday afternoon. The topic was "Everything AI", and we talked about hype vs. reality, how we're all using GPT in our daily work, and what we think is going to happen with in 2023. Finally we talked about the implications of businesses getting so efficient that they didn't need people, and we wondered who was going to buy all the stuff if nobody has a job? Wonderful conversation and we're already looking forward to the February meetup. JOIN THE COMMUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN FEBRUARY
Currently playing with Raycast as a possible replacement for Alfred as my primary launcher on macOS. Been using Alfred for years so it honestly feels like cheating just talking about it. Any of you using it already? RAYCAST
I've just launched the new UL referral program for the newsletter that you can find at the bottom of this issue. You get increasing rewards as you refer more people, going from a new PDF I just created, to UL membership discounts, all the way up to a 30-minute conversation with me about your life, career, and goals (a mini-mentorship!). In addition to that, I'm also giving away a brand new pair of the latest AirPod Pro 2's at the end of February. Every referral you get is an entry into the raffle for it, so the more referrals the more chances to win them. I always appreciate referrals, and this is just a way of rewarding and gamifying the process. Here's your referral link:
The new Pistachio Latte at Starbucks is way better than it should be.
⚒️ legitify — Analyze GitHub repos for vulnerabilities. TOOL | DEMO VIDEO | BY LEGIT LABS
⚒️ slackurity — A Slack bot that lets you securely share docs via Google Drive. TOOL | DEMO VIDEO | BY KYLE POLLEY
🎨 Project Discovery Wallpapers — A collection of cool wallpapers from Project Discovery. REPO
📊 An interactive dashboard of California's reservoir levels. MORE
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Work Life Balance is Impossible MORE
Rachel Tobac on Dave Bombal's show! Congrats Rachel! MORE
Consume More, Create Less MORE
🎹 A Music Theory Visual Cheatsheet MORE
The First Draft Self MORE
GPT Phishing Emails MORE
Manage Like an Engineer MORE
🔥 GPT for Journaling and Therapy MORE
RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK
Consumption vs. Creation
How much are you consuming things vs. making things? Think about Netflix, YouTube, other TV, and even books. All your inputs combined. How much time are you spending on that activity in a given month? Now compare that to how much time you spend doing anything creative. That's anything from writing articles, to journaling, to gardening, to making progress on a book. There aren't hard rules around this; just make sure you're not spending too much time "getting ready to create", or "training for creation" instead of actually doing it.
APHORISM OF THE WEEK
“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working."