MIKE'S LIST: AI companies shift the blame for data collection from them to you

OpenAI today said its new web crawler, called GPTBot, can now be blocked using the old robots.txt file standard or by blocking its IP address. If website owners choose to use one of these methods, OpenAI won’t extract data from your site and bake it into ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, video conferencing giant Zoom quietly changed its Terms of Service in March saying that it reserves the right to use your data to train its AI. Zoom users agree to the Terms of Service or can’t use Zoom.

What these moves have in common is that, while they sound like protective benefits for the public, in fact they shift the burden of responsibility for data collection from the data grabber to the data owner.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit and start discovering the new world of powerful alternatives

ChatGPT is the first artificial intelligence (AI) brand to go mainstream and it was the fastest-growing tech product ever. The brand returns more than three million results on Google News Search. Late-night TV talk show hosts mention ChatGPT by name — and their audiences know what they’re talking about.

In business and tech circles, as among the general public, ChatGPT is synonymous with Large Language Model (LLM)-based chatbots. But it's time to stop obsessing over ChatGPT and start discovering the world of powerful alternatives in this new world.

What are fake ransomware attacks and how do you deal with them?

Experts say we’re currently undergoing a new wave of fake extortion attempts — attackers pretending that they stole or encrypted data and demanding ransoms — and it’s likely to continue. Fake attacks have the advantage for scammers of being vastly faster and easier and therefore can be committed at a massive scale by scammers without skills. Because of the ease of this attack, cybersecurity experts expect it to exist indefinitely. 

Here's how to spot these fake attacks without wasting time or money. 

Apple’s Vision Pro means business. Here's how we know.

Simply by announcing Vision Pro, Apple is already changing the market. Google, for example, has reportedly canceled its Iris AR/VR product plans because (according to rumor) Apple’s product is just too good to compete with. That product was positioned in the press as a successor to Google Glass Enterprise Edition, which itself was recently canceled.

Meanwhile, other AR/VR glasses makers are getting a boost because Apple is making the market believe in the future of spacial computing.

But when the hardware gets real next year, and the software starts to emerge, that’s when the real change begins.

I had to run from teargas last night in Paris

I even inhaled a tiny bit (my throat was raw for a couple hours). 

Our group of five decided to check out the Champs Élysées at around one in the morning. 

Huge numbers of young people in their teens and twenties were just waiting for something to start, and riot police were everywhere. The tension was clear. So we decided to go one block away and try to make it back to the Metro in the other direction on a street mostly parallel with a Champs Élysées. 

Suddenly, as we were crossing an intersection, a huge crowd of people was running away in our direction, followed by a huge rolling cloud of tear gas. It looked nasty to breathe, and we didn’t know what people are running from, exactly. So we ran a bit too, made it to the Metro station, but it had been closed.

Before running, I stopped to take a video, but my wife urged me to run instead. Later, I found a half second video shot accidentally showing nothing, really. This image above is from that video.

Apple Vision Pro: Here come the apps!

It’s on!

Apple yesterday released the first beta version of the software that powers its $3,499 Apple Vision Pro platform, called visionOS, plus their visionOS software development kit.

Apple also rolled out a simulator. So we’ll get to see pictures and videos of Vision Pro apps online well before the hardware ships. (Here’s what it’s like to use the simulator.)

Videos showing third-party apps are also emerging, including this visionOS game.

We also learned more about what Apple is thinking and planning.

Here's a bit of American cultural influence nobody expects: Everybody loves Native American Dream Catchers

In my travels, I've noticed something that I haven't seen anyone comment on before: Different people around the world love and emulate Native American "dream catchers." 

I have a friend in Morocco, who's an artist, and 100% of his art is making "dream catchers" -- hoops that hold a kind of net, adorned with sacred items (like feathers or beads or other objects). 

Dream catchers originated with Anishinaabe peoples (a broad group of Native American people who occupied the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States, including the Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Mississaugas, Nipissing and Algonquin peoples.

And now I'm seeing dream catchers all over the town of Carpentras, France (a big town in Provence), and I'm thinking about the global cultural influence of Native Americans, and feeling quite moved by it. 

Ghost sign in Carpentras, France, in Provence

This looks to be an agricultural supply store from a bygone era. I can't make out all the words, but the sign looks to advertise fertilizer, grains or seeds, copper (presumably for vineyards), sulfur and insecticide.

GPS coordinates: 44.0594218, 5.0487891

Why do some companies (like MailChimp) get hacked again and again?

MailChimp suffered a data breach last year after cyber attackers exploited an internal company tool to gain access to customer accounts. The criminals were able to look at around 300 accounts and exfiltrate data on 102 customers. They also accessed some customers’ AIP keys, which would have enabled them to send email campaigns posing as those customers.

Six months later, it happened again. As before, an intruder accessed internal tools to compromise data on 133 MailChimp accounts. The breach was made possible by a social engineering attack on employees and contractors to gain access to employee passwords.

The experience of getting attacked more than once in a similar manner as a previous attack isn’t rare. In fact, it’s very common. Here's why it happens

Merging DevOps and SecOps is a great idea: Get started now

DevSecOps integrates security into software development, improving cybersecurity, reducing costs, and enhancing efficiency. By auditing, scanning, and testing code for vulnerabilities from the start, DevSecOps ensures prompt issue resolution. 

Tools like IBM Security QRadar Suite automate threat identification and remediation, streamlining the process. 

Cultivating a DevSecOps culture requires collaboration and training. Embrace DevSecOps to build secure software foundations and stay ahead of evolving threats

Communicate your way to better cyber security

Security would be easy without users. That statement is as absurd as it is true. It’s also true that business wouldn’t be possible without users. It’s time to look at the big picture when it comes to cybersecurity. 

In addition to dealing with every new risk, vulnerability and attack vector that comes along, cybersecurity pros need to understand their own fellow employees – how they think, how they learn and what they really want. 

The human element — the individual and social factors that affect cybersecurity — are as important as technology in protecting against malicious cyberattacks. And yet, in general, most cybersecurity professionals are far more adept, knowledgeable and focused on the technology side. 

However, “human failure” will be responsible for over half of all major cyber incidents over the next three years, according to a Gartner report. 

And so we find ourselves heading into another season of growing cyberattacks with a gross mismatch between the focus of cybersecurity professionals and the factors that protect against it. 

It’s time for a reset.

Elegant new coffee shop to open Monday in Oakland with BEAUTIFUL ceramics (made by my daughter-in-law)

A 45-year-old coffee roasting company called Mr. Espresso will open its first-ever coffee shop in Oakland Monday called the Caffè. (Find it at 1120 Broadway). 

The creators of this shop have incredibly good taste. I know this because they're getting their beautiful, elegant, custom-made ceramics from my super-talented daughter-in-law, Nadia, owner of Habibi Ceramics.

Eater has a nice article about the opening. (Pictures here courtesy of that article and credited to Hardy Wilson.)

Check it out, people! (I'd attend the opening, but I'm stuck in Italy where they don't have such stylish espresso cups...) 

How remote work is changing American culture

Tech philosophers have been waxing verbose lately about the culture-shifting power of generative artificial intelligence (AI).

“Artificial intelligence is transforming the world,” said the Brookings Institute. “Generative AI changes everything,” the Harvard Business Review proclaimed.

And that’s true. But the biggest tech-driven culture change at the moment — far bigger than AI — is the move to remote work.

Here are the five biggest ways remote work is changing American culture.

Do you really need a CISO?

Cybersecurity has never been more challenging or vital. Every organization needs strong leadership on cybersecurity policy, procurement and execution — such as a CISO, or chief information security officer.

A CISO is a senior executive in charge of an organization’s information, cyber and technology security. CISOs need a complete understanding of cybersecurity as well as the business, the board, the C-suite and how to speak in the language of senior leadership.

It’s a changing role in a changing world. But do you really need one?

Having a nice ombra by a canal in Venice

"Ombra" means "shade" or "shadow" in Venetian. Back in the day, there were wine sellers in Venice's Piazza San Marco. Locals would buy a glass of wine in the middle of the day, then find some shade with a friend to drink it. So even today, locals will tell a friend: "Let's go grab a shade" -- an "ombra." They visit bars called bàcaros, and also get a cicchetti, which is a kind of Venetian tapa. Because wine is so much better with a little food. Join us and I'll show you

Should you be afraid of the cameras in your robot vacuum?

Robot vacuum cleaner products are by far the largest category of consumer robots. They roll around on floors, hoovering up dust and dirt so we don’t have to, all while avoiding obstacles.

The industry leader, iRobot, has been cleaning up the robot vacuum market for two decades. Over this time, the company has steadily gained fans and a sterling reputation, including around security and privacy.

And then, something shocking happened. Someone posted on Facebook a picture of a woman sitting on the toilet in her home bathroom — a picture taken by a Roomba.

And the world responded: “Wait, what?!”

We’re quickly moving into a world of ubiquitous AI and computer vision. And these technologies need to be trained with real-world data. Locking that down, especially when these technologies involve hundreds or thousands of people around the world, is extremely difficult and likely to result in errors, leaks and hacks. 

Here's what you need to know about how much your robot vacuum really sucks