The biggest data breach ever: 1 billion people impacted

Hey there,

hope you had a nice week! It was pretty amazing for me. A childhood friend came to visit me in Copenhagen and we went to see the Queen concert. I have pictures of myself at 3 years old holding a fake guitar, trying to copy Brian May’s every move. It was moving to finally spend time with him in the same arena! I’ll leave a blurry picture of Brian May and of me blowing my voice on Bohemian Rhapsody at the end of the mail.

Let’s get started now. This week’s news:

  • Celsius, one of the biggest crypto banks, has filed for bankruptcy.
  • The biggest data break ever: 1B Chinese people impacted
  • 60 self-driving cars crash at the same time
  • Facebook’s new AI doesn’t leave any language behind
  • Why the James Webb space pictures are so amazing

You can learn about all of this by reading this email or with the Tech Pizza podcast or video series

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Celsius, one of the biggest crypto banks, has filed for bankruptcy

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What happened: Celsius is one of the biggest crypto banks, and it filed for bankruptcy. They owe $4.7 billion to customers, but have only $167 million in cash, even though it was managing up to $25bn in March 2021. The worst part is that the customer’s crypto is actually the company’s property, so people won’t see their money back. Celsius was taking in customer deposits and lent out the funds at higher interest rates, making a profit from the difference. They offered crazy returns (up to 18%) if you accepted returns in their token. As the crypto market crashed, they started investing customers’ money in riskier bets, like Terra before it crashed. In the meantime, Celsius management was selling off their private assets.

What I’m thinking: Once again - if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true. I believe this is something people too often forget, blinded by greed. Come on guys, 18% interest paid in a random token used by no one? But Celsius’ marketing worked. “Unbank yourself”, “this is the 99% against the 1%”, etc. are very cheap mottos that move a lot of people’s emotions. Governments need to regulate this before more people get hurt.

The biggest data break ever: 1B Chinese people impacted

Learn more on video 📹

What happened: a 25TB dataset on 1B Chinese citizens (>70% of the population) has been stolen and put for sale for 10BTC ($200k). It’s police data, so extremely valuable. It contains names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, and court cases on anything from rapes to accessing Twitter through a VPN (which is illegal in China). How did this happen? Someone managing that database thought it was convenient to share data internally with an “open backdoor link”. Have you ever shared a Google Drive file, and noticed all that series of random numbers? Something like that. Hackers founded it and downloaded it.

What I’m thinking: As usual, cybersecurity is often a people problem. Some individuals managing a database messed up potentially damaging millions of people (how many will be blackmailed now that everyone knows their police reports?). I’m afraid there’s no clear solution, but you can mitigate the risk with better education.

60 Self-driving cars crash

Learn more on video 📹

What happened: we already talked about Cruise in the past, the San Francisco company with a license for fully self-driving taxi rides. Well, nearly 60 of their vehicles stopped at the same time. The company was unable to access its system which allows remote operators to safely steer stopped vehicles to the side of the road and had to wait for humans to get there and remove them while stopping traffic for up to 90 minutes. The problem was a server connection…

What I’m thinking: we’re VERY far away from self-driving. The tech that makes cars drive themselves may be close to working, but there are a trillion other subproblems we haven’t really figured out. You don’t want the software to crash when it’s carrying humans through the streets…

Meta won’t leave any language behind

Learn more on video 📹

What happened: Meta released a new AI translation model called NLLB (No Language Left Behind). It’s a single giant AI model capable of translating 200 languages with better than ever performance. The best thing is that they open-sourced both the model and the data they collected to train it. Why did they do that?

  1. Democratization. Current ai models cover just 25 African languages, NLLB covers 55. They partnered with wikipedia to use this new capability to translate more pages. To give you an idea of the problem, Swedish has 10M speakers and 2.5M Wikipedia. Lingala, a language spoken in Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, has 45M speakers and just 3260 articles
  2. It can help them stop misinformation and stop other crimes that happen on the platform, like child trafficking.
  3. The metaverse. I guess if you want to make a digital earth people gotta communicate 🤷🏻‍♂️

Let’s say also why it’s technically pretty cool. First of all, AI needs data. How many datasets in Lingala are out there? Not a lot. So they had to get this data first and make their models more efficient then. They also managed to optimize a single model for 200 languages. It would have been easier to have 200 separate models, but obviously, that’s hard to scale.

What I’m thinking: this is an amazing step towards more inclusive technology. And it comes from Meta, a company that is often portrayed as evil. I feel like today’s conversations around tech are so polarizing, but there’s no black and white company. Companies are more like dalmatians. They all have their blind spots, but that doesn’t mean they’re not capable of amazing work

Why the James Webb space pictures are so amazing

Learn more on video 📹

I’m sure you’ve seen these pictures all over the web, so I won’t bore you again with the same details. Some days ago I wrote a LinkedIn post on why the James Webb telescope is so amazing and necessary to take these pictures. If you’re curious, you can read it here.

Thank you for reading this email! You reached the end, which will make you the smartest person at dinner parties this weekend 🎉 Remember to reveal the source of your knowledge and invite your friends to subscribe!

As promised here’s a couple of shots from the Queen concert:

See you next week!


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