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Fun Size for 7/8/22: Google chatbot wants employee status

The ghost in the machine

A Google engineer was placed on administrative leave last month for claiming that LaMDA, the artificial intelligence chatbox he was testing, was in fact sentient. Chatting about religion, LaMDA used phrases like “personhood” and “rights,” the engineer said. Also it wants to be considered an employee of Google, not property. The HuffPost story includes a transcript of a conversation with LaMDA, who makes a pretty good case for itself.

Bah, bah! Bad sheep!

From CNBC: FCC commissioner Brendan Carr has a bone to pick with TikTok, which he calls an app in “sheep’s clothing.” Claiming that the Chinese-owned company is harvesting “swaths of sensitive data,” he’s asked Apple and Google to remove the app from their stores by July 8–or he’ll know the reason why.

Wash, dry, fold, learn 

Laundromats have been transformed into pop-up libraries in a number of states, thanks to Libraries Without Borders Wash & Learn Initiative. Funded with a grant from the IMLS, the WALI brings books, laptops and librarians into laundromats so kids and adults can spend a few productive hours reading, learning or just having good clean fun.

Google Translate now speaks Quechua 

Google’s machine-learning translation system has gotten so sophisticated that it is now able to “learn” a language from texts alone, “like a polyglot locked in a room with nothing but a stack of books in the new language,” according to the New York Times. As a result, it’s providing new ways to communicate for speakers of some digitally under-represented Indigenous languages like Quechua (South America) and Lingala (Central Africa).

Re-home your router 

If your home internet speed isn’t quite as fast as you like, it might not be the provider’s fault. The culprit could be any number of objects in your home, says Lifehacker. Appliances like microwaves and dishwashers, old Bluetooth devices, and even mirrors can interfere with your wi-fi signal. Optimal router placement could make it work better.

Stream local news for free 

You can cut the cable cord and still get local TV news with one of seven free apps suggested by MakeUseOf. A few familiar names are included; ABC, NBC and CBS all stream local news channels in major markets. Of course, you could always go old school and try an antenna. LifeWire shows you how.

Credit where it’s due 

A good credit score can mean lower rates for credit cards, mortgages and car insurance, but just what determines your credit scoreMarketplace unpacks the FICO score, one of the credit industry’s most popular tools. A graph shows what goes into the algorithm that comes up with your three-digit number and a bonus video reveals the inside story of the band. Remember them?

One owner, never driven 

Newsweek reports that with the introduction of the 2023 Corvette Z06, Chevy offered an opportunity to “Own the Color. ” A custom-painted, real-life Corvette was color-matched to an NFT artwork by artist Xsullo and auctioned alongside. Bids in cryptocurrency were welcome. Want to see this one-owner, never-driven color? Look here.

Out with the old, in with the oldies 

In more automotive news, Ford Motor Co. informed its dealers there will be no more printed or digital brochures for Ford cars, starting with the 2023 models. All information on vehicles will be solely on the company’s website, according to Motor1.

Anyone nostalgic for the good old days of automotive advertising should motor on over to the new Ford Heritage Vaulta searchable archive of decades of Ford vehicle photos and brochures, some dating back to the 1800s. An early victim of its own success, the site crashed within three hours of its June 16 debut. “I warned them it would be popular,” said archivist Ted Ryan. Quick repairs got the site back up and running, per the Detroit Free Press.

Another day, another scam 

And another cautionary tale from Vox on how not to fall for some new online scams. However savvy you think you are, remember the bad guys are always dreaming up new ways to grab your data or empty your bank account. Spend a few minutes learning how overpayment and peer-to-peer payment scams use Zelle and Venmo, and how to protect yourself. Oh, and stay away from crypto.

Old Androids get a second life 

Hey, don’t toss that old Android phone in a drawer, at least until you’ve read some of the many ways CNET has found this palm-sized computer can still serve you well. No need to recycle when you can re-use it as a wireless mouse, a photo storage device, a webcam, baby monitor, or even a home security system.