TL;DR: Quiet-STaR's innovative AI method fosters advanced reasoning. Excel-based AI learning demystifies technology for all. Quantum experiments and CISA's hack underline cybersecurity's importance. Anker and Apple lead in sleep tech and VR, setting industry standards. De-Googling campaigns and Sand Battery project champion privacy and sustainable energy.

Artificial Intelligence

Quiet-STaR: Revolutionising AI’s Thought Process : Quiet-STaR introduces an approach where language models learn to “think before speaking” by generating rationales for each token to enhance predictions. This method addresses computational costs and the initial incapability of models to generate or utilise internal thoughts, through a tokenwise parallel sampling algorithm and an extended teacher-forcing technique. Remarkably, without task-specific fine-tuning, it demonstrated significant zero-shot improvements on benchmarks like GSM8K and CommonsenseQA, marking progress towards more general and scalable reasoning in language models.

Spreadsheets: Your Gateway to Understanding AI : “Spreadsheets are all you” offers a novel approach to demystifying AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) through Excel, providing a low-code, hands-on introduction aimed at a broad audience, including technical executives, developers, and AI policymakers. Emphasising that if you can understand a spreadsheet, you can grasp the complexities of AI, the project implements the GPT-2 model using standard Excel functions, making the sophisticated architecture of LLMs accessible and comprehensible. With tutorials and downloadable Excel files, it encourages interactive learning, focusing on tokenisation, encoding, and the Transformer model, despite limitations like small workload capacity and a reduced context length. This initiative underscores the educational potential of familiar tools in unravelling the intricacies of modern AI technologies.

The Artistic Evolution of Programming in the AI Era : In an insightful piece, Justin M. contemplates the transformation of programming into a form of artistry in the post-AI world, arguing against the current corporate-driven, creativity-stifling software development landscape. He suggests that future programmers will transcend mere logic to become artistically inclined creators, leveraging their unique human abilities to inspire and achieve greater human accomplishments through software. This vision contrasts sharply with today’s profit-driven tech industry, forecasting a shift towards individuality and genuine creativity in software creation, unbound by corporate constraints. Justin’s perspective heralds a paradigm where programming jobs, particularly those focused on logical problem-solving, face displacement by advanced AI, urging a redefinition of the programmer’s role towards more creative, innovative, and human-centric endeavors.


Securing Cyberspace with Quantum Keys: A Leap Forward at Oak Ridge National Laboratory : Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have successfully advanced quantum-based cybersecurity through a novel experiment, demonstrating quantum key distribution (QKD) over a deployed fiber link. Utilizing a true local oscillator, this method allows secure key sharing between parties by encoding signals in the properties of light, mitigating noise and enhancing signal coexistence with traditional data. This breakthrough not only showcases the practical application of quantum encryption but also promises easier, cost-effective integration into existing infrastructure, marking a significant step towards robust information security.

Top US Cybersecurity Agency Compromised: Systems Taken Offline After Hack : The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a critical component of the Department of Homeland Security, experienced a cyberattack last month, leading to the shutdown of two significant computer systems. One system facilitated the sharing of cyber and physical security tools among federal, state, and local officials, while the other contained security assessments for chemical facilities. The attack, executed through vulnerabilities in Ivanti’s virtual private networking software, prompted immediate action by CISA to take the affected systems offline, although they claimed no operational impact. This incident underlines the pervasive risk of cyber vulnerabilities, even among leading cybersecurity entities, and highlights the ongoing battle against hackers, including a group linked to Chinese espionage efforts.

Telecom Insider’s SIM Swap Scheme Unveiled : In a revealing court case, Jonathan Katz, a former manager at a New Jersey telecom company, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for conducting unauthorised SIM swaps. By manipulating his position and access within the company, Katz facilitated these swaps, allowing an accomplice to hijack customer accounts across multiple states. This nefarious activity, aimed at bypassing two-factor authentication, enabled the takeover of sensitive accounts, including cryptocurrency wallets, netting Katz £1,000 in Bitcoin for each swap. His actions now potentially lead to a maximum of five years in prison and a hefty fine, underscoring the serious legal consequences of insider-assisted cybercrimes.


Revealed:’s Founder’s Double Life in Data Privacy and People-Search Firms :, a Virginia-based data privacy company, is actually operating from Belarus and Cyprus, and its founder, Dimitri Shelest, has a history of launching numerous people-search services, contradicting the company’s mission. Despite marketing itself as a protector against data brokers, historical evidence and domain registration records link Shelest to the establishment of various people-search websites, including, which Onerep claims to oppose. Further investigations reveal connections to aggressive marketing campaigns and potentially unethical practices, raising concerns about the integrity of Onerep’s data privacy services. This revelation follows KrebsOnSecurity’s broader examination into the murky world of data brokers and the ethical implications of businesses profiting from both sides of the personal data spectrum.


Anker Unveils Soundcore Sleep A20 Earbuds: A Dream for Restful Nights : Anker introduces the Soundcore Sleep A20, its latest iteration of sleep-focused true wireless earbuds, featuring a significant upgrade in battery life—up to 14 hours in sleep mode, and a total of 80 hours with the charging case. These earbuds, designed without active noise cancellation, boast Twin-Seal eartips that triple the noise-blocking capability of standard silicon tips and come equipped with a sound library for white noise playback. Aimed at enhancing the sleep quality of even side sleepers with their low-profile design, the A20 model also includes new features such as a built-in alarm for waking up without disturbing others, automatic sleep monitoring with sleep position tracking, and a bud-finder feature. Priced at $149.99, with an early bird offer of $89.99 on Kickstarter, the Soundcore Sleep A20 is set to compete in the sleep aid market, especially after Bose’s exit with the discontinuation of its Sleepbuds II.

Vision Pro: Apple’s Ambitious Entry into VR Outshines Oculus but Faces Its Own Challenges : Hugo Barra, former Head of Oculus at Meta, provides an in-depth analysis of Apple’s Vision Pro, drawing from his vast experience in VR. Barra hails the hardware as “over-engineered” yet genius, emphasizing the groundbreaking “gaze & pinch” UI and the device’s high-fidelity passthrough as instant game-changers. However, he critiques the software and content offerings as uninspired, highlighting a significant gap in truly engaging AR apps and immersive VR games. The analysis further explores Vision Pro’s impact on the VR industry, suggesting it could catalyze a much-needed push towards mass-market appeal. Barra ultimately views the Vision Pro as a crucial, though imperfect, step forward, envisioning its potential to shape the future of spatial computing.


De-Google-ify the Internet: An Ethical Tech Revolution : This initiative highlights the dominance of web giants and their impact on privacy, democracy, and data centralization. It promotes the use of ethical, privacy-respecting alternatives to mainstream services like Google Docs, Maps, and YouTube, offered by free software communities. The campaign emphasizes daily efforts towards digital independence through decentralized platforms and open-source software, advocating for a shift in digital habits to reclaim control over personal data and digital environments.

Everything Else

Innovative Thermal Energy Storage: The Sand Battery Revolution in Pornainen : Polar Night Energy and Loviisan Lämpö have collaborated to establish an industrial-scale Sand Battery in Pornainen, marking a significant step towards cleaner, non-combustion heat production. Utilizing crushed soapstone from Tulikivi, this new 1 MW thermal energy storage can store up to 100 MWh, significantly reducing carbon emissions by around 160 tons annually. This project not only aligns with Pornainen’s ambition for carbon neutrality but also demonstrates a novel application of circular economy principles, using a byproduct of fireplace production. The Sand Battery’s flexibility and efficiency in charging and heat distribution support the broader adoption of renewable energy sources, contributing to the stability of the electricity grid amidst increasing wind and solar energy integration.

Revolutionizing Deployment: The Power of Immutable URLs : Garnix is introducing a groundbreaking approach to software deployment through its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that leverages Nix and NixOS, aiming to simplify and streamline the deployment process by making URLs immutable. This method ensures that the truths about the current codebase become the only focus for programmers, eliminating concerns about downtime, version interactions, and database migrations once code is merged into the main branch. The concept is not merely theoretical; garnix has already implemented this system and is gradually onboarding users. Immutable URLs, by embedding the behavior’s hash, promise to offer zero-downtime deployments, atomic upgrades across infrastructure, and significantly reduced complexity and costs. This approach also enables precise tracking of API consumers, facilitating easier management of backward-incompatible changes and providing a more reliable and efficient deployment process.

Thank you for joining me in this week’s exploration of the tech universe. Amidst the endless stream of information, I strive to bring you news that is not only relevant but also thought-provoking. Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome. Don’t forget to spread the word about the Friday Tech Focus Newsletter and stay tuned for more curated insights next week!