TL;DR: This week's newsletter covers various AI advancements, including SoftBank's "emotion cancelling" technology, AI safety pioneer Ilya Sutskever's launch of Safe Superintelligence Inc., and the release of Claude 3.5 Sonnet. In Cybersecurity, we learn about setting up an SSH honeypot, a potential cyberattack on AMD, and new open-source rootkits used to evade detection on VMs. Additionally, we cover ongoing privacy concerns related to AI-powered camera trials by Network Rail and Google's order to block soccer streaming sites in France.

Artificial Intelligence

AI’s Unwelcome Guest: How PerplexityBot Ignores Robots.txt and Steals Your Content (~4 min.) : The author, who has been blocking AI bots on their server using robots.txt and nginx configurations, discovered that despite these measures, the Perplexity AI bot was still able to access and summarize their content. The author asked Perplexity how they were accessing the site, and the response indicated that they did not actually have the capability to crawl websites or bypass robots.txt restrictions. However, an analysis of the author’s logs revealed that Perplexity was using headless browsers to scrape content, ignoring robots.txt and not sending their user agent string. The author has since joined Perplexity’s Discord server and filed a bug report, but is frustrated by the lack of respect for robots.txt and the potential for AI companies to slurp up content without permission.

Angry Voices Soothed: AI Tech Tames Hostile Customer Calls, Reduces Operator Stress (~3 min.) : SoftBank Corp. has developed “emotion canceling” technology that uses AI to alter angry voices into calmer ones, aiming to reduce stress on call center operators. The technology, which was inspired by a TV program about customer harassment, can soften the pitch and inflection of a voice to make it less intimidating. While the AI doesn’t change the wording, it can detect when a conversation is too long or abusive and send a warning message. The goal is for the technology to serve as a “mental shield” for operators rather than completely replacing them in handling customer complaints.

Superintelligence Startup: AI Safety Pioneer Ilya Sutskever Launches For-Profit Venture Safe Superintelligence Inc. (~3 min.) : Ilya Sutskever, co-founder of OpenAI, has launched a new company called Safe Superintelligence Inc. (SSI) just one month after leaving OpenAI. The company aims to develop safe and controlled superintelligent AI systems, building on Sutskever’s research on AI safety. Unlike OpenAI, which was initially a non-profit organization, SSI is being designed as a for-profit entity, with offices in Palo Alto and Tel Aviv. Sutskever’s team at SSI plans to focus solely on advancing AI capabilities while ensuring its safety, without distractions from commercial pressures or management overhead.

Introducing Claude 3.5 Sonnet: The Intelligent AI Model That’s Twice as Fast and 2x Smarter! (~5 min.) : Claude 3.5 Sonnet, a new AI model from, has been released, offering enhanced intelligence, speed, and cost-effectiveness. This mid-tier model outperforms competitor models and Claude 3 Opus on various evaluations, including graduate-level reasoning, undergraduate-level knowledge, and coding proficiency. The model is ideal for complex tasks such as context-sensitive customer support and orchestrating multi-step workflows, with the ability to independently write, edit, and execute code. Additionally, a new feature called Artifacts has been introduced, allowing users to interact with Claude in a more collaborative way, creating a dynamic workspace for AI-generated content.

LangChain: The AI Framework That’s Too Clever for Its Own Good? (~8 min.) : The blog post by Fabian, a deep learning engineer, shares his team’s experience working with LangChain, an abstraction layer for building AI applications using large language models (LLMs). Despite its promise to simplify code, LangChain’s complexity and nested abstractions actually increased debugging time and limited flexibility. The post highlights three key issues: unnecessary complexity, limited flexibility, and difficulty in debugging, concluding that a “building blocks” approach without frameworks like LangChain would be more beneficial for developers.


Trapping the Trap: Uncovering SSH Honeypot Secrets! (~1 min.) : A honeypot is a security measure that simulates a vulnerable system to detect and deter attackers. The article discusses how to create an SSH honeypot, a specific type of honeypot designed to capture SSH brute-force attacks. By setting up this trap, you can identify potential threats and gather information about the tactics used by malicious actors. This technique can be particularly useful for organizations seeking to improve their network security and incident response.

AMD in the Crosshairs: Cyberattack Claims Data Steal, Future Products at Stake (~1 min.) : AMD has confirmed an investigation into a potential cyberattack after a threat actor named “IntelBroker” claimed to have stolen sensitive data from their website. The alleged stolen data includes future products, employee and customer databases. AMD is working with law enforcement officials and a third-party hosting partner to investigate the claim and verify the significance of the stolen information. This is not the first time IntelBroker has attempted to sell allegedly stolen data, having previously targeted Europol, The Home Depot, and DC Health Link in 2022, AMD also investigated claims that RansomHouse stole 450GB of their data.

Uncanny Attack: ‘Reptile’ & ‘Medusa’ Rootkits Unleash Stealthy Hackers (~1 min.) : A suspected Chinese threat actor, tracked as UNC3886, has been found to use publicly available open-source rootkits named “Reptile” and “Medusa” to evade detection on VMware ESXi virtual machines. This allows them to conduct malicious activities such as stealing credentials, executing commands, and moving laterally within the compromised network. The actor’s use of off-the-shelf rootkits makes it easier for them to remain hidden, highlighting the importance of robust security measures in virtualized environments.

Kaspersky’s Days Numbered: US Ban on Russian Cybersecurity Firm Imminent (~5 min.) : The US government has banned Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky from selling its products to new customers starting July 20 and will only provide software updates to existing customers until September 29, citing national security concerns. The ban follows years of warnings from the US intelligence community that Kaspersky’s antivirus software could be used by Moscow to spy on customers. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized that the decision is not a penalty against American companies using Kaspersky software, but rather an effort to protect national security and critical infrastructure. The ban represents a significant rift in relations between the US and Russia, as well as a challenge for American companies currently using Kaspersky software.


Kick-Off for Censorship: Google Ordered to Block Soccer Streaming Sites in France (~5 min.) : Canal+, owner of broadcasting rights for certain sports events, has obtained a court order to block specific domain names related to soccer streaming on DNS platforms like Cloudflare, Google, and Cisco. These domains were previously used to circumvent earlier blocking injunctions, likely providing unauthorized access to sports streams. The move raises concerns about future measures Canal+ may demand to combat online piracy, highlighting the ongoing struggle between content owners, ISPs, and DNS providers to protect intellectual property rights.

Proton Goes Nonprofit: Securing the Future with a Profit-Proof Mission (~3 min.) : Proton, a secure email and productivity suite, is transitioning to a nonprofit foundation, but with a twist. Unlike other privacy-focused organizations, Proton aims to maintain a profitable business at its core, rather than relying on donations or subsidies. This move allows Proton to prioritize its mission while still generating revenue through subscriptions. The foundation will be governed by a board including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, ensuring the organization remains committed to putting people ahead of profits.

Surveillance on the Rails: Network Rail’s AI-Powered Camera Trials Raise Privacy Concerns (~4 min.) : Network Rail has been conducting AI-powered trials on its rail stations, using cameras to detect emotions and alert staff to potential issues. While the CEO of Purple Transform, the company working with Network Rail, assures that no images are stored when emotion detection is active, privacy experts express concern about the lack of transparency and debate around the use of AI in public spaces. The trials have reportedly detected trespassing incidents and aided police investigations, but critics warn that the technology could be used to monitor crowds and threaten individual freedoms.


Donut Delight: Freshly Frosted Freebie Alert! (~1 min.) : Epic Games is offering “Freshly Frosted” as this week’s freebie, available until June 27th. To redeem, users must have an Epic Games account (not Steam) and access the store page through the provided link. The offer includes in-game currency packs for Rumble Club, which can be earned by completing the tutorial on the Epic platform.


Type Anywhere: Logitech’s Keys-To-Go 2 Review - Slim, Smart, and Satisfyingly Portable (~5 min.) : The Logitech Keys-To-Go 2 is a portable keyboard designed for travel, featuring a thin and lightweight design (0.17 inches thick and 5.4 ounces) with a built-in cover that protects the keycaps and flips around 360 degrees for ergonomic use. The keyboard has up to 36 months of battery life, relying on two non-rechargeable coin cell batteries, and connects via Bluetooth with multi-device connectivity. While it may be a niche device, the Keys-To-Go 2 excels as a travel companion, offering a good balance of portability, battery life, and features at an affordable $80 price tag.

Meet the Beam Pro: Xreal’s Game-Changing AR Companion (~4 min.) : Xreal’s new Beam Pro is a handheld device designed to work seamlessly with its augmented reality (AR) glasses. The Beam Pro runs on a customized version of Android and has a 6.5-inch screen, dual cameras, and 6GB or 8GB of RAM. It can be used as a remote control for the AR glasses, allowing users to interact with apps and games projected onto their field of view. This device is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the Beam, which was primarily a remote control for the AR glasses.

Apple Shifts Gears: Vision Pro Headset Suspended for Cheaper Alternative (~4 min.) : Apple has reportedly suspended work on its second-generation Vision Pro headset to focus on developing a cheaper model, codenamed “N109”. The company aims to release this lower-cost device for around $1,600, comparable to the price of high-end iPhones. The new model will feature the same high-end display components as the Vision Pro, but with fewer cameras and smaller speakers. Apple is said to be struggling to reduce costs without sacrificing features, which may result in a delayed release date.

Starlink Mini: Portable Internet Power for $599! (~2 min.) : SpaceX has started offering a portable Starlink Mini kit that fits in a backpack, allowing users to access satellite internet service on-the-go. The mini kit costs $599 upfront, with an additional monthly fee of $30 for the Roam service. While it’s only available in select areas with high usage currently, SpaceX plans to roll out the product internationally and is working to make Starlink more affordable overall. The mini kit features a built-in Wi-Fi router, consumes less power, and offers download speeds over 100 Mbps.


Radiopharma Breakthrough: Cancer-Fighting Tech Takes Flight! (~1 min.) : Cancer-fighting radiopharmaceuticals are gaining momentum as innovative treatments for various types of cancer. These pharmaceuticals, which combine radioactive isotopes with targeted molecules, can help diagnose and treat tumors more effectively than traditional methods. Recent advancements have led to increased interest and investment in these therapies, offering new hope for patients facing this devastating disease.

Moon’s Wild Ride: Witnessing a Rare ‘Major Lunar Standstill’ in 2024-2025 (~4 min.) : This year, skywatchers can experience a rare celestial event known as a “major lunar standstill”, where the moon rises and sets at its most extreme northerly and southerly positions on the horizon. This occurs when the tilts of both Earth and the moon are at their maximum, causing the moon to rise higher in the sky and stay visible for longer periods. The event will be most pronounced around the equinoxes in September 2024 and March 2025, with optimal viewing times during full moons. With a good pair of binoculars or telescope, observers can zoom in on Earth’s illuminated satellite for an enhanced experience.

Sun’s Magnetic Field Flip: A Galactic Shake-Up Looms, But Don’t Worry, No Apocalypse Ahead! (~7 min.) : The sun’s magnetic field is set to flip, marking the halfway point of its 11-year solar cycle. This phenomenon occurs every 22 years, with the last reversal happening in 2013. The shift in polarity will bring the sun’s magnetic field closer to Earth’s own magnetic field, but it won’t have any catastrophic effects on our planet. In fact, the flip may even provide a slight shield against harmful cosmic rays. The process is gradual, taking around a year or two to complete, and scientists are monitoring the change to predict future solar cycles.

Time-Traveling with Your Mind: Unlocking Secrets of the Past, Present, and Future (~4 min.) : The concept of chronesthesia allows us to mentally project ourselves into the past, present, or future, sparking profound insights and personal growth. By directing our curiosity across different time periods, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, others, and the world around us. This temporal curiosity practice can help us learn from history, appreciate the present moment, and imagine possibilities for the future. By setting aside time to focus on past, present, or future curiosities, we can boost our mood, creativity, and well-being.

Unlocking the Secrets of Baby Talk: How Infants Learn Language in Just Three Days! (~6 min.) : Researchers have long debated how children learn language, with some suggesting that language acquisition recapitulates phylogeny (the stages of child development replicate those of human ancestors). However, this idea has been criticized as intellectually problematic. Instead, experts focus on two key questions: how do infants identify discrete words in a continuous stream of speech and how do they learn the meaning of those words? The article highlights a breakthrough study that shows infants as young as eight months old can use “transitional probabilities” between syllables to differentiate between real words and nonsense words.


Drone Ban Takes Flight: House Passes Bill Barring DJI from Using FCC Frequencies (~3 min.) : The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has been passed by the House of Representatives, containing a provision that bans DJI from using Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequencies in the United States. This ban, included in Section 1722 of the bill, would effectively remove DJI’s ability to obtain approval from the FCC for future drone imports and potentially ground current drones. The bill is now headed to the Senate for further review.

Adobe’s Subscription Scramble: FTC Files Suit Over ‘Deceptive’ Practices! (~1 min.) : The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken legal action against Adobe and two top executives, Maninder Sawhney and David Wadhwani, alleging deceptive business practices regarding their subscription plans. Specifically, the FTC claims that Adobe engaged in unfair or misleading acts or practices in connection with its subscription-based services. The complaint seeks relief from the court to stop these alleged deceptive practices and to require Adobe to provide restitution to affected customers.

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!