🤔 Wiser! 113: Deepfake Propaganda | Fake AI Images | NFT Museum | AI Rejuvenation | Starbucks Odyssey

Rick Huckstep
12 min readFeb 17


w/Wiser! #113 — Friday 17th February 2023


Another week and another set of “Twitter is broke” stories…but the headlines are still dominated by ChatGPT and the generative AI revolution. In the west, it’s becoming a Google v Microsoft story. In the East, China’s tech companies are entering the fray, although somewhat differently.

Other stories include Alphabet’s costly AI error; movie tech that knocks years off the octogenarian Harrison Ford; the tractor maker that wants to be a tech company; the Paris museum that’s got a permanent NFT exhibition; Reddit’s exemplar web3 use case and the latest on Starbuck’s efforts to introduce NFTs to its Rewards loyalty program.

ATB, Rick

P.s. Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!

👍 “Congrats and thanks a lot for always sharing your tips and tricks Rick!” — Dr. Martha Boeckenfeld, TOP 100 Women Of The Future | Strategic Metaverse & Web3 Advisor

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📺 Are Deepfakes being used for state-aligned propaganda?

The use of deepfakes for the purpose of spreading state-aligned propaganda has recently been discovered. For the first time.

Graphika, a research organisation that studies disinformation, discovered two deepfake videos that seem to show anchors of an American news channel promoting the interests of the CCP and undercutting the United States. One video featured a reporter criticising mass shootings in America, and another showed an anchor praising the CCP’s foreign policy.

While the videos themselves didn’t garner many views before they were removed, Graphika says that the videos themselves are a bigger concern as they are indicative of how the use of politically motivated deepfakes could spread rampant misinformation in the future. Continue reading…($)


1. Alphabet experiences second largest daily market cap loss ever after AI own goal

Shares of Alphabet came under massive selling pressure as the company failed to impress investors with Bard, its AI answer to ChatGPT and Microsoft. The market valuation of Alphabet fell by nearly $110 billion after Google launched an online commercial to promote the new AI chatbot, Bard that gave the wrong answer! 🤦‍♂️ In the ad, Bard is asked, “What new findings from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I discuss with my nine-year-old?” The answer Bard gave was factually incorrect, as any nine-year-old would tell you! For more…


2. An AI-generated image on a magazine cover has raised questions of authenticity

Réponses Photo is a popular French photography magazine you’re unlikely to have heard of…until now. That’s because they’ve put an AI-generated image on the cover of its latest edition and it’s caused a bit of a stir. For more…

🤖 Can you tell which photo is real and which is fake?

Answer at the bottom of this email…👇


3. AI is making stars like Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford look younger in movies

In the trailer for his upcoming film, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, Harrison Ford looks remarkably young for an 80-year old.

“That is my actual face at that age,” the actor explained on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

To see the trailer and see other examples…


4. Shopify introduces blockchain tools & NFTs to 450 million buyers

Shopify, the multi-billion dollar e-commerce giant popular with small to medium sized businesses, has launched a series of new blockchain tools. The reason is to give merchants a host of web3 tools, functions and features to easily build token gated apps using NFTs.

Here’s The Thing: Shopify are giving merchants digital technology in the form of a non-fungible token to manage access to their websites. For example, if they provide subscription content that’s behind a paywall. The features allow merchants to do more than just access, because the smart contract functionality of a NFT lends itself to holding exclusive discounts & benefits for customers. To find out more (with use-cases)…


5. PayPal pauses work on its own Stablecoin

Payments giant PayPal is pausing work on launching its own stablecoin amid a regulatory crackdown on crypto in the USA. The company, which lets customers buy, sell and hold tokens like bitcoin and ether, had been aiming to launch the stablecoin in the coming weeks but is putting the project on hold to better understand how digital assets will be regulated going forward.

Here’s The Thing: this isn’t a matter of whether but when. Stablecoins give financial organisations the ability to move money without the cost and friction in today’s system. The issue is that the nascent technology is still unregulated, which is why PayPal are taking a pause. Continue reading…


6. Language app Duolingo uses AI to personalise the learning experience

Duolingo is a language learning platform that uses an AI system called “Birdbrain” to personalise lessons for its 50 million active learners. Birdbrain allows Duolingo to provide a gamified approach to language learning with a simple user interface and bright cartoon characters. This helps the platform achieve its mission of making the best education in the world universally available. With Birdbrain, Duolingo is able to scale the learning experience and provide 1 billion exercises per day. For more…


7. Reddit’s NFT collectible avatars is a perfect web3 use-case

Reddit’s NFT “Collectible Avatars” project is a prime example of an effective Web3 ”on-ramp” (which is jargon to “getting more customers). Thanks to the Super Bowl this week, about 1.3 million of the official Super Bowl LVII NFT avatars have been minted since Monday, including more than half a million on Tuesday.

Here’s The Thing: Because they’re free, these avatars are not generating huge trading volumes. 💰But it’s not about the money. The bigger draw of Reddit’s NFT program is that it’s bringing people into the space in an accessible manner. In total, users have now minted nearly 10 million of Reddit’s Collectible Avatar NFTs to date, according to public blockchain data available on Dune. Delve deeper…


8. Are British police vulnerable to spying from China?

Apparently, British police are leaving themselves open to spying by Beijing because of their reliance on Chinese-made cameras. This is the conclusion of a report from the UK government’s independent watchdog on surveillance. It seems that most police forces across England and Wales use camera equipment that is either made in China or contains important Chinese components. Fraser Sampson, the publicly appointed surveillance commissioner, warned that such equipment poses both security and ethical concerns.

  • Security: because the China-made components could be used for spying
  • Ethical: because the cameras have been implicated in helping the Chinese government monitor detainment camps for Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

Last week, the former head of MI6 said the West needed to “wake up” to China surveillance in the wake of the US shooting down the “spy balloons” Read more…


9. Tractor maker John Deere’s strategy is to generate at least 10% of its revenues from digital sources

Is John Deere a tractor manufacturer or a technology company? The firm, which has built self-driving tractors, crop-spraying drones, and weed-identifying sprayers, has announced they’re “finalising a satellite partner.” Farm equipment is becoming smarter. Nowadays, the latest agricultural machines are loaded with sensors and powered by artificial intelligence. This makes internet connectivity important to farmers, especially in remote and rural areas with no mobile connectivity.

Here’s The Thing: John Deere wants to connect farmers as part of its strategy to digitise its revenue sources. Last year, Deere set a strategic goal to drive 10% of its revenue from software subscription fees by 2030. Providing Internet connectivity in farmers in remote fields is key to delivering this strategy. For more…


10. Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com to launch ChatGPT-style product

JD.com is one of China’s largest e-commerce players…and it plans to launch a ChatGPT-style product, joining a flurry of Chinese giants to announce plans for rival technology to OpenAI and Google’s Bard. Other China tech giants, such as Baidu, Alibaba, and NetEase have all announced plans for ChatGPT rivals in the last couple of weeks.

Here’s The Thing: all of the announcements have fallen short of saying the generative AI product will be all-encompassing like ChatGPT. Instead, the Chinese alternatives to ChatGPT are all framed as application specific. The speculation is that this is because the CCP will be concerned about AI tools that can answer difficult questions about China’s authoritarian approach to government (which may be well-founded but is also worthy of the “conspiracy theory” label.) Delve deeper…

☕️ Starbucks Use Case: Building customer loyalty with NFTs

Starbucks, as one of the first big brands to make a decisive move toward leveraging blockchain for loyalty, faces the problem of winning over both Web3 experts and a public whose interest in NFTs is still quite low. And the Odyssey beta, which is serving as a testing ground for the brand, highlights both the challenges and opportunities of being a first mover. Learn all about it in the latest Use Case for the Brand Strategy Collection…👇


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📣 In Other News

🤖 What are Bitcoin Ordinals?

One of the biggest trends in the current crypto climate are Bitcoin Ordinals. The so-called Bitcoin NFTs are now the most discussed topic as their appearance brought a wave of positive as well as negative reactions. What are they, how did they appear and what purpose do they serve?

What’s going on in Elon’s world?

👖Did You Know? 30% of the 6 billion pairs of jeans made each year are never worn. To solve this first world problem, fashion manufacturer unspun has developed a pair of sustainable made-to-order jeans that are created with AI. Watch the promo for unspun jeans on YouTube.


🎙 Big Tech Little Tech #18: Google antitrust, ChatGPT, Avatar, and a new dodo

In the latest episode of the podcast that takes a not so serious look at the seriousness of tech, Shaun and I discuss “Why US Gov is suing Google”. Plus: How ChatGPT’s success was a surprise, un-extincting the Dodo, some movies, what about World Stats and some tech news.

Find Big Tech Little Tech on all major Podcast platforms:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Anchor | Pandora | Google Podcasts | Castbox | Deezer | Pocket Casts | Stitcher | RSS Feed | Subscribe to Newsletter

🌎 For all show notes, background links and everything to do with the show, go to the Big Tech Little Tech website.


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Rick Huckstep

I help decision-makers and professionals make better decisions. Using simple and engaging language, I make sense of what’s happening in emerging tech.