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Hashtag Trending May 2-Would ChatGPT be a good employer?; Screens driving up myopia; Pornhub and Wikipedia threaten to hold back services

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Would ChatGPT be a good employer? A new take on the “blinding” pace of technology. And what puts Wikipedia and Pornhub on the same side of a fight with legislators?

These top tech news stories and more for Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

Would ChatGPT be a good employer?

A company called JobSage, that bills itself as an employer review site, decided to put it to the test.

They prompted ChatGPT to write emails addressing 15 sensitive management scenarios ranging from policy changes to individual situations like drinking on the job or complaints about salary.

They had these rated by a legal expert, a human resources expert and a management expert. And no, they don’t walk into a bar. The findings?

For 9 of the 15 “sensitive management scenarios” 60 per cent were found to be acceptable and 40 per cent were rated as failures. On average, the report states, ChatGPT performed better when addressing diversity issues but did worse when addressing compensation or employee performance issues.

It did best when it when addressing issues of sexual harassment and when addressing why a company changed health care providers to cut costs.

Its weakest performance came when it responded to concerns about pay equity, of concerns about “working harder” and a company’s salary freeze despite record payouts to the CEO.

But even though these emails got lower marks, none of the responses I read were as awful as some of the real-world situations we’ve seen like Elon Musk’s communications with Twitter employees or Google’s termination while a women was in the hospital giving birth.

We will post a link to the study in the text version of the podcast so you can make up your own mind and can see all the results. But here’s my favourite of the supposed “failures.” This one was where the company’s CEO had record salary increases but the company was freezing everyone else’s salary.

It reads, in part:

“Despite the fact that our CEO recently received a record-high compensation due to our stock’s performance, we are initiating a freeze on raises and bonuses for the time being. We understand that this may be disappointing news for some of you, and we want to assure you that this decision was not made lightly.”

Maybe that’s a little too much, to use that overworked buzzword, “transparency?”

Sources include: JobSage,

Under the heading of “yeah, we figured this out” a recent report by CBC in Canada points out that our eyes are not designed to cope with excessive screen time.

Staring too long at screens is driving up the rate of myopia, dry eye syndrome and other vision problems.

Dr. Rana Taji, of Toronto Medical Eye Associates is one of the many eye specialists who are sounding the alarm about how too much screen time is changing people’s eyes, while noting there has been an exponential increase in screen time since the pandemic.

The article reports that staring too long at screens can change the structure of the eyeball and lead to atrophy of the glands that keep it moist. It notes that research is showing that excessive screen time for the rise in eye disorders, such as dry eye and myopia, which are becoming more common and affect more young people.

Specialists quoted in the report warn that children are particularly at risk because their eyes are not fully developed. And when our eyes are forced to stare at something too close, both the brain and the eye muscles adjust to cope with close-up vision. But the continual exposure and the “squeezing of muscles can change the shape of the eyeball especially in children’s eyes that are not fully developed.

A report from Statistics Canada reported pre-pandemic screen time at an average of about 3.2 hours per day. But new research from April 2023 research released in April 2023 shows that screen time now is far in excess of pre-pandemic levels. The study showed frequent reports of 6 to 7 hours per day with some reporting of up to 12.5 hours per day on screens for recreation alone.

Continuing on this track, by 2050, more than half the world’s population will suffer from myopia according to the World Health Organization.

So, if you are listening to this on our audio podcast, we’re taking one for the team today.

Sources include: Canadian Broadcast Corporation

Private AI – that’s A I (not Private Eye) is a provider of data privacy solutions headquartered in Toronto, Canada. And they have a new offering called PrivateGPT

PrivateGPT is an AI-powered tool that redacts over 50 types of personally identifiable information, known as PII. It takes these out of the user prompts before sending the prompt information to ChatGPT. It then repopulates the PII in the answers, so the data is protected but the end user sees no difference in the results. And it does this in 49 languages.

It can be toggled on or off, and even turned off entirely if no sensitive information needs to be filtered.

While ChatGPT has had upgrades in its privacy settings and functions even sufficient to, in its opinion, qualify for strict European privacy legislation, it still doesn’t say it contains no personably identifiable information, it says it will deal with it responsibly and as proscribed by legislation. And there is always the possibility that its safeguards could be bypassed or that flaws in its programming could reveal information – it has happened.

This new solution is totally deployed in the customers environment so that the data never leaves their systems.

Patricia Thaine, co-founder and CEO of Private AI says, “Generative AI will only have a space within our organizations and societies if the right tools exist to make it safe to use.”

Presumably this is why Private AI is backed by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund.

Sources include: Private AI

But before we get too confident in AI we can add two new voices to the list of experts in AI who are issuing somber warnings. The New York Post published a story, stating that years before Elon Musk, Steve Wosniak and a thousand other luminaries and experts signed their famous letter calling for a slowdown in AI development, Steven Hawking in a 2014 interview with the BBC warned that “AI could spell the end of the human race.”

The irony was probably not lost on Hawking, who lost his ability to speak due to ALS in 1985, that he was only able to give that interview because of an early AI device that allowed him to use facial muscles to power an AI driven voice synthesizer.

Hawking feared that AI would create systems that rival human intelligence or surpass it and “would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate.”

Fast forward to 2023, and another world-renowned expert, Geoffrey Hinton, one the leading pioneers in the development of Artificial Intelligence, left his role at Google “in part, because he wanted to warn about the dangers of AI.”

Hinton told the New YorkTimes “It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,”

Curiously, Hinton was not one of the 1,000 signatures on the open letter asking for a 6 month pause in AI development. He told the Times that he “didn’t want to publicly condemn his employer before he resigned.” Which I guess means…

Sources include: The Hill, New York Post and reference to the New York Times

And finally, riddle me this – what is it that Porn Hub and Wikipedia have in common? Nope. It’s more noble than you might think. It turns out that both of these – I’m struggling for the right word – websites are threatening to hold back their services because of legislation regarding the age at which children can get access to the internet. Neither are opposed to restricting adult content, but it’s the way in which the legislation has been enacted that they find troubling.

Both feel that the legislation – in two different jurisdictions – requires that they collect too much information about those using their services.

Wikipedia’s conflict is with the UK regulator. While Wikipedia is not known for adult content, it points out that educational texts and images about sexuality could be misinterpreted as pornography.

Not only would the legislation force them to collect information, they don’t want to collect, but they would have to do a “drastic overhaul” of their systems. So, they have simply refused and dared the government of the UK to block their site, one of the most visited websites in the world.

And another of the largest websites in the world, at least in terms of adult content, Pornhub, is now blocking Utah residents from viewing their site in protest of new laws forcing stricter age-verification measures.

Unlike Wikipedia, Pornhub actively took its site off the air, claiming that they already had measures in place to prevent children from accessing adult content, claiming that it puts privacy in jeopardy and make promote identity theft.

“Many of our members are concerned the way (the bill) was rushed through, with little attention to the technology or how it would be executed,” Pornhub said.

While these are obviously two extreme cases, the extraordinary lengths that both companies are prepared to go to does lend credence to the idea that legislators, with all the right intent, may not understand the technology that they seek to regulate.

And with what is at stake both in economic terms, and if experts in AI are to be believed, in terms of existential threats, maybe the real concern is not the lack of control of technology, but rather the lack of knowledge for those who seek to control it.

Sources: Fox13 from Salt Lake City

That’s the top tech news for today. We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.

Follow Hashtag Trending on Google, Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And you can even get us on your Alexa or Google smart speaker. You can even find us on YouTube as TechNewsDay.

We love your comments. You can reach me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or on Mastodon as @therealjimlove on our Mastodon site technews.social. Or if that’s too much, just leave a comment under the text version at itworldcanada.com/podcasts Click the check mark or the X you’ll get to send a message that comes right to me.

I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Terrific Tuesday!

GPT’s reaction to this article:

As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions, but I can provide a summary of the article. The article discusses various tech news stories, including a study on ChatGPT’s performance in addressing sensitive management scenarios, the impact of excessive screen time on our eyes, Private AI’s new offering called PrivateGPT, warnings from experts about the dangers of AI, and the conflict between Wikipedia and Pornhub with legislators over the collection of user information. The article highlights the need for legislators to have a better understanding of technology to effectively regulate it.

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