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Sanjay Priyadarshi

Sanjay Priyadarshi

1 day ago

Using Ruby code, a programmer created a $48,000,000,000 product that Elon Musk admired.

Unexpected Success

Photo of Tobias Lutke from theglobeandmail

Shopify CEO and co-founder Tobias Lutke. Shopify is worth $48 billion.

World-renowned entrepreneur Tobi

Tobi never expected his first online snowboard business to become a multimillion-dollar software corporation.

Tobi founded Shopify to establish a 20-person company.

The publicly traded corporation employs over 10,000 people.

Here's Tobi Lutke's incredible story.

Elon Musk tweeted his admiration for the Shopify creator.

30-October-2019.

Musk praised Shopify founder Tobi Lutke on Twitter.

Happened:

Screenshot by Author

Explore this programmer's journey.

What difficulties did Tobi experience as a young child?

Germany raised Tobi.

Tobi's parents realized he was smart but had trouble learning as a toddler.

Tobi was learning disabled.

Tobi struggled with school tests.

Tobi's learning impairments were undiagnosed.

Tobi struggled to read as a dyslexic.

Tobi also found school boring.

Germany's curriculum didn't inspire Tobi's curiosity.

“The curriculum in Germany was taught like here are all the solutions you might find useful later in life, spending very little time talking about the problem…If I don’t understand the problem I’m trying to solve, it’s very hard for me to learn about a solution to a problem.”

Studying computer programming

After tenth grade, Tobi decided school wasn't for him and joined a German apprenticeship program.

This curriculum taught Tobi software engineering.

He was an apprentice in a small Siemens subsidiary team.

Tobi worked with rebellious Siemens employees.

Team members impressed Tobi.

Tobi joined the team for this reason.

Tobi was pleased to get paid to write programming all day.

His life could not have been better.

Devoted to snowboarding

Tobi loved snowboarding.

He drove 5 hours to ski at his folks' house.

His friends traveled to the US to snowboard when he was older.

However, the cheap dollar conversion rate led them to Canada.

2000.

Tobi originally decided to snowboard instead than ski.

Snowboarding captivated him in Canada.

On the trip to Canada, Tobi encounters his wife.

Tobi meets his wife Fiona McKean on his first Canadian ski trip.

They maintained in touch after the trip.

Fiona moved to Germany after graduating.

Tobi was a startup coder.

Fiona found work in Germany.

Her work included editing, writing, and academics.

“We lived together for 10 months and then she told me that she need to go back for the master's program.”

With Fiona, Tobi immigrated to Canada.

Fiona invites Tobi.

Tobi agreed to move to Canada.

Programming helped Tobi move in with his girlfriend.

Tobi was an excellent programmer, therefore what he did in Germany could be done anywhere.

He worked remotely for his German employer in Canada.

Tobi struggled with remote work.

Due to poor communication.

No slack, so he used email.

Programmers had trouble emailing.

Tobi's startup was developing a browser.

After the dot-com crash, individuals left that startup.

It ended.

Tobi didn't intend to work for any major corporations.

Tobi left his startup.

He believed he had important skills for any huge corporation.

He refused to join a huge corporation.

Because of Siemens.

Tobi learned to write professional code and about himself while working at Siemens in Germany.

Siemens culture was odd.

Employees were distrustful.

Siemens' rigorous dress code implies that the corporation doesn't trust employees' attire.

It wasn't Tobi's place.

“There was so much bad with it that it just felt wrong…20-year-old Tobi would not have a career there.”

Focused only on snowboarding

Tobi lived in Ottawa with his girlfriend.

Canada is frigid in winter.

Ottawa's winters last.

Almost half a year.

Tobi wanted to do something worthwhile now.

So he snowboarded.

Tobi began snowboarding seriously.

He sought every snowboarding knowledge.

He researched the greatest snowboarding gear first.

He created big spreadsheets for snowboard-making technologies.

Tobi grew interested in selling snowboards while researching.

He intended to sell snowboards online.

He had no choice but to start his own company.

A small local company offered Tobi a job.

Interested.

He must sign papers to join the local company.

He needed a work permit when he signed the documents.

Tobi had no work permit.

He was allowed to stay in Canada while applying for permanent residency.

“I wasn’t illegal in the country, but my state didn’t give me a work permit. I talked to a lawyer and he told me it’s going to take a while until I get a permanent residency.”

Tobi's lawyer told him he cannot get a work visa without permanent residence.

His lawyer said something else intriguing.

Tobis lawyer advised him to start a business.

Tobi declined this local company's job offer because of this.

Tobi considered opening an internet store with his technical skills.

He sold snowboards online.

“I was thinking of setting up an online store software because I figured that would exist and use it as a way to sell snowboards…make money while snowboarding and hopefully have a good life.”

What brought Tobi and his co-founder together, and how did he support Tobi?

Tobi lived with his girlfriend's parents.

In Ottawa, Tobi encounters Scott Lake.

Scott was Tobis girlfriend's family friend and worked for Tobi's future employer.

Scott and Tobi snowboarded.

Tobi pitched Scott his snowboard sales software idea.

Scott liked the idea.

They planned a business together.

“I was looking after the technology and Scott was dealing with the business side…It was Scott who ended up developing relationships with vendors and doing all the business set-up.”

Issues they ran into when attempting to launch their business online

Neither could afford a long-term lease.

That prompted their online business idea.

They would open a store.

Tobi anticipated opening an internet store in a week.

Tobi seeks open-source software.

Most existing software was pricey.

Tobi and Scott couldn't afford pricey software.

“In 2004, I was sitting in front of my computer absolutely stunned realising that we hadn’t figured out how to create software for online stores.”

They required software to:

  • to upload snowboard images to the website.

  • people to look up the types of snowboards that were offered on the website. There must be a search feature in the software.

  • Online users transmit payments, and the merchant must receive them.

  • notifying vendors of the recently received order.

No online selling software existed at the time.

Online credit card payments were difficult.

How did they advance the software while keeping expenses down?

Tobi and Scott needed money to start selling snowboards.

Tobi and Scott funded their firm with savings.

“We both put money into the company…I think the capital we had was around CAD 20,000(Canadian Dollars).”

Despite investing their savings.

They minimized costs.

They tried to conserve.

No office rental.

They worked in several coffee shops.

Tobi lived rent-free at his girlfriend's parents.

He installed software in coffee cafes.

How were the software issues handled?

Tobi found no online snowboard sales software.

Two choices remained:

  1. Change your mind and try something else.

  2. Use his programming expertise to produce something that will aid in the expansion of this company.

Tobi knew he was the sole programmer working on such a project from the start.

“I had this realisation that I’m going to be the only programmer who has ever worked on this, so I don’t have to choose something that lots of people know. I can choose just the best tool for the job…There is been this programming language called Ruby which I just absolutely loved ”

Ruby was open-source and only had Japanese documentation.

Latin is the source code.

Tobi used Ruby twice.

He assumed he could pick the tool this time.

Why not build with Ruby?

How did they find their first time operating a business?

Tobi writes applications in Ruby.

He wrote the initial software version in 2.5 months.

Tobi and Scott founded Snowdevil to sell snowboards.

Tobi coded for 16 hours a day.

His lifestyle was unhealthy.

He enjoyed pizza and coke.

“I would never recommend this to anyone, but at the time there was nothing more interesting to me in the world.”

Their initial purchase and encounter with it

Tobi worked in cafes then.

“I was working in a coffee shop at this time and I remember everything about that day…At some time, while I was writing the software, I had to type the email that the software would send to tell me about the order.”

Tobi recalls everything.

He checked the order on his laptop at the coffee shop.

Pennsylvanian ordered snowboard.

Tobi walked home and called Scott. Tobi told Scott their first order.

They loved the order.

How were people made aware about Snowdevil?

2004 was very different.

Tobi and Scott attempted simple website advertising.

Google AdWords was new.

Ad clicks cost 20 cents.

Online snowboard stores were scarce at the time.

Google ads propelled the snowdevil brand.

Snowdevil prospered.

They swiftly recouped their original investment in the snowboard business because to its high profit margin.

Tobi and Scott struggled with inventories.

“Snowboards had really good profit margins…Our biggest problem was keeping inventory and getting it back…We were out of stock all the time.”

Selling snowboards returned their investment and saved them money.

They did not appoint a business manager.

They accomplished everything alone.

Sales dipped in the spring, but something magical happened.

Spring sales plummeted.

They considered stocking different boards.

They naturally wanted to add boards and grow the business.

However, magic occurred.

Tobi coded and improved software while running Snowdevil.

He modified software constantly. He wanted speedier software.

He experimented to make the software more resilient.

Tobi received emails requesting the Snowdevil license.

They intended to create something similar.

“I didn’t stop programming, I was just like Ok now let me try things, let me make it faster and try different approaches…Increasingly I got people sending me emails and asking me If I would like to licence snowdevil to them. People wanted to start something similar.”

Software or skateboards, your choice

Scott and Tobi had to choose a hobby in 2005.

They might sell alternative boards or use software.

The software was a no-brainer from demand.

Daniel Weinand is invited to join Tobi's business.

Tobis German best friend is Daniel.

Tobi and Scott chose to use the software.

Tobi and Scott kept the software service.

Tobi called Daniel to invite him to Canada to collaborate.

Scott and Tobi had quit snowboarding until then.

How was Shopify launched, and whence did the name come from?

The three chose Shopify.

Named from two words.

First:

  • Shop

Final part:

  • Simplify

Shopify

Shopify's crew has always had one goal:

  • creating software that would make it simple and easy for people to launch online storefronts.

Launched Shopify after raising money for the first time.

Shopify began fundraising in 2005.

First, they borrowed from family and friends.

They needed roughly $200k to run the company efficiently.

$200k was a lot then.

When questioned why they require so much money. Tobi told them to trust him with their goals. The team raised seed money from family and friends.

Shopify.com has a landing page. A demo of their goal was on the landing page.

In 2006, Shopify had about 4,000 emails.

Shopify rented an Ottawa office.

“We sent a blast of emails…Some people signed up just to try it out, which was exciting.”

How things developed after Scott left the company

Shopify co-founder Scott Lake left in 2008.

Scott was CEO.

“He(Scott) realized at some point that where the software industry was going, most of the people who were the CEOs were actually the highly technical person on the founding team.”

Scott leaving the company worried Tobi.

Tobis worried about finding a new CEO.

To Tobi:

A great VC will have the network to identify the perfect CEO for your firm.

Tobi started visiting Silicon Valley to meet with venture capitalists to recruit a CEO.

Initially visiting Silicon Valley

Tobi came to Silicon Valley to start a 20-person company.

This company creates eCommerce store software.

Tobi never wanted a big corporation. He desired a fulfilling existence.

“I stayed in a hostel in the Bay Area. I had one roommate who was also a computer programmer. I bought a bicycle on Craiglist. I was there for a week, but ended up staying two and a half weeks.”

Tobi arrived unprepared.

When venture capitalists asked him business questions.

He answered few queries.

Tobi didn't comprehend VC meetings' terminology.

He wrote the terms down and looked them up.

Some were fascinated after he couldn't answer all these queries.

“I ended up getting the kind of term sheets people dream about…All the offers were conditional on moving our company to Silicon Valley.”

Canada received Tobi.

He wanted to consult his team before deciding. Shopify had five employees at the time.

2008.

A global recession greeted Tobi in Canada. The recession hurt the market.

His term sheets were useless.

The economic downturn in the world provided Shopify with a fantastic opportunity.

The global recession caused significant job losses.

Fired employees had several ideas.

They wanted online stores.

Entrepreneurship was desired. They wanted to quit work.

People took risks and tried new things during the global slump.

Shopify subscribers skyrocketed during the recession.

“In 2009, the company reached neutral cash flow for the first time…We were in a position to think about long-term investments, such as infrastructure projects.”

Then, Tobi Lutke became CEO.

How did Tobi perform as the company's CEO?

“I wasn’t good. My team was very patient with me, but I had a lot to learn…It’s a very subtle job.”

2009–2010.

Tobi limited the company's potential.

He deliberately restrained company growth.

Tobi had one costly problem:

  • Whether Shopify is a venture or a lifestyle business.

The company's annual revenue approached $1 million.

Tobi battled with the firm and himself despite good revenue.

His wife was supportive, but the responsibility was crushing him.

“It’s a crushing responsibility…People had families and kids…I just couldn’t believe what was going on…My father-in-law gave me money to cover the payroll and it was his life-saving.”

Throughout this trip, everyone supported Tobi.

They believed it.

$7 million in donations received

Tobi couldn't decide if this was a lifestyle or a business.

Shopify struggled with marketing then.

Later, Tobi tried 5 marketing methods.

He told himself that if any marketing method greatly increased their growth, he would call it a venture, otherwise a lifestyle.

The Shopify crew brainstormed and voted on marketing concepts.

Tested.

“Every single idea worked…We did Adwords, published a book on the concept, sponsored a podcast and all the ones we tracked worked.”

To Silicon Valley once more

Shopify marketing concepts worked once.

Tobi returned to Silicon Valley to pitch investors.

He raised $7 million, valuing Shopify at $25 million.

All investors had board seats.

“I find it very helpful…I always had a fantastic relationship with everyone who’s invested in my company…I told them straight that I am not going to pretend I know things, I want you to help me.”

Tobi developed skills via running Shopify.

Shopify had 20 employees.

Leaving his wife's parents' home

Tobi left his wife's parents in 2014.

Tobi had a child.

Shopify has 80,000 customers and 300 staff in 2013.

Public offering in 2015

Shopify investors went public in 2015.

Shopify powers 4.1 million e-Commerce sites.

Shopify stores are 65% US-based.

It is currently valued at $48 billion.

Nikhil Vemu

Nikhil Vemu

2 days ago

7 Mac Apps That Are Exorbitantly Priced But Totally Worth It

Photo by Jack Carter on Unsplash

Wish you more bang for your buck

By ‘Cost a Bomb’ I didn’t mean to exaggerate. It’s an idiom that means ‘To be very expensive’. In fact, no app on the planet costs a bomb lol.

So, to the point.

Chronicle

(Freemium. For Pro, $24.99 | Available on Setapp)

Credit: LittleFin LLC

You probably have trouble keeping track of dozens of bills and subscriptions each month.

Try Chronicle.

Easy-to-use app

  • Add payment due dates and receive reminders,

  • Save payment documentation,

  • Analyze your spending by season, year, and month.

  • Observe expenditure trends and create new budgets.

Best of all, Chronicle features an integrated browser for fast payment and logging.

iOS and macOS sync.

SoundSource

($39 for lifetime)

Background Music, a free macOS program, was featured in #6 of this post last month.

It controls per-app volume, stereo balance, and audio over its max level.

Credit: Rogue Amoeba Software Inc.

Background Music is fully supported. Additionally,

  • Connect various speakers to various apps (Wow! ),

  • change the audio sample rate for each app,

  • To facilitate access, add a floating SoundSource window.

  • Use its blocks in Shortcuts app,

  • On the menu bar, include meters for output/input devices and running programs.

PixelSnap

($39 for lifetime | Available on Setapp)

Credit: MTW

This software is heaven for UI designers.

It aids you.

  • quickly calculate screen distances (in pixels) ,

Credit: MTW
  • Drag an area around an object to determine its borders,

Credit: MTW
  • Measure the distances between the additional guides,

Credit: MTW
  • screenshots should be pixel-perfect.

What’s more.

You can

  • Adapt your tolerance for items with poor contrast and shadows.

  • Use your Touch Bar to perform important tasks, if you have one.

Mate Translation

($3.99 a month / $29.99 a year | Available on Setapp)

Credit: Gikken

Mate Translate resembles a roided-up version of BarTranslate, which I wrote about in #1 of this piece last month.

If you translate often, utilize Mate Translate on macOS and Safari.

I'm really vocal about it.

It stays on the menu bar, and is accessible with a click or ⌥+shift+T hotkey.

It lets you

  • Translate in 103 different languages,

  • To translate text, double-click or right-click on it.

  • Totally translate websites. Additionally, Netflix subtitles,

  • Listen to their pronunciation to see how close it is to human.

iPhone and Mac sync Mate-ing history.

Swish

($16 for lifetime | Available on Setapp)

Swish is awesome!

Swipe, squeeze, tap, and hold movements organize chaotic desktop windows. Swish operates with mouse and trackpad.

Some gestures:

• Pinch Once: Close an app
• Pinch Twice: Quit an app
• Swipe down once: Minimise an app
• Pinch Out: Enter fullscreen mode
• Tap, Hold, & Swipe: Arrange apps in grids
and many more...

Credit: Christian Renninger

After getting acquainted to the movements, your multitasking will improve.

Unite

($24.99 for lifetime | Available on Setapp)

It turns webapps into macOS apps. The end.

Unite's functionality is a million times better.

Credit: BZG Apps LLC & Binyamin Goldman
  • Provide extensive customization (incl. its icon, light and dark modes)

  • make menu bar applications,

  • Get badges for web notifications and automatically refresh websites,

  • Replace any dock icon in the window with it (Wow!) by selecting that portion of the window.

This will help know weather or stock prices easily. (Credit: BZG Apps LLC & Binyamin Goldman)
  • Use PiP (Picture-in-Picture) on video sites that support it.

  • Delete advertising,

  • Throughout macOS, use floating windows

and many more…

I feel $24.99 one-off for this tool is a great deal, considering all these features. What do you think?

https://www.bzgapps.com/unite

CleanShot X

(Basic: $29 one-off. Pro: $8/month | Available on Setapp)

Credit: MTW

CleanShot X can achieve things the macOS screenshot tool cannot. Complete screenshot toolkit.

CleanShot X, like Pixel Snap 2 (#3), is fantastic.

Allows

  • Scroll to capture a long page,

  • screen recording,

    With webcam on,
    • With mic and system audio,
    • Highlighting mouse clicks and hotkeys.

  • Maintain floating screenshots for reference

  • While capturing, conceal desktop icons and notifications.

  • Recognize text in screenshots (OCR),

  • You may upload and share screenshots using the built-in cloud.

These are just 6 in 50+ features, and you’re already saying Wow!

Andy Walker

Andy Walker

2 days ago

Why personal ambition and poor leadership caused Google layoffs

Google announced 6% layoffs recently (or 12,000 people). This aligns it with most tech companies. A publicly contrite CEO explained that they had overhired during the COVID-19 pandemic boom and had to address it, but they were sorry and took full responsibility. I thought this was "bullshit" too. Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and others must feel similarly. I spent 10 years at Google, and these things don't reflect well on the company's leaders.

All publicly listed companies have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders. Dodge vs. Ford Motor Company established this (1919). Henry Ford wanted to reduce shareholder payments to offer cheaper cars and better wages. Ford stated.

My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes. To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business.

The Dodge brothers, who owned 10% of Ford, opposed this and sued Ford for the payments to start their own company. They won, preventing Ford from raising prices or salaries. If you have a vocal group of shareholders with the resources to sue you, you must prove you are acting in their best interests. Companies prioritize shareholders. Giving activist investors a stick to threaten you almost enshrines short-term profit over long-term thinking.

This underpins Google's current issues. Institutional investors who can sue Google see it as a wasteful company they can exploit. That doesn't mean you have to maximize profits (thanks to those who pointed out my ignorance of US corporate law in the comments and on HN), but it allows pressure. I feel for those navigating this. This is about unrestrained capitalism.

When Google went public, Larry Page and Sergey Brin knew the risks and worked hard to keep control. In their Founders' Letter to investors, they tried to set expectations for the company's operations.

Our long-term focus as a private company has paid off. Public companies do the same. We believe outside pressures lead companies to sacrifice long-term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations.

The company has transformed since that letter. The company has nearly 200,000 full-time employees and a trillion-dollar market cap. Large investors have bought company stock because it has been a good long-term bet. Why are they restless now?

Other big tech companies emerged and fought for top talent. This has caused rising compensation packages. Google has also grown rapidly (roughly 22,000 people hired to the end of 2022). At $300,000 median compensation, those 22,000 people added $6.6 billion in salary overheads in 2022. Exorbitant. If the company still makes $16 billion every quarter, maybe not. Investors wonder if this value has returned.

Investors are right. Google uses people wastefully. However, by bluntly reducing headcount, they're not addressing the root causes and hurting themselves. No studies show that downsizing this way boosts productivity. There is plenty of evidence that they'll lose out because people will be risk-averse and distrust their leadership.

The company's approach also stinks. Finding out that you no longer have a job because you can’t log in anymore (sometimes in cases where someone is on call for protecting your production systems) is no way to fire anyone. Being with a narcissistic sociopath is like being abused. First, you receive praise and fancy perks for making the cut. You're fired by text and ghosted. You're told to appreciate the generous severance package. This firing will devastate managers and teams. This type of firing will take years to recover self-esteem. Senior management contributed to this. They chose the expedient answer, possibly by convincing themselves they were managing risk and taking the Macbeth approach of “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly”.

Recap. Google's leadership did a stupid thing—mass firing—in a stupid way. How do we get rid of enough people to make investors happier? and "have 6% less people." Empathetic leaders should not emulate Elon Musk. There is no humane way to fire 12,000 people, but there are better ways. Why is Google so wasteful?

Ambition answers this. There aren't enough VP positions for a group of highly motivated, ambitious, and (increasingly) ruthless people. I’ve loitered around the edges of this world and a large part of my value was to insulate my teams from ever having to experience it. It’s like Game of Thrones played out through email and calendar and over video call.

Your company must look a certain way to be promoted to director or higher. You need the right people at the right levels under you. Long-term, growing your people will naturally happen if you're working on important things. This takes time, and you're never more than 6–18 months from a reorg that could start you over. Ambitious people also tend to be impatient. So, what do you do?

Hiring and vanity projects. To shape your company, you hire at the right levels. You value vanity metrics like active users over product utility. Your promo candidates get through by subverting the promotion process. In your quest for growth, you avoid performance managing people out. You avoid confronting toxic peers because you need their support for promotion. Your cargo cult gets you there.

Its ease makes Google wasteful. Since they don't face market forces, the employees don't see it as a business. Why would you do when the ads business is so profitable? Complacency causes senior leaders to prioritize their own interests. Empires collapse. Personal ambition often trumped doing the right thing for users, the business, or employees. Leadership's ambition over business is the root cause. Vanity metrics, mass hiring, and vague promises have promoted people to VP. Google goes above and beyond to protect senior leaders.

The decision-makers and beneficiaries are not the layoffees. Stock price increase beneficiaries. The people who will post on LinkedIn how it is about misjudging the market and how they’re so sorry and take full responsibility. While accumulating wealth, the dark room dwellers decide who stays and who goes. The billionaire investors. Google should start by addressing its bloated senior management, but — as they say — turkeys don't vote for Christmas. It should examine its wastefulness and make tough choices to fix it. A 6% cut is a blunt tool that admits you're not running your business properly. why aren’t the people running the business the ones shortly to be entering the job market?

This won't fix Google's wastefulness. The executives may never regain trust after their approach. Suppressed creativity. Business won't improve. Google will have lost its founding vision and us all. Large investors know they can force Google's CEO to yield. The rich will get richer and rationalize leaving 12,000 people behind. Cycles repeat.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2013, Nintendo's CEO said he wouldn't fire anyone for shareholders. Switch debuted in 2017. Nintendo's stock has increased by nearly five times, or 19% a year (including the drop most of the stock market experienced last year). Google wasted 12,000 talented people. To please rich people.

Waleed Rikab, PhD

Waleed Rikab, PhD

7 days ago

The Enablement of Fraud and Misinformation by Generative AI What You Should Understand

Recent investigations have shown that generative AI can boost hackers and misinformation spreaders.

Generated through Stable Diffusion with a prompt by the author

Since its inception in late November 2022, OpenAI's ChatGPT has entertained and assisted many online users in writing, coding, task automation, and linguistic translation. Given this versatility, it is maybe unsurprising but nonetheless regrettable that fraudsters and mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM) spreaders are also considering ChatGPT and related AI models to streamline and improve their operations.

Malign actors may benefit from ChatGPT, according to a WithSecure research. ChatGPT promises to elevate unlawful operations across many attack channels. ChatGPT can automate spear phishing attacks that deceive corporate victims into reading emails from trusted parties. Malware, extortion, and illicit fund transfers can result from such access.

ChatGPT's ability to simulate a desired writing style makes spear phishing emails look more genuine, especially for international actors who don't speak English (or other languages like Spanish and French).

This technique could let Russian, North Korean, and Iranian state-backed hackers conduct more convincing social engineering and election intervention in the US. ChatGPT can also create several campaigns and various phony online personas to promote them, making such attacks successful through volume or variation. Additionally, image-generating AI algorithms and other developing techniques can help these efforts deceive potential victims.

Hackers are discussing using ChatGPT to install malware and steal data, according to a Check Point research. Though ChatGPT's scripts are well-known in the cyber security business, they can assist amateur actors with little technical understanding into the field and possibly develop their hacking and social engineering skills through repeated use.

Additionally, ChatGPT's hacking suggestions may change. As a writer recently indicated, ChatGPT's ability to blend textual and code-based writing might be a game-changer, allowing the injection of innocent content that would subsequently turn out to be a malicious script into targeted systems. These new AI-powered writing- and code-generation abilities allow for unique cyber attacks, regardless of viability.

OpenAI fears ChatGPT usage. OpenAI, Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Stanford's Internet Observatory wrote a paper on how AI language models could enhance nation state-backed influence operations. As a last resort, the authors consider polluting the internet with radioactive or misleading data to ensure that AI language models produce outputs that other language models can identify as AI-generated. However, the authors of this paper seem unaware that their "solution" might cause much worse MDM difficulties.

Literally False News

The public argument about ChatGPTs content-generation has focused on originality, bias, and academic honesty, but broader global issues are at stake. ChatGPT can influence public opinion, troll individuals, and interfere in local and national elections by creating and automating enormous amounts of social media material for specified audiences.

ChatGPT's capacity to generate textual and code output is crucial. ChatGPT can write Python scripts for social media bots and give diverse content for repeated posts. The tool's sophistication makes it irrelevant to one's language skills, especially English, when writing MDM propaganda.

I ordered ChatGPT to write a news piece in the style of big US publications declaring that Ukraine is on the verge of defeat in its fight against Russia due to corruption, desertion, and exhaustion in its army. I also gave it a fake reporter's byline and an unidentified NATO source's remark. The outcome appears convincing:

Worse, terrible performers can modify this piece to make it more credible. They can edit the general's name or add facts about current wars. Furthermore, such actors can create many versions of this report in different forms and distribute them separately, boosting its impact.

In this example, ChatGPT produced a news story regarding (fictional) greater moviegoer fatality rates:

Editing this example makes it more plausible. Dr. Jane Smith, the putative author of the medical report, might be replaced with a real-life medical person or a real victim of this supposed medical hazard.

Can deceptive texts be found? Detecting AI text is behind AI advancements. Minor AI-generated text alterations can upset these technologies.

Some OpenAI individuals have proposed covert methods to watermark AI-generated literature to prevent its abuse. AI models would create information that appears normal to humans but would follow a cryptographic formula that would warn other machines that it was AI-made. However, security experts are cautious since manually altering the content interrupts machine and human detection of AI-generated material.

How to Prepare

Cyber security and IT workers can research and use generative AI models to fight spear fishing and extortion. Governments may also launch MDM-defence projects.

In election cycles and global crises, regular people may be the most vulnerable to AI-produced deceit. Until regulation or subsequent technical advances, individuals must recognize exposure to AI-generated fraud, dating scams, other MDM activities.

A three-step verification method of new material in suspicious emails or social media posts can help identify AI content and manipulation. This three-step approach asks about the information's distribution platform (is it reliable? ), author (is the reader familiar with them? ), and plausibility given one's prior knowledge of the topic.

Consider a report by a trusted journalist that makes shocking statements in their typical manner. AI-powered fake news may be released on an unexpected platform, such as a newly created Facebook profile. However, if it links to a known media source, it is more likely to be real.

Though hard and subjective, this verification method may be the only barrier against manipulation for now.

AI language models:

How to Recognize an AI-Generated Article ChatGPT, the popular AI-powered chatbot, can and likely does generate medium.com-style articles.

AI-Generated Text Detectors Fail. Do This. Online tools claim to detect ChatGPT output. Even with superior programming, I tested some of these tools. pub

Why Original Writers Matter Despite AI Language Models Creative writers may never be threatened by AI language models.

Steffan Morris Hernandez

Steffan Morris Hernandez

7 days ago

10 types of cognitive bias to watch out for in UX research & design

10 biases in 10 visuals

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Cognitive biases are crucial for UX research, design, and daily life. Our biases distort reality.

After learning about biases at my UX Research bootcamp, I studied Erika Hall's Just Enough Research and used the Nielsen Norman Group's wealth of information. 10 images show my findings.

1. Bias in sampling

Misselection of target population members causes sampling bias. For example, you are building an app to help people with food intolerances log their meals and are targeting adult males (years 20-30), adult females (ages 20-30), and teenage males and females (ages 15-19) with food intolerances. However, a sample of only adult males and teenage females is biased and unrepresentative.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

2. Sponsor Disparity

Sponsor bias occurs when a study's findings favor an organization's goals. Beware if X organization promises to drive you to their HQ, compensate you for your time, provide food, beverages, discounts, and warmth. Participants may endeavor to be neutral, but incentives and prizes may bias their evaluations and responses in favor of X organization.

In Just Enough Research, Erika Hall suggests describing the company's aims without naming it.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Third, False-Consensus Bias

False-consensus bias is when a person thinks others think and act the same way. For instance, if a start-up designs an app without researching end users' needs, it could fail since end users may have different wants. https://www.nngroup.com/videos/false-consensus-effect/

Working directly with the end user and employing many research methodologies to improve validity helps lessen this prejudice. When analyzing data, triangulation can boost believability.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Bias of the interviewer

I struggled with this bias during my UX research bootcamp interviews. Interviewing neutrally takes practice and patience. Avoid leading questions that structure the story since the interviewee must interpret them. Nodding or smiling throughout the interview may subconsciously influence the interviewee's responses.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

The Curse of Knowledge

The curse of knowledge occurs when someone expects others understand a subject as well as they do. UX research interviews and surveys should reduce this bias because technical language might confuse participants and harm the research. Interviewing participants as though you are new to the topic may help them expand on their replies without being influenced by the researcher's knowledge.

The curse of knowledge visual

Confirmation Bias

Most prevalent bias. People highlight evidence that supports their ideas and ignore data that doesn't. The echo chamber of social media creates polarization by promoting similar perspectives.

A researcher with confirmation bias may dismiss data that contradicts their research goals. Thus, the research or product may not serve end users.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Design biases

UX Research design bias pertains to study construction and execution. Design bias occurs when data is excluded or magnified based on human aims, assumptions, and preferences.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

The Hawthorne Impact

Remember when you behaved differently while the teacher wasn't looking? When you behaved differently without your parents watching? A UX research study's Hawthorne Effect occurs when people modify their behavior because you're watching. To escape judgment, participants may act and speak differently.

To avoid this, researchers should blend into the background and urge subjects to act alone.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

The bias against social desire

People want to belong to escape rejection and hatred. Research interviewees may mislead or slant their answers to avoid embarrassment. Researchers should encourage honesty and confidentiality in studies to address this. Observational research may reduce bias better than interviews because participants behave more organically.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

Relative Time Bias

Humans tend to appreciate recent experiences more. Consider school. Say you failed a recent exam but did well in the previous 7 exams. Instead, you may vividly recall the last terrible exam outcome.

If a UX researcher relies their conclusions on the most recent findings instead of all the data and results, recency bias might occur.

Image by Steffan Morris Hernandez

I hope you liked learning about UX design, research, and real-world biases.