Google Makes the Blunder of the Decade with Chrome on Some Mac Pros

• Perhaps you heard about some (2013) Mac Pros in Hollywood with Avid software that were having problems? Here’s what really happened. “No, it wasn’t a virus; it was Chrome that stopped Macs from booting.

On Monday night, Variety reported that film editors around Los Angeles who had Avid Media Composer software installed were suddenly finding that their Macs were unable to reboot. The publication speculated that malware may have been the cause. On Wednesday, Google disclosed the real cause—a Chrome browser update.

Some users had disabled SIP, and the latest Chrome (automatic) update was able to modify macOS, a monumental no-no. Google! In the words of Greta Thunberg: “How dare you!”

So. Don’t.disable.SIP.ever.

The Week’s News Debris

iPhone XS notch
The dreaded iPhone notch

• Does the notch in the recent iPhones, starting with the iPhone X, annoy you? It does for many, and Apple would like nothing better than to dispense with it. Here’s a hopeful rumor. “Apple Has Prototyped a 6.7-Inch iPhone Without a Notch, Face ID Housed in Upper Bezel Instead.” A full, uncluttered display, thin bezel iPhone is what Nature intended.

• Have you wondered what the fuss is with “Sign in with Apple”? (Different than Single Sign-on.) And how to use it? Here’s a great introduction. “Sign in with Apple: What It Is and How It Works.

• Recently, Amazon inundated us with a massive round of new hardware. TechCrunch has the tally. “Everything Amazon announced at its Alexa event.

AI is becoming pervasive. And not much of the news surrounding it is very positive—creating warm fuzzies. As a result, when people are overtly confronted by AI, they can become irritated. And the relationship suffers. “The Key To Successful AI: Hiding Its Use From People.” The Forbes author writes:

… in certain human-centric sectors, the performance of artificial intelligence starts to drop off if people are apprised of the involvement of an intelligent machine. In fact, human resistance would seem to be the achilles heel of artificial intelligence…

The thing is, when customers were informed before any conversation that they would be speaking to a chatbot, the ability of the AI-based assistants to encourage customer purchases fell by a massive 79.7%.

Humans don’t like taking direction from a machine. So trick the customer. This is not a promising start for AI.

Apple gamor shot if Apple TV 4K Siri remote.

• In an oddly Microsoftian move (of old), “Apple quietly tweaked a key function of the Apple TV remote — but there’s a simple way to change it back.

Pressing the TV button no longer brings you to the home screen; it now brings you to Apple’s TV app, where the company’s TV Plus service will live starting in November.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to revert the settings on the remote control so the home button works the way it was meant to.

• So, Google messes with macOS. Apple messes with the Apple TV remote. And the Apple TV home screen is fundamentally altered.

That’s the thing about the Internet. With a simple bit of software, the lives of many people are affected all at once. And they spend their own time recovering from the event if the change is unwanted. No wonder so many are sleep deprived.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

4 thoughts on “Google Makes the Blunder of the Decade with Chrome on Some Mac Pros

  • John:

    As your Amazon rollout piece indicates, AI is on substantial upward adoption trajectory. The roles that AI can effectively play, with greater consistency if not efficiency (tasks accomplish per unit of time) and efficacy (percentage of tasks correctly or effectively executed) than humans, is expanding.

    While Simon Chandler’s piece does not argue any differently, merely pointing out how many companies have concealed or downplayed their use of AI in human interactions, given the level of popular ignorance about what AI can do, and the documented bias against AI held by many, the worst thing that any company could do would be to conceal AI’s role. Concealment of fact is oxygen for any conspiracy, and will be avidly seized upon by any conspiracist worth their salt. It’s not even the nature of the concealed fact and what that fact reveals when made known; rather, it’s the opportunity that the concealment itself provides the conspiracist to insert motive. As Chandler points out, a company might choose to conceal their use of AI merely to enable their customers to benefit from AI’s superior responsiveness. Once exposed, a conspiracist can twist the motive for that concealment into any shape they choose, because motive, by its very nature, is difficult to ascertain, and is therefore susceptible to being moulded by advocates for any narrative of their choice. And as history shows, conspiracists will use it validate our worst fears and advocate against adoption, use or compliance.

    If this concerned a product of limited uptake, or even of widespread use but of limited societal impact, then it would be of little concern. AI, however, is core to our future, and will centrally feature in everything from finance, to cyber security, to commerce, to surveillance, to military applications including warfare and its prevention, to agriculture and food production, to entertainment, to scientific research and applications, to medical research and practice, to space exploration, to transportation, to logistics…the list is long and growing almost exponentially. It is therefore important that the public both understand not only that this tool is being used, but how it is being used, as well as how it can be abused as bulwark against that abuse. Perhaps more than any recent technological advancement, including PCs, it is vital that the public engage on the subject of AI because AI is engaging with them, and increasingly will do so in nearly every facet of life. Concealment of the AI/human interface will only serve as a barrier to our acceptance and willing use of AI’s productive services. We should proactively engage in educating the public and shed light on all current and emerging applications with full disclosure.

    The other story relevant to this theme of educating rather than concealing the use of a tool or technology is that of System Integrity Protection, or SIP. Apple, by underplaying their increasing control over macOS played into resistance by some users against control being wrested from them, and in some cases going out to their way to disable tools whose importance they underestimated. Recall the complaints of many when Apple began to hide the system folder, and when they first featured Gatekeeper in macOS. The complexity of our PC tech and the threats that they are designed to thwart, whether OS or integrated hardware, are increasingly beyond lay understanding. Concealment impairs trust, which then exposes the user to unsuspected risk and peril.

    In short, education and transparency, combined with informed consent, remain best practices for every industry, no less so than for our digital tech.

  • Umm…Apple changed the behavior of the TV button to launch the TV app when it was introduced back in May. There was even a splash screen informing users of the change after they performed the tvOS 12.3 update, noting that it could be reverted to prior behavior at any time in the Settings. That is also reinforced in the user guide.

    Not exactly revelatory, nor sneaky, but it is a good illustration of the content quality of the bird cage liner known as Business Insider.

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