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The Hustle

Step aside, Kamal Pokhrel of Nepal. There’s a new nightmare in town, and his name is Olle Lundin. The Swede is now the world record holder for most continuous cracking of different joints, topping Pokhrel’s 40-joint mark with 46 snappers. Lundin claims he could crack 60 “if all goes perfectly.” And if it doesn’t… ?

In today’s email:

  • AI: Three wild glimpses into our future robotocracy.
  • Gaming ‘Easter eggs’: Atari designers’ rebellious origin story.
  • About an energy drink: We will not name it for fear of litigation.
  • Around the Web: Cloud shifting, a cool space photo, shadow-ban avoidance, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear our 300th episode, featuring Zack and Rob in a discussion about how Monster Energy thinks it owns the word “monster,” the NYT’s latest puzzle, and more.

The big idea
fortune cookie

AI Roundup: Guessing passwords, conjuring images out of peoples’ minds, and… writing fortune cookies?

No mere human can keep up with the torrent of intriguing/terrifying daily AI news, but we’ll try anyway — at least until we’re rendered obsolete by the machines…


AI can probably crack your password — and faster than you think

For every lovely, life-affirming application of AI, there’s at least one adversarial, uh-oh-inducing one. This one’s the latter.

Cybersecurity firm Home Security Heroes put an AI-powered password-cracking tool called PassGAN to the test against 15m+ passwords.

  • It cracked 51% of them in under a minute.
  • By month’s end, it had worked out 81% of the list.
  • Uh-oh.

Before you reset every password you’ve ever had, remember that usage of PassGAN isn’t widespread — and could also be used to generate crack-proof passwords.

Still, Home Security Heroes recommends stronger passwords with 15+ characters that avoid patterns like “1234.”


AI can kinda see what your brain sees?

A team at Osaka University used a deep-learning AI model called Stable Diffusion (SD) to analyze brain scans after people were shown images inside an MRI machine.

The AI was asked to “translate” the subjects’ brain activity into a readable format.

  • That it did; SD generated faithful reproductions of the original images.
  • Also uh-oh.

Per the Osaka team, this isn’t “mind reading” — it merely means AI can reproduce images a person has viewed. Which ain’t nothing, according to every tightly clenched muscle in our bodies.

Practical applications are minimal today, but SD research (and subsequent ethics debates) will continue.


AI brings a creative crisis to the fortune cookie industry

Every year, ~3B fortune cookies are made globally. Most of them house a message penned by a real-life human.

A startup called OpenFortune Inc. may jettison that human touch, using ChatGPT to generate new messages at rates no copywriter could match.

Per The Wall Street Journal, a divide is forming in the fortune biz between accepting AI’s time- and cost-saving ways, and holding true to self-written tradition.

… But who provides wisdom for the wisdom makers?

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eyeball wearing a hat

Ah, the unconditional, financially draining love of a parent. In a Bankrate report, ~70% of parents say they’re sacrificing their financial wellness to support grown children. Keeping their 18+ offspring afloat has 51% of parents tapping into emergency savings, 43% dipping into retirement, and 100% making their kids feel like, god, nothing’s ever good enough.


Pomme and circumstance: French regulators are preparing to take action against Apple for alleged antitrust violations. The investigation centers on the company’s 2021 app-tracking change that cost its rivals billions of dollars in ad revenue.

Can you Digit? Yes, you can: Not content to simply own Wordle and dominate the crossword space, The New York Times has launched a new game called Digits. The beta version of the math-based puzzle game will be free for a limited time.

No rest for the Wiki: Elon Musk pointed to Wikipedia as the basis for Twitter’s “Government Funded Media” labels, which upset the likes of NPR, PBS, and BBC last week — and now every high school English teacher ever.

… as if we could escape a day without double Twitter drama: Former execs, including ex-CEO Parag Agrawal, have sued Twitter, claiming the company owes them $1m+ in unpaid legal fees. We’re excited for the next lawsuit — over legal expenses incurred during this current legal-expenses lawsuit, no doubt.

Lots of phish in the sea: A cyberattack has German shipbuilder Lürssen largely at a standstill. When operational, Lürssen’s shipyard produces military vessels and luxury yachts (including Dilbar, the world’s largest superyacht by gross tonnage).

Bait for Switch: A “large-scale” Nintendo Live event will come to Seattle this September. The release from Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser doubled as a great reminder that the company’s top US boss is named Bowser.

Burrito bolt: Chipotle is piloting an all-electric design in three locations, as it weighs expanding the renewable model to its 3.2k restaurants.

YouTube revealed pricing for its NFL Sunday Ticket: $249-$289 for YouTube TV subscribers and $349-$389 for everyone else through June 6, after which it bumps up by $100. Previously, the sports package was only available via DirecTV.

Fake your vitamins: The FTC ordered The Bountiful Company, which produced Nature’s Bounty vitamins, to pay $600k over deceptive Amazon reviews. The company is accused of merging product reviews to boost ratings.

Space saver: Google’s new opt-in auto-archive feature will automatically partially remove unused apps to save space while retaining personal data if users want to dive back in.

Collective wisdom: Entrepreneurs learn so much while on the ground building their businesses. Here are the questions you should ask to soak up those lessons.

Easter Egg on a tv

Zachary Crockett

The first ‘Easter eggs’ were an act of corporate rebellion

In August 1980, Atari’s consumer relations division received a handwritten letter from a 15-year-old boy whose enthusiasm practically leaped off the page.

“I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT YOUR COMPUTER,” he wrote, using all-caps for the entire message.

The young fan’s name was Adam Clayton. He loved Atari and wanted the video game company to send him a brochure. (“PLEASE HURRY,” he noted.)

Clayton also added a postscript.

He had been playing “Adventure” — a 1980 game in which the player journeys through various rooms in search of a golden chalice — when he discovered something strange.

Clayton had picked up a dot, a secret key, in a black castle and carried it back to an earlier room where the dot granted him access to a door. Inside the door was another room, bordered in purple. The room was mostly bare aside from a message that read, “Created by Warren Robinett.”

But the Atari employees were just as mystified. They had no idea what the kid was talking about.

Unbeknownst to them, hidden behind the “Adventure” Easter egg was a story of corporate subversion — when Atari’s video game designers were stiffed on credit for their work, they expressed their dissatisfaction through hidden messages.

Eventually, Atari would embrace these acts of rebellion, intentionally planting “Easter eggs” in future games, and coining the term that has lasted for decades.

Read the full story. →
Free Resource

50 interview questions to keep you sharp

Practice? We talkin’ about practice?

Damn right we are. But we did the hard part, and bundled this up for you.

Here’s a pack of 50 questions that will prep you for success, upgrade your competence, and hopefully help you hop on payroll.

Inside the interview guide:

  • Pregame pointers
  • 50 common questions (with explainers and examples)
  • 10 questions for hiring managers

Shoot your shot — and do it with confidence.

50 questions →
Aaahh!!! Steal Monsters
Monster Energy drink

Monster Energy thinks it owns the word ‘monster’

Vincent Livings, CEO of game studio Glowstick Entertainment, wants everyone to know that Monster Beverage Corporation is a “notorious trademark troll.” And, wow, is he right.

The energy-drink maker frequently objects when other companies want trademarks, including the words “monster,” “beast,” or other things it thinks it owns.

It has filed 134 such objections in Japan — including against Pokémon (short for “pocket monsters”) — which the patent office has rejected, per Automaton. In the US, there are 100+ pending objections, per Gizmodo.

Monster’s beef with Glowstick Entertainment? Its game, Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals.

The concern…

… in a trademark objection is that customers might get confused, mistaking one brand for the other or assuming the two are related.

But a gander at Monster’s US objections reveals a variety of products that have nothing to do with energy drinks, including:

Does this tactic work?

In 2020, Ubisoft changed a video game title after Monster filed a dispute, though it said the swap was unrelated.

Attorney Richard Hoeg told Video Game Chronicles that though Ubisoft would have likely won, “opposition to a USPTO filing can essentially win the day because it’s too expensive to fight.”

But MonsterFishKeepers, an online group for large fish enthusiasts, won thanks to students at a pro bono law clinic, and Livings intends to share Monster’s tactics with other game devs so they can vanquish the troll in the future.

BTW: In 2014, Monster had to pay the Beastie Boys $1.7m for using their music without permission in a video.

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👨‍🚀 On this day: In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to reach space aboard Vostok 1. Despite spending nearly two hours there, the only thing he said was, “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.”

📺 Tune in: A “shadow-ban” can bring your Instagram growth to a halt. This video breaks down what it is, what it means, and how to fix it.

☁️ How to: Move your digital media between clouds.

🌟 Wow: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope took this incredible photo of Cassiopeia A, a supernova remnant created 340 years ago when a star exploded.

🪥 Aww: And now, a great use for all those extra toothbrushes you get from the dentist.

working on a nice day meme

Them: Normal work email. Us: [Replies with Robert Frost-esque poem about the serenity of nature.] (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Monster Energy vampire” Berkley.

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