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Google still recommends glue for your pizza

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Photo illustration of a helpful chatbot.
An eighth of a cup of Elmer’s, to be precise. | Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photos by Getty Images

You may remember we all had a fun little laugh at Google’s AI search results telling us to put glue in our pizza. Internet legend Katie Notopoulos made and ate a glue pizza. A good time was had by all! Except, whoopsie, Google’s AI is training on our good time.

I will grant the query “how much glue to add to pizza” is an unusual one — but not that unusual given the recent uproar around glue pizza. As spotted by Colin McMillen on Bluesky, if you ask Google how much glue to add to your pizza, the right answer — none! — does not appear. Instead, it cites our girl Katie suggesting you add an eighth of a cup. Whoops!

You may be wondering if this is a faked screenshot. I wondered that, too. But The Verge confirmed by running our own query:

...

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freeAgent
11 hours ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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Used EV Prices Are Crashing. That's Great News For Buyers

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The average prices of used EVs have plummeted by 30% over the past year.

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freeAgent
11 hours ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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‘AI Call Center Software’ Is Powering a Scam Call Center

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A scam call center is using a legitimate enterprise tool that is designed to streamline the customer service experience, and which includes various AI-powered features such as automatically detecting when a call goes to voicemail, or an “AI Dialer,” according to a cache of internal data from the scam call center obtained by 404 Media.

It is not clear if the scammers are using any of the AI tools specifically, but the data still provides insight into the technology underpinning at least one scam call center, and how a tool designed for legitimate businesses is being exploited by criminals.

“Accelerate your growth with AI-driven contact center software,” the website for Voiso, the tech product being used by the scammers, reads. “Don’t let the human factor slow you down. Automate workflows and maximize talk time with our reliable cloud calling and messaging solution.”

A source provided 404 Media with a cache of call recordings, spreadsheets, and screenshots related to the scam call center. 404 Media is granting the source anonymity to protect them from retaliation.

Some of those show the scammers’ specific use of Voiso. One screenshot from inside a Voiso dashboard shows a list of users from the scam call center. They appear to be impersonating the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, judging by each users’ email address.

One of the screenshots of the Voiso panel. Image: 404 Media.

The company also offers voice recognition on customers’ calls and “can transcribe and analyze voice calls to target your success metrics.” One of its products, called Answering Machine Detection (AMD), claims to analyze “all answered calls for the first few seconds to determine whether a human or a machine picked up the call. Only live calls are then routed through to the agent and all other calls are ended, so it saves agents’ time,” according to Voiso’s website.

One spreadsheet obtained by 404 Media includes logs for more than 80,000 calls made over a period of one and a half years. The destination countries of these calls include the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Malta, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and others.

Some of these calls can stretch on for around half an hour, with the scammers calling some targets multiple times. The scammers called one person more than two dozen times over a two week period, according to another spreadsheet. The person answered the call every single time, the spreadsheet says.

“You are a very smart man, as I can see, Mr. [REDACTED],” the scammer says in one call, according to an audio recording of it. The target sounds like an older man and appears confused by the call. In that call the victim says they have lost “20,000” in a scam.

What the scammers appear to be doing is targeting people who have already been scammed by other criminals, and then pretending to help the victims. In the audio of the call, the scammer introduced himself as working for “International Fraud Watch.” (The UK’s Financial Services Authority posted an alert about a scam company using that same name in August last year). 

Another spreadsheet includes a list of apparent targets, along with details on how they may have been previously scammed. “hello , ive lost 2400 British pounds within the space of 3 days. all within investments. i was told at first that once i invest 700 i would receive a profit of 900+ which wasnt the case i lost the 700 i invested but was given a chance to receive my mone,” one reads.

In its terms and conditions, Voiso says it may block customers if it has “any suspicion that the Customer uses the Services for fraud or scam.”

After the publication of this piece, Voiso told 404 Media in an email it had blocked this customer's account. “We have proactive and reactive measures to identify and remove customers who misuse our services from our platform. Our dedicated team uses advanced monitoring tools and algorithms to detect suspicious activities,” the email added.

Update: this piece has been updated to include a response from Voiso.



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freeAgent
11 hours ago
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Of course AI is being used to make scammers even more annoying. I wish I could exist without a phone number.
Los Angeles, CA
LinuxGeek
5 hours ago
There are many services that appear to believe it is not possible to exist without a phone. They require phone number to sign up for service, and they no longer accept 867-5309.
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California restaurants now want an exemption from the state’s new hidden fees law

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In “1984,” George Orwell’s novel about a dystopian future, he describes “newspeak,” a propagandistic language of euphemisms and inversions used by officialdom to mask the reality of their meaning.

We got a dose of California-style newspeak last week when state Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 1524. It would exempt restaurants from his previous legislation, SB 478, which requires businesses to fully include extra fees in their prices, rather than tacking them on after services or goods have been delivered.

Dodd declared his proposed new legislation would “enhance consumer protection” for restaurant patrons by “clarifying state law” on how fees and other service charges should be disclosed.

“Restaurant customers shouldn’t be surprised when they get their checks by a slew of extra charges they were not expecting,” Dodd said. “Many restaurants are up-front with their business practices but too many aren’t, necessitating action.”

In fact, Dodd’s original legislation, passed last year and due to take effect on July 1, was aimed at eliminating “a slew of extra charges” on restaurant bills and other consumer transactions. But SB 1524 would reduce consumer protection by allowing restaurants to avoid full disclosure of their prices by burying the notices of extra fees within their menus, where customers are least likely to notice them.

The deceptive descriptions of Dodd’s new legislation accompany assertions by bill sponsors in the restaurant industry and their unions that if surcharges are included in food prices, they would somehow lead to pay reductions.

“Cutting the pay of banquet servers and ballpark workers was never the intention of SB 478, as the bill’s authors have made clear,” said Mario Yedidia, western political director for UNITE HERE, a union that represents some food service workers.

“This will enable restaurants to continue to support increased pay equity and to make contributions to worker health care and other employee benefits,” added Matthew Sutton, senior vice president of the California Restaurant Association.

Learn more about legislators mentioned in this story.

There is absolutely nothing in the current law that prevents restaurants from raising their prices as much as they desire to increase their workers’ pay and benefits. That’s simply business as usual throughout the economy.

Nor is requiring restaurants and other businesses to list their full prices before consumers decide whether to make transactions such a novel idea.

Take, for instance, gasoline prices.

If you pay $5 for a gallon of gas, it includes about $1.50 in state and federal taxes and other surcharges. The full prices are displayed on signs and on the gas pumps themselves. Gas stations cannot advertise fuel for $3.50 and then tack on the extra fees and taxes after you’ve already filled your tank.

Before you buy a house and take on a mortgage, state law requires you to be informed of transaction fees before signing the final papers. Same applies for buying a new car.

When SB 478 was going through the Legislature last year, somehow those in the restaurant business assumed that it would not compel them to list full prices in their menus, even though there was nothing in the bill itself to support that assumption.

Uncertainty about SB 478’s effect on restaurants led Attorney General Rob Bonta to declare recently that they would be subject to the new law, generating a strong backlash from those in the industry and pressure on Dodd and other legislators to grant an exemption.

We shouldn’t be fooled by the newspeak descriptions of SB 1524. It does not “enhance consumer protection.” It would purposely undermine consumer protection by allowing restaurants to resume their bait-and-switch tactics – giving patrons menu prices that don’t fully reflect what their final bills will be.

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freeAgent
1 day ago
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We need this for medical services, too.
Los Angeles, CA
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Some company heads hoped return-to-office mandates would make people quit, survey says

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Man and woman talking at an office water cooler

Enlarge / RTO mandates can boost workers' professional networks, but in-office employees may also spend more time socializing than remote ones. (credit: Getty)

A new survey suggests that some US companies implemented return-to-office (RTO) policies in the hopes of getting workers to quit. And despite the belief that such policies could boost productivity compared to letting employees work from home, the survey from HR software provider BambooHR points to remote and in-office employees spending an equal amount of time working.

BambooHR surveyed 1,504 full-time US employees, including 504 human resources (HR) workers who are a manager or higher, from March 9 to March 22. According to the firm, the sample group used for its report "The New Surveillance Era: Visibility Beats Productivity for RTO & Remote" is equally split across genders and includes "a spread of age groups, race groups, and geographies." Method Research, the research arm of technology PR and marketing firm Method, prepared the survey, and data collection firm Rep Data distributed it.

Trying to make people quit

Among those surveyed, 52 percent said they prefer working remotely compared to 39 percent who prefer working in an office.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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freeAgent
1 day ago
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*shocked pikachu*
Los Angeles, CA
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Apple unveils MacOS Sequoia

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At Apple's WWDC 2024, the company announced MacOS Sequoia.

© 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

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freeAgent
1 day ago
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Being able to use your phone from your laptop sounds good to me. The math stuff also seems like a blessing and a curse for students/math teachers.
Los Angeles, CA
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