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Power-hungry robots, space colonization, cyborgs: inside the bizarre world of ‘longtermism’ | Technology

Most of us don’t think of power-hungry killer robots as an imminent threat to humanity, especially when poverty and the climate crisis are already ravaging the Earth.

This wasn’t the case for Sam Bankman-Fried and his followers, powerful actors who have embraced a school of thought within the effective altruism movement called “longtermism”.

In February, the Future Fund, a philanthropic organization endowed by the now-disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur, announced that it would be disbursing more than $100m – and possibly up to $1bn – this year on projects to “improve humanity’s long-term prospects”.

The slightly cryptic reference might have been a bit puzzling to those who think of philanthropy as funding homelessness charities and medical NGOs in the developing world. In fact, the Future Fund’s particular areas of interest include artificial intelligence, biological weapons and “space governance”, a mysterious term referring to settling humans in space as a potential “watershed moment in human history”.

Out-of-control artificial intelligence was another area of concern for Bankman-Fried – so much so that in September the Future Fund announced prizes of up to $1.5m to anyone who could make a persuasive estimate of the threat that unrestrained AI might pose to humanity.

SpaceX’s Elon Musk gives an update on the company’s Mars rocket Starship. Musk is a proponent of longtermism
SpaceX’s Elon Musk gives an update on the company’s Mars rocket Starship. Musk is a proponent of longtermism. Photograph: Callaghan O’Hare/Reuters

“We think artificial intelligence” is “the development most likely to dramatically alter the trajectory of humanity this century”, the Future Fund said. “With the help of advanced AI, we could make enormous progress toward ending global poverty, animal suffering, early death and debilitating disease.” But AI could also “acquire undesirable objectives and pursue power in unintended ways, causing humans to lose all or most of their influence over the future”.

Less than two months after the contest was announced, Bankman-Fried’s $32bn cryptocurrency empire had collapsed, much of the Future Fund’s senior leadership had resigned and its AI prizes may never be rewarded.

Nor will most of the millions of dollars that Bankman-Fried had promised a constellation of charities and thinktanks affiliated with effective altruism, a once-obscure ethical movement that has become influential in Silicon Valley and the highest echelons of the international business and political worlds.

Longtermists argue that the welfare of future humans is as morally important – or more important – than the lives of current ones, and that philanthropic resources should be allocated to predicting, and defending against, extinction-level threats to humanity.

But rather than giving out malaria nets or digging wells, longtermists prefer to allocate money to researching existential risk, or “x-risk”.

In his recent book What We Owe the Future, William MacAskill – a 35-year-old moral philosopher at Oxford who has become the public intellectual face of effective altruism – makes a case for longtermism with a thought experiment about a hiker who accidentally shatters a glass bottle on a trail. A conscientious person, he holds, would immediately clean up the glass to avoid injuring the next hiker – whether that person comes in a week or in a century.

Similarly, MacAskill argues that the number of potential future humans, over many generations for the duration of the species, far outnumbers the number currently alive; if we truly believe that all humans are equal, protecting future humans is more important than protecting human lives today.

Some of longtermists’ funding interests, such as nuclear nonproliferation and vaccine development, are fairly uncontroversial. Others are more outlandish: investing in space colonization, preventing the rise of power-hungry AI, cheating death through “life-extension” technology. A bundle of ideas known as “transhumanism” seeks to upgrade humanity by creating digital versions of humans, “bioengineering” human-machine cyborgs and the like.

People like the futurist Ray Kurzweil and his adherents believe that biotechnology will soon “enable a union between humans and genuinely intelligent computers and AI systems”, Robin McKie explained in the Guardian in 2018. “The resulting human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will onto a ‘suitably powerful computational substrate’,” and thereby creating a kind of immortality.

This feverish techno-utopianism distracts funders from pressing problems that already exist here on Earth, said Luke Kemp, a research associate at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk who describes himself as an “EA-adjacent” critic of effective altruism. Left on the table, he says, are critical and credible threats that are happening right now, such as the climate crisis, natural pandemics and economic inequality.

“The things they push tend to be things that Silicon Valley likes,” Kemp said. They’re the kinds of speculative, futurist ideas that tech billionaires find intellectually exciting. “And they almost always focus on technological fixes” to human problems “rather than political or social ones”.

There are other objections. For one thing, lavishly expensive, experimental bioengineering would be accessible, especially initially, to “only a tiny sliver of humanity”, Kemp said; it could bring about a future caste system in which inequality is not only economic, but biological.

This thinking is also dangerously undemocratic, he argued. “These big decisions about the future of humanity should be decided by humanity. Not by just a couple of white male philosophers at Oxford funded by billionaires. It is literally the most powerful, and least representative, strata of society imposing a particular vision of the future which suits them.”

Some adherents of longtermism are interested in ‘transhumanism’, the idea that technology can extend our longevity.
Some adherents of longtermism are interested in ‘transhumanism’, the idea that technology can extend our longevity. Composite: Lynsey Irvine/Getty

Kemp added: “I don’t think EAs – or at least the EA leadership – care very much about democracy.” In its more dogmatic varieties, he said, longtermism is preoccupied with “rationality, hardcore utilitarianism, a pathological obsession with quantification and neoliberal economics”.

Organizations such as 80,000 Hours, a program for early-career professionals, tend to encourage would-be effective altruists into four main areas, Kemp said: AI research, research preparing for human-made pandemics, EA community-building and “global priorities research”, meaning the question of how funding should be allocated.

The first two areas, though worthy of study, are “highly speculative”, Kemp said, and the second two are “self-serving”, since they channel money and energy back into the movement.

This year, the Future Fund reports having recommended grants to worthy-seeming projects as various as research on “the feasibility of inactivating viruses via electromagnetic radiation” ($140,000); a project connecting children in India with online science, technology, engineering and mathematics education ($200,000); research on “disease-neutralizing therapeutic antibodies” ($1.55m); and research on childhood lead exposure ($400,000).

But much of the Future Fund’s largesse seems to have been invested in longtermism itself. It recommended $1.2m to the Global Priorities Institute; $3.9m to the Long Term Future Fund; $2.9m to create a “longtermist coworking office in London”; $3.9m to create a “longtermist coworking space in Berkeley”; $700,000 to the Legal Priorities Project, a “longtermist legal research and field-building organization”; $13.9m to the Centre for Effective Altruism; and $15m to Longview Philanthropy to execute “independent grantmaking on global priorities research, nuclear weapons policy, and other longtermist issues.”

Kemp argued that effective altruism and longtermism often seem to be working toward a kind of regulatory capture. “The long-term strategy is getting EAs and EA ideas into places like the Pentagon, the White House, the British government and the UN” to influence public policy, he said.

Sam Bankman-Fried at a Senate agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee hearing in Washington DC.
Sam Bankman-Fried at a Senate agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee hearing in Washington DC. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

There may be a silver lining in the timing of Bankman-Fried’s downfall. “In a way, it’s good that it happened now rather than later,” Kemp said. “He was planning on spending huge amounts of money on elections. At one stage, he said he was planning to spend up to a billion dollars, which would have made him the biggest donor in US political history. Can you imagine if that amount of money contributed to a Democratic victory – and then turned out to have been based on fraud? In an already fragile and polarized society like the US? That would have been horrendous.”

“The main tension to the movement, as I see it, is one that many movements deal with,” said Benjamin Soskis, a historian of philanthropy and a senior research associate at the Urban Institute. “A movement that was primarily fueled by regular people – and their passions, and interests, and different kinds of provenance – attracted a number of very wealthy funders,” and came to be driven by “the funding decisions, and sometimes just the public identities, of people like SBF and Elon Musk and a few others”. (Soskis noted that he has received funding from Open Philanthropy, an EA-affiliated foundation.)

Effective altruism put Bankman-Fried, who lived in a luxury compound in the Bahamas, “on a pedestal, as this Corolla-driving, beanbag-sleeping, earning-to-give monk, which was clearly false”, Kemp said.

Soskis thinks that effective altruism has a natural appeal to people in tech and finance – who tend to have an analytical and calculating way of thinking about problems – and EA, like all movements, spreads through social and work networks.

Effective altruism is also attractive to wealthy people, Soskis believes, because it offers “a way to understand the marginal value of additional dollars”, particularly when talking of “vast sums that can defy comprehension”. The movement’s focus on numbers (“shut up and multiply”) helps hyper-wealthy people understand more concretely what $500m can do philanthropically versus, say, $500,000 or $50,000.

One positive outcome, he thinks, is that EA-influenced donors publicly discuss their philanthropic commitments and encourage others to make them. Historically, Americans have tended to regard philanthropy as a private matter.

But there’s something “which I think you can’t escape”, Soskis said. Effective altruism “isn’t premised on a strong critique of the way that money has been made. And elements of it were construed as understanding capitalism more generally as a positive force, and through a kind of consequentialist calculus. To some extent, it’s a safer landing spot for folks who want to sequester their philanthropic decisions from a broader political debate about the legitimacy of certain industries or ways of making money.”

Kemp said that it is rare to hear EAs, especially longtermists, discuss issues such as democracy and inequality. “Honestly, I think that’s because it is something the donors don’t want us talking about.” Cracking down on tax avoidance, for example, would lead to major donors “losing both power and wealth”.

The downfall of Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire, which has jeopardized the Future Fund and countless other longtermist organizations, may be revealing. Longtermists believe that future existential risks to humanity can be accurately calculated – yet, as the economist Tyler Cowen recently pointed out, they couldn’t even predict the existential threat to their own flagship philanthropic organization.

There must be “soul-searching”, Soskis said. “Longtermism has a stain on it and I’m not sure when or if it will be fully removed.”

“A billionaire is a billionaire,” the journalist Anand Giridharadas wrote recently on Twitter. His 2018 book Winners Take All sharply criticized the idea that private philanthropy will solve human problems. “Stop believing in good billionaires. Start organizing toward a good society.”

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Moonlighter space-hacking satellite readies for launch • The Register

Feature Assuming the weather and engineering gods cooperate, a US government-funded satellite dubbed Moonlighter will launch at 1235 EDT (1635 UTC) on Saturday, hitching a ride on a SpaceX rocket before being releasing into Earth’s orbit.

And in roughly two months, five teams of DEF CON hackers will do their best to successfully remotely infiltrate and hijack the satellite while it’s in space. The idea being to try out offensive and defensive techniques and methods on actual in-orbit hardware and software, which we imagine could help improve our space systems.

Moonlighter, dubbed “the world’s first and only hacking sandbox in space,” is a mid-size 3U cubesat [PDF] with a mass of about 5kg. Stowed, it is 34 cm x 11 cm x 11cm in size, and when fully deployed with its solar panels out, it measures 50 cm x 34 cm x 11 cm.

It was built by The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center in southern California, in partnership with the US Space Systems Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory. It will run software developed by infosec and aerospace engineers to support in-orbit cybersecurity training and exercises.

This effort was inspired by the Hack-A-Sat contest co-hosted by the US Air Force and Space Force, now in its fourth year at the annual DEF CON computer security conference. 

The goal of Moonlighter was to move offensive and defensive cyber-exercises for space systems out of an on-Earth lab setting and into low Earth orbit, according to project leader Aaron Myrick of Aerospace Corp. Not only that, but the satellite needs to be able to handle multiple teams competing to seize control of its software without losing or damaging the whole thing and ruining the project. Thus, an onboard sandbox approach was taken.

“If you’re doing a hacking competition, or any sort of cyber activity or exercise with a live vehicle, it’s difficult because you’re potentially putting that vehicle’s mission at risk,” Myrick told The Register

“And that’s not a good option when you’ve spent a lot of engineering hours and a lot of money to get this launched. So we said if we want to do this right, we have to build this from the ground up.”

Aerospace Corporation's Moonlighter satellite

Sending to outer space … The Moonlighter satellite. Click to enlarge. Credit: The Aerospace Corporation

To this end, the small satellite runs a software payload that behaves like a real flight computer, which can — hopefully! — to be subjected to multiple, realistic attacks and commandeered without underlying critical subsystems being affected.

“This allows cyber experiments to be repeatable, realistic, and secure, while maintaining the health and safety of the satellite,” as Aerospace Corp put it.

Moonlighter’s first test will come in August when it will be part of the Hack-A-Sat 4 competition in Las Vegas. Five teams qualified for the contest’s final at DEF CON, during which they’ll get a crack at the bird.

This year’s annual competition will thus be the first time conference hackers get to test their skills against a live, in-orbit satellite. The top three teams will win a monetary price: $50,000 for first place, $30,000 for second, and $20,000 for third. 

Space Jam

James Pavur, lead cybersecurity software engineer at Istari, participated in the three earlier Hack-A-Sat competitions, and gave a talk on radio frequency attacks in outer space at last year’s DEF CON. 

He describes himself as a “passionate security researcher” when it comes to poking holes in satellites, and did his PhD thesis at Oxford on securing these kinds of systems. You also might remember him from his exploitation of GDPR requests.

Pavur participated in the qualification round for this year’s satellite hacking competition, though didn’t make it to the finals. 

The qualification round included “wicked-hard astrodynamics problems related to overall mechanics and positioning, figuring out where objects in space will be, and where they are going,” he told The Register. “It’s a lot of really deep mathematics on the physics side of things, and it requires a lot of expertise in embedded systems and reverse engineering.”

Space systems … are always under a degree of environmental attack that we’re not really accustomed to

There are a couple of things that make securing space systems unique, he explained.

“The most obvious is you can’t just go up there and reboot them,” he said. “So your risk tolerance is very low for losing access to communications to the device.”

Because of this, space systems are built in a risk-averse way, and employ redundancy to provide multiple communication pathways to recover a system if it fails, or to debug equipment that’s malfunctioning.

These pathways, however, also give miscreants more opportunities to gain access to, and ultimately compromise, a satellite. “They can all become attack surfaces that an attacker might target,” Pavur said.


“The other big thing that makes space systems different is that they’re always under a degree of environmental attack that we’re not really accustomed to,” he added.

This includes physical threats, such as solar radiation, extreme temperatures, and orbital debris.

“So when people build space systems, and they’re deciding which risks to prioritize, they’ll often treat cybersecurity as a lesser risk against the absolutely certain aggressive environmental harms,” Pavur explained.

“They’ll make choices around costs and priorities that deprioritize cybersecurity concerns and elevate physical concerns.”

That’s not always a bad choice, he added, it’s just not a choice we typically have to make with ground-based networks and nodes. And it’s one of the reasons why space systems have struggled to keep up, cybersecurity wise, with their Earthly counterparts.

Then there’s the growing commercialization of the aerospace industry, coupled with hardware and software used in space becoming increasingly commoditized and mass manufactured, not unlike the tech used in ground-based systems.

“The bar is being lowered for entry to space,” Myrick said. 

“And that’s both for people that are trying to put things there but also for people that are willing and able to make other people have a bad day,” he continued, using last year’s Viasat debacle as an example of “a pretty destructive event that made people have a very bad day.”

“With Moonlighter, we’re trying to get in front of the problem, before it is a problem.”

Space security is national security

To be clear, Russia’s cyberattack on Viasat’s Ukrainian satellite broadband system — which knocked out service for tens of thousands across Europe as Putin’s army invaded its neighboring county — began with an intrusion into the company’s satellite ground infrastructure.

“But they used the satellite network to deploy, which is important,” Myrick said. “It highlighted the issue, and made it so it’s not theoretical.”

For many, both in government and the private sector, the Viasat security breach moved the issue of cybersecurity in space away from the stuff of sci-fi novels and into reality

“We are all aware that the first ‘shot’ in the current Ukraine conflict was a cyberattack against a US space company,” acting US National Cyber Director Kemba Walden told reporters at the RSA Conference in April, en route to the White House’s first space industry cybersecurity workshop.

Defending space systems against threats remains “urgent and requires high-level attention,” Walden said.

Space geeks and hackers

Still, the space industry hasn’t been the most welcoming of security researchers, even ethical hackers looking to find and disclose bugs before the baddies exploit them.

Pavur said he hopes Moonlighter will encourage more “acceptance of offensive security research,” in the aerospace industry. This could include companies offering bug bounties, hosting hacking competitions, or hiring penetration testers to stress test their systems.

“Hopefully a project like Moonlighter will get the industry thinking about ways they could apply the fact that space is really cool and fun, and that hackers are interested in it,” he said. “There are lots of incredibly talented security people who would like to make the space world more secure.” ®

Moonlighter is set to launch Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. A live-stream of the lift-off should appear here.


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The case for offering perks for parents in the workplace

Things like family leave, flexible working and promoting a culture of understanding are simple ways employers can support carers and parents.

Caring for dependents is a large part of the reason why many people work – they want to provide for their families. Nowadays more and more employers are cottoning on to this fact and they are providing benefits and supports for working parents, guardians and carers.

For example, in 2021, Pinterest announced it would be introducing minimum of 20 weeks’ parental leave, where before it offered 12 weeks. It also said it was adding paid leave for pregnancy loss, as well as IVF and egg freezing benefits.

The same year, fashion tech company Rent The Runway also said it would offer 20 weeks’ paid leave for all new parents.

And, more recently, Vodafone Ireland introduced new benefits including leave for pregnancy loss, fertility treatment and surrogacy. It consulted experts at Rotunda Hospital in Dublin to inform these new policy decisions, which were introduced last year.

‘If a company can be flexible, their employees tend to be happy to give back’
– AISHLING GOULDEN asked some companies about what kind of benefits they provide to workers with families and dependents.

Katie Banks, VP of global people and workplace at Nitro talked us through the company’s family policy, which it introduced last year.

All employees, not just birthing parents

It was designed for all employees, not just birthing parents, she said. It includes “flexible leave and fertility benefits for individuals undergoing fertility treatments, pursuing alternative paths to parenthood (such as adoption and surrogacy), or experiencing pregnancy loss at any stage”.

To further support family planning, Nitro partnered with an organisation called Maven to offer fertility treatment and related benefits to staff. The programme comes with a $500 stipend for baby bonding activities, such as lactation consultants and parenting classes.

KPMG’s inclusion and diversity manager Bethany Cotter said the company offers much the same perks as some of the companies already mentioned, including leave for maternity, paternity, adoptive, fertility, surrogacy, pregnancy loss and carer’s support.

It’s not just leave companies can offer though. Cotter said KPMG partners with an organisation called Talking Talent that provides maternity and paternity coaching. It also works with Platform 55 which runs on demand webinars on family-related topics.

And PwC has a similar type of scheme added on to its leave benefits, which it calls the “parents and carers pillar”. This is an employee-led programme which provides a support community to working parents and carers.

Really, the best way that workplaces can support parents and carers is to be understanding of people.

An understanding culture

Orla O’Neill of PwC’s people experience team described it as “an inclusive culture” that also treats staff like adults and trusts them to do their best work.

Life gets in the way sometimes, and everyone from CEOs to junior staff members should know that. Tolerance and compassion and good, solid ‘people-first’ values are beneficial for everyone when it comes to working – and that often has productivity advantages too.

As Aishling Goulden, head of HR at Viatris Ireland, pointed out, “if a company can be flexible, their employees tend to be happy to give back”.

For Viatris, the benefits that every employee in Ireland has access to include private healthcare for employees and their families, fully paid maternity leave for six months, career breaks, phased return-to-work schemes following extended leave, wellness programmes and fully supported educational assistance to upskill.

“We understand that outside of work our employees have many things to balance, whether it’s child-care, adult-care or self-care so being as flexible as possible with our employees is vital,” Goulden said.

Lorna Dunne, HR business partner at Henkel, agreed with Goulden’s point about culture, adding that Henkel has a “strong entrepreneurial spirit” that rewards as well as challenges employees. “We have created a supportive environment that caters to the needs of parents and families. Through a range of benefits and perks, we are committed to promoting work-life balance.”

Like the other companies featured in this article, these benefits and perks include fully paid maternity and paternity leave and the freedom for workers to design their own parental leave options.

Flexible working

Flexible and hybrid working is, of course, another way companies can support parents and carers. People with young children sometimes need just as much flexibility and understanding as new parents do.

According to Cotter, KPMG provides emergency childcare cover, which offers parents and guardians three days back-up childcare when their regular care arrangements fall through.

Not everyone likes to work at home with their kids, but for many the pandemic-induced switch to remote and hybrid working models was a godsend allowing them to spend more time with their families and get more work done.

Thankfully, a lot of employers realise this and they seem to be incorporating flexible working into their perks parental packages.

“We understand that parenting demands require adaptable work arrangements, which is why we offer flexible working options,” said Dunne from Henkel.

John Conneely, Dublin-based product manager with Personio, is one of thousands of parents who has juggled welcoming a new baby with work responsibilities. He explained that when he did his interview for the job he was concerned the fact he was becoming a parent soon might harm his chances.

“When I joined Personio, we already knew that we had a baby on the way. And even though I had mentioned this to my recruiter, I was still a little worried about letting my manager know.”

But, he said his manager was “excited and supportive”.

“We got right down to discussing the best options for me to take my parental leave so I could support my partner and child in those key first months of life. This people-centred approach has provided me with the flexibility I need to support my family whilst maintaining and progressing in my career.”

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Microsoft Drops Windows Cortana App, Increases Advertisements

Microsoft on Friday disclosed it will drop support for Cortana as a standalone app in Windows 10 and 11.

In a note to users, the IT giant said this doesn’t mean the voice-controlled digital assistant is going away completely, and will still be found in some other Redmond products – just not in Windows 10 and 11 as a standalone application.

“This change only impacts Cortana in Windows, and your productivity assistant, Cortana, will continue to be available in Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams display, and Microsoft Teams rooms,” the biz explained.

This isn’t a surprise at all, in a way, because Microsoft has been cramming Copilot-branded AI-powered functionality into every corner of its empire lately. With Cortana, you can open its app and tell it to run programs, find information, update your calendar… all things that these incoming AI features should be able to handle, making the Smurfette-blue digital assistant a little redundant.

“We know that this change may affect some of the ways you work in Windows,” Microsoft continued, “so we want to help you transition smoothly to the new options. Instead of clicking the Cortana icon and launching the app to begin using voice, now you can use voice and satisfy your productivity needs through different tools.”

And those tools are: voice-controlled functionality in Windows 11; the updated Bing search engine with its interactive chat-based interface for looking up info; all that Copilot stuff in Microsoft 365, allowing users to create and edit documents among other things using natural-language instructions; and most importantly Windows Copilot, a chat-based interface for controlling the OS and applications.

As we said, all of which makes the Cortana app redundant and ripe for replacement as Microsoft injects OpenAI’s GPT family of large language models into its products.

We’re told the standalone app support will be ditched in the latter end of this year. Cortana as a personal assistant arrived in 2014 as an answer to Apple’s voice-controlled Siri and Google’s Google Now, having been plucked from the Halo video game franchise.

Cortana fired and ads hired?

Early last month, Twitter user Albacore, perhaps a persistent pain in Microsoft’s side, reported that Redmond was toying with putting in-house ads in Windows 11’s Settings panel – and shared screenshots of test builds featuring those very pitches for Microsoft 365 and storage products in the UI.

And now, as documented by GHacks on Friday, some users who go to the Windows 11 Get Help app will see an in-house ad for the software giant’s Teams Essentials collaboration suite.

An ad for Teams in Windows 11

I came here for help, not a sales pitch … Screenshot of Windows 11. Hat tip: Ghacks

The Get Help support tool is there to help users who are having problems with or questions about the operating system, such as setting up a scanner or fixing Ethernet connections. At the top of the Get Help app interface – above the heading “We’re here to help” – is the sentence: “Increase productivity and collaboration all while staying organized, using a new meeting solution designed for small businesses.”

Clicking on the “Learn more” link brings the user to the Microsoft Teams Essentials webpage. ($4 per user per month!) Users can thankfully close the ad.

Again, we’re not surprised by this development. Redmond has for months been spamming its own banners and promos here and there throughout Windows in hopes of getting more people to subscribe to Microsoft 365 or sign up for various products and services.

In March 2022 it began testing ads in File Explorer, and there were reports eight months later that they could begin showing up in the Windows 11 sign-out menu. In April this year, there was talk from Microsoft of more ads coming to the Start Menu.

In addition, Microsoft in April updated its Weather app to show ads – as well as the MSN news feed – but removed most of that a month later after users revolted.

Reports in early May based on Albacore’s tweet about ads coming to the Settings page drew similar derision.

“It’s sad and hilarious at the same time,” one netizen opined. “The Settings app is what, 10 years old at this point? It STILL is an incoherent mess that barely replaces the good old Control Panel. Shoving ads in there just shows where their priorities are.”

Another user wondered whether Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI to integrate the upstart’s GPT technologies into its ecosystem, would use this AI muscle to pick and display third-party ads in the operating system.

“Are GPTs going to devolve into the used car salesman of the tech world?” they asked. “I am sure [Amazon’s] Alexa and Google and others are in the same opportunity position.”

Users may not like the ads, but don’t expect Microsoft to pull them if they help bring in more money.

Microsoft declined to comment.

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