- YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners tricked Carole Baskin, a subject in Netflix’s “Tiger King,” into giving her first-ever interview since the show ended by pretending to be late-night host Jimmy Fallon.
- Baskin agreed to the interview after being promised that Fallon would focus on big cats, rather than the show or suggestions that she might have played a role in her husband’s disappearance.
- Pieters and Manners then used audio clips of Fallon from previous shows to conduct the interview, telling Baskin that she would only be able to hear the host because of their remote taping format.
- Baskin later called it a “fun prank” that gave a “good laugh” and said she appreciated that their stunt was not mean spirited.
How Pieters and Manners Tricked Carole Baskin
Exotic-cat activist Carole Baskin has given her first official interview since the release of Netflix’s hit show “Tiger King.” But while Baskin thought she was speaking with late-night host Jimmy Fallon, she had actually be duped into the video call for a YouTube video by Josh Pieters and Archie Manners.
“Tiger King” has been one of the most talked-about shows on the internet since the start of coronavirus lockdowns; however, Baskin has refused to speak to reporters about the series after it suggested that she may have been involved in her husband’s disappearance. That, in turn, has prompted a ton of hate and threats against her as many believe that she may have killed her husband.
So how did Pieters and Manners secure the interview? Well, the two have been taping a series for their channel where they trick celebrities into thinking they’re being interviewed on a late-night show through Zoom calls.
In previous episodes of this series, the two managed to get ahold of British singer-songwriter Craig David, TikToker Holly H, and “Love Island” couple Molly-Mae and Tommy Fury by pretending to be James Cordon.
To the guests they’ve invited on, the video interviews didn’t seem too out of the ordinary given the fact that so many hosts have been filming their shows from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
So to pull off this latest stunt, the two reached out to Baskin to extend the misleading invitation. Baskin and her team rejected the offer twice, but Baskin changed her mind after her daughter convinced her to reconsider. She also agreed to participate on the condition that “Fallon” focus on the cats and not ask about Netflix or the show.
When speaking with Baskin to coordinate the interview, Manners pretended to be a producer for the show. On the big day, he explained that because of this new remote taping format, Baskin wouldn’t actually be able to see Fallon, only hear him.
Their prank could’ve been much meaner, but the two actually ended up using Fallon’s audio clips to ask her pretty general questions, like how she’s been handling stay-at-home orders.
She talked about continuing to work hard for the tigers and her organization, Big Cat Rescue, as well as how the loss of tourism has hurt the staff at her tiger sanctuary. They also gave her some time to talk about the Big Cat Safety Act, a law she’s been championing to end the abuse of big cats by private owners.
“Hey all you cool cats and kittens, there is something you can do to end the abuse of big cats and to save them in the wild and that’s to make the call of the wild,” she said before offering up a number people could text to let their member of congress know they supported the act. “And if you don’t live in the U.S. what you can do is never pay to see a cub or pet a cub.”
After the call, she even sent over some exclusive photos and videos that they could use during her segment.
Baskin Responds in Good Spirits
It seems like Baskin wasn’t actually too upset about being duped once she learned that it was all for a YouTube video. She even commented below the upload, noting that she was a little suspicious when it was all going down.
Baskin copy and pasted an email she sent to her husband and daughter after the call, with it saying: “Well that was weird. I couldn’t see Fallon during the interview, and when they had his voice on the questions they didn’t sound like it was specific to the topic. He’d just say things they could have recorded from any other interview; like ‘What are you doing during quarantine?;”
She even noted that Fallon’s sign off struck her as odd, writing, “At the end he said, “Miss you buddy.” so that really didn’t sound like it was live to me. They did stick to the questions they gave us, so I just can’t tell.“
“This whole thing may have been a spoof and they said they won’t broadcast till next week, and will let us know before they do, but I’m not holding my breath,” she added.
Baskin then released a statement Sunday, after the video was released, clarifying that she wasn’t angry at all.
“I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped. But had no idea it would turn out to be such a fun prank. It gave us a very welcome good laugh.”
“I appreciate their cleverness and that they created their video in a way that I don’t feel was in any way mean spirited,” Baskin’s statement added.
This definitely wasn’t the first stunt Pieters and Manners have managed to pull off together. They’ve previously fooled people with an Ed Sheeran look-alike, sold microwaved meals on Deliveroo, tricked influencers into promoting gravel, and even presented far-right commentator Katie Hopkins with a fake award.
Black Mirror or Reality? Microsoft Granted Patent for Tech That Lets It Create Chatbots of Dead People
- Microsoft has been granted a patent that would allow it to create artificial intelligence chatbots of dead people using “voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters, etc.”
- As Microsoft noted in its patent proposal, chatbots could also be created to imitate living people — opening the door for users to train a digital version of themselves to be used after they die.
- In the patent filing, Microsoft also suggested creating 2D or 3D models of chatbot subjects by studying images and videos of them.
- Online, many noted the similarities between Microsoft’s patent and a 2013 episode of Black Mirror in which a woman creates an AI version of her deceased boyfriend.
Microsoft Granted Controversial Patent
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Microsoft a patent for technology that would allow it digitally revive dead people.
If implemented, Microsoft would use information like “voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters, etc.,” to create artificial intelligence chatbots meant to replicate the person.
In its filing, Microsoft noted that the person could be “a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a random entity, etc.”
Microsoft also noted, “the specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chat bot), or a version of oneself (e.g., oneself at a particular age or stage of life).”
As The Independent pointed out, that opens up the door for living users to be able to “train a digital replacement in the event of their death.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Microsoft has also suggested creating 2D or even 3D models of the person by studying images and videos of them.
Has Life Finally Become an Episode of Black Mirror?
Online, many noted the similarities between Microsoft’s patent and a 2013 episode of Black Mirror in which a character, played by Hayley Atwell, revives her recently-deceased boyfriend through an AI chatbot. As the episode progresses, that AI — played by Domhnall Gleeson — eventually becomes an exact replica android of her boyfriend.
“More people that need to remember Black Mirror is a warning sign, not a product manual,” said Tama Leaver, an internet studies professor at Curtin University in Australia.
Indeed, many critics have interpreted the episode, which focuses on the grief felt by Atwell’s character because of her loss, as an examination of “our own mortality and our desire to play God.”
“It shines a spotlight on our desperate need to reverse a natural and necessary part of life without considering the consequences on our emotional well-being,” Roxanne Sancto said in a review for Paste Magazine.
In fact, series creator Charlie Brooker said part of his direct inspiration for writing the episode was based on Twitter and the question: “What if these people were dead and it was software emulating their thoughts?”
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (IGN) (Indie Wire)
JoJo Siwa Fans Caution Against Labeling the Star’s Sexuality
- JoJo Siwa was featured in two TikTok videos Wednesday that many felt signaled her as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
- One showed her dancing and lip-syncing to Paramore’s “Aint It Fun,” along with members of the TikTok group Pride House LA. Siwa specifically mouthed the lyric “Now you’re one of us,” which is also the caption of the post.
- The second video showed her lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a song that has long been heralded as an LGBTQ+ anthem.
- The 17-year-old entertainer has not directly addressed speculations about her sexuality, prompting many to caution against labeling her.
JoJo Siwa TikToks Trigger Sexuality Speculations
JoJo Siwa fans are urging the public not to label the 17-year-old entertainer’s sexuality, especially when she has not explicitly done so herself.
The request came after Siwa became a trending topic Wednesday when many speculated that she had come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
The speculations stem from two TikTok videos she was featured in. The first was posted on choreographer Kent Boyd’s account. It features him and other members of the TikTok group Pride House LA, which includes several stars from Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach Movie.”
It showed them all lip-syncing and dancing along to Paramore’s hit song “Ain’t It Fun.” Siaw specifically mouthed the lyric “Now you’re one of us.” That lyric was also the caption of the post.
Later in the day, Siwa posted a video on her personal TikTok account that featured her lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a song that has long been heralded as an LGBTQ+ anthem.
Part of the lyrics she sang along to were: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian transgender life / I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.”
These posts really started all the rumors online, and things picked up when influencers like James Charles, Bretman Rock, and others expressed their support.
Many fans also left comments on the videos saying they were proud of her, and journalist Yashar Ali tweeted, “This feels like a big deal if it is what I think it is…JoJo Siwa is hugely popular with kids.”
“And as someone just pointed out, if it is what I think it is, she’s doing it at the height of her fame when she’s selling out arenas,” he continued.
Despite the wave of praise, other fans feel that it’s inappropriate and harmful to make speculations about anyone’s sexuality.
Many have even shared their own experiences coming out, reminding people not to label Siwa as anything until she explicitly chooses to share that information herself.
While Siwa hasn’t directly addressed any of the responses as of yet, she has retweeted a post that features her video, the pride flag emoji, and the caption, “@itsjojosiwa is on the right track, she was born this way.”
Still, others also noted that she has publicly asked Lady Gaga to collaborate with her in the past, so perhaps this is a signal about that happening soon.
Others believe it could also be Siwa’s way of signaling that she is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Metro) (Teen Vogue)
Google Investigates Top AI Researcher Who Was Looking Into a Previous Firing
- Google is investigating the co-leader of its Ethical AI team, Margaret Mitchell.
- While Mitchell has not been fired, her account has been locked because Google said she “exfiltrated thousands of files” and shared them with people outside of the company.
- In a tweet, Mitchell indicated that she had been “documenting current critical issues” related to the firing of another Google AI Ethicist in December.
- Sources reportedly told Axios that Mitchell had been specifically looking for messages that showed discriminatory treatment of that fired researcher.
Google Investigates Margaret Mitchell
On Tuesday, Google stated that it is now investigating the co-leader of its Ethical Al team, Margaret Mitchell.
Mitchell has reportedly not been fired, but her company email account has been locked.
According to Google, its security systems automatically lock employee accounts “when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered.”
In this case, Google said Mitchell “exfiltrated thousands of files” and then shared them with people outside of the company.
Why Did Mitchell Begin Looking Through Files?
Mitchell’s investigation is related to the ousting of another top AI ethicist at Google, Timnit Gebru, who was fired at the beginning of December.
Before Gebru was fired, managers reportedly instructed her to withdraw an unpublished research paper upon her return from vacation. In an email to the internal listserv Google Brain Women and Allies, Gebru then voiced frustration at managers for allegedly making the decision without her input.
“You are not worth having any conversations about this, since you are not someone whose humanity (let alone expertise recognized by journalists, governments, scientists, civic organizations such as the electronic frontiers foundation etc) is acknowledged or valued in this company,” Gebru said in a critique of the decision.
Gebru’s firing led to such a massive outcry from Google employees that Google CEO Sundar Pichai pledged to investigate the situation.
On Friday, Mitchell indicated in a tweet that she was also looking into Gebru’s firing, saying that she was “documenting current critical issues from [Gebru’s] firing, point by point, inside and outside work.”
According to Axios, sources have said that Mitchell used automated scripts to siphon through messages that potentially document discriminatory treatment against Gebru.