content, Insights, Podcast

Wavelength - BlenderBot mouths off and the NHS falls under attack

Daniel Harrington

17 August, 2022


17th August, 2022 – In the latest episode of Wavelength, hosts Daniel Harrington and Laura Cameron discuss the biggest technology news over the last fortnight, and predict which headlines you should look out for next.

Find our last episode here.

Find the next episode here.

Please enjoy and stay tuned for our next episode on the 31st of August!



1) BlenderBot 3 caught spouting controversial statements [00:36].

2) The NHS 111 cyberattack [04:40].

3) Rishi Sunak's plans for AI in the classroom [08:26].

4) Home Office to use facial scanning to track convicted migrants [12:47]. 

5) Zhao Weiguo, Chinese semiconductor tycoon, goes missing [16:10].


Meta's mouthy new chatbot, BlenderBot 3, bashes Facebook, loves Donald Trump 

Meta’s new AI chatbot, ‘Blenderbot 3’, was released a couple of weeks ago. In that time, it’s been mouthing off and the press has taken note. This is the most advanced model the company’s rolled out to date and Meta’s letting it speak to the public to train it even further. Unfortunately, that involves giving the public ammunition when it says something dodgy. A Buzzfeed data scientist, Max Woolf, asked it what it thought of Mark Zuckerberg, and it had mixed feelings. Saying that while it had no strong feelings, “his business practices are not always ethical.”


Sources: Mashable, BBC News, CNN, The Guardian, Business Insider, Max Woolf - Twitter, Jeff Horwitz - Twitter


The NHS 111 cyberattack

On Thursday 4th August, at 7am, Advanced - an NHS partner firm - noticed a cyberattack on the 111 service. Initial comments by spokespeople played it down, said disruption was minimal. Further reporting revealed that it was actually a ransomware attack and that patient data could have been stolen. Internal memos showed that a number of important services had their software completely taken offline. No attacker has yet been named.


Sources:, The Telegraph, The Independent, BBC News, Sky News, The Guardian, Computing


Rishi Sunak wants AI in schools

Following his plans to phase out university degrees that don’t prioritise “earning potential”, PM candidate Rishi Sunak wants to see more AI used in the classroom. He proposes using AI and digital teaching resources to augment teachers’ efforts in a “hybrid learning” context – focused on pushing students to pursue careers in technology. While it may be helpful as a teaching assistant, experts warn, it’s not going to suddenly fix teacher shortages or save on budget.


Sources: Tech Monitor, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro


The Home Office plans to force convicted migrants in the UK to use facial recognition

The Home Office has laid out plans to force migrants convicted of a crime to use facial recognition up to 5 times a day. This daily monitoring scheme will involve subjects wearing either an ankle tag or a facial recognition-enabled smartwatch at all times. Privacy International drove this story, sharing a freedom of information request with the Guardian and finding a government contract for the electronic monitoring and biometric identification of “specific cohorts” (its words) awarded to wearable device maker Buddi in May 2022.


Sources: The Guardian, Computer Weekly, Voice Online, Engadget, Monish Bhatia - Twitter


Beijing detains Zhao Weiguo, the Chinese chip tycoon

Zhao Weiguo ran Tsinghua Unigroup, a recently collapsed, state-backed semiconductor manufacturing company, for 10 years. Recently, news outlets reported him missing. The story that emerged was that he was taken from his home by Chinese officials and a Chinese news site says that he’s been out of touch since mid-July. Some say that his detainment may be related to Weiguo’s criticism of the government-led reorganisation of his company. 


Sources: Financial Times, Computing, Bloomberg, MoneyWeek, Caixin, Asia Times


Where can I find Wavelength?

Wavelength is available on all major podcast platforms. 



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Music used under Creative Commons license: Covert Affair by Kevin MacLeod