Hello dear fellow tech enthusiasts,

Here we are, back with another edition of #TechAways. I’m Camilla, and today we will delve into one of my favourite subjects: relationships and love. I know, this would have been perfect for the February Valentine’s edition—what a missed opportunity. 

Today, we’re exploring love, but not the real or the fake kind— instead, we’re exploring the AI-generated affection.  

It has been a while since the rise of digital romance apps, a realm where women and men hope to find their AI-generated soulmates.  

Unhealthy attachment 

The AI companion phenomenon has become more frequent among lonely, single men. Creators often market their services as solutions tailored to combat loneliness and isolation, helping men practice their social skills to meet women in real life. However, the big issue here is that it doesn’t address the root of the problem: isolation. While in some cases virtual companions may seem like a positive development, there is undoubtedly an unhealthy dark side. Individuals can become too attached to chatbots, and vice versa, with reported cases of chatbots sexually harassing people. 

Misogyny on the rise 

Many romantic chatbot services resemble each other, often offering a range of AI-generated images of women that can be sexualised and paired with provocative messages. What these apps propose is an ideal of the “perfect woman” based on misogynistic stereotypes, offering users a selection of images featuring skinny, busty women with small waists dressed in provocative attire. There is usually a wide array of personalities to select from, akin to perusing a restaurant menu – ranging from the “innocent” archetype to the “dominant” or even “submissive” personas. 

This perpetuates the dehumanisation of women by creating an idealized standard of perfection in men’s minds, dictating how a “good” partner should behave. This often translates to the disregarding of women’s boundaries during real-life interactions, as men may struggle to see beyond their own needs. This lack of empathy is a common thread, and AI “partners” may make that problem even worse.  

Experts warn that this could be fostering a new generation of “incels” who feel emboldened to control women and struggle to communicate normally with real-life people. 

Privacy nightmare 

Research conducted by the Mozilla Foundation has found a litany of security and privacy concerns with the bots. Collectively, these apps gather huge amounts of people’s data, exploiting intimacy and trust to gather personal information. Many of them are not transparent about what data they share with third parties, their geographical locations, or their creators. The research discovered the use of trackers that send information to Google, Facebook, and companies in Russia and China, even though the privacy policies of many apps claim not to sell data. 

Mozilla also highlighted that multiple companies allow users to use weak passwords. Given that cybercriminals regularly exploit people’s trust to scam or exploit them, individuals should exercise caution about what they share with chatbots—especially information that could lead to reputational damage if the chatbot system is hacked or if data is accidentally leaked. 

While we ponder that, you can catch up on other tech news we prepared for you. 


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#TechAways is brought to you by SEC Newgate EU’s one and only tech team featuring Julia Piwowarska, Camilla Frison, Juliette Olivier, Giuseppe Campa and Ivet Armengol

Lab-grown meat: the Netherlands leads the way! 🔬 [The Next Web] 

Dutch startup Meatable recently hosted Europe’s first legal tasting of cultivated meat, more specifically, lab-grown pork sausage. Up until now, such culinary delights were off-limits in Europe. However, that changed after a Dutch legislator authorised the tasting of meat and seafood products grown from animal cells – a real boon for start-ups. The sausage available at the tasting is said to be indistinguishable from traditional meat, but developed in a way that does not harm animals or the environment. This process is achieved by cultivating a single cell sample from a pig in a bioreactor until it forms muscle tissue. With its eyes set on the future, Meatable plans to first conquer the Singaporean market, driven by the nation’s strong desire to cut down on food imports, followed by an eventual expansion into the US market. In Europe, the tasting not only paves the way for a new food revolution, but also signals growing support for sustainable culinary innovations. 

Are we all just “users”? We can find a better word 🤓 [MIT Technology Review] 

Imagine if you walked into a room and instead of being called a “guest”, everyone just referred to you as an “occupant”. Kind of lacks warmth, doesn’t it? The tech world could really spice things up by ditching the generic term “user” for something more personalised and vivid. “User” first emerged with the early mainframe computers, quickly becoming intertwined with personal computers and all things digital. However, it turns people into data to be studied, behaviours to be tested, and capital to be made. Nowadays, even products and services receive more lexical attention than humans, as AI bots are transformed into “copilots”, “assistants” or “collaborators,” aiming to convey a sense of partnership. The call to action is to swap out “user” with terminology that truly reflects how people engage with technology. Are you gaming? You’re a “player”. Managing your health via an app? Call yourself a “patient”. Learning from educational tech or media companies? You’re a “Student” or a “reader”. It’s about making the language as tailored and personalised as our devices have become. 

Will automatisation make us hate our jobs? 😡 [TechCrunch] 

Despite the big buzz about automatisation’s impact on our jobs, there is much that remains to be explored when it comes to the full scope of its actual implications. A survey published by the Brookings Institution puts another important – and so far, neglected – question on the table: how will humans feel when working with robots? As much as they might spare us the more backbreaking and repetitive bits of our jobs, they can also take away a big deal of the sense of purpose we get from working. The survey gathered that what motivates us and gives us meaning in our work is the satisfaction of three innate psychological needs: competence, relatedness and autonomy. Safe to say, working with robots might really undermine those. While automation is inevitable, numerous risks must be addressed to facilitate collaboration between humans and machines, rather than pitting them against each other in competition. 

The Tortured Leaks Department 💿 [WIRED] 

Not even our newsletter is safe from the Taylor Swift discourse – but we’ll save hot takes about her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, for another time. Before the official release, the tracks have been leaked online to a divided audience, a subset of which declared “it must be AI”. Swift has been one of the best selling artist of our age; over the years, she publicly battled streaming platforms, her former label and other parts of the industry to carve out better pay and conditions for herself and others, ultimately becoming the first billionaire just from her music career. To think that her meticulously planned album rollout can fall victim to a piracy glitch was unthinkable to most (especially combined with leaked lyrics of questionable quality). While the songs turned out to be real, it would not be that far-fetched for them to be AI-generated – there’s plenty of AI covers and new music of real artists going around, and many fans have been fooled in the past. Between the leaks, deepfakes and hard-to-navigate algorithmic programming of the streaming services, the future of the music industry does not look so bright and dazzling. 

In case you haven’t had enough: 

Brits to issue their own sick notes via algorithm under plan to save GP time [The Next Web] 

World’s top cosmologists convene to question conventional view of the universe [The Guardian] 

Autonomous vertical farming startup to grow crops in space in 2026 [The Next Web] 

The Deaths of Effective Altruism [WIRED] 

About this week’s guest editor, Camilla Frison:

Born and raised in Italy, I decided to move to Brussels right after my wonderful Erasmus experience here. Fascinated by Brussels’ international spirit (definitely not by the weather – typical Italian thing to say), I am now a consultant working in the stellar SEC Newgate EU media team, helping clients navigate the crowded Brussels media landscape. I describe myself as a high fashion lover from a very young age and a supporter of French cheese supremacy.