Hacking Humans Goes to the Movies 11.23.23
Ep 24 | 11.23.23

Cops in the catfish game.


Cop #1: Well, we want to try something catfish, "the catfish."

Cop #2: It that a Dr. Seuss book?

Dave Bittner: Hello everyone and welcome to a special edition of the "Hacking Humans" podcast, an occasional series we call "Hacking Humans Goes to the Movies." I'm Dave Bittner and joining me is my CyberWire colleague Rick Howard. Hey, Rick.

Rick Howard: Hey, Dave.

Dave Bittner: On this show, Rick and I look at some of our favorite clips from cinema and television, clips which demonstrate some of the scams and schemes that Joe Carrigan and I talk about on "Hacking Humans." We've got some fun clips to share, so stay tuned. We will be right back after this message from our show's sponsor. [ Music ] Alright Rick, first of all before we dig in here, I just want to say that I'm feeling fine after last show. [ Laughter ]

Rick Howard: You've recovered from your fright have you?

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Well, I just want to say that I feel very fortunate that I have the presence of mind to always carry a pen knife in my pocket and also lucky that like extraterrestrial cephalopods, they swallow you in one bite. They don't chew. So, that.

Rick Howard: Oh, no teeth?

Dave Bittner: That -- no, no, no. So, that bought me some time -- there's like a beak kind of thing, but it just kind of [gulping sound], you know?

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: And in you go. And so I had a little bit of time to get the pen knife out and saw my way out. So, I'm.

Rick Howard: Well, I am very impressed with your fortitude in the ability to use a pen knife in a kind of a disastrous situation. So, good [multiple speakers].

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: Sir.

Dave Bittner: It's dark in there and it does not smell good either. So, happy to be back, healed up, well-bathed, you know, so. Alright with that said, why don't we dig into our clips this week; Rick you're going to -- you're going to lead things off for us here.

Rick Howard: I don't know how to follow that, but yeah let's do that. My clip this week comes from the 2014 movie, "The Imitation Game." Have you seen it Dave?

Dave Bittner: No I'm not familiar with that one.

Rick Howard: Oh, this is one of my all-time favorites. It's directed by Morton Tyldum and he's probably most famous to our audience for the Netflix TV series, Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan." The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch most famous for the excellent BBC TV series "Sherlock" and the six-year and six-movie run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe playing "Dr. Strange."

Dave Bittner: Yeah, that's probably where I know him best.

Rick Howard: Yeah. That's -- yeah that's where he gets his most fame [laughter] I guess, right? But in this scene he's playing one of my all-time computer science heroes, the inspirational Alan Turing and.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: You've heard me talking about him before Dave, I.

Dave Bittner: Oh, sure.

Rick Howard: He is -- he is responsible okay for three groundbreaking events in computer science history, so let me list them. Number one, he proved mathematically back in 1937 that a computer could actually be built up there -- up to that point, it's just kind of theoretical. He wrote this paper called "On Compute," note this is a big one. Let me see if I can say all this, "On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem."

Dave Bittner: Okay.

Rick Howard: So, say that three times.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: Real fast.

Dave Bittner: Easy for you to say.

Rick Howard: Well, that paper is now regarded as the theoretical foundation for all modern computing, right, so that's number one. Number two, is that his significant contribution to the Allied efforts in World War II in breaking the German EGNIMA coding machine between 1939 and 1942 and that's what this movie is about. It's all about how they did that and it's fantastic, right? But number three, he defined one of the first tests for artificial intelligence called the "Imitation Game" in a paper he wrote in 1950. So, in this scene from the 2014 movie, Turing describes the Rory Kinnear, people know him from being M's deputy in the 007 movies. And one particular episode in a "Black Mirror" TV show where a pig was involved in a hostage situation and I don't know if you're familiar with this, right? But I'll let the audience discover what that means on their own.

Dave Bittner: Okay. Alright, anything you need to do to set this clip up?

Rick Howard: No. It's just those two talking and he's -- it is the best explanation I think of what artificial intelligence is. So, Mr. Kinnear talks first.

Detective Nock: Alright. Could machines ever think as human beings do?

Alan Turing: Most people say not.

Detective Nock: You're not most people.

Alan Turing: Well, the problem is you're asking a stupid question.

Detective Nock: I am?

Alan Turing: Of course machines... can't think as people do. A machine is different... from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something, uh, thinks differently from you, does that mean it's not thinking? Well, we allow for humans to have such divergences from one another. You like strawberries, I hate ice-skating, you... cry at sad films, I... am allergic to pollen. What is the point of-of different tastes, different... preferences if not to say that our brains work differently, that we think differently? And if we can say that about one another, then why can't we say the same thing for brains... built of copper and wire, steel? And that's...

Detective Nock: This big paper you wrote? What's it called?

Alan Turing: The Imitation Game.

Detective Nock: Right, that's...that's what it's about.

Alan Turing: Would you like to play?

Detective Nock: Play?

Alan Turing: It's a game. A test of sorts. For determining whether something is a machine or a human being.

Detective Nock: How do I play?

Alan Turing: Well, there's a judge and a subject, and...the judge asks questions, and, depending on the subject's answers, determines who he is talking with...what he is talking with, and,...all you have to do is ask me a question.

Rick Howard: What do you think Dave?

Dave Bittner: Well, I loved it. I mean, so this is the Turing Test right?

Rick Howard: It's the Turing Test. Absolutely. And it's been used by computer scientists since then to decide if a computer is able to think.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: And when you -- and one I -- the reason I love this clip is because you know with ChatGPT coming out last year, late last year, and all the large learning modules that we're been messing with since then, there have been a lot of people claiming that we are very close to a computer passing the Turing Test.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: So, when they say that's what we're talking about. In fact, there is a Google engineer that got fired, okay, back in July of 2022. His name was Blake Lemoine I guess is how you say that?

Dave Bittner: Yeah, yeah.

Rick Howard: But he was -- yeah -- he was saying out loud that -- that basically his LaMDA little chat function, machine-learning module, passed the Turing Test when he was having, you know, conversations with it every night as a pal, okay? So.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: That's what we're talking about.

Dave Bittner: He was making.

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: The case that it was sentient.

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: That's what -- yeah, it's basically passing that when you can't tell if the machine is a human or not, then it's basically sentient for all practical purposes. Right now, there's a lot of computer science people that have had better definitions, better tests for artificial intelligence since then, but this was the original, alright and Turing did it be himself. It's one of the reasons I love him so much.

Dave Bittner: Well, you know, I love this too and, you know, you and I are both old-timers here when it comes to computer stuff. Do you remember Eliza?

Rick Howard: Of course I -- yes. Eliza was this fantastic thing.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: Describe what Eliza was. Alright, so yeah.

Dave Bittner: So, well Eliza goes back further than my initial contact with it. So, I first came across Eliza - someone had ported Eliza to BASIC, you know, BASIC was the computer language that came with your Apple II's and your TRS80s and your Commodor 64s, your VIC-20s, you know, they all came with BASIC built-in. And I think Eliza had originally been written for some of those old, you know, college mainframes and you know shared.

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: Around the Arbinet and all that kind of thing, but basically Eliza was someone's attempt at a computer therapist simulation. And the magic of Eliza was that it answered all of your questions with questions.

Rick Howard: Yeah. A little -- a little behavioral analysis trickery, okay?

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: That is, you know, and that it seemed like it was talking to you, yes.

Dave Bittner: Right. And it was very compelling. You know, you would say "I'm a" -- and it would say, "Hi, I'm Eliza," you know, "what's your problem?" And you would say, "I'm having trouble with my mother." And it would say, "Tell me about your mother." Say, well "my mother, you know, never lets me borrow the car." "Does it upset you that your mother never lets you borrow the car?" You know, it was that -- that kind of thing and it would keep going. My recollection, and it's quite possible that this is a false memory, but my recollection is that every now and then Eliza would hit you with a zinger like, you would be talking with Eliza for a while and then it would come back and say, "Does this have anything to do with your mother and your car?" And you would be like, "Well, uh!" You know, but it's quite poss -- and there were different versions of Eliza and.

Rick Howard: Sure.

Dave Bittner: You know, people who weren't back -- who didn't live through that period of time, it's hard for you to imagine how little memory and processing power we had. About a year ago, I went and I looked up the source code for Eliza and it is -- there's noth -- there's not much there.

Rick Howard: Nothing there, yeah.

Dave Bittner: You can read through the BASIC coding in just, you know, there's not much there because there wasn't room for there to be much there. But it was.

Rick Howard: Right.

Dave Bittner: Compelling.

Rick Howard: Well, I think the interesting thing about that is that was written in computer languages.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: That are basically step-by-step that tried to anticipate everything you were going to say and it was very good at it.

Dave Bittner: Um-hmm.

Rick Howard: Right? And that seemed like it might pass the Turing Test.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: With these new large language models, that's not how that's being done at all. It's not trying to have an answer for everything a person might ask them. It is having a collection of data, right, and then being able to understand what the human wants when they ask the question and the computer figures it out on their own, right? Which is, that's the -- that's this giant leap that we've been talking about with these large language models.

Dave Bittner: Yeah. And, you know, my -- I think you and I might be thinking along similar lines here, in that I hear a lot of people poo-pooing things like ChatGPT and saying "Oh, that's not really thinking" and it's not really this, there, or the other thing. And I can't help wondering if that's a distinction without a difference.

Rick Howard: I believe that too and if you just use Turing's definition that we saw on this film clip, okay, it doesn't really matter in the long run.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: Okay? It doesn't matter how it's done. If the humans can't tell, right, then it's for all intense and purposes, it might as well be, right? And you can see where there are lots of applications in a very specific domain that we're very close to passing the Turing Test, you know, with Alexa.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: Close to it with self-driving cars, very close to it. And all of these things in the next ten years or so are all going to come together and that it's going to be so much better, right? Alright, so that's the positive spin on it. The negative side is, we've all been using this thing -- these ChatGPTs for you know a little over a year.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: And it makes a lot of mistakes just like humans do.

Dave Bittner: Sure.

Rick Howard: Okay? And so my -- my current evaluation of those modules now are, you know, they're -- it's just a little bit bigger than wiki -- a little bit better than Wikipedia, right? But you know, so and it does something's really well.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: But other things it completely misses, right? And so, we're not quite there yet.

Dave Bittner: No. I think if you put guardrails on it and you give it a specific task that is self-contained it can do an extraordinarily good job. But I think, in particular, if you go out and ask it for some facts about something, then you have to be really careful, because it will make things up. Now, getting back to this thing with Turing though, the other thing that really stimulates my imagination with this is the notion of different kinds of intelligence. And, you know, at the outset here, I was joking about -- well not maybe joking -- about the cephalopod that swallowed me whole, but.

Rick Howard: Joking -- no.

Dave Bittner: Scientists are looking at things like -- like octopus, right? Like they're looking at octopus and saying that that it's a different kind of intelligence than we have. There's absolutely intelligence there. You know, there's these stories of aquariums having an octopus that will squirt water out of their tank to turnout a light that's annoying them.

Rick Howard: Annoying them, yeah.

Dave Bittner: You know, things like that. They can think. They can solve puzzles. But it doesn't seem to be the same way that we do. Their nervous system, their -- it's just distributed in a different way. Compared to us, it's a little alien and I think that's fascinating.

Rick Howard: Well, that's what Turing said in the clip, right, just because they don't think like us doesn't mean.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: They're not thinking, right? And we.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: And we have in our minds we have these milestones for you know what makes things intelligent and one of them is language and, you know, being able to solve problems, and we can see lots of it in the animal kingdom where some animals species are -- can communicate with their own and can solve, you know, problems that maybe seem simple to us, but they're -- it's still problem-solving.

Dave Bittner: Yeah. I saw -- I saw a story just yesterday where someone was visiting an animal rescue organization, you know, where they bring in wildlife that's been injured, and this place had a couple of crows that had been brought in and the crows were -- and crows are one of the kinds of birds that have the certain ability to speak or to mimic, right? And the crows were saying "Caw, caw" with a human accent.

Rick Howard: Oh my.

Dave Bittner: And the person who was visiting the facility asked the person running the facility like "What's this about? Why are the crows saying caw-caw with a human accent?" And the person running the facility kind of rolled their eyes and said, "They're making fun of us." [ Laughter ] That's what we sound like.

Rick Howard: And there you go! That is thinking, right?! I love that, right. If you can make bad jokes, I mean you're in, okay?

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. The crows are tired of us seeing crows and going caw-caw!. They're like, "Oh, come on. That's not what we sound like."

Rick Howard: Get it right.

Dave Bittner: Alright. Yeah, because that's [laughing.]. Alright, I am going to switch gears on us here, because mine is a little bit lighter but still something that we cover a lot on "Hacking Humans" here, and this is "catfishing." So, I'm using the clip from the show "Chicago PD" are you at all familiar with this show Rick?

Rick Howard: I was not until you showed it to me earlier today. So, that's brand new for me.

Dave Bittner: Yeah. So, "Chicago PD" is an American police procedural drama series. It's been quite successful. I think they are like on -- I think they've been renewed for their tenth, eleventh, and twelfth season or something like that.

Rick Howard: Wow.

Dave Bittner: You know? On the one hand it's one of those shows that the network can kind of grind out inexpensively, you know, the sets are built.

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: They got -- they got everything they need. They're popular. There's plenty of places to get stories, you know, ripped from today's headlines. And that's kind of what happens here. So, this clip I'm sharing today is from "Chicago PD." This is season three; episode eighteen. It's called "Kasual with a K," and this centers around two of the police officers whose names are Burgess and Roman and as these TV shows often have, these are two impossibly good looking police officers, right?

Rick Howard: I was thinking that too when I saw it, I was like my goodness!

Dave Bittner: Right. They are just gorgeous human beings, perfectly groomed, you know, and have.

Rick Howard: Perfect [multiple speakers].

Dave Bittner: Sappy repartee with each other, yeah.

Rick Howard: Yeah, yeah,

Dave Bittner: They're just wonderful.

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: So, they are in the police station when the desk Sergeant who's Sergeant Platt, calls them over to deal with a man who has been a victim of catfishing. Now, before we dig in here Rick, you want to give us a little description of catfishing is?

Rick Howard: Yeah, catfishing is that somebody kind of steals your image and your identity to some point and claims they're you to convince you to come see them, okay, like and the typical example is they show a beautiful woman on a, you know, on some social dating app and, you know.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: It's an old guy in a t-shirt and you know can barely, you know, that's overweight or something like that, but.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: So, then you say yes I want to meet this young woman and you get there -- bad things can happen to you.

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Yeah. And that's what this is about. So, again, this is from "Chicago PD" and we start off here that we are -- we are in the -- in the police department and these two cops are helping a man who has fallen victim to someone catfishing him. 

Cop #1: You two, over here.

Cop #2: Okay, how can be of service sergeant?

Cop #1: You see that guy over there? Robbery victim. Kent Kozar. You're going to love him.

Gentleman #1: Telephone? Can't you just call me on my cell?

Cop #1: Okay. Leave that one blank. Location of the robbery? 

Gentleman #1: Shangri-la Motel but it is not what you think.

Cop #1: Wait, let me guess. You took a hooker to a motel and she robbed you?

Gentleman #1: What?! No! We matched on Kasual. 

Cop #1: I don't know what that means. 

Cop #2: Oh, it's a dating app. Short-term dating -- Kasual with a K. 

Gentleman #1: Keep things casual. That's what they promise. Her profile said she was looking for NSA. 

Cop #2: No strings attached. 

Cop #1: Yeah, I got that. 

Cop #2: Then uh, then what happened?

Rick Howard: She's giving her partner the stink eye, I'm just saying you know? 

Gentleman #1: Address, I go over there, lights are out, real nice time, right? Wrong! Dude comes out of nowhere, puts a knife to my throat. Big, huge, definitely a dude. 

Cop #1: Okay, got the hair color, the eye color?

Gentleman #1: I already told you the lights were off.

Cop #1: Just show me the profile.

Gentleman #1: So, he already erased it. It's gone. The name was Spanish, Carmella something like that. Look, I don't care about my wallet. I just need you to get my wedding ring back. 

Cop #1: Of course. 

Gentleman #1: My wife, she had back surgery six months ago. 

Cop #1: Yeah, no, no, no, no, no we don't need that part.

Cop #1: We'll look into this sir alright? Keep your phone on. That's all. 

Gentleman #1: I signed up for it like four months ago out of curiosity.

Cop #2: Oh. She's skeptical [multiple speakers] there [brief laughing].

Cop #1: Sarge, we think that guy Kent Kozar was targeted to a dating app? 

Cop #1: Did you get this over to Area Central? 

Cop #2: We just came from there. Detective Lopez and Lillard said add it to their pile. 

Cop #1: Great, so add it. 

Cop #2: The pile is this high.

Cop #1: Yeah, we want to try something. Go on the app. Put in a profile similar to Kozar's, catfish the catfisher. 

Cop #2: Is that a Dr. Seuss book? [ Laughter ] 

Cop #1: What? No. But we checked. There are two other cases this month with similar complaints, with MO's using the same dating app, Kasual with a K. Spanish name, profile gets erased. We'll draw then out. Maybe Sean and I will get lucky.

Cop #2: That didn't mean what it sounded like.

Cop #1: Yeah. 

Cop #2: Okay. Run with it.

Cop #1: Cool.

Dave Bittner: So, next we see the two of them they're -- now they are no longer in the uniforms. They're sitting in a car basically on a stakeout. 

Cop #1: Oh, god. I mean, this is depressing and desperate and lonely. She's looking through the.

Cop #2: Look at this.

Cop #1: The Kasual app. 

Cop #2: I know that face.

Cop #1: How?

Cop #2: I read Sports Illustrated that's how. She's a swimsuit model from Brazil. Her name is Esperonza Recaparo [assumed spelling] and she's definitely not luring guys to the Wildflower Motel in Chicago under a false name. Check this out. 

Cop #1: What? 

Cop #2: NSA. No strings. 

Cop #1: Yeah, no I got it. Now what? 

Cop #2: Now we wait. 

Cop #1: You ever need tickets? 

Cop #2: Yeah, for what? 

Cop #1: No, you're going to laugh at me. 

Cop #2: No I won't.

Cop #1: Usually. Fine, it's Shakespeare in the Dark. It's like a medley of his comedies it's put together and like you're in sort of it's like. 

Cop #2: Good lord. 

Cop #1: I had a fiancé when bought the tickets. 

Cop #2: You get sadder by the minute Burgess. 

Cop #1: Is it any sadder than you being on this site looking for no strings attached hookups? So don't tell me you followed through. 

Cop #2: Apps like these are a public service. Relationships have an expiration date.

Rick Howard: Spoken like a true dude. 

Cop #1: There's an argument to be made for keeping things Kasual with a K. And for your information Burgess, I have never hooked up on this. Wait, they hit me back. We're in business.

Dave Bittner: The app says they match with Francesca. So now they're at a seedy motel walking along, you know, to knock on a door. [ Background Sounds ] [ Knock on Door ] 

Cop #1: Francesca?!

Francesca: Come in!

Rick Howard: That sounds female. 

Cop #1: Is this Francesca?! 

Francesca: Yes. Mike? 

Cop #1: Yeah, it's me. 

Francesca: Come in. 

Cop #1: It's locked! [ Background Sounds ] Raise your hands! 

Cop #2: Don't move! 

Francesca: Son of a bitch! 

Cop #1: What's your name?! 

Francesca: I didn't do anything! 

Cop #1: What's your name?!

Francesca: This is assault. I'm just minding my own business. 

Cop #1: Alright, turnover. Come on. Give your other hand. 

Cop #2: It's real interesting you Francesca, you're even trying to delete the profile huh? 

Cop #1: Come on big girl! Come on let's get up. Big girl. Because that's a big dude. It is a big dude.

Dave Bittner: A big, big dude. They are handcuffed. They are handcuffed and hauled him out of the No-Tell Motel. Do not ever catfish again. What do you think of this Rick?

Rick Howard: Do you know where the term "catfish" comes from Dave? Do you know this?

Dave Bittner: Uh -- I -- well I know of um -- I've seen people who go catfishing where they get into a river and they catch catfish by hand. Have you seen that?

Rick Howard: I have seen people do that. Yeah, and.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: I thought that too. We do another podcast called "Word Notes" where we explain catfish and.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: The origin of the term comes from a 2010 documentary. This woman does a catfish, but she's not trying to steal money, she's just interested in romance. And so, the documentary like catalogs and shows how all of this comes about and then shows the inevitable betrayal when the man figures out that it's not this beautiful woman like the Sports Illustrated model in the movie clip, but really just a 40-year-old.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: Housewife who's looking for entertainment, right? So, and so that's how "catfish" the term, got thrown into the cybersecurity vernacular.

Dave Bittner: I don't understand though, why catfishing?

Rick Howard: You know, he never explains why catfishing, it's alluded to what you said, about you know going into the river and catching catfish.

Dave Bittner: Right.

Rick Howard: With your bare hands.

Dave Bittner: Right. So, I'm setting the hook, yeah.

Rick Howard: Yeah. Yeah.

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Okay, alright. Yeah.

Rick Howard: Yeah, well there you go.

Dave Bittner: Well, it's a fun clip and it's always interesting to me to see these kinds of shows dramatize these sorts of things, and I think in in this case, I think they did a pretty good job with it.

Rick Howard: The dialogue is pretty snappy for a TV show, you know, for a network TV show I would -- we laughed how many times, right? So.

Dave Bittner: Yeah.

Rick Howard: I'd watch another one of those.

Dave Bittner: Yeah, you kind of - you kind of believe that these two police officers have.

Rick Howard: Yeah.

Dave Bittner: A relationship, you know, sort of that collegial, begrudging, tolerating each other relationship with just under the surface broiling sexual tension, right? [ Laughter ]

Rick Howard: Damn that may be the plot of most of those TV procedurals like you said.

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Oh, I think it is. Alright, well we will have links to both of these video clips that are up on YouTube in the Show Notes. So, you can go and check those out or watch along with us during -- if you go back and listen to the show again, and we hope that you will do that. [ Music ] We want to thank all of you for listening and also add a quick reminder that N2K Strategic Workforce Intelligence optimizes the value of your biggest investment -- your people. We make you smarter about your team, while making your team smarter. Learn more at n2k.com. Our Senior Producer is Jennifer Eiben. This show is edited by Elliot Peltzman. Our Executive Editor is Peter Kilpe. I'm Dave Bittner.

Rick Howard: And I'm Rick Howard.

Dave Bittner: Thanks for listening. [ Music ]