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Open source startup founder, technology leader, mission-driven investor, and engineer. I just want to help.

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Instagram’s upcoming Twitter competitor shown in leaked screenshots

“Cox said the company already has celebrities committed to using the app, including DJ Slime.” I am old.

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Google Gets Stricter About Employees’ Time in Office

“Google will consider office attendance records in performance reviews and send reminders to employees with frequent absences, becoming the latest company to urge a return to in-person collaboration following an embrace of remote work during the pandemic.” This is wretched.

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Apollo will close down on June 30th.

“Reddit’s recent decisions and actions have unfortunately made it impossible for Apollo to continue.” At this point, developers shouldn’t build their apps against commercial APIs. Open standards or nothing; the risk is too great.

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Of Media & Monsters

“Ihave been in Silicon Valley long enough to see it transform from a group of outlier revolutionaries to play-safe career chasers. Recently, I have watched arrivistes who, if not in technology, would be running a penny stock brokerage based somewhere in Long Island or producing B-movies.”

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When deepfakes are everywhere

A network spells out the words: deep fake

I’m soliciting prompts for discussion. This piece is a part of that series.


Ryan Barrett asks:

It seems like the last 200 years or so - when we could use recorded media, photographs, audio, videos, as evidence or proof of anything - may have been a brief, glorious aberration, a detour in the timeline. Barely a blink of an eye, relative to the full history of civilization. Nice while it lasted, maybe it’s over now.

What does that mean? If true, how will we adapt? What techniques for evidence and proof from the pre-recorded-media era will we return to? What new techniques will we find, or need?

I’ll start by asking: could we? Or to put it another way: have previous assumptions we might have made about the trustworthiness of recorded media been warranted?

One of the most famous users of photo editing to alter the historical record was Stalin, who often edited people he deemed to be enemies of the state out of photographs. Portraits of the leader that hung in peoples’ homes were retouched so that they were more to his liking.

A few years later, the artist Yves Klein took photographs like this one of him hurling himself off a building. Obviously, they weren’t real: his intent was to demonstrate that the theatre of the future could be an empty room; arguably an accurate demonstration of our present.

Later still, a photo of Obama shaking hands with the President of Iran circulated widely on Republican social media — despite the fact that the event never happened.

And there are so many more. As the Guardian wrote a few years ago about Photoshop:

In fact, the lesson of the earliest fake photos is that technology does not fool the human eye; it is the mind that does this. From scissors and glue to the latest software, the fabrication of an image only works because the viewer wants it to work. We see what we wish to see.

Sometimes, we didn’t even need trickery. President Roosevelt tried to hide his disability by having the Secret Service rip the film out of anyone’s camera if they caught him in his wheelchair. Endless short men in the public eye — Tom Cruise, for example — have hid their height on camera by standing on boxes or having their counterparts stand in a hole.

Of course, the latest deepfake technology and generative AI make it cheaper and easier to create this kind of impossible media. Although it’s not new, it will become more prolific and more naturalistic than ever before.

The Brookings Institution points out that in addition to the proliferation of disinformation, there will be two more adverse effects:

  • Exhaustion of critical thinking: “it will take more effort for individuals to ascertain whether information is true, especially when it does not come from trusted actors.”
  • Plausible deniability: accusations of impropriety will be more easily deflected.

Trusted actors, of course, are those we already know and rely on. Most people will not think the New York Times is faking its images. So another adverse effect will be the relative inability for new sources to be taken seriously — which will particularly hurt sources from disadvantaged or underrepresented groups. For the same reason, maintaining a list of “approved” sources that we can trust is not a real solution to this problem. In addition to it censoring new and underrepresented voice, who could possibly reliably maintain this kind of list? And what will prevent them from interpreting factual data that they don’t like as disinformation?

Regarding plausible deniability, even without deepfakes, we’re already learning that many forensic evidence techniques were more limited than we were led to believe. Bite marks, hair comparisons, and blood spatter, all commonly used in cases, were shown to have a limited scientific basis and to have often been misapplied. An artifact in itself is almost never enough to prove something to be true; we simply have to ask more questions.

Context is a useful tool here. If a public figure is shown to have said something, for example, are there other corroborating sources? Were there multiple independent eyewitnesses? Is any surrounding media drawn from this one artifact, or are there other, independent stories drawn from other, separately-recorded evidence?

So the real change will need to be with respect to source analysis. We’ve been trained to be consumers of information: to trust what’s on the page or on the screen. As I tried to explain at the beginning, that was always an approach that left us open to exploitation. There is no text that should not be questioned; no source that cannot be critically examined.

Generally, I think the Guardian’s observation holds true: we see what we wish to see. The truth will have plausible deniability. We will need more information.

To be sure, technology solutions are also useful, although it will be an arms race. Intel claims to have a deepfake detector that works with 96% accuracy — which will be true until the inferred blood flow signals it uses can also be accurately faked (if that hasn’t happened already). Researchers at the University of Florida experimented with detecting audio deepfakes by modeling the human vocal tract. Again, we can expect deepfake technology to improve to a level where it surpasses this detection — and regardless, we still have to worry about the impact of false positives. We also should worry about any incentive to recreate a situation where we unquestioningly accept a source.

As IEEE Spectrum noted:

Even if a quiver of detectors can take down deepfakes, the content will have at least a brief life online before it disappears. It will have an impact. […] Technology alone can’t save us. Instead, people need to be educated about the new, nonreality-filled reality.

We will need to use all the tools at our disposal — contextual, social, and technological — to determine whether something is a true record, representative of the truth, or an outright lie. We always had to do this, but most of us didn’t. Now technology has forced our hand.

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How High We Go in the Dark, by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Not what I thought it was going to be. An early chapter was so heartbreaking that I thought I would have to abandon the book; it brought up feelings of loss I hadn’t felt since my mother died. I still don’t know if I appreciate the catharsis, but that’s what this book is: the author conjures how deeply we feel in the face of the worst horrors.

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Fewer than a third of Americans believe local news holds public officials accountable, poll finds

“If the primary source of local news (for many people) is local television, it’s not a shock that less than a third of people would say they think local news is holding public officials accountable.”

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The most used languages on the internet

“Millions of non-native English speakers and non-English speakers are stuck using the web in a language other than the one they were born into.”

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Pride Month: In conversation with The 19th's LGBTQ+ reporters

“It’s hard for me to get excited about Pride Month as a concept this month, because we are in that place where … it feels to a lot of trans people like we are being threatened to the point of genocide.”

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Climate Crisis Has Stranded 600 Million Outside Most Livable Environment

“Climate change is remapping where humans can exist on the planet. As optimum conditions shift away from the equator and toward the poles, more than 600 million people have already been stranded outside of a crucial environmental niche that scientists say best supports life.” #

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Leviathan Wakes: the case for Apple's Vision Pro

“Now we’ll get to answer the AR question with far fewer caveats and asterisks. The display is as good as technologically possible. The interface uses your fingers, instead of a goofy joystick. The performance is tuned to prevent motion sickness. An enormous developer community is ready and equipped to build apps for it, and all of their tools are mature, well-documented, and fully supported by that community.”

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Apple Vision

“The arc of technology, in large part led by Apple, is for ever more personal experiences, and I’m not sure it’s an accident that that trend is happening at the same time as a society-wide trend away from family formation and towards an increase in loneliness.”

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The Coming Fight Over American Surveillance

“The government had little difficulty persuading lawmakers to renew the law in 2012 and 2018, despite growing evidence that it was being used to spy on Americans. But that evidence is now overwhelming, and the politics of surveillance have radically shifted.”

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Twitter Admits in Court Filing: Elon Musk Is Simply Wrong About Government Interference At Twitter

“Twitter’s filing is like a beat-by-beat debunking of the conspiracy theories pushed by the dude who owns Twitter. It’s really quite incredible.”

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Alexandra Holt's Insurgent Experiment in Fine Dining at Roxanne

““I’m sorry we’re not sticking a silver spoon up anyone’s ass when they walk in,” she says. “But we’re there just to give people a good time. A memory of a few good hours in their day. So I put eyes on their tiramisu, you know?” I want to eat here.

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I absolutely want to try Vision Pro ASAP but I do not need to own it.

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Moderation Strike: Stack Overflow, Inc. cannot consistently ignore, mistreat, and malign its volunteers

“The new policy, establishing that AI-generated content is de facto allowed on the network, is harmful in both what it allows on the platform and in how it was implemented.”

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The baby stack at 9 months

A Nanit Pro screenshot on a tablet

Before our son was born last September, I published a UsesThis-style baby stack of devices and software we were using.

He’s now nine months old, so I thought I’d revisit the list now that he’s been alive for longer than he gestated. We’ve got far more experience than we did.


Stroller: We’re still using and loving our Uppababy Cruz v2. Its modular design made a big difference for us. We grew out of the bassinet mode, but the seat is still holding strong for daily walks — and it was incredibly useful to also be able to plug the Mesa car seat right into the stroller base for quick trips into the store etc.

Car seat: We grew out of the Uppababy Mesa, but it was great while it lasted. I loved how adjustable it was, as well as easy to install into my car (something I had a genuine fear of before the baby was born).

We’ve moved on to the Clek Foonf, which is broadly recommended as well as being fun to say — I’ll update once we know if we’re satisfied with it. But the reviews look great, and we were happy that it came with an option without nasty chemicals in the cover material.

Bed: For a while, the Happiest Baby SNOO was absolutely magical. Then, not long before he grew out of it, he became scared rather than soothed by its rocking motion (although we still used its white noise feature). It became moot, because he grew so fast that watching him in the bassinet began to resemble watching bread dough proofing out of its tin.

These days we’re on the Ikea Sundvik crib, which grows with the baby. We paired it with the Naturepedic Classic Organic Cotton Crib Mattress and have already lowered it to prevent him from falling out when he stands up.

White noise: The Hatch Rest is pretty good, and can be used both with and without an app, but he’s developed a fascination with technology and has started wanting to grab it whenever he can. I think we might be on our last few weeks of this one.

Baby monitor: The Nanit Pro has great sound and vision and connects to our smartphones on and off wifi. We use it with the stand above the bed. The app also does a great job of recording when he fell asleep and woke up, so we can plan ahead to his next nap.

Nanit Pro app screenshot

Changing mat: The Keekaroo Peanut is still going strong. It’s easy to clean, does a good job of holding him in position, has a good strap, and is easy to move. We have two around the house.

High chair: The Stokke Tripp Trapp is well-made and adjustable as he grows. I wish it was a little easier to clean, but there are no nasty nooks and crannies - it just takes a wipe down after every meal. We’ve been using it both with and without the tray and we’re loving it.

Toys and Play: We’re trying to avoid screen time and toys that make noise / use electronics in favor of Montessori-inspired simple toys. I like our Lovevery Play Kits. They arrive at our door every few months; they’re made from good materials and each box is geared towards his developmental stage. They come with suggestions for when to introduce each toy and how to play with them — which, to be honest, I’ve ignored more often than not.

We use ALZiP Mat Eco Color Folder playmats to give him a safe space to play where he’s less likely to hurt himself. It’s free from harmful materials and the insides are recyclable.

Food: We like WeeSprout silicone baby spoons. Usually we just use a small Glasslock glass food storage bowl to serve him. We try and cook for him, but he absolutely adores CereBelly brain-supporting food pouches. We also add Ready Set Food powder to introduce him to common allergens.


Tracking: Huckleberry is buggier than I’d like — sometimes it loses entries with no explanation — but it’s still proven to be a useful way to keep track of eating, sleeping, and diaper changes between parents. It also does a fairly good job of predicting when his nap might be based on his sleep. Like most parenting software, I dearly wish it had multi-user support. Dads look after their babies too! (We just share our credentials, which works fine unless the two of us are in different timezones.)

Food: Solid Starts has been a useful reference as we’ve begun to introduce solid food. It helps us understand not just what we can introduce, but how.

Shopping: Baby gear is expensive; doubly so if you don’t want to compromise on quality. We use GoodBuy Gear to get it second hand whenever we can. It doesn’t have everything, but when it does, it’s usually a pretty good deal.

Babycare: We’re using to find carers. It’s been a grueling process and we’re nowhere near there yet. That’s not the fault of the platform, although I wish it had more CRM-style features — hiring baby care is not dissimilar to hiring for a full-time role and I’ve found myself missing the tools I’ve used when I’ve built teams. But the carers are there, and that’s the important thing.

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Tech Elite's AI Ideologies Have Racist Foundations, Say AI Ethicists

“More and more prominent tech figures are voicing concerns about superintelligent AI and risks to the future of humanity. But as leading AI ethicist Timnit Gebru and researcher Émile P Torres point out, these ideologies have deeply racist foundations.

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Meta Is Trying, and Failing, to Crush Unions in Kenya

“Kenyan content moderators at Meta have been fighting for better compensation for workers forced to watch videos of murder, rape, and ethnic cleansing. Meta was initially unwilling to give in to these demands, but Kenyan courts are intervening on the side of workers.”

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Guy Who Sucks At Being A Person Sees Huge Potential In AI

“Just yesterday, I asked an AI program to write an entire sci-fi novel for me, and [as someone who will die an empty shell of a man who wasted his life doing nothing for the world and, perhaps, should never have been born] I was super impressed.”

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Creating Psychological Safety for Black Women at Your Company

“Leaders who are truly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace must ask themselves these two critical questions: What are the individual, interpersonal, and organizational costs of neglecting how psychological safety is different for Black women? And how might a tailored approach to psychological safety boost well-being and work outcomes of Black women in the workforce?”

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If your company gives its employees a space to blog or journal internally, what platform do you use? What do you think of it?

eg: Confluence has blogs; at Medium they have a whole internal version of the site called Hatch; etc.

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Is Bluesky Billionaire-Proof?

“Unlike Mastodon, which is notoriously confusing for the uninitiated, it’s simple to get started on Bluesky.” Mastodon has work to do.

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