Well, of course. Brexit was a massive own goal at the hands of regressive nationalism.
As a European citizen who grew up in the UK, I took the Brexit vote very personally. Not being able to legally live in the place you used to call home is very hard (although I'm fully aware that many people around the world have experienced a much harsher version of this story). I would very strongly welcome a reversal.
Britain's current Labour Party is next to useless, unfortunately, choosing centrist politics over offering a real alternative. I don't know that they'd be bold enough to make this correction under their current leadership. But maybe? #Democracy
Duke University Libraries says "no" to 37 Signals based on DHH's blog posts:
"When we enter into business with a company whose boss takes delight in the mass layoffs of tech workers because it disempowers those who might speak out against their company keeping a list of non-Anglophone names that some members of the team find hilarious, we have a decent sense of who we’re dealing with."
This move away from Basecamp on ideological grounds is, I think, something to be applauded. I'd love to see more of these kinds of public statements. Because the more of them there are, the less likely a company is to embrace the kind of racist libertarianism that 37 Signals has been so proud to broadcast. #Technology
Spoiler alert: no. This concept been tried before, more than once, and will fail again. Jim McKelvey seems to understand why advertising is broken - but not necessarily how to align users and publishers.
This quote from a publisher says it all for me: “Honestly, I’m not that invested in knowledge about what he’s doing. I’ve seen the pitch and most everyone says the same thing: ‘He’s a bit arrogant. He’s been very successful.’ It costs nothing to say ‘sure, go ahead,’ and if it works, we’ll most likely be in.'”
And this one: “To be honest, we do not know enough about the tech integration to know how it will work. At this time, we are signed up for the test and will participate.” #Media
If Elon Musk seems to be acting more like a politician than a businessman, then I think it has to be on purpose. This was an awkward exchange that played to an audience on X rather than the one that was in the room.
X is not a business in any real sense. He is losing revenue dollars hand over fist, seemingly in search for clout from a particular set of people.
And it goes without saying that the views he's spreading are noxious: right-wing, exclusionary, knee-jerk, and often at odds with inclusive causes. It's perfectly possible that he's just letting an unstable mental state play out in public. Or he's just become a right-wing wingnut in the Trumpian tradition. Regardless of the underlying cause, he's doing a lot of damage. #Technology
Here we go: proof that it's possible to extract real training data from LLMs. Unfortunately, some of this data includes personally identifiable information of real people (PII).
“In total, 16.9% of generations we tested contained memorized PII [Personally Identifying Information], and 85.8% of generations that contained potential PII were actual PII.”
“[...] OpenAI has said that a hundred million people use ChatGPT weekly. And so probably over a billion people-hours have interacted with the model. And, as far as we can tell, no one has ever noticed that ChatGPT emits training data with such high frequency until this paper. So it’s worrying that language models can have latent vulnerabilities like this.” #AI
Upgrading the broadband standard is good, although I agree that the new, improved speed benchmarks are still really substandard.
Almost all US households have broadband, although in reality, for many of them the internet is very slow. I wonder if this is one of the reasons that most internet traffic takes place over a phone, beyond the convenience of that form factor: a 4G connection, for many people, is faster than their home internet. #Technology
The most frustrating thing about this is that it's some of the exact same stuff that writers were striking for in the US. While that industrial action seems to have come to a satisfactory conclusion, it looks like American companies are creating similarly exploitative arrangements in areas not covered by WGA agreements.
We live in a global world, connected to a global internet, and agreements need to cross borders and jurisdictions. Perhaps we need a Creative Commons style organization for streaming writers agreements? #Media
"Silverman et al. have two weeks to attempt to refile most of the dismissed claims with any explicit evidence they have of LLM outputs “substantially similar” to The Bedwetter. But that’s a much higher bar than simply noting its inclusion in Books3."
This case looks like it's on shaky ground: it may not be enough to prove that AI models were trained on pirated material (the aforementioned Books3 collection of pirated titles). Plaintiffs will need to show that the models produce output that infringes those copyrights. #AI
An instructive look at what independent local news outlets are doing in the face of a tragedy that is part of a rapidly-rising trend. Upshot: their journalism is far more accessible than the local "big" paper.
Independent local news is undergoing a renaissance, but to do it well requires a thorough rethinking of what local news even is. First-class internet products are very different to old-school papers, and the former is what is generally needed to succeed. The prerequisites are a deep understanding of your community's needs, a product mindset, and truly great journalism.
The story itself is awful, of course. A disturbing part of the rising hate we're seeing everywhere. Real, in-depth coverage that isn't just there to feed advertising pageviews helps us to understand it - as well as how we might stand up to it. #Media
"A surveillance program now known as Data Analytical Services (DAS) has for more than a decade allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to mine the details of Americans’ calls, analyzing the phone records of countless people who are not suspected of any crime, including victims."
No surprise that this is run in conjunction with AT&T, which previously was found to have built onramps to the NSA.
Obama halted funding; Trump reinstated it; Biden removed it again. But it didn't matter: it could operate privately because individual law enforcement agencies could contract directly with AT&T.
Ban it all. #Democracy
"We pulled off an SEO heist that stole 3.6M total traffic from a competitor. Here's how we did it."
What this single spammer pulled off - 1800 articles written by technology in order to scrape traffic from a competitor's legitimate site - is what AI will do to the web at scale.
Yes, it's immoral. Yes, it's creepy. But there are also hundreds if not thousands of marketers looking at this thread and thinking, "ooh, we could do that too".
The question then becomes: how can we, as readers, avoid this automated nonsense? And how can search engines systemically discourage (or punish) it? #AI
A riveting analysis of our moment in history, using the parallel paths of Naomis Klein and Wolf as a device to examine the multiple realities we've constructed for ourselves. Incisive and pointed, I particularly agree with a conclusion that pulls no punches about how to correct our paths and potentially save ourselves. I couldn't recommend it more highly. #Nonfiction
Molly White explores why effective altruism and effective accelerationism are such dangerous ideologies - selfishness disguised as higher-minded philosophies.
"Both ideologies embrace as a given the idea of a super-powerful artificial general intelligence being just around the corner, an assumption that leaves little room for discussion of the many ways that AI is harming real people today. This is no coincidence: when you can convince everyone that AI might turn everyone into paperclips tomorrow, or on the flip side might cure every disease on earth, it’s easy to distract people from today’s issues of ghost labor, algorithmic bias, and erosion of the rights of artists and others."
I strongly agree with the conclusion: let's dispense with these regressive ideologies, and the (wealthy, privileged) people who lead them, and put our weight behind the people who are doing good work actually helping people with real human problems today. #Technology
"Every year I invite people who are celebrating the colonial holiday to do something in support of Native people. Amid an overdose crisis and high rates of poverty, illness, and unemployment, Indigenous organizers are doing incredible work to reduce harm and help our peoples thrive. Through mutual aid, cultural work, protest, advocacy, and the sharing of Indigenous lifeways, these organizers are making a profound difference in the lives of Indigenous people in the U.S. If you can and would like to, please join me in supporting one of the following organizations this weekend." #Society
"“We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. And it demands a just, equitable renewables transition,” said Antònio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations."
How realistic is that in a world where fossil fuels are so deeply baked into our economies and business models? I'm not saying this in a defensive way: it's hard to not believe we're completely hosed.
It would be one thing if we were all aligned as people, but there are enough powerful interests out there who want to stop what needs to be done in its tracks. Is there any reason to even hold out a glimmer of hope? #Climate
"The more access dads have to paternity leave, [...] the better able they are to adjust to parenthood, helping also make them more effective co-parents as their children get older."
All the more reason to ensure that everywhere has fantastic parental leave for all parents. The US is one of only seven nations to not have a national paid parental leave policy - something we should all be ashamed of.
I feel privileged and happy that I got to take time off when my little one was younger, and that I get to spend the walk to and from daycare with him almost every day. It's a pleasure and I'm certain it's helped create a stronger bond between us. Why would I want to forgo it? #Labor
Written before the news broke about Sam Altman moving to Microsoft, this remains a nuanced, intelligent take.
"My understanding is that some members of the board genuinely felt Altman was dishonest and unreliable in his communications with them, sources tell me. Some members of the board believe that they couldn’t oversee the company because they couldn’t believe what Altman was saying."
I think a lot of people have been quick to judge the board's actions as stupid this weekend, but we still don't know what the driving factors were. There's no doubt that their PR was bad and the way they carried out their actions were unstrategic. But there was something more at play. #AI
This is a good critique of some of the less analytical AI criticism, some of which I've undoubtedly been guilty of myself.
"The fork in the road is this: we can dismiss “AI.” We can call it useless, we can dismiss its output as nonsense, we can continue murmuring all the catechisms of the least informed critique of the technology. While we do that, we risk allowing OpenAI to make Microsoft, AT&T and Standard Oil look like lemonade stands."
The point is not that AI as a technology is a genie that needs to be put back into the bottle. It can't be. The point is that it can be made more ethically, equity can be more distributed, and we can mitigate the societal harms that will absolutely be committed at the hands of people using existing models. #AI
"The blueprint for modern digital computing was codesigned by Charles Babbage, a vocal champion for the concerns of the emerging industrial capitalist class who condemned organized workers and viewed democracy and capitalism as incompatible."
"Babbage documented his ideas on labor discipline in his famous volume On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, published a year before Britain moved to abolish West Indian slavery. His work built on that of Adam Smith, extolling methods for labor division, surveillance, and rationalization that have roots on the plantation."
File this - all of this - under "things about the industry I've worked in for 25 years that I absolutely didn't know". How can we build on a better foundation? #Technology
I'm pretty shocked that people are sharing Osama bin Laden's letter because they agree with it. Mostly because it is absolutely rife with antisemitic tropes.
This is one of the most dangerous aspects of the place we're in: the conflict in Gaza is leading to people unironically internalizing straight antisemitism. Which is really hard because what's happening in Gaza is awful - but anti-semitism is not at all the right lesson to be drawn from it. Of course it's not.
This kind of thing makes me more than a little fearful of what the next few years hold. #Media
This feels like a good use for AI: taking in more data points, understanding their interactions, and producing far more accurate weather forecasts.
We're already used to some amount of unreliability in weather forecasts, so when the model gets it wrong - as this did with the intensification of Hurricane Otis - we're already somewhat prepared.
Once the model is sophisticated enough to truly model global weather, I'm curious about outcomes for climate science, too. #AI
"Coal must be phased out seven times faster than is now happening, deforestation must be reduced four times faster, and public transport around the world built out six times faster than at present, if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown, new research has found."
Well, this is heartening. #Climate
I feel this myself, but I don't think it means that coding is going away, exactly. Some kinds of coding are less manual, in the same way we don't write in assembler anymore. But there will always be a place for code.
Lately I've been feeling like AI replaces software libraries more than it replaces mainline code. In the old days, if you needed a function, you would find a library that did it for you. Now you might ask AI to write the function - and it's likely a better fit than a library would have been.
I don't know what this means for code improvements over time. People tend libraries; they upgrade their code. AI doesn't make similar improvements - or at least, it's not clear that it does. And it's not obvious to me that AI can keep improving if more and more code out in the world is already AI-generated. Does the way we code stagnate?
Anyway, the other day I asked ChatGPT to break down how a function worked in a language I don't code in, and it was incredibly useful. There's no doubt in my mind that it speeds us up at the very least. And maybe manual coding will be relegated to building blocks and fundamentals. #AI
I read this the other day and haven't stopped thinking about it.
Mostly I worry about the children who have to grow up in this kind of environment. To my mind it's tantamount to child abuse.
What happens to them later? Do they stay inside this restrictive framework, or do they rebel? I'm genuinely curious to know how successful it is. It's not obvious to me that children will respond to it - unless they then go their whole lives never encountering an alternative point of view. #Society