• Is the Military Substituting Data For Expertise? Or is Imitative Skynet Coming for Us All?

    The headlines are dramatic: “US military pulls the trigger, uses AI to target air strikes”. Skynet must be here and we are all doomed to a life of being chased by liquid robots, nineties hair, and Austrian accents promising to be back. But if you read a bit farther, the reality is somewhat less alarming,…

  • An Ownership Society is an Immoral Society

    I am not going to do a full review of Read, Write, Own. I generally only look at books that I think will be interesting and the reviews of this have made it pretty clear that this is bog-standard pump book. A book, in other words, meant to hype something rather than discuss it. The…

  • Systems and Wage Theft

    Wage theft accounts for about 50 billion dollars a year. It involves the largest companies in the world, such as Amazon and Walmart. It dwarfs almost all other kinds of theft, at least in the US. When caught, companies pay restitution, if the workers are lucky, and fines. No one ever goes to jail. I…

  • AI Tutors and How Hype Doesn’t Solve Problems

    In theory, an AI tutor might be one of the areas where imitative AI is socially useful, as opposed to being useful to the owners of the system. If it is done correctly, not as a replacement for teachers, but as a supplement (we will get into how in a few moments), it has great…

  • Failed Writer’s Journey: Why Not Self Publish?

    A bit of housekeeping first. This is a new section of the newsletter. If you don’t want to receive it, you can opt out of it via your subscription management page. I am a failed writer in the sense that I have never had my fiction professionally published. These posts, which will run on most…

  • Jailing Librarians is the Point: The Far Right’s Systematic Ending of Public Goods for LGBTQ+

    The New Republic has a story about how the West Virgina House has passed a bill that would put librarians in jail if a minor reads a book containing obscene material from their library, even if the librarian had no knowledge of the event, the book’s content, or the parents gave consent. Give a kid…

  • Tech Company Disinformation AI Accord appears to be PR, not Action

    Microsoft, Meta, Google, Amazon, X, OpenAI and TikTok announced a voluntary accord meant, allegedly, to help fight disinformation on their platforms. I have read the accord, and I am afraid it appears to be mostly posturing. First, the accord emphasizes that: We acknowledge the importance of pursuing these issues with transparency about our work, without…

  • How Do You Learn if the AI Does the Grunt Work?

    The Verge has an interesting article about a history professor using a chat bot he helped build to processes source documents (parse their handwriting, etc.) and get source material appropriately tagged and sorted, a tedious, time consuming (as in years) task. The professor had to build his own system because the OpenAI and other systems…

  • The AI Uncanny Valley of Gun Control and Good Intentions

    Activist groups are recreating the voices of children killed by mass shootings, especially those in schools, and uses those voices to call and lobby lawmakers. And I am completely conflicted by this. I am in favor of gun control. I would require licenses, insurance, safe storage, and banning certain kinds of magazines and high-powered weapons.…

  • Sunday Good Reads

    A lot this week, and I am not sure why. I hope you enjoy them YOU’RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK | a cartoon for the guardian (tumblr.com): Attack libraries are the best libraries. Literacy crisis in college students: Essay from a professor on students who don’t read. (slate.com): I have seen people think…