Pluralistic: What kind of bubble is AI? (19 Dec 2023)


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Pluralistic: An Epic antitrust loss for Google (12 Dec 2023)


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Pluralistic: Privacy first (06 Dec 2023)


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Pluralistic: The real AI fight (27 Nov 2023)


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  • The real AI fight: Effective Accelerationists and Effective Altruists are both in vigorous agreement about something genuinely stupid.
  • Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.
  • This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2022
  • Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading

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Pluralistic: A link-clump demands a linkdump (05 Nov 2023)


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How the Writers Guild sunk AI’s ship

No one’s gonna buy enterprise AI licenses if they can’t fire their workers.

A wrecked, listing, rusting tanker whose side is emblazoned with the menacing red eye of HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ In the foreground, a woman dressed in a natty 1930s skirt-suit holds a WGA picket sign that reads, ‘I asked ChatGPT to write a sign and it SUCKED.’”
Cryteria/CC BY 3.0 (modified)

After a grinding, 148-day strike, the Writers Guild of America ran the table, conceding virtually nothing and winning virtually everything.

The most consequential outcome will be data on streaming viewership. For the studios, these numbers are state secrets, revealed on a need-to-know, burn-before-reading basis, even within the studios themselves.

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Pluralistic: Podcasting "How To Think About Scraping" (25 Sept 2023)


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How To Think About Scraping

In privacy and labor fights, copyright is a clumsy tool at best.

A paint scraper on a window-sill. The blade of the scraper has been overlaid with a ‘code rain’ effect as seen in the credits of the Wachowskis’ ‘Matrix’ movies.
syvwlch/CC BY 2.0 (modified)

Web-scraping is good, actually.

For nearly all of history, academic linguistics focused on written, formal text, because informal, spoken language was too expensive and difficult to capture. In order to find out how people spoke — which is not how people write! — a researcher had to record speakers, then pay a grad student to transcribe the speech.

The process was so cumbersome that the whole discipline grew lopsided. We developed an extensive body of knowledge about written, formal prose (something very few of us produce), while informal, casual language (something we all produce) was mostly a black box.

The internet changed all that, creating the first-ever corpus of informal language — the immense troves of public casual speech that we all off-gas as we move around on the internet, chattering with our friends.

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Pluralistic: How plausible sentence generators are changing the bullshit wars (07 Sept 2023)


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Pluralistic: Supervised AI isn't (23 August 2023)


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