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veen's profile

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following: 37
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hubskier for: 3481 days

Infrastructure & Planning student in the Netherlands.

Sometimes make things like this:

And I write here:


recent comments, posts, and shares:
veen  ·  6 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: You Are Not a Parrot

Great article. What I wouldn’t give to put Turkle and Bender in a discussion together about this…

veen  ·  9 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 22, 2023

I'm doing...okayish. Have more good days than bad ones. Had to skip the company ski trip, for obvious reasons, but the fomo is real. Currently waiting for a few blood test results.

In the meantime I'm trying to figure out what makes the good days good. Monday I learned the hard way that waking up before 7am royally f'ed up my day. I'm looking at vegan protein shakes because keeping energy levels up seems to work. Got an Apple Watch to monitor my heart rate and learn what that does. Avoiding 'spikes' of effort also seems to help. I am intensely grateful to own a car right now because I cannot see myself bicycling the amount I used to do all the time.

To some degree I am weaponizing my slightly obsessive nature to manage my own health. But I have to keep reminding myself however that my health is not entirely in my hands, that it could be a lot worse, that I have to be patient, that I have to cut myself some slack. Easier said than done though.

veen  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 8, 2023

Had my first physical therapy the other day. My SO drove me there, and the therapist was kind enough to let her tag along the exercises. We did a straightforward 20 minute stationary bicycle ride with intervals where my heart rate went through the roof in no time while hers was mildly raised. Mine did not go down much, hers went back down in no time. While my heart was racing I wasn’t out of breath, completely able to just chat while my heart was consistently over 150 bpm, which is also not what normal looks like.

It was incredibly validating to see those completely different heart rates between her and I, doing the same exercise, finally having some proof that I’m not imagining things, and that I’m not okay.

veen  ·  36 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Stephen Wolfram: What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?

I've got badges for days. I had forgotten that tennis ball discussion.

    > What part of the light spectrum is associated with a fluorescent tennis ball?

    The fluorescent tennis ball is associated with the ultraviolet (UV) part of the light spectrum.

    > How would you describe that color?

    The color of the fluorescent tennis ball can be described as a bright, neon blue-green.

What I found most enlightening about Stephen Wolfram's piece, aside from the slightly better technical understanding I now have of what LLMs actually do, is his insight into the tradeoffs. The whole hype cycle around this all seems to suggest that the possiblities are endless, near infinite. Which of course can never be the truth; but because it's so human-like in its responses, we do the Sherry Turkle thing of filling in the gaps and assuming that yeah, this thing can do most basic stuff I throw at it, so therefore it will simply get better at everythingm right?

When in reality, the inherent tradeoffs are the invisible walls that most people don't (bother to) see or acknowledge. It's not just that LLMs are good at talking and bad at answers; they're bad at answers because they're good at talking .

veen  ·  42 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: From Bing to Sydney

I agree, it makes sense for Microsoft to aim for the search big bucks and if it means making Confidently Incorrect ClippyTayGPT they'll do it. My guess is that we'll look back in a few years and say "remember when they introduced LLMs to the world with Sydney? LOL".

But I'd also wager that these short-term affinity hunts won't matter; the cat is out of the bag, Bing/Sydney feels to me like the Napster of tomorrow, and I'm more interested in what the Spotify of LLMs looks like. It might be better to discuss around an extended version of what I wrote earlier:

    Any of these tasks can be done by someone who knows what they're doing

...as I think that summarizes where we agree. I hadn't thought of these AIs as the erosion of skill yet but that is indeed what it is: you don't need to know the details, here's a mediocre version that can pass, maybe. It draws a line in the sand where on one side of the line you have people enough in the know to see the difference, and on the other hand you have the clueless who gaze upon the MiG weld in astonishment. Given time and text to churn through, LLMs will inevitably improve and push that line a bit further. Or a lot further. Hard to tell now.

I'm wondering, though, how many people's work will end up at the wrong side of the line. How much white collar work boils down to 'refactor information'? A cousin of mine attempted a job at an investment firm. She'd spent all her day reading patents and applications, and her job was to summarize that (technical, jargon laded) information for the investors to judge easily. Her PhD was needed to apply, yet that job is already on the chopping block with the current models because ChatGPT is almost as good a UI to academically based patents than a PhD-carrying human is.

I'm inclined to draw a parallel that feels trite, so shoot it down if you see the flaw with it: isn't the march of progress almost inevitably towards higher abstractions that can be used by more people? Chris Sawyer famously wrote Transport Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon in Assembly. Today you whip up a generic Game World™ in Unity 5 and plop down assets from a library. It's easier, it's much more accessible, and it almost certainly performs for the worse. My excitement for Felt comes from its fantastic UI for GIS. It makes a set of abilities accessible to a broader audience. At the same time, my old uni has whittled geomatics down from a full department to a small graduate degree years ago because who the fuck needs to know how satellites work when you want to draw five X's on a map?

Fast forward a few years. Oh, shoot, nobody knows how it actually works anymore. Everything is mediocre now. There are more people who can create, but there are fewer people who can do so at the highest level of skill. You need subtitles because nobody does proper audio anymore, your online map doesn't quite put the X where you intended it, your Unity game isn't that fun but it's passable, your AI generated text has some weird phrasing but it does summarize 240 pages of technical patent jargon in less time than it takes you to get out your wallet.

veen  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: From Bing to Sydney

Aight, let’s talk use cases then.

an incomplete list of things I have used gpt3 for that I find useful

- automate menial text related tasks in a time efficient manner. “Change these 200 rows of code so that they all match this format”

- find bugs in my code that I’m too dumb/chase stared at too long to notice

- explain this complex text in a way that I understand, e.g. an academic paper, or difficult code. Answer follow up questions I have about it too.

- write the excel formula to do X Y and Z, a combination of things that is hard to google

- take my unstructured mess of a meeting notes, summarize the main three points and write an email to my colleagues sharing that information.

- find the sentiment of this wall of text I received from someone

and, perhaps most often used by me:

- write the shitty first draft of (code / email / report / …) so that I can use my creative energy only for the important stuff

Any of these tasks can be done by someone. It’s not the second coming of Christ by a long shot: I think of it more like 3D printing. But the ability to automate simple human knowledge work taps a well that is in my opinion very deep and very wide. It genuinely is a timesaver and I am already throwing a few bucks at it per month. None of the things on my list are interesting, but they are a part of the work that need to happen and I’ll happily offload that and more to an uninspiring but useful bot.

To make a point by asking a question: ChatGPT is the fastest new adopted thing ever in terms of DAU. It is constantly at capacity despite having Microsoft behind it. If it was just a fad, why are so many people still using it so much you think?

veen  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: From Bing to Sydney

ahaaa so that’s what this was named after

The tomfoolery surrounding the bots is fun, but anyone in the Lambda guy state of mind about this topic is worth ignoring if you ask me.

Isn’t the real revolution in the fact that the mirror is polished enough that it can replace another humans in a set of tasks, where the excitement is in discovering the size of that set?

The Eliza game (which is actually a visual novel about Seattle tech scene burnout) contains the namegiving Eliza AI which automates therapy sessions by using the standard therapy play book and giving ChatGPT responses in that framework. The subtext is that it was a supposedly revolutionary thing that failed to actually change all that much besides creating a privacy hellhole and putting therapeutics out of work.

For me, the interesting part about this whole boom is that yes, it’s a next word predicting bot all the way down, but if that hammer is strong enough than it will find significant nails to flatten.

There are some people arguing “aren’t we also next word predicting creatures in some ways” and I get that, the mirror is oh so polished. I think it’s a maybe the only interesting discussion in that existential corner of the AI debates, but that doesn’t mean I’m convinced of that.

veen  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are you Reading? Number who knows

I had a hard time stomaching some chapters of This Is Vegan Propaganda because it does the Uninhabitable Earth thing of beating you to death with depressing facts. The book aims to convince people to become vegan on, mostly, a moral basis. While I am the easiest audience for that, I didn't find their argument very convincing to people who aren't already open to consider the feelings of nonhuman animals.

Read Ryan Holiday's The Perennial Seller which is an easy read that succinctly explains what it takes to be successful long-term as a creator or entrepreneur. It's a good book to gift anyone who wants to become a writer, entrepreneur or artist and can use an honest talk on the hard part of creating for a living, being dispiriting only to those who probably wouldn't have made it anyway. As always with Ryan's books I don't think it's the best read, but I got a bunch of useful things out of his clarity of thought.

It is much better than Tony Fadell's Build, which is a SV techbro trying to generalize his life's luck into advice. I quit a third of the way into it because none of it was of any use.

Another book I gave a good shot is The Murderer's Ape, a Swedish novel that's probably fantastic to read aloud as a bedtime story and is endearingly written, but not the kind of book I enjoy reading myself in no small part because there was little to no plot.

veen  ·  51 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 8, 2023

It's now almost been an year since my long-covid-ish inducing covid. My recovery was slow over the summer but steady, so I thought I was essentially over it by now. I can do my 4 mile bike commute without trouble and have fairly active days quite regularly. Last week however I went for a nice walk for the first time in a while, and it wrecked me with an all too familiar soreness and lethargy the two days after. Went for another shorter walk yesterday, similar issues today.

Getting to terms with the fact that I might need help is such a hard thing to do.

veen  ·  65 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 25, 2023

I’m quite busy after winning a contract to write transport justice policy for the second largest city in the country, due end of Q1. Career wise it’s a fantastic step that finally allows me to work on the topic of my thesis and academic paper, time management wise it’s a challenge.

Teaching myself Magic the Gathering. There is a parallel universe where teenage me did not have bad first impressions of fantasy novels & card games. It feels like I missed out because Magic is already more fun than I ever had being peer pressured into collecting soccer cards back then. Or that one time a classmate tried to teach me YuGi-Oh and proceeded to trample all over me in my first games.

There’s also a Harry Potter TTRPG that I am planning on running. The idea that we came up with is that there’s a magical European Union that was created to ensure there would never again be another Voldemort, which is an endlessly entertaining idea to work out the (geopolitical) consequences of.

veen  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: HAPPY NEW YEAR HUBSKI!!!

Thanks for the tagging. holy shit SEVEN YEARS?

veen  ·  93 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: December 28, 2022

We both got COVID for Christmas. Luckily only a mild version, but it sucks to have Christmas taken away like that.