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kleinbl00  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I Saw 5 MAGA Hats At Americafest

I don't recommend many newsletters. I probably get 30.

Heather Cox Richardson is always worth your time.

kleinbl00  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I Saw 5 MAGA Hats At Americafest

I think a blue president in a red state is going to be divisive no matter who he is. I also think that there's been absolutely no benefit to not being divisive up until now, and now, the Biden administration is starting to point out where the money goes.

And this is not going to be what you want to hear, but it's the strategically correct move: as a blue voter in a red state, the Biden administration suffers very little if you decide not to vote. Where they benefit is in aiding potential Trump voters enough that they decide not to vote. The goal with the Boebert adventure was not to make everyone go "golly gee I've been so wrong I'm Dark Brandon all the way now" but to make everyone go "hmmph. Well at least he's not as awful as Hilary would have been, all politicians suck, I have better things to do with my time on a Tuesday afternoon than endorse this system."

kleinbl00  ·  2 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Henry Kissinger dead at 100

    No infamy will find Kissinger on a day like today. Instead, in a demonstration of why he was able to kill so many people and get away with it, the day of his passage will be a solemn one in Congress and — shamefully, since Kissinger had reporters like CBS’ Marvin Kalb and The New York Times‘ Hendrick Smith wiretapped — newsrooms. Kissinger, a refugee from the Nazis who became a pedigreed member of the “Eastern Establishment” Nixon hated, was a practitioner of American greatness, and so the press lionized him as the cold-blooded genius who restored America’s prestige from the agony of Vietnam.

I'm not sure that's accurate anymore.

Niall Ferguson centered his thesis in The Square and the Tower on Kissinger and extended Kissinger as a metaphor going back clear through the Bavarian Illuminati all the way to Athenian Greece. Ferguson, notably, had been working on a poorly reviewed authorized biography with Kissinger for ten years at that point so it's safe to say a number of unique insights were available to Ferguson, whether or not he chose to examine them.

Ferguson's whole point on Kissinger is He's important because he knows everybody.

The fundamental point of The Square and the Tower is that the patterns of power throughout history have been the patterns of relationships, not the patterns of oligarchy or democracy or whatever. It's who you know, Ferguson argues, and he makes a number of compelling points. Carter accomplished nothing as president because he ran as an outsider and brought with him a network utterly incapable of plugging into the existing power structure. Trump, likewise, ripped the beating heart out of American bureaucracy and replaced it with a bunch of inexperienced grifters - aside from Paul Ryan's tax cuts, the Trump administration accomplished exactly fuckall.

But Ferguson, maddeningly, does not see this parallel at all with the Nixon White House. Instead, axiomatically argues that where Kissinger goes, there goes power. From your Rolling Stone article:

    Once in the White House, Nixon and Kissinger found themselves without leverage to produce a peace accord with Hanoi.

...because they had burned literally everyone who could have helped.

    In 1971, the Pakistani government waged a campaign of genocide to suppress the independence movement in what would become Bangladesh. Pakistan’s Yahya Khan, an architect of the genocide, was valuable to Nixon’s ambitions of restoring diplomatic relations with China. So the U.S. let Khan’s forces rape and murder at least 300,000 people — and perhaps three million. “We can’t allow a friend of ours and China’s to get screwed in a conflict with a friend of India’s,” Nixon quoted Kissinger shrugging.

...when you have chased away all but the craven opportunists, your foreign policy reflects craven opportunism.

    Kissinger might not have been motivated by hatred of communism. But he was a reactionary who empowered and enabled the sort of reactionaries for whom anticommunism was a respectable channel for America’s racist and exploitative socio-economic traditions. His chief aide on the National Security Council was a rabid anticommunist militarist, Army Col. Alexander Haig, a future secretary of state for Ronald Reagan.

Al Haig famously flamed out for not understanding power structures.

And here's the thing. The post-Nixon political world was absolutely shaped by Henry Kissinger. He was the devil you danced with because he was an influence peddler that knew where all the bodies were buried (because he put most of them there). But that led to an extremely insular power structure - the fact that the entire political class came out of either the Nixon campaigns or the Goldwater campaign is positively shameful. The median age of the Executive branch has been older than the median age of the Soviet Politburo for like ten years now, and those guys were basically "friends of Stalin." The end result with the Soviets was Gorbachev - an up-jumped provincial golden boy who had never played cards with Lenin and who proceeded to crash the whole system. The end result with the Americans is AOC - a politician with a popular groundswell behind her who owes zero allegiance and has zero fucks to give about Kissinger.

All the lying-in-state bullshit that Kissinger is about to experience is the old guard covering their bases. They can't be seen to trash the legacy of the man who held their chains for so many decades. But the lack of reasonable succession within the American polity has caused a total disconnect in the relationship web that makes the country run. I think this is why Mitch McConnell has had nothing to say for about six years now - he's a lot smarter than most of them and I think he realizes that his legacy will be viewed as evil.

The Silents and Boomers didn't bother to drag GenX and the Millennials along in their escapades, preferring to keep power to themselves until the bitter end. The result is a rejection of their idols. Kissinger will be reviled, and the people who do not revile him will be reviled in turn. The Republicans didn't even succeed in their hagiography of Reagan, a man whose heart was substantially closer to human than Kissinger's - in no small part because the Republicans running the show these days are too busy wrapped up in their own craven opportunism.

It's either "who you know" or "what you believe" and "what you believe" tends to build legacy. "Who you know" crashes to the ground the minute your last acolyte falls out of favor.

kleinbl00  ·  2 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I Saw 5 MAGA Hats At Americafest

So here's something the Biden administration knows down to their very core yet the press refuses to acknowledge:


On the 2024 timeline? Rather than the 2016 timeline? That video won't be out for another five months. Whatever the polls are? Whatever the Twitter leftists are saying? Whatever dumb shit Fox News is pushing? None of it is going to matter in the moment, which is pretty much about what voters have in their brains in September and October.

By the time the Republicans anointed Trump at the 2016 convention, he was an inevitability. But at this stage in the game he was a longshot. Back then he hadn't been impeached twice, wasn't facing 91 felonies, hadn't been responsible to an absolutely abysmal pandemic and civil rights response, wasn't widely regarded as fomenting a coup for his own personal interests, etc. And he was running against one of the most polarizing Democrats of the past 50 years.

I have no idea what the 2024 election is going to look like. In my casual estimation there are more variables and unknowns than any election since the Civil War. But I also agree with Claudia Sahm's insight that everyone's dissatisfaction with their standard of living right now is anchored to pre-COVID, not pre-Biden, and a full calendar year of stability and a return to normalcy is likely to have more impact on turnout than Ramaswamy for VP or whatever.

In general? When you're displeased with your party you don't vote. This is one of the reasons the Democrats are rending their shirts over October 7 - the only thing the Biden administration can do is labor heroically behind the scenes to make the news less bad. But if it's nine months from now, Ukraine has held the line against the Russians, the Middle East hasn't exploded in racial conflagrations and gas, housing and food continue to normalize? Democrats are likely to come out despite their protestations on Twitter and Republicans are likely to stay home.

Biden was in Boebert's district yesterday. He delivered a speech in which he pointed out he'd brought the district $200m in funding and 850 new jobs, despite Boebert calling him a traitor and voting against everything three times. Boebert won her last election by 546 out of more than 300,000 votes cast.

Anyone prognosticating on the race at this point has a story to sell, not an insight to share.

kleinbl00  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Effective Obfuscation

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

- Upton Sinclair

I think ridiculous amounts of money has been made on the premise that enough venture capital can bend the laws of the universe to its whim. The following Youtube video is from this post, it's worth watching exactly five minutes because that's all it takes to make you realize that Andy Kaufman would be unemployed if he were still alive because irony is dead:

That's where we were until the dumbness started to pop. Theranos, WeWork, FTX, OpenAI... not only are these travesties never showing a profit, they're money sinkholes that make the 20th century look miserly. Comes a time when you make more money by being diligent than you do by being a visionary.

I think we're coming round. I don't think it's obvious yet. And I'm not fully convinced I'm right. But enough money has been lost on "boldness" that I think "shrewdness" might be coming back in vogue.


kleinbl00  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Effective Obfuscation

    Bayes' theorem is simple and elegant, but suffers from a critical flaw for many applications, which is that it relies on a priori knowledge of probabilities of certain events happening.

This is an excellent insight. What you are hypothesizing, fundamentally, is that Dunning-Kruger bias among the mathematically-inclined will result in an inappropriate reliance on Bayesian statistics. This in turn creates a virtuous cycle of overconfidence and inappropriate analysis.

By way of extension, I think the core issue is simpler:

The whole of the TESCREAL mindset is "I am a more valuable person than you." That will necessarily result in the deprecation of expertise from the outgroup. This manifests as a practiced philosophy of avoiding/disregarding/deprecating empathy.

"Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped away.”

Paul Brodeur

    So yeah. What I want is for Scott Siskind to stop hurting people while the number of people whose deaths his actions have directly and materially contributed to is still in the single digits. What I want is for people to stop listening to his poorly written and poorly argued bullshit. What I want, in fact, is for people to stop listening to all of it: Siskind, Yudkowsky, Moldbug, Thiel, Trump, Bannon, and all of the other fucking idiots helping work towards human extinction. I want them to shut up and go away and stop making the world an actively worse place to live in.

    I don’t expect this essay will accomplish that though. So my second choice is that one of the well-meaning people to be suckered in by Siskind’s con will read this and go “oh, shit” because they finally see what’s been done to them and what purposes it served. And they’ll go and be better people afterwards who don’t read eugenicists and sexists and maybe when they hear someone talk about being sexually assaulted they’ll actually listen and work to make a world where that happens less. So by all means, if you find yourself arguing with some Slate Star Codex fan online, link this article. If I can manage this happening once, frankly, all 12,500 words of this and the genuine unhappiness they provoked will be worthwhile.

I admire the sentiment, I admire the work, I admire the sheer labor behind it. Lord knows Hubski has its SSC problems. I think this thread is my most beastly; the closest I've ever gotten to agreeing with Scott Siskind - in my recollection - is "eh, he kinda has a point about that, I can see why he attracts the audience he does."

I think the core flaw with his style of argumentation is summed up in this comment in response to "I can tolerate anything but the outgroup":

    I suppose he was just trying to flip the semantics around, in the same way some racist talking-head in the media might bleat about "problems of 'black culture,'" he can do a similar song and dance for "white culture." Ultimately, it didn't really feel like he was railing against himself, or providing some sort of insightful self-critique, he was using it as a code word or dog whistle for the Red Tribe.

blackbootz, among others, would send me SSC screeds on a monthly basis for a while. I have been encouraged to read Scott Siskind for twelve, fifteen years now. My takeaway was "what a bunch of fuzzy-headed thinking" which is different than Ms. Sandifer's assessment of malfeasance. I don't think it really clicked until Emil Torres and others started to dismantle the whole "TESCREAL" constellation, and bless Michael Lewis' black heart, it didn't gel until that fucking Sam Bankman Fried book. Here's SBF arguing against Shakespeare:

Sam was asked, in high school, to write an essay on Shakespeare because he was one of the greatest authors in the English language. Sam sucks at literature (shocker!) and is utterly disinterested in the human experience (I know, right?) so his argument was not against the greatness of Shakespeare's writing, his argument was that studying ancient literature at all was a waste of time because statistically speaking, there are more humans now than there were in the 1600s therefore it is improbable that any author from the 1600s is better than an author from the 2020s from a pure numbers standpoint.

Here's the first move out of the playbook, illustrated at a literally sophomore level: reject conventional standards of evaluation out of hand and substitute your own. Note that Lewis doesn't describe Sam as offering any examples to back up his argument. Note also that Sam Bankman Fried has publicly hated on "books" - "I think, if you wrote a book, you fucked up, and it should have been a six-paragraph blog post." Which goes to the second move: it's the vibe, not the facts.

The sleight-of-hand at the heart of all this rationalist-effective-altruist-accelerationist-libertarian bullshit is a loose and conditional set of BELIEFS, not rational conclusions, and everything that comes out of it is an exercise in framing to reinforce the convictions of the converted. This, more than anything, is why it drives the rest of us bugshit, I think - you've got a group of people pretending that their every thought has been arrived at through painstaking study and when questioned about it, the opponent is subjected to a bullshit whirlwind of whataboutism, conditionality and cherry-picking that allow other BELIEVERS to chin-stroke and nod thoughtfully about how yes, actually, Hugo Drax should exterminate the world with orchid poison from orbit for the betterment of all mankind.

The core, unassailable belief at the heart of Untitled is "white nerds are worth more than anyone else" and everything around it is prevarication. It's wooly to the world and galvanizing to the believers because the world doesn't view the superiority of the white nerd as axiomatic while the TESCREAL crowd - a famously empathy-bereft group - cannot imagine things any other way. This more than anything is the driving force behind their love of eugenics - they cannot imagine (or tolerate) any use of eugenics that will not benefit them, because who on earth would go after white nerds? The fact that one of their saints, Ayn Rand, was driven from her home and her family's business burned by an anti-intellectual mob with a 200-year policy of racial purity never enters into it because it isn't about the thought. It isn't about the argument. It isn't about the facts. It's about the vibe, and the vibe is "I should be getting more girls than those annoying Hispanics on the swim team because I am a superior being."

The most success I have had in getting people to question these ideas comes from assailing the arguments as stupid, not malevolent. You can't meet them at their level because they're just floating around saying whatever feels good in the moment. If you engage with them as if they were genuine, you make them genuine which is exactly what they're after. I think Ms. Sandifer errs when she argues that Scott Siskind comes from a place of disingenuousness. He clearly believes everything he says, and he clearly believes it quite earnestly. The fact of the matter is, however, that all these people have convinced themselves they've arrived at the only logical conclusion when in fact they've spent 9000 words creating a conditional house-of-cards to say "if you tilt your head and squint, you'll see it my way." And, of course, anyone who refuses to tilt their head and squint is disingenuous. Thus the whole "if you're going to argue with me you have to address these nine bullet points" bit.

Where I seriously disagree with Ms. Sandifer is where she describes it as "beige."

Steve Bannon described this as "flooding the zone with bullshit" while RAND calls it the "firehose of falsehood" propaganda model. Thomas Rid traces it back to the Okhrana of the 19th Century - talkin' Czarist disinformation and propaganda in the Hapsburg era. And it has always been deployed against freer societies.

Sarah Chayes wrote a whole book about how, going back to Thucydides, the hallmark of a failing state is corruption. We hold up the Code of Hammurabi and the Magna Carta for a reason - they establish fairness. They codify rules that say "if this, then that". Society has always advanced on fairness and declined on corruption, a point even Graeber backed up. But in wavering liberal societies based on rules, illiberal societies based on personality can make hay by "flooding the zone with bullshit."

And the thing is? If it's your flavor of bullshit, you just swim in it. You know each particular turd is all just a part of the vibe, none of it really matters, because things are going your way. And you also know that the rules-based world you're railing against is going to have to counter every single fleck of poop because whatabout this whatabout that whatabout the other and fundamentally, conservatives and reactionaries are much more about vibes than debates. And it works for a while, if it's going your way, and you're on the right side of the dividing line. But it never ends well.

The problem with vibe-based political systems is the vibe can shift. There's a reason that the world's most liberal democracies have the most rules. Anyone who has ever operated under Robert's Rules of Order rolls their eyes on the reg over all the procedural nonsense... until someone loses their shit, nobody is friends anymore and holy shit that framework you were just dogging saved your fucking bacon. People always point to Hitler whenever they want to discuss demagoguery but the Weimar Republic was a shitshow of reprisal and recrimination and someone like Hitler was going to come around. This "flood the zone" method? It's how Italy went fascist. It's how The Philippines went fascist. It's how Israel went fascist. And it sure as shit is how Team Trump tried to take America fascist.

Ms. Sandifer mentions Gamergate in passing. She does it a disservice. Dale Beran draws a bright white line between GamerGate and Trump. It's not a dot plot, it's not a trail of breadcrumbs, it's a straight vector from A to B. And it fundamentally comes down to a bunch of underemployed men with no social skills who have nothing better to do than tear shit down.

So does ISIS, btw.

Robert Putnam wrote a book about 25 years ago about how we were all fundamentally fucked because we didn't know our neighbors anymore, we didn't have any civic engagement, we didn't have any friends and how that was fundamentally bad for democracy.

    We've [Americans] been able to run a different kind of society. A less statist society, a more free-market society, because we had real strength in the area of social capital and we had relatively high levels of social trust. We sort of did trust one another, not perfectly, of course, but we did. Not compared to other countries. And all that is declining, and I began to worry, "Well, gee, isn't that going to be a problem, if our system is built for one kind of people and one kind of community, and now we've got a different one. Maybe it's not going to work so well."

Putnam matters because he decided society was made up of two kinds of capital - bonding capital (what makes similar people stick together) and bridging capital (what makes dissimilar people stick together). He doesn't matter because he's pretty much entirely known for coming up with a theory of Life Before Facebook. I guess the real question is whether our society has fundamentally changed since 2000? Or whether it's simply oscillating around the same trend line.

Thomas Rid did a pretty good job of making me see Putin behind everything that goes wrong in the free world. Thing about stochastic shit like this is if it costs little and pays back a lot, flood the zone early and often. But the more I look around, the more I see it all winding down the way it historically does. If it doesn't push the wall over, it crashes back to nothing. If there's any good news around all this it's that the harsh sunlight of scrutiny is drying up the money, everyone is sick of the bullshit, and intellectual movements end up looking like lame versions of the Panther Moderns.

The Trump Administration was a vibe-based presidency. You were in good until you were fired on Twitter. You were the best buddy until you were the back-stabber. You were in until you were out. This is also how the Soviet Union ran, and how Russia runs. It's how populism works. The secret to success of representative democracy is the safety to be unpopular. You get to keep playing the game even if you insist on doing that thing that the rest of the polity thinks is no fun. Often, you get to be the one right person five, ten years later when everyone else is proven to be wrong. It moderates everybody else and gives them the courage to be wrong. It allows you to vote your convictions and it allows you to change them when they're wrong.

I can't think of a single success - monetary, social, legislative, spiritual - that the vibes-based process has enjoyed in this latest wave. I think Father Time is coming for Slate Star Codex and its ilk. Effective Altruism, Effective Accelerationism, eugenics of any sort - none of it withstands the harsh scrutiny of the light and the past ten years of financial innovation sure look like rich white sociopaths enabled by rich white sociopaths. You do enough enabling of the wrong thing, you lose the ability. OpenAI just lost its chance to be a money inferno, much the same way WeWork did.

Take away these assholes' money, you take away their power. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for Robert Mercer, and he mostly just wanted to cheat the IRS; all the political bullshit in between is between his daughter and Steve Bannon.

I think nature is healing.

I hope nature is healing.


The image up top, BTW, is William Blake's "Ancient of Days" Copy K, which is probably either an in-joke between the author and herself or some serious in-group signaling, as this whole posse has put a whole lot of symbolism behind one little drawing.

kleinbl00  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: OpenAIs Alignment Problem

Here's where I'm at: it's all Markov chains. Markov chains started life in number theory, moved on to stock markets, were then applied to sentence completion and finally integrated into image recognition/code. I think it's a triumph of ingenuity to take a hundred-year-old computational technique and diversify it into useful applications across such a diverse constellation of uses but I think it's a failure of imagination to assert that we'll somehow create God with it.

You know what the perfect application of GPT is?

Speaking as an occasional video/seasoned audio editor, there are plenty of processes that can be automated, be it in photoshop, premiere, pro tools or whatever to turn several questionable takes into one master document. They're tedious, time-consuming and with a little training, I could teach an eight-year-old to do them. What mostly slows you down is the interface because the companies that have traditionally done it - Adobe, Adobe, Adobe, Avid and Adobe - really lean into making things harder than they are. Once you got the interface down you can do this shit in a hurry. Once you've built out a dozen go-to presets you look like a wizard. So why not give that to an AI to speed-run all the presets, LUT them and put it on a chip to make your selfies better? That's classic, perfect Google. That's where they made their trillions.

And the thing is? It's Pareto Principle optimization: really, what it means for the future experts of audio and video is that the tedious, trivial bullshit we all spend most of our time doing goes away. The machine will handle the easy, obvious stuff. The hard stuff? Neither you nor the gadget knows how to deal with it, so you'll hire me. I may make less money. I may get more time for triumphant work. You'll get "good enough" for your selfies and if you've got something you need to get paid for, you'll know that you can't take it any further because the gadget is better than you. The gadget is not better than me. Never will be. The gadget doesn't know how to improvise. It doesn't know how to synthesize. It doesn't know that barking dog is actually desirable and it never will because if it opens up the parameters enough to actually fine-tune the process that much, it's going to require you to have enough casual understanding of the process to turn into an audio editor yourself. Which, frankly, is fine with me, too! That means I get to spend my time exercising expertise, rather than pushing buttons, and the bright and shining digital future is better for all of us! Thanks, Google!

I think there's a lot of utility in the GPT approach to problem solving. Where I leave the accelerationists and the neophytes behind is where I assert that it's a better shovel, not a golden calf. The way the technology works is by finding the missing number in an equation. That's all. It writes the equation, and it writes it based on a massive pile of other equations, but if its model is built around sines and cosines it will never, ever ever throw a log function in there no matter how obvious.

AGI, since the dawn of the golem, has been about synthesis. Problem solving, at a basic level, is very different than plug'n'chug. GPT is a plug'n'chug engine - and it's useful in all sorts of crazy ways. But it will never be useful in the way people want it to be, which is to create digital friends.

kleinbl00  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: OpenAIs Alignment Problem

kleinbl00  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: OpenAIs Alignment Problem

Okay fuck all this, fuck OpenAI, fuck Effective Altruism, fuck this entire line of thinking. Ockham's razor on all this shit is THERE'S NOTHING THERE.

You know Uber's business model? Undercut taxis by breaking the law. Eventually the law caught up. Price difference between Uber and a taxi is now nominal; taxis are cheaper half the time. Uber? Their profits come from bringing you take-out.

You know WeWork's business model? Lose money on subleases but make it up on volume. Softbank was all in, though, 'cuz "vision." So Wall Street hallucinated a $47b valuation and got all upset when it turns out losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year is bad for profit. Now they're bankrupt.

You know Theranos' business model? Con investors into giving them money while they struggled to violate the fundamental laws of fluid mechanics in pursuit of epidemiology. Theranos is a special case in that they fucked up cancer tests and shit like that but ultimately? They lied about impossible shit and eventually the public caught them out.

You know Enron's business model? Lie about how much money you have so you can borrow money so you can bet money so you can lose more money. Enron is a special case because they caused rolling blackouts across California to the point where eventually even the left bank grifters looked into it but ultimately? They lied about impossible shit and eventually the public caught them out.

You know FTX's business model? Lie about how much money you have so you can borrow money so you can bet money so you can lose more money. FTX is a special case because fuckin' Seqoiah et. al. gave a frizzy-haired autist and his friends multiple billions of dollars based on their utter obtuseness about the one thing they should fucking understand (money) but ultimately? They lied about impossible shit and eventually the public caught them out (fucking Coindesk? Fuck off with that shit).

You know what drives me batshit? Everyone wringing their hands about how Sam Altman has Skynet on a leash and if we don't give him exactly what he wants we're all gonna be Borg'd into grey goo or some shit. Meanwhile, Skynet?

We've got a friend involved in an Amazon-affiliated startup. She confides to my wife yesterday "I'm afraid that if I tell them that no one will ever sign up for their services they'll just pivot into something even stupider." I said "make sure she waits until she's grifted as much money as she can possibly get; that's what everyone else is doing."

Microsoft has comped $13b worth of cloud time to OpenAI. That doesn't mean Microsoft has invested $13b in OpenAI. This is Hollywood accounting; when you pay yourself from someone else's cut you never seek a bargain. Friend of mine wrote the movie Deja Vu. It made $180m in the box office. He never saw a dime beyond the advance because according to Disney, they spent $780m promoting it. This is like how a Skinny Puppy album can cost $11m to produce: You bring the band members to your house, let them use your studio, encourage them to hang out, and bill them $100k a day against their future profits to ensure you never have to pay them.

Everyone is talking about how OpenAI has somehow scuttled an $86b valuation when what they've done is jeopardize the idea that someone is going to give them a billion dollars for 1.1% of one of their many, convoluted, funds-incinerating subcompanies. Meanwhile Microsoft has pulled some kind of coup by hiring the CEO even though Bill Gates himself says GPT5 is a nothingburger.

You know how this all makes sense?

1) GPT is a dead fucking end

2) Sam Altman wants to spend a billion dollars on it anyway

3) The board can't kill one of their white calves

    That left three OpenAI employees on the board: Altman, Brockman, and Sutskever. And it left three independent directors: Toner, Quora co-founder Adam D’Angelo, and entrepreneur Tasha McCauley. Toner and McCauley have worked in the effective altruism movement, which seeks to maximize the leverage on philanthropic dollars to do the most good possible.

4) the monkeys throw shit at each other

hey, how much money have "effective altruists" actually given to anything? I mean, it's full of tithing billionaires and shit, right? But they've squirrelled away half a billion across fifteen years, putting them nowhere near anything effective. "For all humanity" is TESCREAL bullshit code meaning "for absolutely no one living or breathing." It's all a LARP. It's sociopathic twitchfucks doing their selfish best to screw over us NPCs so they can pretend their building a bug-out bunker for the betterment of all mankind.

what if I told you... it was all a grift

    But to most people, it will never matter how much OpenAI was worth. What matters is what it built, and how it deployed it. What jobs it destroyed, and what jobs it created.

What has it built? What has it deployed? What jobs has it destroyed? What jobs has it created? There's this fundamental assumption at all this that Skynet is just around the corner but what we get, time and time again, is a hallucinating chatbot that can't even play Not Hotdog.

This whole Sam Altman conundrum is solved in one if you assume nobody wants to be the first person to give the game away.

That's all it is.

And every. single. company. listed. above. went through the same cycle.

kleinbl00  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Sphere and Loathing in Las Vegas

If you had told me that Jason Gay and the WSJ would win who wore it better against Charlie Warzel and The Atlantic, I would never have believed you.


    No matter where you sit, a walk into Sphere is a stunner: a spare stage centered at the bottom, and a screen with 16K resolution launching heavenward like the side of a reactor. It’s so vast it’s impossible to absorb all at once. New buildings often claim unprecedented features, usually nonsense, but Sphere’s Wonka interior made me giggle. I felt inside a wonder: the biggest, most immersive planetarium-slash-TV on earth. As a middle-aged male, I was immediately seized by a desire to watch “Monday Night Football” and the entire third season of “Succession.”

    Instead: U2. A sturdy if careful choice, the Irish act closing in on 50 years together, its original membership uniformly sexagenarian. Not the hottest of the hot, but certainly famous. You know who they are, you know some of their names (Bono! Edge!) and you definitely know a few of their hits, which they play around a two-hour-plus set anchored by their gritty, lively 1991 album, Achtung Baby. No strangers to stadium rock, they know the assignment here, which is, in effect, opening for a waterfall of weapons-grade technology.

kleinbl00  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 555th Weekly "Share Some Music You've Been Into Lately"

My set this week is bomb.

This is in it.

So is this.

kleinbl00  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 15, 2023

Kid wanted to catch up on Dragon Prince. So after a 3-year embargo I started giving Netflix money again. Which gave me the glistening opportunity to watch intervention again.

I have not done that since having a come-to-jesus with myself about the fact that the life I live is the result of countless challenging but correct choices.

It occurred to me that, as the child of two mentally-ill alcoholics with an ACE score of 6, I was absolutely lined up to appear on that show, had it existed.

And then it occurred to me that, as the child of two mentally-ill acoholics with an ACE score of 6, there would have been no one who would have given enough of a fuck to call A&E.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to drive my Porsche over to my broker to move a few hundred thousand dollars around.

kleinbl00  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 15, 2023

1) Online advertising is horrifically ineffective.

2) Online advertising is the primary method of remuneration for the lion's share of the internet.

3) Online advertising has, nonetheless, annihilated traditional advertising and thus, driven traditional advertisers online.

4) Traditional advertisers are unlike online advertisers in that they demand metrics to refine their advertising. As a result, the futility of online advertising grows increasingly obvious, driving down the prices of online advertising and driving down the remuneration for the lion's share of the internet.

5) Substack is first-past-the-post to say "give some away for free, sell some more, we take a cut"

6) Substack becomes the de-facto home for quality content.

Ryan Holiday, back when he had a point to make, made the point that "journalism" as we know it came about when the New York Times started selling subscriptions to their paper, thereby reducing the pressure to rely on sensationalism. Within a couple years the yellow sheets were entirely done and America had a Fourth Estate. The British never really figured out "subscriptions" which is why their journalism remains tit-driven.

kleinbl00  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 15, 2023

A line producer on the awful show had an insight: you can always buy cheaper than REI, but anything you buy there will never let you down.

I do have a pair of boots there that gave me scars on my calves... but they were hella waterproof. And my bike lift from there sucks but ALL bike lifts suck. Pretty sure they have both brands.

kleinbl00  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Kleinbl00's Red Pill Reading List: Geopolitic

I would read it if I still read books. I do pure audiobooks at this point and it doesn't look like it's ever been one.

You're describing the two main problems of ubiquitous computing: utility and interface.

The world has gone app-happy because "can I read excel sheets" and "Buy shit on Amazon" require two different interfaces, and you get around all sorts of usability problems by starting with a blank screen. Notably, you start with a screen. And, the world has gone big screen because the less we use real computers, the more our ubiquitous computers have to do; tablets exist because the people who never really figured out how to run Internet Explorer can totally surf Amazon on an iPad without getting out their readers and the world is a better place.

If I'm being honest, this product exists because the smart watch is a compromise. The only thing it does well is health monitoring. It's a wretched screen for detailed information display. Notably, Apple rolled out that "pinch your fingers" bullshit a year ago and the world has largely responded with "meh." Apple likely understood this. It's not particularly natural, it's not the first thing you reach for, and if you aren't in the habit of having your hands full or covered in cookie dough on the reg, it's of limited utility. But hey - they have research that shows it's handy sometimes, for some people, and they've already got the sensors to recognize what your tendons are doing under your watch as part of their oxygenation and EKG sensing.

If you told me that the guy who headed up "gestures" until 2016 decided that what the Apple watch needed was a lack of screen and being pinned to your fucking lapel, I would absolutely believe you. The whole device screams "look what we can do without a screen" without noticing that it's also screaming "look how hard it is to give up a screen".

So, interface: "imagine interacting without a screen." Except they can't do that, they make you hold your hand up to your chest like you're describing a buxom woman with a mastectomy. And utility: "here's everything we can think of doing without a screen." Except it took way way way the fuck too long for them to figure out that having Siri read out the title and artist of your spotify playlist was excruciating so they had to punt.

'member this guy?

The answer to the question "how do you make a juice press not look like a juice press" is "through liberal applications of money and engineering." The answer to the question "how do you make a smart watch not look like a smart watch" is "put it somewhere else and put a laser projector in it."

How much more effective would this piece of shit be on your wrist?

And how many noncompetes would they blow through if they made that move?

Fuckin' Zardoz has a talking ring with a laser projector in it.

It's how the Eternals communicate with the Tabernacle. Notably, the Eternals are only ever shown conversing with the Tabernacle in quiet, empty rooms, which also happens to be a favorite locale of minimalist tech grifters. And notably, the Eternals are mostly shown using their god-like powers for trivial, effete bullshit, only to welcome the destruction Zardoz brings upon them to return them to their base human nature. But, as with so much of the tech industry these days, "I'll be a supervillain for good" is the modus operandi.

If Google Glass had been marketed to bicycle riders or motorcycle riders? It'd be in its 5th generation right now. "Here's an alternate screen for your phone that requires no hands and takes limited voice instructions that is designed to help you focus on your environment rather than the palm of your hand." Instead they went "here's an alternate screen for your phone because we can."

kleinbl00  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 8, 2023

6 seconds of terror

What we call "implants" the body calls "irritants" or "wounds." There is no good way to interface with foreign objects and there never will be.

kleinbl00  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Silicon Valley’s Big, Bold Sci-Fi Bet on the Device That Comes After the Smartphone  ·  

    Looks dumb, but I'm a hater and haters are gonna hate, I guess.

Naaaah dawg. My accountant just spent two emails and a phone call trying to make me feel guilty for taking ERTC so I'm going to indulge in a little self care? I'm gonna show you some HATE. You know. For me. And like I'm going to pause every now and then and save a draft and get back to work and come back to this because it's too delicious and I can tell I'ma spend two hours just straight loathing on this fucking Concorde Moment of tech journalism.

because this is the dumbest fucking shit I have ever seen.

I mean, let's start with the endless loop of a hand trivially grasping nothing. Pinch your fingers three times to pause the world's most insipid playlist. "Imagine staring at your empty hand with a logo projected on it." Down to the Sanskrit wedding ring - fuckin' McSweeney's couldn't write this article better. I'ma need that title image as a gif 'cuz this one takes too long:

And it is just so chockablock with cheesy goodness that I'ma have to go inline because holy fucking shit this is self-parody so incising and adept that if it were anywhere but the New York Times, I would accuse them of trolling. But it's the New York Times so naah, it's Principle Skinner And The Children.


A brief aside, though: ever thought much about space helmets?

I have. See, I wrote a short film with a prominent space helmet in it. It's pure science all the way and we hit it out of the park and I'm really pleased with it and so has everyone else been and one of the "a ha" moments of making a movie with a space helmet in it, as a fan of science and technology, is you go "well of course we're not going to project blinding fucking lights on the actor's face like every other film because that's super dumb." Except as soon as you shoot a single frame of an unlit space helmet you realize that the camera doesn't read your actor's facial expressions and the emotion drains right the fuck out of the scene and you run to 7-11 to buy a half-dozen keychain flashlights to gaff tape around the viewport because fuckin' hell you do not have a movie without facial expressions, I'm sorry, and yeah - the actor can no longer see shit and yeah - this is absolutely not what NASA or anyone else would do in this situation but you know what? It's a movie, and what matters is the audience.

Think about that next time you see some jackass flashing gang tags to dismiss their text notifications. Who is the audience here? 'cuz that whole "fuck haptics let's mime" approach that the tech industry loves? They love it because they are the audience, watching their shit up on the big screen, popping a boner over how fyooooooooochur it looks without sparing a single fucking thought of what it feels like to fucking use it. VR helmets, Marcel Marceau moves, those stupid Playmobil creations that Kroger now thinks are their customers? 100% "fuck yeah my shit looks good on someone else." This is why, incidentally, Neal Stephenson will always be a grasping idiot while William Gibson will always be a fucking genius: Gibson invented cyborgs who were fashionable. Stephenson invented "gargoyles" covered in Borg laptops. Everyone wants to be Molly Millions, everyone hits the cons like gargoyles.

And "my shit looks good on someone else" changes with the times. Take the first Star Trek. Phasers that looked like guns, walkie talkies that looked like walkie talkies. Take the second Star Trek. Phasers that looked like hand massagers, walkie talkies that look like lapel pins. The Federation in '66 was a bunch of gunslingers with belts full of domination, the Federation in '86 was a bunch of grief counselors taking in the complexities of the universe in their pajamas. Federation '66 was about giving the actors props to get them into the zone, Federation '86 was about making the actors look good in the minimalist chic your average '86 coke addict thought the future would look like.

So let's get back to the Graspersons:


    Inside a former horse stable in the San Francisco neighborhood of SoMa, a wave of gentle chirps emerged from small, blinking devices pinned to the chests of employees at a start-up called Humane.

Douglas Addams could do no better: "Far Out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”

    It was just weeks before the start-up’s gadget, the Ai Pin, would be revealed to the world — a culmination of five years, $240 million in funding, 25 patents, a steady drumbeat of hype and partnerships with a list of top tech companies, including OpenAI, Microsoft and Salesforce.

That's right - we're a quarter billion dollars into ugly brooches. Take it from a jeweler - the only people who wear brooches are postmenopausal grandmothers and they favor rhinestones.

    Artificial intelligence “can create an experience that allows the computer to essentially take a back seat,” Mr. Chaudhri said.

What the fuck do you think Youtube is by the way

    They’re billing the pin as the first artificially intelligent device. It can be controlled by speaking aloud, tapping a touch pad or projecting a laser display onto the palm of a hand. In an instant, the device’s virtual assistant can send a text message, play a song, snap a photo, make a call or translate a real-time conversation into another language. The system relies on A.I. to help answer questions (“What’s the best way to load the dishwasher?”) and can summarize incoming messages with the simple command: “Catch me up.”

The first appearance of the space helmet: "wouldn't it be cool if some dipshit who didn't know how to load a dishwasher could stare at it like a moron, his hands full of greasy plates, and beg the heavens for guidance? Fuck yeah Sequoia would be all in on that shit." Let's pause to reflect, before moving on, that your average normie doesn't want to take a picture without the ability to look at it. But in the product video we'll just superimpose a perfect snap over his haplessness without having to worry about the fact that generally people want a modicum of QAQC.

    The technology is a step forward from Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.

"Hey Siri how much of a dumpster fire is Alexa" "Hey Alexa How are things going at Google" "Hey Alexa how is Siri generally regarded"

    To tech insiders, it’s a moonshot. To outsiders, it’s a sci-fi fantasy.

Or, and I'm just spitballing here, it's the ultimate "if we build it they will come" circlejerk.

    Humane will begin shipping the pins next year. It expects to sell around 100,000 pins, which will cost $699 and require a $24 monthly subscription, in the first year. (Apple sold 381,000 iPods in the year after its 2001 launch.)

For $399. With no monthly subscription! And a pretty compelling use case! By 2009, there were 385,000,000 music players sold by Sony alone! "It's like a walkman but it doesn't skip, lasts twelve hours and holds 50 hours of music" is not a hard sell. "It's like a phone but you can't watch videos, scroll Facebook or call people, also

    For the start-up to succeed, people will need to learn a new operating system, called Cosmos, and be open to getting new phone numbers for the device. (The pin comes with its own wireless plan.)

..."People will need to learn a new operating system," the NYT said blithely, without the slightest acknowledgement of the simple power of blue bubbles.

    They’ll need to dictate rather than type texts and trade a camera that zooms for wide-angle photos. They’ll need to be patient because certain features, like object recognition and videos, won’t be available initially.

Wait wait wait they're expecting this thing to replace your fucking phone? "new phone who dis also don't confuse my AI"

    Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief executive, said in an interview that he expected A.I. to be “a huge part” of how we interact with computers. He has invested in Humane as well as another A.I. company, Rewind AI, that plans to make a necklace that will record what people say and hear.

For the record, Microsoft abandoned that shit more than ten years ago. Their whole focus was alzheimer's patients. They were winding it down when Google announced Glass because ten years of trying failed to find a use for the fucking thing.

    Ms. Bongiorno, 40, and Mr. Chaudhri, 50, have a marriage of contrasts. He shaves his head bald and speaks with the soft, calm voice of a yogi. She sweeps her long blond hair over one shoulder and has the enthusiasm of a team captain. They both dress in Jobsian black.

Let's call it what it is, though - Theranos Black. It's what you wear when you're trying to make people think you're Steve Jobs, not when you're Steve Jobs. See, Dieter Rams also wore all black. So did Karl Lagerfeld. So does Helmut Lang. When Steve Jobs wore all black? He was aping designers to make you think he was a designer rather than a tech nerd. When everyone else wears all black? They're aping Steve Jobs to make you think they aren't grifters.

    They met at Apple in 2008. Mr. Chaudhri was working on its human interface, defining the swipes and drags that control iPhones.

In other words, the absolute worst aspects of iOS.

    Ms. Bongiorno was a program manager for the iPhone and iPad.

In other words, a bureaucrat.

    A Buddhist monk named Brother Spirit led them to Humane. Mr. Chaudhri and Ms. Bongiorno had developed concepts for two A.I. products: a women’s health device and the pin. Brother Spirit, whom they met through their acupuncturist, recommended that they share the ideas with his friend, Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.

“You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." Also, Brother Spirit's real name is Denpok

    Sitting beneath a palm tree on a cliff above the ocean at Mr. Benioff’s Hawaiian home in 2018, they explained both devices. “This one,” Mr. Benioff said, pointing at the Ai Pin, as dolphins breached the surf below, “is huge.”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

    Humane’s goal was to replicate the usefulness of the iPhone without any of the components that make us all addicted — the dopamine hit of dragging to refresh a Facebook feed or swiping to see a new TikTok video.

"Like a phone, except you can't see or hear anything"

    The device’s most sci-fi element — the laser that projects a text menu onto a hand — started inside a box the size of a matchbook.

Projected haptics - championed by designers and eschewed by consumers since 1992

    It took three years to miniaturize it to be smaller than the size of a golf tee.

Huh, wow! Really impressive. Are you sure it took you that long to miniaturize a laser, Mr. & Mrs. Badhaptics Pointyhair? Or maybe it took you that long to negotiate prices on the one you want? cuz here's Forbes in 2012.

    Humane also retained Apple’s obsession with design details, from its device’s curved corners and compostable white packaging to the Japanese-style toilets at the company’s stark office.

LOL "what can we say about the office?" "it was... office-ey?" "no, no, something something design." "Well they bought Totos." "Fucking everyone buys Totos you can buy Toto at Home Depot now." "well what you got mister design" "shit I guess write about the toilets"

    Mr. Benitez Cong said he was “disgusted” by what the iPhone had done to society, noting his son could mimic a swiping motion at the age of 1. “This could be something that could help me get over my guilt of working on the iPhone,” Mr. Benitez Cong said.

allow me to show you something worse than swiping

    A haunting whoosh filled the room, and two dozen Humane employees, seated around a long white table, carefully concentrated on the sound. It was just before the Ai Pin’s release, and they were evaluating its rings and beeps. The pin’s “personic” speaker (a company portmanteau of “personal” and “sonic”) is critical, since many of its features rely on verbal and audio cues.

    Mr. Chaudhri praised the “assuredness” of one chirp noise and Ms. Bongiorno complimented the “more physical” sounds for the pin’s laser. “It feels like you’re actually holding the light,” she marveled.

    Less assuring: That whoosh, which plays when sending a text message. “It feels ominous,” Ms. Bongiorno said. Others around the table said it sounded like a ghost, or as if you made a mistake, almost. Someone thought it was a Halloween joke.

    Ms. Bongiorno wanted the sound for sending a text to feel as satisfying as the trash-can sound on one of Apple’s older operating systems. “Like ‘thunk,’” she said.


    The device is arriving at a time when excitement and skepticism for A.I. hit new highs each week. Industry researchers are warning of the technology’s existential risk and regulators are eager to crack down on it.

    Yet investors are eagerly pouring cash into A.I. start-ups. Before Humane even released a product, its backers had valued it at $850 million.

You are now aware that Facebook has lost $28b on virtual reality.

    The company has tried to promote a message of trust and transparency, despite spending most of its existence working in secret. Humane’s Ai Pins have what the company calls a “trust light” that blinks when the device is recording. (A user must tap the pin to “wake” it.) Humane said it did not sell user data to third parties or use it in training its A.I. models.

Of course, that light has a name. And of course, you need users to sell their data.

    In September, in an echo of Apple’s fashion-friendly launch of its Watch, the supermodel Naomi Campbell wore Humane’s pin — barely noticeable without knowing to look for it — on a gray Coperni blazer on the runway at Paris Fashion Week.


    Humane’s supporters have a pat way of dismissing skepticism about its prospects — they invoke the first iPod. That clunky, awkward device had just one use, playing songs, but it laid the groundwork for the real revolution, smartphones. Similarly, Humane envisions an entire ecosystem of companies building features for its operating system — an A.I. version of Apple’s App Store.

    But first, raisins. In a demo at Humane’s office of a feature that will be rolled out in a future version of the product, a software designer picked up a chocolate chip cookie and tapped the pin on his left breast. As it whirred to life with a beep, he asked, “How much sugar is in this?”

    “I’m sorry; couldn’t look up the amount of sugar in oatmeal raisin cookie,” the virtual assistant said.

    Mr. Chaudhri shrugged off the mistake. “To be fair, I have trouble with the difference between a chocolate chip cookie and an oatmeal raisin.”

1) Smell it.

2) Look closely at it.


4) And also, read the fucking package.

Space helmet design, personified: "I would never do this, but as the audience I would watch somebody do this, and when it doesn't work I will plead idiocy because fundamentally, my customers are fucking idiots."

What we have here is an expensive device that can barely do the things we need, fails miserably at the things we don't need, but has the words "AI" "Apple" and "valuation" attached to it so of course, they're going to sell 100,000 of the fucking things. Thing about Juicero? At least you got juice. This, apparently, is for people who feel the need to ask the air about their cookies, which is all anyone uses their phones for anyway.