Wed 10 May 2023
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Mon 20 March 2023
It is essential to realize that these technologies [large language models, currently called AI] do not answer questions about a model of reality, but about a model of language.
The utterances that they produce are statistically good at being plausible conversation related to the input prompt. Any relationship to reality is basically coincidental. Our tendency to view it as meaningful is a product of anthropomorphism and the social conventions of our culture.
People who use tools are responsible for their actions.
(I first wrote a slightly altered version of the above on the XBBN mailing list on January 30, 2023, in response to a query from Candy Sidner.)
Tue 07 March 2023
The thirty year history of the World Wide Web seems to be one of barely glomming together a relatively robust, relatively well maintained set of information sources and then destroying them at the first sign of a company offering a slicker product… which then spectacularly dies.
– Jason Scott @textfiles [twitter.com] June 28, 2022
Fri 03 March 2023
I switched from GNU
tmux when I discovered that the minor bug I had been experiencing for years had been reported several times and always dismissed with “can’t reproduce”.
It took about 20 minutes to properly switch over, and another day or two to discover my own biases and desires. What follows is a discussion of my own preferences in
Thu 23 February 2023
People use tools to get things done. Tools vary in capabilities. Using a perfect or great tool is more comfortable, takes less time, or does a better job than using a good-enough tool. Using a poor tool incurs penalties in time, comfort and/or quality.
Minimalism is, in the current parlance, a “flex”. Minimalism is a statement that you can afford to prefer a non-optimal set of tools in order to satisfy an aesthetic fad.
Wed 25 January 2023
Fri 06 January 2023
Fri 09 December 2022
I am aware that this trick never works (cf ‘Hacker’). Still, I need to try.
Please stop using the terms AI, Artificial Intelligence, and even ML and Machine Learning. In the same spirit as “the cloud is just someone else’s computer”, please regard all these systems as Statistical Correlation Networks, SCNs.
When you read, hear, or say AI you carry the baggage of a hundred years of science fiction stories. You will then make mistakes in reasoning about SCNs.
Yes, it is amazing what SCNs can do, but they aren’t people you can teach and reason with.
Fri 11 November 2022
Being a mini-review of the Asus Zenfone 9.
(It’s mini because the phone is the smallest current flagship.)
Previous phone: OnePlus 7Pro, a 6.7" screen with rounded edges and an enormous battery life. This one has a 5.9" flat screen. Flat is much better. The manufacturers decided that rounded edges were “premium”, so they put it on the highest end phones… making them less usable and more prone to weird glare and distortion.
Fri 02 September 2022
Fri 02 September 2022
If your company is planning on hiring 4-6 technical people a year, your next hire should be a recruiter. It is probably best if they do not have experience being a recruiter or a salescritter. Hire someone with a liberal arts degree or technical communications experience.
If your company is hiring more than that, why don’t you already have an in-house recruiter?
External recruiters are lying spammers. It’s the nature of the economics: they don’t get paid until they land a candidate, but they can’t afford to learn enough about your company or the role to get good candidates, so they need to work in bulk. An external recruiting company wants 20-30% of first-year salary as a fee. If you’re hiring 5 people a year, you can afford to pay an internal recruiter the average of their salaries, which should be quite nice indeed - external recruiters are paid on commission, which induces feast-or-famine responses and consequent unethical practices.
An internal recruiter can talk to your hiring managers, ask questions, and build trust. An internal recruiter is inherently more trustworthy to a prospective candidate, too: they can reference the company’s name from day one, and can offer actual details immediately.
Thu 23 June 2022
Sat 18 June 2022
The categories of certainty of knowledge are statistical and fuzzy.
In the course of everyday life, I don’t bother conducting experiments to see if gravity is still working (I haven’t received a bill in ages) or the atmosphere is still breathable. I just assume that they are in more or less the same state as they used to be. Occasionally this is wrong, and I am surprised by a terrible humidity or excess pollen or dust, but it saves a great deal of deliberation time which can be used to think about other things, such as whether I have remembered to take the laundry out of the washer.
Sat 14 May 2022
I’ve had this idea for seven years and haven’t done anything with it, so I hereby release it into the public domain and hope someone will make it – preferably an open source version.
Live theater rehearsals rely on actors memorizing their lines. Historically, not everyone learns their lines at the same time. So, for rehearsals, people are walking around on stage clutching bundles of paper, usually with highlighter over their lines.
Tue 03 May 2022
Last night Politico published an unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, the decision that established a right of privacy and the consequent right to an abortion. The opinion of the court’s reactionary majority specifically includes reasoning to overturn the decisions about marriage equality, legal contraception, and general privacy of sexual behavior.
Assuming that the opinion is issued substantially as-is, I will make some predictions about 2023.
- ‘Red’ states will pass laws restricting basic civil rights.
- Corporations that rely on high-skill workers will not be able to hire them in those states.
- Those corporations will move out of the red states.
- The economies of red states are substantially worse off compared to blue states now. When the corporations move out, the tax base will be further reduced.
- When the Federal budget is roughly balanced, blue states subsidize red states. The Federal budget is running at a significant deficit in order to prop up the economy.
- Option 1: the attack on civil rights is enough to change Congress definitively to blue in November.
- The Supreme Court will be expanded to 15 or 17 justices.
- The Republican Party splinters.
- Option 2: Congress becomes red in November, or wishy-washy.
- The United States tends towards a Christian Fascist state.
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