Posts in: Links

Regular programming will be interrupted

Just Stop Oil protesters interrupt opera at Glyndebourne festival (The Guardian): “Our highest priority was the safety and security of everyone on site and we would like to thank our staff and performers, whose calm and professional response kept everyone safe, and disruption to a minimum.” I’m with the demonstrators on this. I think everyone’s highest priority should be the climate crisis. This doesn’t mean one can’t wind down and go to an opera, but only if and until society actually realigns to this priority, expect the rest to be interrupted lest we keep thinking everything is fine.

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Keep it dumb, dummy.

Will it be possible to buy a dumb electric car? No Internet Protocol dependence and certainly no fucking ChatGPT? I don’t mind contemporary local computer-driven safety features—not talking Model T dumb. I like the idea of bringing extra brains and network connectivity to the vehicle with me (e.g. via smartphone) but entirely optionally. I’d still like to go for a drive without anyone but… the CCTV and imagery satellites and drones knowing where I am.

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No Fuck

Drastic climate action is the best course for economic growth, new study finds.: “Based on everything we think we know about technology, climate damages, etc. it would indeed be ‘optimal’ to cut emissions massively now,” ... “early inaction leads to warming that cannot be undone later by spending more on abatement.” (Yale Climate Connections)

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Our civics suffer from misdirection

Cory Doctorow has an essay in Locus flagging points of common ground between broadly genuine progressives and leftists and the misdirected but genuine right, or uncritical skeptics who are often lumped-in with conservatives. I’ve been getting tongue-tied in knots internally on the same general topic, so thank you, Cory. How powerful our civics could be if we could unite in numbers on some of these things and reject the truly corrupt.

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Total Cost of AI?

I was listening to the latest episode of The Important Thing, where they meander around the implications of generative AI. One form of the question they articulated was what happens when stuff is cheaply generated for, as I heard it, by such AIs and for everyone. The question that came to mind for me was: is it even cheap? I don’t know. I haven’t done my homework, so I am speaking for myself in articulating this question — I have a vague sense of recently seeing some reporting on energy usage by these breakthrough AIs (one reason they’re in the cloud is it isn’t practical to run this client-side, they need the cloud)… but I don’t know the particulars, or how it compares to say, crypto mining.

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For all the warranted critiques of the New York Times, and laments about the arc of newspapers, I am grateful for the Metro Diaries feature of that paper. I have been reading it, on and off, for 25 years.

I think I have to give my Dad credit, to whom I don’t give a lot of credit, for pointing it out to me in a print edition of the Sunday New York Times about that long ago. Back when the Sunday Times was a big thick paper, and the Metro section (if you bought it within range of the city, at least) seemed bigger than my local city paper (with the ads removed, anyway).