Showing all posts tagged: technology
4 August 2023
Indie Blog, is a blogroll website by Andreas Gohr, akin to ooh.directory and feedle, but with a slight difference. Instead of searchable lists, Indie Blog takes visitors to a random post from one of the websites on their directory. You mightn’t know where you’re going, but that’s half the fun.
4 August 2023
How many hours of sleep are lost, each night, across the world, to the likes of Facebook, TikTok, Twitter/X, Instagram, and (maybe) Threads? Too many to count, I’m guessing.
But there may be a panacea, by way of, ironically, the same tech companies who developed these sleep depriving products. Legal Lullabies (how about that domain name, hey?), from the TLDR-Institute (The Lazy Data Research Institute), takes the terms of service (TOS) of tech companies and converts them to a sleep inducing lullaby. Reading lengthy TOS sends me to sleep, during the middle of day, when I’m wide awake, so they’d surely work a treat late at night.
1 August 2023
A few days after Twitter rebranded as X, company owner Elon Musk announced the X interface would be permanently switched into dark mode. In the usual course of events, dark mode allows users of a website or app to temporarily swap light coloured backgrounds for darker ones.
It’s a feature intended to make looking at screens a little easier on the eyes in low light situations. Such as a dark bedroom, or heaven forbid, while at the movies.
In a tweet (if that’s what they’re still called) posted on Thursday 27 July 2023, Musk said dark mode is “better in every way”. Well, dark mode is better in some circumstances, but not all, and not all of the time either. For some people, far from being helpful, dark mode can present all sorts of difficulties.
I doubt Musk was interested in the comfort of X users though. The call to permanently plunge X into dark mode was probably more to do with the dark mode interface matching the black and white colours of the new X logo.
I flicked the email app on my laptop into permanent “dark mode” a year or two ago, and while I find it easier to view in the evenings, it just doesn’t feel right during daylight hours. Of course I could switch back to normal mode at any time, and no doubt there’s an option to automatically toggle light and dark modes anyway, if only I went looking.
If Musk’s intention, with his talk of a permanent dark mode, was to turn the conversation towards X, and away from, say, Threads, it looks like he succeeded, if only for a while. We can only wait to see what the next thing will be.
29 July 2023
A few weeks ago, I wrote about two authors, Mona Awad and Paul Tremblay, who had filed a law suit against OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT. Awad and Tremblay were claiming books they had written were being used to help “train” the AI powered chatbot. They say this had happened without their prior knowledge or permission.
It now looks like there may be a solution to this problem, but not perhaps the one writers have been seeking. According to a tweet by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), some book publishers in the United States are adding clauses to their publishing contracts, allowing the works of authors to be used to train generative chatbots:
We know that some terms of service in publishing have already included clauses allowing the use of authors’ work to train AI and we are now hearing that authors in the US are being asked by publishers to agree to clauses which allow their work to be used to train generative AI.
That’s sure as hell one way to “solve” the problem. But I wonder if authors agreeing to their works being used in this fashion are being offered additional remuneration? And what of writers who disagree with such a proviso? Do their works go unpublished?
26 July 2023
Oliver Darcy, writing for Reliable Sources, a newsletter produced by CNN:
Twitter, the text-based social media platform that played an outsized role on society by serving as a digital town square, was killed by its unhinged owner Elon Musk on Sunday. It was 17 years old.
A zombie Twitter, known only as X, reluctantly endures. A warped and disfigured platform, X marches on like a White Walker, an ugly shell of its former self under the command of a loathsome leader.
Twitter is to be transformed, apparently, into a WeChat like app, allowing users to do all manner of things, from messaging to making payments. But that can’t be what all Twitters members signed up for. It’s like paying to see Barbie, and instead being herded into a screening of Oppenheimer. Musk could’ve bought Twitter, left it alone, and used the user base to leverage his everything app.
Perhaps Musk took inspiration from Meta’s ham-fisted efforts to “transform” Instagram into a TikTok clone. A move all the more perplexing in the wake of Meta’s relatively successful launch of Threads recently, a Twitter-like clone. If Meta wanted a TikTok clone, why not create a stand-alone app, and leverage their Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc., members, to light a fire under it. In the same way they did with Threads. And leave Instagram alone.
But who’s to understand what goes through the minds of the mega-billionaire owners of these tech companies.
26 July 2023
Rotating Sandwiches, designed by Lauren Walker, has been named winner of the inaugural Tiny Awards, a prize celebrating “the idea of a small, playful and heartfelt web.” Rotating Sandwiches is exactly what it says on the tin — go see for yourself — but if you’re feeling a bit peckish it might be an idea to wait until you have food in front of you.
24 July 2023
Twitter owner, Elon Musk, says the present blue bird logo of the micro-blogging service will be changed to an X styled emblem, and that an interim logo could be unveiled sometime today. The new branding follows the recent name change, from Twitter to X Corp last April.
The changes are part of a bigger plan that will see Twitter/X transform into something similar to WeChat, an instant messaging, social media, and mobile payment app, that is popular in China.
Exciting times, no?
24 July 2023
Special relatively and cosmic consciousnesses may one day possibly, maybe, precipitate interactions (of who knows what sort) with deceased family and friends. But that day, if it ever arrives, will be in the far, far, distant future. The idea though of making contact with the dead is fantastical, but nonetheless one which has probably preoccupied people since the dawn of time.
And seeking comfort, following the death of someone close, may be why some people give the idea thought. Perhaps a deceased near and dear could somehow alleviate the grief of those left behind, if only there were a way to reach them. And possibly some people have found a way to make this happen, by way of LLM chat bots such as ChatGPT, says Aimee Pearcy, writing for The Guardian:
At the peak of the early buzz surrounding ChatGPT in March, [Sunshine] Henle, who works in the artificial intelligence industry, made a spur-of-the-moment decision to feed some of the last phone text messages and Facebook chat messages she had exchanged with her mother into the platform. She asked it to reply in Linda’s voice. It had been a few months since her mother had died, and while Henle had previously connected with a local therapist to help her cope with her grief, she found it disappointing. “It felt very cold and there was no empathy,” she says.
Indeed some people have found solace in their AI interactions with deceased family members, but for others the experience has been anything but comforting. It’s a concept though that gives rise to numerous ethical and legal problems. Can we go ahead and create AI avatars of the dead without the permission of the person in question? But what of the potential for misuse of the technology, and possible misrepresentation of the thoughts of the deceased?
Last year, the Israeli AI company AI21 Labs created a model of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former associate justice of the supreme court. The Washington Post reported that her clerk, Paul Schiff Berman, said that the chatbot had misrepresented her views on a legal issue when he tried asking it a question and that it did a poor job of replicating her unique speaking and writing style.
11 July 2023
TikTok has a lot to answer for. It has launched the careers of musicians who recording companies at first refused to blink sideways at, and revived the popularity of some acts who might be considered to have had their day. Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush, I’m looking at you.
But TikTok is not what ails the Australian music industry at present. It’s the lack of Australian material charting at the moment. Incredibly, so far this year, the Australian top fifty album charts have included more recordings solely by American singer Taylor Swift, than Australian acts combined.
Further, the majority of these Swift albums aren’t exactly new. Because how could an artist release numerous new albums simultaneously, that would all be of chart topping quality? Some of Swift’s albums were made years ago. Nonetheless, newer music by Australian artists has been edged out.
And it all comes down to streaming. While the music charts used to include the sales of records, cassettes, CDs, and digital downloads, they now include music that is streamed. Which seems to be old music. And is this creating the situation where much older music now features in the charts, to the detriment of Australian musicians struggling for recognition.
8 July 2023
The California based Center for AI Safety recently issued a short but stark warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), suggesting the risk of extinction — presumably ours, along with other species — is a distinct possibility:
Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, is among those who have put their signature to the statement. Despite the risk the Center for AI Safety believes is posed by AI, they did not however suggest any specific course of action to counter the danger.