Wednesday 18 October, 2023

Last rose of Summer?

I wonder. Taken the other day in very bright evening sunshine.

Quote of the Day

”To achieve greatness, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”

  • Leonard Bernstein

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Jackson Browne & Billy Strings | Running On Empty (live), San Francisco, Sept. 29, 2022


Long Read of the Day

How Generative AI reduces the world to stereotypes

Way back in February, Ted Chiang likened ChatGPT to “a blurry JPEG of the Web”. It’s a nice metaphor but maybe a bit too generous. LLMs are more like blurry JPEGs of lots of stereotypes. That, at any rate, is the conclusion that the admirable Rest of World site came to when it analysed 3,000 AI images produced by Generative AIs to see how these tools visualise different countries and cultures.

The results — outlined in a visually imaginative report are fascinating — and depressing. And instructive. They remind me of something I overheard a while ago: “If you want to know what the Internet thinks, just ask ChatGPT.”

This is well worth your time. Thanks to Sheila Hayman for spotting it.

My commonplace booklet

 After ChatGPT disruption, Stack Overflow lays off 28 percent of staff

Wow! Stack Overflow used to be one of the wonders of the online world. But ChatGPT. Now, according to ArsTechnica,

Stack Overflow used to be every developer’s favorite site for coding help, but with the rise of generative AI like ChatGPT, chatbots can offer more specific help than a 5-year-old forum post ever could. You can get instant corrections to your exact code, optimization suggestions, and explanations of what each line of code is doing. While no chatbot is 100 percent reliable, code has the unique ability to be instantly verified by just testing it in your IDE (integrated development environment), which makes it an ideal use case for chatbots. Where exactly does that leave sites like Stack Overflow? Apparently, not in a great situation. Today, CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar announced Stack Overflow is laying off 28 percent of its staff.


In last Friday’s edition I reproduced the first two stanzas of W.H. Auden’t great poem 1 September, 1939 and wrongly stated that it had been composed on the first day of World War II. Not so, says Pam Appleby (Whom God Preserve) who wrote to point out that the war started on September 3, and that she remembers the day well: she was 11 at the time! So, thanks to her, and apologies to readers everywhere.

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