Sunday, June 18


Daily News Stuff 18 June 2023

Malicious Incompetence Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Another nail in OpenAI's coffin: Falcon LLM has been open-sourced.  (TII)

    It comes in two versions: Falcon-7B which needs 16GB of RAM to run and is suitable for hobbyists, and Falcon-40B which needs 100GB of RAM and is aimed at academic researchers and startups.  Both are available under the Apache open source license, making them free for individual and commercial use.

    Yes, these LLMs are still wildly overhyped, but they're not entirely useless, not when they're free and can run on a laptop - and when they're not intentionally crippled by ultra-woke marketing teams.

    The developer notes make it clear that Falcon was trained on wide set of data from the public internet, making it into a very well-informed digital schizophrenic.

  • AI does not help programmers.  (CACM)

    Or more specifically, it helps bad programmers become mediocre programmers, but it can't go beyond that because Large Language Models do not distinguish right answers from wrong.

    In the example provided, ChatGPT corrects a bug in the sample code, but introduces a new bug.  When this is pointed out, ChatGPT fixes the specific case but not the general case.

    And when this is pointed out, ChatGPT coughs up what appears to be a hastily rewritten version of the author's own work, because the author turns out to be Betrand Meyer, creator of the Eiffel programming language and a leading expert in formal verification of computer programs.

    To be fair, most programmers aren't Betrand Meyer, but my opinion of the current state of AI tools in programming mirrors his.

  • GPT-4 can pass MIT's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science curriculum with a perfect score.  (HuggingFace)

    A remarkable result.

  • No it fucking can't.  (Notion)

    The second paper highlights two problems with the first.

    One, 4% of the problems in the test set cannot be solved with the information provided, or in some cases, at all:
    Below you are given the delays for the different gates you were permitted to use in part D above. Compute the propagation delay of your circuit from D.
    That's the entire question.  There is no part D above, and yet the claim is that GPT-4 answered this question correctly.  There are many questions like this in the test set - this second paper links to a spreadsheet with the full list of questions, good and bad.

    Two, the answers provided by GPT-4 are scored by GPT-4.  If GPT-4 tells GPT-4 that GPT-4 got the question wrong, GPT-4 gets to try again, indefinitely.

    Supposedly the answers were verified manually, but if so, they did a pretty poor job because they missed all the wrong questions.

    Three - not included in the paper, but posted today on Twitter - the original code used to run the tests leaks the answers used for verification by GPT-4 to the GPT-4 instance answering the questions.


  • Why EVs won't crash the electric grid.  (Washington Post / MSN)

    Yes, EVs will require massive upgrades to the electric grid, but the grid has grown at that rate before.

    Well, it hasn't, but it almost did.

    Once.  Fifty years ago.

    For a while.

    We're doomed.

  • Putting a stick shift in an EV because...  (The Verge)

    There is no because.

Disclaimer: There is no because. There is only Zuul.

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Saturday, June 17


Daily News Stuff 17 June 2023

Indiana Jones And The Grapefruit Of Doom Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Mistral AI's mega fundraise is a red flag.  (Tech Crunch)

    Yes, indeed it is.  This is obviously a bubble and it will all come crash-

    For many concerned with inclusivity.

    Go stick your head in a pig.

  • Feel good story of the day: High-tech AI-controlled vertical lettuce farms are going broke.  (Bloomberg)

    You have to understand that when they say "lettuce farms", they're not actually talking about lettuce farms, they mean...  Nope, sorry, they really do mean lettuce farms.
    In 2021, AeroFarms, an early vertical-farming pioneer based in Newark, New Jersey, had plans to go public through a blank-check merger that had an equity value around $1.2 billion. The growth potential seemed limitless.

    But as interest rates began to climb, investors started to scrutinize profitability in a way they hadn’t for years, and soon came to realise that they had set their money on fire.

    Yes, it's lettuce.  It literally grows on trees.



    Okay, it figuratively grows on trees.

  • Bytedance, parent company of Chinese spy agency TikTok, has bought $1 billion worth of high-end Nvidia GPUs so far this year.  (Tom's Hardware)

    If you were wondering why Nvidia doesn't care that the outrageous pricing and mediocre performance of its RTX 4000 series has turned away millions of gamers, this is your answer.  Margins on these high-end cards are much better; the company would need to sell millions of mid-range gaming cards to match what one customer spent on high-end cards in six months.

  • More on why the AI bubble is a bubble.  (IEEE Spectrum)

    Key quote:

    Our analysis of this phenomenon also allowed us to compare what's actually happened with theoretical expectations. Theory tells us that computing needs to scale with at least the fourth power of the improvement in performance. In practice, the actual requirements have scaled with at least the ninth power.

    This ninth power means that to halve the error rate, you can expect to need more than 500 times the computational resources. That's a devastatingly high price.

    Companies like OpenAI don't want to fix this problem because it's the barrier that keeps smaller competitors at bay.  If there is a solution, it will come from people working on Facebook's open source code in the evening, not from OpenAI or Google, or even from Facebook.

  • In 2026 Intel is expected to release 80 core mainstream desktop chips - 16 Performance cores and 64 Efficiency cores.  (WCCFTech)

    Which used to be a lot.

    That's not the story, but it's the most interesting point in the article.

Friends Don't Let Friends Do Reddit Video of the Day

Reddit as a tech company is basically worthless.  Its market value comes from the communities built up over many years by groups of volunteers, and Reddit's CEO Steve Huffman-Fried has told those volunteers to, and I quote, "go fuck themselves with a kidney stone the size of a grapefruit".

This is not generally considered a sound business move.

The default subreddits - and hence Reddit's appearance to a new user - look like MySpace as run by Brian Stelter anyway, so if the whole site burns to the ground it will not be missed.  Much.

Disclaimer: Quotes in the mirror are more accurate than they appear.

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Friday, June 16


Daily News Stuff 16 June 2023

Volo's Guide To The Dewey Decimal System Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Meddling in the Affairs of Wizards Video of the Day

Nick Rekieta speaks to Ed Greenwood, who has been involved in the creation of Dungeons and Dragons since "as I said to Gary Gygax" years ago.

Greenwood is younger than I expected.  He's been writing stories in his Forgotten Realms setting for longer than I've been alive, but he started as a child.  Which is cheating.

He estimates that he owns 400,000 books.  That's, uh, rather a lot.  I was wondering if he misspoke but he later says that he spends thousands of dollars a month at his local bookstore, so it may be accurate.  (The largest private library in the world has an estimated 1.5 million volumes, so he's up there.)

I own maybe 2% of that number and moving house almost killed me.  My double garage is still packed solid with heavy boxes nearly a year later.  I can't imagine shifting fifty times that.

Disclaimer: Do not meddle in the affairs of Windows, because it will fuck your shit up.

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Thursday, June 15


Daily News Stuff 15 June 2023

Razers Of The Lost Arc Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Up with which I will not put.

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Wednesday, June 14


Daily News Stuff 14 June 2023

People Who Live In Smart Houses Shouldn't Edition

Top Story

  • Smart homes for smart people: If you haven’t started your smart home yet, here’s how to start — or if you have, here’s how to make it better.  (The Verge)
    My wife asked me why I carry a gun in the house.

    I looked at her and said, "Decepticons".  She laughed, I laughed, the toaster laughed, I shot the toaster, it was a good time.
    It's not a quote from the article, but it should be.

  • A tale of unwanted disruption: My week without Amazon.  (Medium)

    In which the author tells how an Amazon delivery driver thought he heard a racist remark from a doorbell - and Amazon took action by locking the author out of his account and disabling his smart home.

    If Amazon can do that, I submit it is a very, very stupid home indeed.

Tech News

Disclaimer: A grapefruit with spikes.

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Tuesday, June 13


Daily News Stuff 13 June 2023

Written In Bloody Crayon Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Using Amazon Web Services is like trying to access documents in a reference library where everything is meticulously indexed by the author's mother's maiden name transliterated into an alphabet that you cannot read.

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Monday, June 12


Daily News Stuff 12 June 2023

Land Rights for Gay Whales Edition

Top Story

  • Making friends and influencing people, part one: After a remarkable performance by Reddit's CEO in an AMA (ask me anything) event, many of Reddit's largest communities - called subreddits - have reversed course on their plans for a two day outage in protest over recent changes the the platforms API and are now planning to go dark indefinitely.  (The Verge)


    Reports are that CEO Steve Huffman didn't answer a single question from developers, spending all his time whiffing paid softballs.

    Here's a list of all the subreddits going offline in protest.  (Reddark)

    It's a lot.  Most of the big default subreddits - which, to be fair, are all communist-ridden shitholes - the default subreddits that new users are subscribed to will be going private so that new users can't access them at all.

    Which actually improves the site, but I don't know if Reddit will see it that way.

Tech News

Disclaimer: And therefore never send to know for whom the gene splices; it splices for thee.

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Sunday, June 11


Daily News Stuff 11 June 2023

Musikanten Sind In Der Stadt Edition

Top Story

  • Musicians have no need to worry: MusicGen is ChatGPT for music.  (Honu)

    It's terrible.

    Not even amateurish.  The page presents dozens of examples of different categories of music created by different software.  None of the ones I listened to show any sign that the software has picked up on what makes music, music.

    Sony used to have a software package called Cinescore, that let you pick a theme and basically paint music with it.  You'd say I want a three minutes and twenty seconds of surf rock, and it would give it to you.  You could then say, I want a transition here and the bridge here, and it would do that.

    Not high art, no, but great if you wanted to create original background music for videos or games.  And infinitely better than this drivel.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Don't talk to me about the greater good, sunshine, I'm the Archangel fucking Gabriel.

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Saturday, June 10


Daily News Stuff 10 June 2023

Working Five To Nine Edition

Top Story

  • Had a fun start to the weekend when our cloud provider at work decided to migrate twenty-five of our servers to new hardware.  On a Friday afternoon.  5AM Saturday for me.

    Yes, we have everything set up with redundant servers.  Doesn't help much when 25 of them reboot all at once.

  • The creator of dystopian science-fiction TV series Black Mirror used ChatGPT to write the script for an episode.

    It was shit.  (Gizmodo)

    All it did was smush together the scripts for other episodes.

    What you need to do to be a successful Hollywood writer is smush together the scripts for other episodes while stealing an idea from somewhere else.

Tech News

Disclaimer: It's not much, but it's dishonest work.

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Friday, June 09


Daily News Stuff 9 June 2023

Double Plus Minus Edition

Top Story

  • Apollo, the third-party Reddit mobile client for iOS, is shutting down at the end of the month following Reddit's abrupt move to paid APIs.  (The Verge)

    Quick summary:

    • Reddit's API has been free for years.
    • Reddit said as recently as January the API would remain free through the rest of the year.
    • Reddit is now going to start charging for their API with just 30 days notice.
    • The Apollo app uses billions of API calls per year and would cost $20 million per year to run with the new pricing.
    • Apollo doesn't make anything like that.
    • The Reddit API doesn't cost anything like that to run.
    • The new API pricing of $0.24 per thousand requests is actually in line with other APIs.
    • Infura (which I use at work) costs $0.225 per thousand requests.
    • This has been compared with the Twitter API changes under Elon Musk.
    • Twitter is actually orders of magnitude worse.
    • For $100 per month on Twitter's plan you can read 10,000 tweets.
    • The same amount of data from Reddit could cost as little as 2.4 cents.
    • What Reddit wants to charge for its API is at least ten times more than it makes from the same activity on its website.

  • Okay, I guess that wasn't so quick.  

    Reddit is in trouble like so many other tech companies thanks to rising interest rates and loss of investor interest.  They'd rather take the risk of killing of their community than bleed out slowly, which is what will happen if they don't change course and Elon Musk doesn't buy them.

    And Reddit actually has a working product and cashflow.  Startups that don't aren't going to survive.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Inchworm, inchworm, devouring the marigolds...  STOP THAT!

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