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fnix @awful.systems
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Sam Altman says instead of Universal Basic Income, there should be Universal Basic Compute, where everybody gets a slice of GPT-7's compute

Thank you sir, I didn’t know the way to fix ailing welfare states was to make ChatGPT available to all.

It is truly the ultimate technofix.

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NYC Mayor Eric Adams greenlights self-driving cars. Now considering the theory that Adams is an LLM gone rogue.
  • That is high praise indeed, but I believe the good mayor has yet to make clear to everyone that, as an acausal manifestation of the godhead, self-driving cars serve to remind us to spend at least an hour a day in silent contemplation over how to bring ASI into existence, lest one should incure the Serpent's eternal wrath in the Simulation.

  • "Sam Bankman-Fried is finally facing punishment. Let’s also put his ruinous philosophy on trial."
  • Where did you get that impression from? He says himself he is not advocating against aid per se, but that its effects should be judged more holistically, e.g. that organizations like GiveWell should also include the potential harms alongside benefits in their reports. The overarching message seems to be one of intellectual humility – to not lose sight that the ultimate aim is to help another human being who in the end is a person with agency just like you, not to feel good about yourself or to alleviate your own feelings of guilt.

    The basic conceit of projects like EA is the incredible high of self-importance and moral superiority one can get blinded by when one views themselves as more important than other people by virtue of helping so many of them. No one likes to be condescended to; sure, a life saved with whatever technical fix is better than a life lost, but human life is about so much more than bare material existence – dignity and freedom are crucial to a good life. The ultimate aim should be to shift agency and power into the hands of the powerless, not to bask in being the white knight trotting around the globe, saving the benighted from themselves.

  • computer science is dead now that LLMs can do what people can’t: write trivial crossword apps
  • the only future in that direction is one where they’re doing a much more painful version of the same job (programming against cookie cutter LLM code) for much, much less pay.

    To the extent that LLMs actually make programming more “productive”, isn’t the situation analogous to the way the power loom was bad for skilled handweavers whilst making textiles more affordable for everyone else?

    I should perhaps say that I’m saying this as someone who is just starting out as a web developer (really chose the right time for that, hah). I try to avoid LLMs and even strictly unnecessary libraries for now because I like learning about how everything works under the hood and want to get an intimate grasp of what I’m doing, but I can also see that ultimately that’s not what people pay you for that and that once you’ve built up sufficient skill to quickly parse LLM output, the demands of the market may make using them unavoidable.

    To be honest, I feel as conflicted & anxious about it all as others already mentioned. Maybe I am just too green to fully understand the value that I would eventually bring, but can I really, in good conscience, say that a customer should pay me more when someone else can provide a similar product that’s “good enough” at a much lower price?

    Sorry for being another bummer. :(

  • Charlie Stross on his role in creating the Torment Nexus, with a long description of our very good friends
  • I got introduced to the genre through Star Trek and I always found its moral vision, in addition to all the weekly alien weirdness & how it was approached with patient curiosity, strongly appealing. Roddenberry set out to create an explicit alternative to the impoverished perspectives of the Cold War era. The Prime Directive is non-interventionist to a fault.