Weekly Roundup: April 31st, 2023
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This Week on Better Questions
Be Careful What You Expect.
A but off the cuff this week, but my head is reeling from what I REALLY want to talk about and I don't feel qualified yet. So here's an open doorway, anyone can step through if they like.
Something On My Radar:
Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany,
by Bill Buford
I just finished this book and I have to say - what an amazingly pleasurable ride.
If, like me, you secretly harbor some fantasy that you could be good at cooking (false) and would have fun working in a professional kitchen (also false), this book is incredible vicarious fun.
Buford, who wrote another favorite of mine (Among The Thugs) is a wonderful writer with the ability to make anything fascinating. Recommended.
Five Interesting Links For The Weekend:
What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?
The best introduction to understanding GPT I have found anywhere.
I won't pretend that I followed the math, but this was a wonderful level-set on WTF is actually happening inside LLMs, and what that might mean.
Touring with Radiohead: the Deerhoof-eye view
What's it like touring with Radiohead?
"Anybody can put on a happy face when needed, but in a way it was their crew, behind the scenes, that for me really showed what Radiohead was made of."
This Twitter thread, and paper on the alignment problem
Hey, guess what - remember those large language models we talked about two links ago? Well, it's pretty easy for them to learn to pursue "undesirable goals" and to deliberately trick us while doing so. NEAT.
" Models trained with RL from human feedback might learn deceptive “reward hacking” which exploits human errors, learn internally-represented goals which generalize beyond their training tasks, and use power-seeking strategies to pursue them."
Galloway argues that Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged has become a popular symbol of resignation and disillusionment, with sales spiking when the country experiences a downturn. This has been taken to an extreme with the emergence of multiple ways to 'quit' and gurus, communities and schools of thought to guide this effort. There is even a political party dedicated to going it alone and some tech billionaires are taking extreme measures to prepare, and, not surprisingly...he thinks all this sucks.
A really cool retrospective on a small but intriguing art project. I found it inspiring.
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