Notes for March 24th 2023

  • Elon Musk is always banging-on about a multi-planetary species. And I think everyone translates that into a Star Trek scenario where we all live across colonial systems with ships to transport ourselves around them on vacation or diplomatic visits. But I think it's more likely that Earth is still home, and we use technology to enhance what we can do here. For example, running risky mining or power generation off-planet, like having fusion/fission plants on the moon and transporting the yield to earth via batteries (or some sort). I kind-of see our future as a species as still being very Earthbound, but running heavy industry elsewhere to save our precious atmosphere.
  • Eamon Ryan’s (Irish minister for climate, transport & head of the Green party) trip to China is drawing the weirdest critique. Diplomacy is important, and Ireland is good at it. Sending the Greens leader is a good idea because as bad as people say China is at green policy, some cities/regions are trailblazers. And we could stand to build tech and business bridges with some of their climate-focused companies. Per capita, Ireland is a bigger polluter than China.
  • OpenAI Research Says 80% of U.S. Workers' Jobs Will Be Impacted by GPT, which is a fascinating stat. I think most journalists will use that kind of thing to drive horror and rage. But in reality, if 80% of all jobs are impacted by GPT over the coming years, then we need to assess what that means. It means that more avenues to innovate or create are open to more people, that less bad work is going to go to humans. And that it's still profitable. We need to avoid OpenAI or similar being the sole benefactors of such a shift, and distribute wealth better. Imagine GPT and similar tech opening the door to a 4-day workweek and better benefits for parents, or forcing the workforce to do more around climate tech, farming, etc. There could be huge advantages here, but it all whittles away if corporate greed allows to continue unchecked as it has for the last 50 years or so.

Recent weeks have drawn a bold underline beneath what has been clear to many for a long time: that those controlling massive amounts of capital and power in our society are not the smartest, or most level-headed, or most altruistic among us. Venture capital may be the best way to serve the interests of capital, but we need to consider alternative models that prioritize the interests of people. Molly White

  • This week the eldest of our two young kids was sick. They're both basically always sick thanks to being in crèche, but this one was real. It was the first time we went to the doctor, get antibiotics and kept him out of crèche for a full week. The privilege of being able to take time out of work to look after him while my wife worked hit me. We're very lucky. We're also lucky that our kids are troopers. He was in completely great humour all week, despite coughing up his lungs most of the time. And Alexander Flemming's discovery of penicillin deserves a shoutout too!
  • This week I have mostly been excited about the rumoured, and then confirmed, CS2 launch. I managed to sneak my way into the limited beta and posted my thoughts over on my gaming blog.
  • I feel like I need to use Linux far more than I do. I lean into macOS but most of the software I rely on is FOSS, and freely available on Linux. Apple's hardware is outstanding, but my god macOS is getting to Vista levels of bloated and, in many cases, poorly put together. I've researched a bit beyond Ubuntu (where I'm comfy) and wonder if GNOME+Arch is the way to go, but then I worry that Arch is so bare-bones and silly I'll sort-of miss the point.