Out Like a Light

AI's Powersuck, Biden's Presser, Weekend Whats

Every time I use an AI answer machine like ChatGPT, a lightbulb goes off. I don’t mean that in the sense that I suddenly understand something. I mean like a real lightbulb goes off. AI uses a lot of energy. It’s singlehandedly changed the emissions promises from big tech companies like Google and Microsoft. And it will completely change the game when it comes to energy needs and use in every region where the machines are deployed at scale. According to one researcher, “One query to ChatGPT uses approximately as much electricity as could light one light bulb for about 20 minutes…So, you can imagine with millions of people using something like that every day, that adds up to a really large amount of electricity.” AI brings soaring emissions for Google and Microsoft, a major contributor to climate change. Let’s hope we can use AI to discover strategies for becoming more energy efficient and to accelerate the move to new, cleaner forms of electricity.

+ For an example of just how much energy technology can consume, let’s consider just one (albeit massive) installation. Las Vegas’ dystopia-sphere, powered by 150 Nvidia GPUs and drawing up to 28,000,000 watts, is both a testament to the hubris of humanity and an admittedly impressive technical feat. (That was my original tagline for NextDraft.)

+ The latest AI bot to go live is Rufus. It’s Amazon’s shopping bot and it’s now available to anyone.

+ Meanwhile, the debate over what Chatbots have the right to inhale continues. AP: Two 80-something journalists tried ChatGPT. Then, they sued to protect the ‘written word.’


Everlasting GOPstopper

Before Joe Biden’s nervously anticipated press conference, I argued that he should enter the roomful of reporters the way Gene Wilder entered his Willy Wonka movie. That may have been the only way he could have stemmed the tide of calls for him to exit the race. Biden’s answers were good and he showed a breadth of foreign policy expertise in one discussion that Trump hasn’t shown in his entire time in public life. And maybe his delivery and occasional slips shouldn’t have mattered at all. But we are where we are, so when Biden referred to Kamala Harris as Vice President Trump, it was a very typical Biden gaffe at a remarkably atypical moment. One of the sad ironies of the day is that we were focused on the performative aspects of Biden’s comments at the same moment he was closing a successful NATO Summit and Trump was welcoming Putin lapdog Viktor Orbán to Mar-a-Lago. “Orbán posted on social media that he and Trump had ‘discussed ways to make peace,’ adding: ‘He’s going to solve it.'” The Dems better solve their issues before he has the chance.

+ While much of the post presser buzz was positive, many felt the way David Frum described things in The Atlantic (Gift Article): “Art restorers use the term photodegradation to describe the process by which a painting fades. The colors remain present; they just become less vivid. That’s the Joe Biden story.” That’s the everyone story. Like I’ve said: Joe Biden reminds us of our mortality. Donald Trump reminds us of America’s.

+ Maybe it’s a testament to the power of the attention economy, but the polls (at least the public ones) aren’t that bad for Biden. The 538 simulation gives him a slight edge while the individual polls seem to show a toss up. Maybe the numbers being crunched behind the scenes are more dire because the Biden defections continue. There’s no one in politics I respect more than Jim Himes, so when he says Biden should step aside, it’s worth listening.

+ If Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama held a joint press conference saying Biden is the right path forward, this stressful struggle would likely come to an end. But they haven’t done that. CNN with an interesting look at the behind the scenes discussions. Obama, Pelosi privately expressed concerns over Biden. And, as always when it comes to politics, follow the money. In this case, the big funding for Biden is being witheld and a big amount of that withholding is due to Hollywood losing faith. NYT: How Biden Lost George Clooney and Hollywood.

+ And finally, a headline that sums up how we’ve turned politics into a televised sporting event almost totally separate from the actual stakes. The NYT does the honors: Unscripted and Unbowed, Biden Seeks to Overcome Missteps With Policy Talk. Nothing upsets modern media more than “policy talk.”


Streetlights, People

If the lights are out on your street, it’s probably not AI tech energy consumption. It’s probably the fact that the copper wire has been stripped out of the streetlights. NYT (Gift Article): Metal Thieves Are Stripping America’s Cities.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: If you’re looking for an entertaining way to warm up for the Olympics, check out Sprint on Netflix and get to know some of the world’s fastest people as they prepare for the world’s biggest races. And for some Wimbledon finals warmup, check out Federer: Twelve Final Days on Prime. “Originally a home video never intended for public viewing, this film captures the final chapter in Roger Federer’s legendary tennis career, featuring Roger, his family, and his three main rivals: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray.”

+ What to Read: “Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced.” The incredible (and incredibly detailed) story from Ben Macintyre: Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal. Not what you’re looking for this weekend? The NYT (Gift Article) just posted its list of the 100 Best Books of the 21st Century.


Extra, Extra

See and Be Seine: “The plan is ultimately for the river with a murky reputation to open three public bathing sites by next summer. Paris’s mayor has even promised to swim in the river herself as soon as next week. Below, here’s the latest you need to know on how cleanup is going, why you may have heard about a poop protest, and whether there’s a backup plan for this year’s Olympians.” Are the Paris Olympics Going in Seine or Not? (With the events just weeks away, there’s no Thames to waste.)

+ Talking ‘Bout My Generator: “In wealthier parts of the city, the sheer number of generators can create a pervasive roar. In other neighborhoods, there is a low rumble from a handful of machines — or just one.” One forecast never changes. The economic divide widens. NYT: A Hurricane Divide in Houston: Who Has a Generator? If not for our political obsession this week, we’d be obsessing a lot more on an early season and insanely powerful storm. See Beryl’s 6,000-mile path of destruction, from Africa to Vermont.

+ Nic’s Knack: Sometimes it’s a relief to know politics are crazier elsewhere. Why Nicolás Maduro appears 13 times on the ballot for Venezuela’s presidential election.

+ Pierless: The US says the floating pier designed to increase the amount of aid getting into the Gaza Strip will soon cease operations, less than two months after it was installed.

+ Sabotage Mahal: Beastie Boys have sued Chili’s owner for using ‘Sabotage’ in social media ads without permission. I always figured it would be a case against IHOP for using the line, “I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast, but I’m intercontinental when I eat French toast.”


Feel Good Friday

“They compete under the same flag but speak different languages and come from different parts of the world. After fleeing war and persecution at home, 36 athletes from 11 countries will compete in the Paris Games as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.” (There’s a movie that deals with this topic called The Swimmers, available on Netflix.)

+ Ozempic Linked With Lower Dementia Risk, Nicotine Use, British Study Finds.

+ ‘Absolutely incredible’: Man rowing solo across Atlantic is surrounded by whales. Wait, man rowing solo across the Atlantic?

+ At ESPY’s, Steve Gleason honored to win the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

+ Oregon police recover over $200,000 worth of Lego sets in massive bust.

+ Woman swept to sea while swimming at a Japanese beach rescued 37 hours later and 50 miles away.

+ Allyson Felix introduces nursery for athlete moms at Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

+ Rabies could become a disease of the past. (Someone notify Michael Scott, stat.)

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