April 20th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Where AI Gets Its Info, 4/20's Blunted Development

“Chatbots cannot think like humans: They do not actually understand what they say. They can mimic human speech because the artificial intelligence that powers them has ingested a gargantuan amount of text, mostly scraped from the internet.” So it’s worth asking which sites are being used as source material. NextDraft is one the domains included in Google’s AI crawl, ranking 255,457th among the sites scraped. It’s just nice to be included. I guess. Or maybe not. In its investigation of sources, WaPo “found several media outlets that rank low on NewsGuard’s independent scale for trustworthiness: RT.com No. 65, the Russian state-backed propaganda site; breitbart.com No. 159, a well-known source for far-right news and opinion; and vdare.com No. 993, an anti-immigration site that has been associated with white supremacy.” But, like everything on the internet, it gets worse. “The Post found that the filters failed to remove some troubling content, including the white supremacist site stormfront.org No. 27,505, the anti-trans site kiwifarms.net No. 378,986, and 4chan.org No. 4,339,889, the anonymous message board known for organizing targeted harassment campaigns against individuals.” WaPo (Gift Article): Inside the secret list of websites that make AI like ChatGPT sound smart.

I figured I’d ask ChatGPT to chime in on the matter. “As an AI language model, my ability to sound smart is largely based on my programming and the quality of the language data that I have been trained on…However, it’s important to note that while I can provide intelligent responses, I am still a machine, and my responses are generated based on algorithms and statistical patterns. My responses may not always be perfect or reflective of human intelligence.” (It’s nice to end on a positive…)


Fuels Rush In

“The Arctic only works when it’s cold, and it’s the air conditioner for the planet … So as the Arctic breaks down, the climate connections of the whole planet break down.” NPR with a really interesting, graphical piece that explains how melting ice in one place can fuel historic wildfires in another. Fire and Ice: “The planet’s ice is fundamentally tethered to weather patterns that stretch across the globe. Scientists are finding that as the climate changes, that connection could be helping fuel disasters.”


Lucy in the Skyscrapers With Diamonds

“In the rear of the showroom is a staircase that leads to the V.I.P. lounge, where the unmistakable fragrance of marijuana lingers and preferred customers peruse jewelry served up by employees along with complimentary diversions: premium liquor, pre-rolled joints, a video game console.” 47th Street ain’t what it used to be. NYT (Gift Article): Pre-rolled Joints and TikTok Feuds: This Is the Diamond District?


Doobie Brothers in Arms

Today is 4/20. But it’s 4/20 in the year 2023, so that means even the origin of this day has folks tripping. After a chronic debate, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that seeds of the pot smoking holiday began in the 70s at my alma mater, San Rafael High School. “The shorthand for pot was invented by a group of goofball high school students in Marin County in the 1970s. But which exact students invented it? Answering this question is pitting two groups of lifelong friends against each other 50 years after the phrase was first uttered.” The Bay Area origins of ‘420′ are full of controversy. Maybe we need a joint commission to study the matter. Or we can just focus on San Rafael High’s two other much more impressive claims to fame: It was the high school attended by Byron Stewart who went on to play Coolidge in The White Shadow and, during my illustrious era, it was the site where Night Ranger filmed their megahit Sister Christian video. I guess after today’s lead story, we should also add that San Rafael High includes among its graduates the writer of Google’s 255,457th most important AI source.

+ This intellectual search for data sort of ruins the whole spirit of 4/20. Better to celebrate as intended. By listening to a Seth Rogen laugh compilation.


Extra, Extra

Roscoe Dependents: “Roscoe said that he quickly ascertained that Dominion’s monetary demand was not the only issue keeping the two apart. They were also divided by a dispute over the language that Fox would release acknowledging the court’s ruling that Fox had spread falsehoods about the company.” Some interesting backstory on the last minute Fox/Dominion settlement. WaPo (Gift Article): Fox was resigned to a tough trial. Then, a secret mediator stepped in.

+ America is a Basket Case: “A 6-year-old girl and her parents were injured by gunfire on Tuesday night after a basketball rolled down a residential street in North Carolina and into a man’s yard, enraging him.” (Obviously, the lesson here is that we need to arm 6-year-old girls.)

+ Norm on Norms: “Outside of voluntary resignation, the options the Senate faces are either expulsion—requiring a two-thirds vote—or living with a long-term vacancy or a senator truly incapable of making appropriate decisions.” Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic: Dianne Feinstein Reminded Us That the Senate Doesn’t Have a Plan.

+ Sons in Law: “The sons of notorious drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and their cartel associates used corkscrews, electrocution and hot chiles to torture their rivals while some of their victims were ‘fed dead or alive to tigers,’ according to an indictment recently released by the U.S. Justice Department.” (And the fentanyl they were peddling was a lot more deadly than their tigers.)

+ BuzzKill: “BuzzFeed is shutting down BuzzFeed News because it is not able to turn a profit, according to a memo CEO Jonah Peretti sent to company staff Thursday.” (They did some great reporting over the years. In my opinion, they were hampered by sharing the same design as the much less serious Buzzfeed buzzy content. Hard to be taken seriously with that limitation.)

+ Hunter Gatherer: “An IRS special agent is seeking whistleblower protection to disclose information about what the agent alleges is mishandling of an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, according to a letter sent to members of Congress.” (In the end, all that will survive will be the cockroaches and the obsession with Hunter Biden.)

+ Space Ex: “SpaceX’s giant new rocket exploded minutes after blasting off on its first test flight Thursday and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.”

+ Pillow Guy Has $5 Million Less Under His Mattress: “It’s a strange story. It started in August 2021 when Lindell claimed during a ‘cyber symposium’ in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that he had data proving China interfered in the election. He announced he would pay $5 million to anyone who prove him wrong, dubbing the contest, naturally, the ‘Prove Mike Wrong Challenge.'” So someone did. Mike Lindell Ordered to Pay $5 Million to Trump Voter Who Debunked His Election Lies.


Bottom of the News

“I could say it started when I turned 33—my Jesus year, the year I vowed to transcend anxiety and exhaustion and do my most important work, the year I would emerge from my cave of pandemic isolation and early parenthood and couples therapy as the second coming of myself. But I am a millennial, not a messiah. The truth is that my search for rebirth began a few months later, with a Slack message about ball deodorant.” Wired: My Balls-Out Quest to Achieve the Perfect Scrotum. Codspeed, my friend.

+ “Photos taken by Placer County Fire Department showed a massive hole in the second story bedroom where the car landed.”

+ Man escapes prison by impersonating his cellmate, who was to be released.

Copied to Clipboard