Wednesday, June 14th, 2023


Love Machine

Well, we finally found a definitively positive use for artificial intelligence chat programs: making people more human. According to the NYT (Gift Article), doctors are using Chatbots to improve their bedside manner. "There's a reason doctors may neglect compassion, said Dr. Douglas White, the director of the program on ethics and decision making in critical illness at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 'Most doctors are pretty cognitively focused, treating the patient's medical issues as a series of problems to be solved,' Dr. White said. As a result, he said, they may fail to pay attention to 'the emotional side of what patients and families are experiencing.' At other times, doctors are all too aware of the need for empathy, But the right words can be hard to come by." (I've occasionally been accused of being cold, emotionally detached, or rude. Now, one hopes, people will realize it's just that I'm cognitively focused.)

+ "The findings do not mean ChatGPT is actually a better doctor and cautioned against delegating clinical responsibility given that the chatbot has a tendency to produce 'facts' that are untrue." AI has better ‘bedside manner' than some doctors, study finds.

+ "The transformation will pile pressure on the labor force, especially for higher-wage knowledge workers whose activities 'were previously considered to be relatively immune from automation.'" Bloomberg (Gift Article): Biggest Losers of AI Boom Are Knowledge Workers, McKinsey Says. (Maybe consultants need a better bedside manner, too...)


It’s a Show About Nothing Mattering

The (latest) case against Trump is clear and seems pretty airtight (especially since he keeps publicly confessing). The reaction to the case is more perplexing. Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: What Will Come From This Indictment. "We've officially reached peak Schrödinger's coup. Democracy is either alive or dead inside that box, and everyone is too afraid to look inside and say which it is. And this in turn puts us all in the unenviable position of having to reckon with two conflicting truths: Yes, the legal walls are closing in. And as they do so, for some the power of these legal walls is crumbling before our eyes. It's blinding: The more criminal trouble Trump finds himself in, the more his political capital rises. The law may in fact be powerless in the face of that simple truth. I used to fret that politics would always, always outrun the law; that a Trump lie, or threat, or boast would make it twice around the world while the justice system was still just putting its socks on. But increasingly, I think we're not even running the same course, or playing on the same field, or moving toward the same ends. The more the 'rule of law' triumphs, the stronger the forces that hate the rule of law actually become."

+ The only thing that seems constant in this crazy world of ours is Trump's base of support. Take Washington for example. Seattle Times: Does nothing matter? Trump support in WA hasn't budged in 7 years. "The theory says we live in an age where actions have no consequences, where truth is little different than lies. It further finds that no wind blowing through politics, no matter how strong, can pierce the partisan haze."

+ So much of this can be tied back to Trump's enablers, who will never find a bottom. That includes pathetic, craven politicians who put their own tiny-handed grasp on power over the good of the country, and it includes the unabashedly evil Fox News, where shameful lies did not leave the building with Tucker Carlson. A post-arraignment Fox News chyron read: Wannabee Dictator Speaks at White House After Having His Rival Arrested. If your company is advertising on Fox News, this is the garbage you're buying and your brand association.


Only Murder Obsessives in the Building

"After four University of Idaho students were killed, TikTok and Reddit sleuths swarmed the campus. The community is still struggling with the wreckage they left behind." McCay Coppins in The Atlantic: The Gross Spectacle of Murder Fandom.


A Sewer That Doesn’t Sound Like Sh-t

"The little cove by the water was quite peaceful. Birds tittered. Passing ferries created occasional waves, gently crashing against the rocks. Trees rustled in the breeze, and when people walked, there was the warm sound of dry leaves crunching and tiny twigs snapping." In other words, it was a perfect evening for a sewer concert. NYT (Gift Article): A Beautiful Evening of Music Emerged From a New York City Sewer. "New Yorkers gathered on the shores of the East River to hear musicians — aboard a barge and canoe — taking advantage of the unique acoustics of a drainage tunnel."


Extra, Extra

The Bet Offensive: "As Ukraine launches its long-awaited counteroffensive against entrenched Russian occupiers, both Kyiv and its backers are hoping for a rapid retaking of strategically significant territory. Anything less will present the United States and its allies with uncomfortable questions they are not yet prepared to answer." WaPo: As Ukraine's counteroffensive heats up, Washington holds its breath.

+ EU Pumps the Breakup: "The European Commission has made a formal antitrust complaint against Google and its ad business. In a preliminary opinion, the regulator says Google has abused its dominant position in the digital advertising market. It says that forcing Google to sell off parts of its business may be the only remedy." EU suggests breaking up Google's ad business in preliminary antitrust ruling.

+ Air-fried: "Instant Brands, the maker of Pyrex glassware and Instant Pot pressure cookers, has filed for bankruptcy, saying high-interest rates, tighter credit conditions and falling consumer demand made its debt load unsustainable." (Unsustainable debt loaded by private equity emerged long before higher interest rates or pandemic purchasing trends.)

+ Unable to Reverse the Hearse: "On the same day the Nevada Senate voted to approve $380 million in public money for a Las Vegas ballpark for the Athletics, fans in Oakland held their long-planned Reverse Boycott intended to fill the Oakland Coliseum and prove their worth to owner John Fisher and Major League Baseball. The timing felt cruel in a cosmic sort of way. It turned out to be a party without a celebration."

+ Icing on the Cake: The one thing more surprising that the idea of baseball in Vegas is ice being there. But chill, it worked. How Golden Knights disrupted the NHL, won the Stanley Cup.

+ Law of the Jungle: "The four children who survived an almost unfathomable 40 days in the Colombian jungle after their tiny plane crashed in the Amazon rainforest had boarded the plane because they were fleeing for their lives." NYT: The father of two of the survivors said the family had feared the children would be recruited by a violent armed group.

+ Cormac Book Pro: "Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who in prose both dense and brittle took readers from the southern Appalachians to the desert Southwest in such novels as 'The Road,' 'Blood Meridian' and 'All the Pretty Horses,' died Tuesday. He was 89." And, some quotes from Cormac McCarthy. "Someone asked Flannery O'Connor why she wrote, and she said, ‘Because I was good at it.' And I think that's the right answer. If you're good at something it's very hard not to do it."

+ Gasbags: "The White House said the administration 'has been clear that it does not support any attempt to ban the use of gas stoves.'" But that hasn't prevented the culture-war inventing House GOP from preemptively protecting them.


Bottom of the News

"The man 'had a dream that someone was breaking into his home,' and fired a .357-caliber revolver ... 'When he fired, he shot himself and apparently woke up from the dream,' the sheriff's office statement said." Illinois man charged after shooting himself during a dream, police say.

+ The Etsy sellers paying rent with Taylor Swift merch. (You gotta sell a lot of merch to afford an aftermarket ticket to a Swift show!)