Technology Work

A proposal for generative AI standards from Neil Clarke

Replied to AI statement by Neil Clarke (

I’ve complained that various publishing industry groups have been slow to respond to recent developments in AI, like LLMs. Over the last week, I’ve been tinkering with a series of “belief” statements that other industry folks could sign onto.

We believe that governments should craft meaningful legislation that both protects the rights of individuals, promotes the promise of this technology, and specifies consequences for those who seek to abuse it.

We believe that governments should be seeking advice on this legislation from a considerably wider range of people than just those who profit from this technology.


Another thing I’m scared of happening is that EULAs will essentially require consent for the material you create with a product to be used as training data. I’m particularly concerned about Microsoft as creator of the largest office software suite and heavy investor in very expensive to operate generative AI — to justify a ten billion dollar spend, they’re going to want everyone using it all the time. I’m scared that future personal versions of Word (probably not enterprise, to protect corporations) will require agreement that anything you write in it will be used to train its AI tools — that they’ll bill it as necessary data so they can provide users with ‘quality generative tools.’

Microsoft has lost a vast amount of respect from me lately, and not just with my husband getting laid off — the way they approached the layoffs was poor and the way they’re treating the remaining staff is disrespectful; they’re throwing fortunes into generative AI and investing in fucking fusion while telling staff they won’t get raises and bonus budgets are down, and breaking their promises by continuing layoffs past the date they’d given staff. Not enough people left the company on their own, so they’re trying to drive away more: no severance to pay that way 🤷‍♀️ And if employees stay because there’s a glut of tech talent right now thanks to the widespread industry layoffs, well, that’s just market conditions — how could poor poor Microsoft possibly afford to offer their employees raises with inflation like this? 🥾🤑

By going all-in on generative AI, basically Microsoft is telling me:

  1. They want to fire as many of their own staff as possible, as soon as possible
  2. They want to make it easier for other companies using their software to fire as many staff as possible
  3. They dgasf about diversity, inclusion, or anything of that nature given the bias baked into generative AI through the current maximum vacuum then filter out the most blatant racism and bias approach
  4. They also dgaf about the environment or climate change because AI is a massive water hog and energy suck (hence the fusion hail mary) — and the bottom is falling out of the shitty carbon offsets industry

See also:

Wage stagnation vs corporate profit

Mining intellectual value

Health Mental Health Personal Growth Work

Assuming no change is an option

Replied to The devil you know | everything changes by Mandy Brown (everything changes)

I had spent months chewing on the various dangers and risks of each step I could take, and had not at all considered the dangers and risks of staying put.

I can see now that I was, in fact, making several mistakes. Principal among them was that I considered no change at all to be a viable option. It wasn’t, and not only because the present circumstances were untenable, but also because they were not static.

The second, related, error was that I assumed that all the risk was in moving, that by definition staying put was the prudent option.

Technology Work

Robotizing both employees and customers

Here’s How AI Will Come for Your Job by Charlie Warzel (The Atlantic)

If artificial intelligence is coming for our jobs, its plan is to turn us all into middle managers of overlapping, interacting AI systems.


Artificial Labor by Ed Zitron (Where’s Your Ed At)

…there are parts of rot capitalism that fantasize about the concept of entirely removing human interaction with the consumer.

The great thing about artificial intelligence for companies is that it allows them to hold customers at arm’s length while still pretending to give a shit… A customer can still be “helped,” but not in any way that gives them progress or influence over the organization – they are trapped in an autonomous world where the rules are entirely set by the company.

Unionization terrifies them, because unions don’t just protect laborers, but the quality and value of labor itself.

Emphasis mine.


See also:

I don’t want this to be the future

Who does AI work for?

Activism Work Writing

Solidarity with the writer’s strike ✊✍️

Liked WGA strike 2023: Hollywood’s writers walked off the job. What happens now? by Alissa Wilkinson (Vox)

The guild is trying to get ahead of AI scripts and make sure streaming pays.

We’re in unfamiliar waters here. But there’s some indication that, unless an agreement is reached very soon, this could be the summer not just of a WGA strike, but a mega-strike — or, at least, a tense set of negotiations and a lot of uncertainty.

Here is what we know. The contracts for both the DGA, to which Hollywood’s directors belong, and SAG-AFTRA, the union for actors and voice actors, are up for renegotiation at the end of June.


Meanwhile, the president of IATSE, which represents Hollywood’s “below-the-line” workers — everyone from grips to craft services to first aid to electricians — has notified members that they may choose to honor the writers’ picket lines, though employers may choose to hire temporary replacements. (IATSE narrowly averted a strike in 2021.) The Teamsters (who drive trucks, wrangle animals, manage locations, and a lot more) also may choose not to cross picket lines.

Teamsters don’t fuck around, no way they’re crossing a picket line.

Getting Shit Done Work

Work intensification

Liked How the Push for Efficiency Changes Us by Tara McMullinTara McMullin (

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared this the Year of Efficiency for the company.
It was time for them to buckle down and get leaner, get flatter, and get more optimized… Efficiency initiatives are all about doing the same (or more) with less.
And while sometimes that can be done purely through technology, *humans* often bear the brunt of efficiency initiatives.

Work intensification happens on two levels. First, there’s the amount and pace of work. In the case of layoffs and the euphemistic “restructuring,” that’s literally making up for the work that used to be done by one’s former colleagues by adding it to the remaining employees’ workloads. Second, there’s the type of work being done and its emotional or cognitive load.

Hard work, long hours, real commitment—that’s the recipe for moving forward. But it’s not as though it’s a temporary sacrifice for those who remain.

Waiting for the remaining workers at Meta and Amazon to unionize 😎 Not that my union was much help to me, but at least I had someone on my side.

Entrepreneurship Society Work

Swimming outside the lanes

Replied to lonely work is swimming alone in the ocean by Kening Zhu (kening zhu)

“everyone is swimming in lanes in a swimming pool,” he said. “and you’re swimming in the ocean alone.”

working alone as an artist; attempting to stitch together a life out of nothing – was a different kind of hard. I’d wake up lost, dazed, and overwhelmed — with existential dread: a mountain of plans and possibilities, but no guarantee of success – in the form of validation, recognition, or income. everything that I did could all end up being a waste of time: all my efforts could result in nothing.

Getting Shit Done Personal Growth Work

Read What Works

Read What Works: A Comprehensive Framework to Change the Way We Approach Goal-Setting by Tara McMullin

What Works: A Comprehensive Framework to Change the Way We Approach Goal-Setting is not really a book about goal-setting. It’s not a book about achieving anything. It’s a systematic deconstruction of the stories that keep us hustling, striving, and always looking for more. It’s also a guide for reconstructing an approach to personal growth, planning, and productivity once we’ve shed those stories.

Loved this! So much writing about work doesn’t acknowledge the pressures of the system we are in, and how those can influence our priorities and practices in ways that are unhealthy and unfulfilling. This was a full excoriation of the effects of toxic individualism, capitalism, and the Puritan work ethic on our approach to productivity and goal-setting. It offers a framework for digging into the psychological barriers to making progress on what really matters to us, and both recognizing and resisting the draw of conformity to these systems.

“I want to help give structure and meaning to growth based on curiosity instead of achievement.”

“Every day is an opportunity to practice satisfaction rather than striving.”


Office jobs are endless group projects

Liked Jobs Suck Because They’re Never-Ending Group Projects by A Purple Life (

I’ve discovered the foundational problem – no matter what I remove from my workday and the changes I make, at its core, the kind of work I’ve done my entire career gives me flashbacks to the groans I would emit when learning about group projects in school.


Work Writing

Writing fiction vs. blogging

Liked Fiction vs. non-fiction (

I really want to write fiction, but non-fiction keeps coming out of me.

I feel this tension sometimes: am I throwing away fiction writing time on blogging? But like Avenir, I don’t think so. Blogging is a form of thinking and processing that I don’t want to give up. It’s easier and more natural for me than writing fiction, something I do in the evening or weekends that I don’t really consider work, while fiction is always effortful. Blogging is part of (my way of) living, and it’s always a bad call to get rid of the good parts of life to make more room for fiction, much as I might be tempted sometimes.

Blogging is also a short term writing project that can be finished relatively quickly, unlike the massive scope of a book project. Shipping a blog post gives tangible evidence of thought and effort that is hard to get during the process of writing a novel.

Political Commentary Society Work

Capitalism vs. children

Replied to The Endangered American Childhood by Jared Yates Sexton (Dispatches From A Collapsing State | Jared Yates Sexton)

And, before we dive deeper, a reminder that the very nature of the market is this. The exploitation and dehumanization of all of us for as much profit as can possibly be extracted from us. Preferably it could be done painlessly and with a smile, but the inherent philosophy at the heart of the process harbors deep, dark authoritarian energies that will come into full focus as soon as situations demand it.

There is a abhorrent logic to it. If adults aren’t going to accept these low-paying, backbreaking, soul-crushing jobs, and if they’re going to continue agitating for labor unions and better treatment, then somebody’s going to have to show up.

The GOP’s continued assault on teachers as “groomers” and “indoctrinators” is about destroying public education, but in due time that will switch to also rationalizing why children would be “better off” laboring rather than being “subjected to wokeness.”


I don’t think it’s solely about destroying education, though that is one aspect. Part is about demonizing “the other” and creating in/out groups to turn against, especially conflating liberalism with queerness, which they also hate and fear. Part is about vilifying intellectual pursuits and devaluing critical thinking. And part is preventing kids from learning information that conflicts with their controlling doctrines.

They will wage not only culture war but also generational war, claiming degeneracy and decay demand a return to “traditional values,” including the reappearance of young people in the workplace, where they might learn the value of a dollar and the need for hard work.

I’m wary of reading too much stuff like this in case it’s alarmist reverse fearmongering, but I kinda don’t think it is — so learning to recognize and anticipate the behavior patterns of authoritarians is important 🫤

I started working at 14 and wish I hadn’t. Wish I’d given myself a few more years before I started squeezing myself into the mold of ideal worker. Our school system does enough of this already: teaching to the test, quashing curiosity, forcing kids to follow a schedule that doesn’t suit their bodies.

I recall a day I got in trouble for not coming to work on the school paper after track. I was seventeen. I’d been at school from 8 to 3:30 then practice till 6 or 6:30. I was exhausted, physically and mentally, and had homework to do plus saxophone practice. By the time I finished dinner I figured they’d be winding down and there was no need for me to go back, but apparently they worked till midnight. I “should have” gone back and worked another five or six hours.

Except in retrospect, maybe we shouldn’t ask kids to put in 15-16 hour days — for extracurricular activities or for paid work. That means recognizing that children’s work is learning, both the skills and curriculum of their classes, as well as how to be people. Supplanting kids’ free time with labor prioritizes their value as workers over their wellbeing as people.

It’s all part of a hustle for success mindset that, at least for me, started with high school, when I was 13. My parents didn’t push me, but society was a strong influence. You won’t get into a good college if you don’t do extracurriculars or score well on standardized tests. If you make mistakes, if you’re anything less than perfect, you’ll be a failure. I’m still working on purging toxic perfectionism from my system in my late thirties. And I wish I could have let myself enjoy being a kid a little longer.