Categories
Mental Health Society Technology

I don’t want this to be the future

Bookmarked HUMAN_FALLBACK | Laura Preston (n+1)

I WAS ONE OF ABOUT SIXTY operators. Most of us were poets and writers with MFAs, but there were also PhDs in performance studies and comparative literature, as well as a number of opera singers, another demographic evidently well suited for chatbot impersonation—or, I suppose, for impersonating a chatbot that’s impersonating a person.

Let alone the present.

Each day when we reported for work one of them would hail us with a camp counselor’s greeting. “Top of the morning, my lovely Brendas!” they would say. Below their message, a garden of reaction emojis would bloom.

I am tired of the exploitation and undervaluation of emotional labor.

In the same way that algorithms tell us what they think we want, and do so with such tenacity that the imagined wants become actual, these buildings seemed intent on shaping a tenant’s aspirations. They seemed to tell the tenant they should not care about regional particularities or the idea of a neighborhood. The tenant should not even desire a home in the traditional sense, with hand-me-down furniture, hand-built improvements, and layers of multigenerational memory. This tenant was a renter for life, whose workplace was their primary address, and who would nevertheless be unable to afford property for as long as they lived.

See also: Neutralizing reality to sell

Brenda, they claimed, said the same thing to everyone, which meant that she was incapable of bias. And yet she was awfully good at repelling certain people: people without smartphones or reliable internet, people unaccustomed to texting, people who couldn’t read or write in English, and people who needed to figure out if they could access a property before showing up for a tour. Brenda deflected them all with polite violence. She was not a concierge but a bouncer, one made all the more sinister for her congeniality and sparkle.

 

See also:

OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic (TIME)

But the working conditions of data labelers reveal a darker part of that picture: that for all its glamor, AI often relies on hidden human labor in the Global South that can often be damaging and exploitative.

The work’s traumatic nature eventually led Sama to cancel all its work for OpenAI in February 2022, eight months earlier than planned.

An OpenAI spokesperson said in a statement that the company did not issue any productivity targets, and that Sama was responsible for managing the payment and mental health provisions for employees.

🙄 Of course they’re not responsible for the work they hired out.

Conditions for vendors are so much worse than employees, so of course that’s the direction companies want to move: cheaper labor that they aren’t liable for. Ethics has no part in corporatism.

“They’re impressive, but ChatGPT and other generative models are not magic – they rely on massive supply chains of human labor and scraped data, much of which is unattributed and used without consent,” Andrew Strait, an AI ethicist, recently wrote on Twitter. “These are serious, foundational problems that I do not see OpenAI addressing.”

Categories
Future Building Political Commentary

We need our politicians to commit to change if we’re gonna get through climate change

Replied to Add Dedicated Bus Lanes for Every Route by Ryan DiRaimo (The Urbanist)

Paint is cheap. Results are bold. Carbon savings are forever.

Wild idea: Give EVERY bus their own lane
Any bus route currently on a road that has two or more lanes in each direction should immediately paint that far right lane red.

Hell yeah! Just GET. IT. DONE. All of our transit and pedestrian and bike improvements take forever to build but we’re still subsidizing the shit out of driving, making it seem cheaper than it really is to drive.

And a commitment like giving buses priority literally everywhere is what it takes to actually get people to change their behavior. You need to make the desirable behavior way more attractive than the default — which sometimes means also making the (socially and environmentally harmful) default activity less desirable.* Trade a moderate increase in traffic for a drastic increase in bus reliability and reduction in travel times. Reward people doing the right thing, instead of our current punishment (it takes me 20 minutes to drive to Seattle (without traffic) and 10 to park, compared to 40-60 minutes to bus, plus a 10 minute drive or 40 minute walk to the transit center (yay transit-less suburbs!).

Right now we enjoy personal externalities for driving, with society and the environment bearing the brunt of our choice to drive. I don’t think it unreasonable to make people internalize some of the drawbacks of that choice so they can make a truly informed decision while bearing responsibility for it.**

My city’s considering a $20/year car tab to pay for installing bike and sidewalk infrastructure in seven years — which will otherwise take THIRTY FUCKING YEARS to build at current funding levels. EXCUSE ME? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of my laughing. Or is that sobbing. You’re telling me that, in the midst of a climate crisis, you’re OK with our city remaining unsafe to walk and bike through till I’m retired? 🤣🤣🤣

Sometimes we need our leaders to just lead. See what needs to happen, have a vision, and acknowledge that you’re making everyone’s life better in the long run even if individuals will need to adapt to some changes.

I’d love to see a politician willing to only serve one term so they didn’t have to care about pissing people off. Because people hate change, but we need BIG change, NOW. Either we choose some changes to make ourselves — more than we want, faster than we want — or the changing climate will make us change, and that way ain’t gonna be fun for anyone 😳

* I live in the suburbs and I drive 🙋 I’d rather ride my bike but I don’t want to die. I’d rather take the bus but I don’t have time for it to take three times as long to get somewhere. We can’t *only* make things worse for drivers; we also need to invest in our transit system and bike infrastructure so it’s safe and convenient to make the right choice, not just inconvenient to keep making the wrong one.

** Likewise, society needs to make it easier for people to escape the poor choices they’ve locked themselves into. Building as much housing as fucking possible — affordable and comfortable housing (both for individuals and families) — can let people who currently live in the boonies move closer in and escape those carbon spewing commutes. Part of that means lifting restrictions on development, part is imposing more restrictions on what gets built so it’s not all luxury condos or cheapo junk with no soundproofing. ALSO we could incentivize telecommuting instead of forcing people to come back to the office 😠

Categories
Future Building Society

Why no one can afford a house

Bookmarked What Can Be Done About the Global Housing Crisis? Plenty by Chris Stokel-Walker (WIRED)

The lack of homes in major cities is endemic, but solutions exist—providing countries can muster the political capital.

The White House recently admitted that the pace of house building has not kept pace with population for more than 40 years and that homes that are built are too big and too expensive for first-time buyers. The number of new homes under 1,400 square feet being built in the United States is more than 80 percent lower than the amount built in the 1970s.