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

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.

Society Work

Who is high income anyway?

Replied to Who Is High Income, Anyway? Social Comparison, Subjective Group Identification, and Preferences over Progressive Taxation by Asli Cansunar (

Why are high-income and low-income earners not significantly polarized in their support for progressive income taxation? This article posits that the affluent fail to recognize that they belong to the high-income income group and this misperception affects their preferences over progressive taxation.

International Social Survey Programmes Social Inequality survey of 2009 reveals that almost 60% of American respondents with yearly household incomes higher than $110,000 support progressive taxation, whereas 63% of American respondents with annual incomes lower than $25,000 support progressivity.

One possible explanation is that people care about things other than material self-interest. Several inuential contri­butions to the comparative politics literature have taken up the challenge of amending the utility function of the canonical model of redistribution. In particular, they incorporate an­other source of utility other than posttax and transfer income in the individuals utility function. These studies posit that peoples decisions, along with material self-interest, are af­fected by altruism (Dimick, Rueda, and Stegmueller 2016), religion (Stegmueller 2013), beliefs about what is fair (Alesina and Angeletos 2005), group loyalty (Shayo 2009), and distaste for inequality (Lü and Scheve 2016).

I would like to go with the “we’re not all self-serving dicks” theories.

Why do a signicant share of high-income respondents underestimate their rank? Why do the afuent think they belong to the middle class?

You have to adjust self-perceptions based on cost of living — my house may be worth a ridiculous amount on paper, but let me tell you, it is a piece of shit where they cut every corner they could. I am not exactly living like a queen, with my crumbling grout 1988-forest-green-tiled bathroom and honey-oak-veneer-cabinet kitchen with a coil stove and twenty year old fridge. Yes, I am rich in the global perspective, and even in the American perspective, but I still think of myself as middle class. Couldn’t I afford to remodel my kitchen if I was actually rich? (I suspect no one else middle class can either, they’re just willing to take out loans that I’m not.) But, I know I am better off than many, and want to pay my fair share.

But more to the point, I think she’s disregarding that class is not solely determined by income. Anyone who is a worker, not an owner or manager, is not truly upper class. Class is about control and influence as much as wealth. This is why well-off people may still think of themselves as middle class: the social connotations.

Business Technology Work

They don’t only take our labor.

Replied to This is a rant about beds at work by Meg Conley (homeculture by Meg Conley)

Last week, Twitter installed bedrooms for employees. They’re expected to be “hardcore” and being hardcore means working too late to go home. And then waking up and working some more. The rooms look like an answer to the alternative history question, “What if IKEA showrooms existed behind a 2022 Iron Curtain?” But they’re really just a reaction to the relative freedom of remote work and an empowered labor force. It’s just another lever to pull when seeking maximum extraction for maximum profit.

They steal our lives too.

My husband works in tech and in 2019 spent two months basically living in the office for a product launch. He’d already been working 60-80 hour weeks remotely, but then he had to add a commute — the opposite direction from my work. We only have one car so often I’d have to walk home — only 45 minutes but sometimes you’re wiped at the end of the day and just want to fucking sit down, not climb a giant hill.

But suddenly making his partner responsible for *everything* to keep our household going was a cost his work could extract from my body, though I wasn’t the one working for them.

His boss said he’d pay for us to go out to dinner when it was done. As if one meal makes up for months of missed dinners. There’s a photo of me with the fancy drink I got — I look exhausted, can barely smile. My husband was so wiped he forgot to expense it. And we don’t even have kids.

I have multiple friends who have nearly been driven to quit by the tech sector’s on-call schedule.

Because it’s a good-paying job, it’s hard to complain about the expectation to work long hours, knowing how many others have it so much worse. But even though we’re not in Silicon Valley, Seattle has a price bubble of its own. With shitty ramblers from the seventies starting at a million bucks, even tech workers can’t afford a home now without two salaries.

I wish white collar workers could recognize that while they’re rich compared to the poor, they’re not rich compared to the *rich*. If you have to work, you’re not really rich. Workers of all classes could build some solidarity together. There’s a lot of manipulative class warfare turning people who should be allies against each other, when workers are not the root of the exploitation problem: owners are.

Activism Art and Design History

Activism idea: ranking museums by stolen artifacts

I love it when a bunch of random pieces add together into something cool.

I was telling my husband over dinner about everyone’s Create Day projects, including Angelo’s, which assesses which IndieWeb components a website is doing and recommends improvements. I created a wiki page about land acknowledgement, and as I was explaining the concept he recalled that PBS Eons episodes frequently include an acknowledgement at the end that many artifacts were taken from indigenous lands without permission.

I’m also reading a book called The Art of Activism, which prompts artists to look for new ways to provide commentary and activists to go beyond the usual protest.

Put those elements together, throw in some Elgin Marbles, contrasted with the Smithsonian’s recent move to return a collection of African art, and you’ve got a recipe for some art activism:

  • Pull a Banksy and place additional placards beside stolen pieces in museums noting the true ownership / origin. “Pillaged from Greece through bribery and corruption.”
  • Create a website that ranks institutions by the proportion of their collection that is stolen or contested, and produce a guide like Seafood Watch does for seafood. “Ooh the British Museum is on the red list, better skip that one.” You could also allow nations and tribes to submit complaints cross-referenced with the museum’s online collections as an additional way to raise awareness and drum up public support for items to be returned to their rightful cultural owners.

Land back, and also heritage back. ✊

I don’t know if the information about objects’ origins is widely available — probably not, and especially could be obscured through purchases after the fact.