Pretending AI can fix all the problems by pretending it’s not a problem

Liked AI machines aren’t ‘hallucinating’. But their makers are by Naomi Klein (The Guardian)

…what we are witnessing is the wealthiest companies in history (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Meta, Amazon …) unilaterally seizing the sum total of human knowledge that exists in digital, scrapable form and walling it off inside proprietary products, many of which will take direct aim at the humans whose lifetime of labor trained the machines without giving permission or consent.

“This is effectively the greatest art heist in history.” — open letter co-authored by Molly Crabapple

“This whole “this is how humans learn so whats the difference” thing while stealing so much data to make billions for a few dudes is so insidious.” — Timnit Gebru

See also: Link pairing: AI trained on stolen art

Art and Design Society

A Magic Wand

Replied to We’re on the cusp of another revolution by Ray (

💬 Replied to Will “good enough” AI beat human artists? — Tracy Durnell → “I’d say AI is not good enough yet for most use cases, but it will get

I love this way of thinking about the new AI art tools: magic. I am excited to see how people without art training use them, plus how artists will use renderings as tools (to iterate ideas quickly, to storyboard, to create mood / conceptual art, etc.). There’s a lot of good that can come from tools like this, and they seem like fun!

I’m just wary of the impact of tools like this in our corporatist society that values people only for the paid work they produce, and doesn’t support providing a social safety net. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become much more sympathetic to the Luddites, whose skilled labor had given them a good lifestyle since they were paid by the piece and could work as much or little as they wanted; mechanized looms stole their power and lifestyle by replacing skilled work with drudge work in poor conditions for low pay. Mechanized weaving made cloth more affordable and more widely available, so I can’t say it was a bad tool, but we’re still suffering the social fallout from the way mechanization was used and who controlled it. I still hope as a society we can work through some of these issues and grow into a culture where a cool new tool doesn’t spell possible financial disaster for a whole profession.

Future Building Political Commentary

“UBI” experiment in Tacoma

Bookmarked What does universal basic income look like in the US? Tacoma wants to find out by Lionel Donovan (KING) (KING5)

Tacoma debuts a pilot program to provide Universal Basic Income to over a hundred families for 12 months.

I find it somewhat insulting that a $500 a month payment is being called Universal Basic Income. If UBI is meant to support caregivers and allow people to contribute to society in other ways besides through capitalist working for pay that’s… still paying usually women a lot less than their labor is worth to society.

That’s not what it would cost to live literally anywhere in the U.S. And Tacoma is a relatively spendy place to live — one person would need $2100 a month to make ends meet per

I mean, I’m happy to see anything, but let’s not get rid of all our social services if all we’re going to give folks is $500 a month.

Finances Society The Internet

UBI from Cryptocurrency

Bookmarked Proof of Humanity and the Universal Basic Income Coin by Scott Santens (

On March 10, 2021, Proof of Humanity’s UBI coin went live on the Ethereum Mainnet. For anyone who doesn’t know what that sentence means, it means that a cryptocurrency project was launched using the most popular smart contract blockchain in the world, with the goal of eventually providing a basic income to every living human being.


I’m happy to see people trying to use crypto for good instead of pyramid scheming.

But this project seems ill conceived. It incentivizes people to contest the status of other real people because then they get to keep their money. You have to have a chunk of money to start – impossible money in some parts of the world I’d say ($600ish). And the “money” you get has to be traded to be able to be spent (unless your landlord takes crypto?), so the value of your UBI might fluctuate.


Nonprofit Advocating for UBI

Bookmarked Humanity Forward (Humanity Forward)

Humanity Forward is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocating for solutions to the biggest problems of the 21st Century.

Future Building

Dreaming, and Choosing, a Better Future

Liked Dreaming Big by Christopher Butler (

It’s her belief that visualizing a better future isn’t just an exercise in motivation, but that it actually helps to change and refine the things they do today. What would you have to do differently today, she’ll ask, to make that future possible? The problem is that these conversations almost never go well. My friend struggles with how limited their imaginations are — how small their dreams are — how little they believe they can actually change.

“[W]hen the Enterprise crew encountered communities that, despite having reached the same level of technological progress if not surpassed it, had chosen a simpler way of life instead…As good as the ship life looked, in all its sterility and power, in its replicator’s abundance, in the holodeck’s infinite imagination, the small, intimate spaces of those post-post-technological communities looked better to me. As big and provocative the dream of a techno-utopia is, a culture that has the ability to make one but chooses not to is one far grander…

“The Amish make the choice to live differently. The present tense of that statement is intentional — important to understanding why they do so, and how… They continually choose the details of their way of life, motivated by strengthening the bond of their community and defining it around a preserved set of values.”

The choosing to add is the key: that just because something exists doesn’t mean it will serve you and your community, and it’s worth considering what the repurcussions of adding a new technology will be. This keeps power in the hands of the community rather than whoever has created a new technology. In contrast, we’ve handed over the literal shape of our cities to car companies, and the state of our democracy to social media companies.

I am also drawn to a simple life – is it so much to ask that I can have somewhere safe to live with my husband and friends as we age, the security of not worrying about the cost of medical care, and to work in a way that doesn’t cause me burnout and physical harm through poor ergonomics and too much sitting?

As I think about the future I keep coming back to building community and reclaiming ownership of how our towns work. Smaller scale, more local, interdependent and supporting each other.

Of course, I’m also scared of community by things like Nextdoor, which bring out the worst in people and preys on fear. I’m worried I’ll get to know my community and feel even more out of place than I do already.

“Fundamentally, it’s the idea that progress isn’t complete if it’s not experienced by everyone. What good is a starship if a single person who had her hand in making it goes hungry?”


Let’s share the wealth – there is no need for anyone in America to go hungry, live without shelter, and die from a lack of essential medication. We just have to have the willpower to spread the rewards of our success, and move past the fear of others.

Which all comes back to building community. When we feel like we’re part of a community, we want to help take care of that community. So we need to help people find connections where they are, not just online (that’s important too but can’t replace connecting with the real spaces we inhabit if we want to make them better).

Future Building Society

UBI is a society-level failsafe for its people

Bookmarked An Engineering Argument for Basic Income by Scott Santens (

Utilizing fault-tolerant design in critical life support systems

Because we know things will fail, we should design them in a way such that when they fail, lives are protected first and foremost, wherever lives are at risk

We know that our primary income distribution system fails. It fails all the time. It’s called losing your job. We have a “safety net” designed to catch people when it fails, but that system is really poorly designed, and it also fails all the time, at which point, people can and do die as a result.

We have engineered a life support system without fault tolerance.

I’m realizing that this argument for the need for universal basic income mirrors the argument for universal healthcare, which has not succeeded. (Sigh, why is it the group that wants to “make America great again” fights everything that would actually make America great again, like catching up to the rest of the world on basic human rights? God, they’re good at branding.)

Because UBI would mean incomes never fall to zero, anyone who ever loses their job would fall to the level of the UBI instead of the severe poverty of having $0. We can think of this as what engineers call “graceful failure.”

Graceful failure means that a failure does not result in catastrophic failure (e.g. sickness or death), and instead fails in a way that protects people or property from injury or damage.

This is kind of funny to think of engineers developing a more compassionate solution to our fiscal policies since in our society’s stereotypes engineers design for maximum efficiency and not cultural needs — but engineers design for outcomes, not based on politics, which is how most of our policies have come to be — through compromise that isn’t necessarily based on outcomes, but often rooted in judgments and moralism (as he points out).

Preventing people in our society from falling into poverty is good (society ignores that because we jump to moral judgments about why people don’t deserve help). It’s much harder (and more expensive) to get people out of poverty then to prevent them from falling into it.

Right now, our safety net uses bang-bang design. If you lose your job, bang, the safety net turns on, that is if you satisfy the necessary conditions, and you may or may not still fall to your death because of the holes in the net. If you do get help, it’s temporary and then, bang, no more help, or if you don’t satisfy the conditions, bang, no more help.

However, UBI would be proportional control design. Everyone receives UBI, but everyone also pays for it in varying amounts depending on income and/or consumption. So if your income goes down for any reason, or to any degree, you pay less for your UBI, meaning your disposable income boost is increased.

Bang-bang design, what a name!

Unconditional basic income is how to engineer resilience into our social and economic systems.

I’m hoping we come out of this pandemic in agreement that resilience is a useful and worthwhile thing to build into our society??? Especially when it comes to protecting lives??? Even though resilience costs money, since what we have going now only works for rich people???