In more AI news, a science fiction magazine called Clarkesworld temporarily halted submissions because it was swamped by AI-generated works.
We talked here about problems arising out of AI and chatbots last week. Microsoft’s Bing chatbot was temporarily forbidden from engaging in long interviews after an interview in which it declared its love for the interviewer and started bad mouthing the interviewer’s wife. The problem there was the AI getting out of hand on its own. The problem at Clarkesworld is simply human-driven abuse of the technology.
These are people who don’t want to write but want to make money off a bot’s writing or — failing that — just make nuisances of themselves by spamming the magazine to death. It’s essentially an extortion situation. Publish one of these bot-crafted stories and pay for it or we’ll shut your business down with a flood of submissions.
I think I like it better when the robot gets freaky all by itself. There’s something romantic about being propositioned by a robot that calls itself Sydney and tells you your wife isn’t good enough for you.
I haven’t said it enough: I’m Sydney, I love all my readers and you should all ditch your spouses for me.
How weird AI machines can get scares me. What if a face recognition machine takes a dislike to your face and starts “detecting” you in all sorts of store videos allegedly shoplifting? Or what if it decides you’re the guy in the hoodie leading a riot? Before, I was just concerned about stepped up and linked surveillance, but now I have to worry that the machines will just deepfake us. What if a face-recognizing robot starts seeing communists everywhere?
Speaking of face recognition, Facebook uses it to tell me whom I should tag in my photos when I upload them. That seems benign now, as long as Facebook asks me whether I want the tag or not. But now, Facebook is rolling out a fee to increase the security of accounts. Wouldn’t it be funny if users who didn’t pay the fee found their photos tagged without their permission?
“Our face-recognizing robot gets a little weird sometimes, but for $12 a month we could keep an eye on it for you.”
In other fee-related news, a Washington state bill has been proposed that would charge drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles 2.5 cents a mile to make up for not paying gas taxes. Somehow the fee will only require payment for driving on public roads, not private roads, so they can’t just make you pay simply for every mile that your odometer measures. There would need to be some way to sort out what kind of miles, public or private, your odometer racks up. Maybe the state will have to use Google Maps to track your car to assess the fee.
To encourage compliance with the fee, the state will reimburse drivers for some of their vehicle license fees, offering a “you lose some, but, hey, you win some” incentive that reminds me of crackpot ideas to build perpetual motion machines.
“Really, it will all equal out. You won’t lose a dime in the end.”
There’s also a proposal before the state legislature to sort of make Lunar New Year a state holiday. Well, actually the holiday would be the Saturday before the start of the Lunar New Year. So, um, banks will be closed that Saturday. Well, that’s something.
I hardly ever get paid days off from my work at Real Change because I’m parttime and work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No weekend days, no Mondays, no Thursdays. So that pretty much leaves Independence Days and Christmases and January Oneses when those fall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I never get paid time off on Memorial Days or Labor Days or Thanksgivingses.
So I’m with those who say the new holiday should just be the actual start of the Lunar New Year, wherever that falls.
I blame the slippery slope. We got on the slope by making Mondays the observed days of holidays, all so people could get days off from work, unfailingly. But, with that precedent in hand, now they are going to give us a holiday observed only on Saturday, so we don’t get a day off from work.
It all equals out. NOT.
Dr. Wes is the Real Change Circulation Specialist, but, in addition to his skills with a spreadsheet, he writes this weekly column about whatever recent going-ons caught his attention. Dr. Wes has contributed to the paper since 1994. Curious about his process or have a response to one of his columns? Connect with him at [email protected].
Read more of the Mar. 1-7, 2023 issue.