Jan Leike characterizes possible solutions to the alignment problem, the most concerning aspect of which is eliciting human values imo. A characteristically excessively long but correct post about EA Bad Vibes. Inverse Scaling Prize winners. DeepMind published needed post on principles behind releasing AlphaFold. Ben Todd’s new intro to EA, also all his tweets this month have been amazing. Spencer Greenberg on moral realism in EA, which is also a great philosophy lesson.
I was thinking about Interpretability as a Natural Science when I decided I should review the old interpretability literature and found out that Chris Olah has already written about this in 2020. Also looked at 2014 topology interpretability, which gave a really good intuition of why we need activations. In this crossover episode, a really good blog post about the theory of batch size from our favourite proprietary trading firm. Anthropic published the superposition paper. An additional tweet thread of an exploration of superposition, and another about superposition in relation to Dettmer’s LLM.int8(). Human brains do superposition too! Neel Nanda’s favourite interpretability papers, I specifically want to review the ROME paper and this Sept 2022 ICLR submission.
Whisper speech-to-text from OpenAI, gosh, finally. Nvidia FP8 paper, also gosh finally 🥺. I’m trying to learn about GPUs, here is a really good microbenchmarking paper with unfortunate typography. Google multimodal model, PaLI. Chris Ré’s lab puts out another banger, FlashAttention. DeepMind sticks with the trusty naming scheme and comes out with AlphaTensor, of which the RL I don’t totally understand. I’m impressed though it seems like the matmul algorithm won’t actually be useful.
The most beautiful lawsuit website, which includes a custom font. Butterick occupies a special space of extremely admirable (he’s basically a superhero?) yet has a versatility where none of his works are quite perfect. I stan this Hilel Wayne newsletter on benefits of humanities in swe. Adept puts out a demo for their ACT-1 model. I didn’t feel carnally upset by Dall-E, but watching it use Google Sheets I was like “nooooo... my art!”
The Helvetica documentary is the best thing I’ve seen in a while. “It’s the real thing period coke period in helvetica period any questions? of course not. drink coke period simple” is my favourite quote, and literally got me to drink coke. It also discusses why Helvetica caused the Vietnam war, though I think it’s platonically socialist. An anime about Karl Marx commissioned by the CCP’s Marxism office (spoiler, he dies at the end).
Boot Boyz Biz essay on bricks, because I got the shirt and wanted to know about quirky Estonian architects. They also made a shirt (which I’ve acquired) that is perfect (includes a picture of the game “set”) so of course I like this essay on play, though I’d skip the situationist stuff. A copy of the Marxist board game, Class Struggle was purchased for me as a gift! I will document the gameplay soon, as the current literature of it does not do justice. It’s worth remembering now, that Monopoly is a fucked up version of what it was supposed to be. My favourite thing about Boot Boyz Biz essays is that they bother putting in source material that is somewhat non-trivial to locate, as they do in “Techne” with Stafford Beer works.
MMAcevedo, a short story about perverse immortality. Gwern with “It Looks Like You’re Trying To Take Over The World” 🖇️.
Unbounded problem-spaces and rationality. Dewey’s aesthetics. Ah yes, Georgism, here we go. I can’t believe I read the whole Dan Luu post on futurists, but I think it was worth it. Much better than Superforecasting (book). My favourite idea was that of Jacque Fresco, about how people of the future will apply scientific method to everything. Mao, Georgism and Uber. Golden Rule for Communication. On text as interface, or why I’m a grandma who really hates the idea of “text as the universal interface”
FTX publishes Possible Digital Asset Industry Standards, which includes the 5-5 standard, which is basically a standard to say that if you execute a security breach you can only keep 5 million? That is, unless people are losing money, in which case you have to return as much as they need. Look, I don’t know much about crypto, I can’t say I like them, but if they do this then they will have my undying admiration.
Some Money Stuff highlights (non-Twitter) include a deepdive into UK Pension Margin Calls, Barclays loosing track of it’s notes, Citi getting the 500M back from the oopsie it made a while ago, the shell deli, lost Morgan Stanley computers, Patagonia owners got sad about being rich in the best way. Also Elon has Twitter now and the Ethereum merge happened.
Cool Gray City of Love, Gary Kamiya 2013
I started reading this a several months after moving to San Francisco, because I asked for a book that was like “someone giving a tour of their suburban hometown”. The 49 chapters of San Francisco held a few moments that were more grand than anything you’d find about a suburban hometown. The Great Fire, the Gold Rush, the Summer of Love, the dot-com boom, the AIDs epidemic. History lessons are ok, but Gary Kamiya did also write about random grocery stores he used to go to that passed a while ago.
It’s a super romantic book! It’s full of sentiment, vibe and poetry. In describing the earliest failures to discover SF in the fog and the earliest settlements, Kamiya gave a really romantic characterization of the city’s complex and unique relationship with the ocean. For poetry, it of course gives little tidbits about the Beats but also about a magazine called the Lark. The Lark was a literary magazine written by a bunch of young people with a small but happy following, elaborate graphics and humorous but sophisticated essays, poetry, et cetera. This was just like, the best shit because this 1895 magazine feels like the epitome of writing that San Francisco produces today, whether it be the tweets, the Medium articles or the actual magazines.
The first edition of the Lark debuted a now-famous poem by Gelett Burgess, which is perhaps now more notable than the magazine itself.
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one
The last edition of the Lark contains this following. Present magazines that the Bay Area produces really lacks this sophisticated tongue-in-cheek energy.
Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I'll Kill you if you Quote it!
I’m rather illiterate, so when I read I’m often googling about people or concepts or looking things up in a dictionary. With Cool Gray City of Love, my references were walking around the city, and pulling up a map whenever Kamiya referenced a specific intersection or a neighbourhood I forgot the location of. I didn’t like San Francisco Chinatown. It’s tacky, it doesn’t have particularly good food (Richmond is tasty though) and I went there once for tourism purposes and never quite set foot there again. The book describes Chinatown after the Great Fire, where the Chinese population fought to be allowed to rebuild in the place of their original homes. This is when the caricature of San Francisco Chinatown was built, eventually becoming a tourist attraction for the city. I don’t feel so much anymore that Chinatown lacks authenticity. Insofar as it’s one of the few places in North America where a Chinese population could determine from rubble what they wanted to build, it is exceedingly authentic.
The book ends on a chapter about Land’s End, describing the views of places that no one can quite reach, that even Gary Kamiya who spent his life in SF (partly as a taxi driver) will never fully discover the city. Excellent pairing for my months settling into SF, every walk around the city is more colourful and the memetic hatred of the city has certainly been cut.
There are probably few other cities for which such a book exists. Just the right amount of history such that you can go back in forth between benign flavouring and historical retellings. I tried to find one for New York, and ended up sorting books into specific neighbourhoods of New York (I don’t mean “Manhattan”, I mean, I needed a book for “Lower East Side”). Closest I got with NYC, was a book about rats and it sits on my shelf now.