Link roundup: March 2023

Although I don’t always plug it here, I run a monthly ace journal club on my other blog.  This month’s article was about asexual experiences coming out.  It might be worth a read if you want an overview of asexual coming out experiences and how they sometimes differ from gay coming out experiences.

Chat GPT is a blurry jpeg of the web | New Yorker – A relatively pessimistic article about Chat GPT that describes it as a copy of the internet, saved with lossy compression.  The author asks, “how much use is a blurry jpeg, when you still have the original?”  I think this a great starting point to understanding the state of the art chatbots.  The chatbots have strictly less knowledge than what you can find on the internet–albeit in more a form that may be easier to process.  Perhaps the megacorps are right, and the best application is search engines.

The Problem With Masterworks | The Plain Bagel (video, 19 min) – If you’ve ever seen sponsored ads on youtube for Masterworks, an art-based investment scheme, you might have thought it sounded scummy.  Sounds scummy, is scummy, this video gives the scoop on that.  Apparently they skirt through regulation loopholes, which gives them a lot of leeway to report returns in a misleading way.  I actually unsubbed to a channel because they accepted a sponsorship from Masterworks.

Dear Esther | The Almighty Backlog – Via Critical Distance, I found this review of one of the original walking simulator games. I admit, although I like walking simulators, I don’t think very highly of Dear Esther.  I don’t like the story, and as this reviewer says, there isn’t anything else for the game to fall back on.  But it’s interesting to look back upon the roots of the genre.  One of the unique aspects of the game is that parts of it are randomized on each playthrough.  It’s clever, but who would notice?

Who’s Pranking Sam Harris & Eric Weinstein? | Rebecca Watson – Rebecca highlights how Sam Harris and Eric Weinstein (best known for creating the “intellectual dark web”) seem to have been taken in by claims that there would be an imminent announcement that UFOs really are aliens.  This is obviously great schadenfreude against two terrible people.  Although… my initial joy is tempered by my principled stand against mocking victims of hoaxes.  I think that fear of embarrassment is part of what keeps victims trapped in scams and hoaxes.  My takeaway is that Harris & Weinstein don’t have any friends to give them a reality check, possibly because they alienated all reasonable people ages ago.

The Rich Have their Own Ethics: Effective Altruism & the Crypto Crash | Philosophy Tube (video, 41 min) – Another discussion of EA in the wake of Sam Bankman-Fried.  I wouldn’t describe it as essential viewing, but if you like video essays, it’s here for you.  I do think it’s weird how this narrative emerged of longtermism being a new thing within EA.  To my understanding, EA is basically an offshoot from Eliezer Yudkowsky’s arguments that the best thing anyone could do for the long term prospects of humanity was donate to his AI organization.  Perhaps at first EA distanced itself from AI for a time, and came back to it later.  But I still wouldn’t describe longtermism as new, it’s just a new word for an old idea.

Arguments Against Wikia/Fandom | osteophage – Wikia/Fandom is the company that owns one of the most popular fanwiki hosting services.  As a person who has used such fanwikis, it’s blatantly obvious that they are a terrible service with more intrusive ads than a cooking recipe website.  What I did not know, is that when fan communities try to move to a new wiki, Wikia/Fandom will take over and prevent them from deleting the original wiki, or linking to the new wiki.  I also learned that they own websites like Metacritic, Giant Bomb, and Gamestop.


  1. says

    “To my understanding, EA is basically an offshoot from Eliezer Yudkowsky’s arguments that the best thing anyone could do for the long term prospects of humanity was donate to his AI organization.”


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