… also in this edition: how to use ChatGPT securely, Meta’s plan to glue users to their screens, and AI’s impact on elections.
Hi, 👋 folks!
Welcome to the 4th edition of my monthly newsletter — Boba Train 🧋🚂.
The drink of choice today is not actually a Boba! Instead, it’s a soft-serve vanilla ice cream with a butterscotch dip from Dairy Cream.
What’s in this issue?
- Out-of-control AI development
- Meatball from extinct mammoth
- Use ChatGPT with caution
- AI-generated political ads
- Meta's obsession with screen time
- How not to die
- Reading updates & recs
- Podcast updates & recs
- What I wrote this month
Out-of-Control AI Development
A number of well-known AI researchers have signed an open letter calling on AI labs around the world to pause the development of large-scale AI systems, citing fears over the “profound risks to society and humanity” they claim this software poses.
There’s been an explosion of AI technology in the recent weeks and months. Companies around the world are locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy the “best AI model possible”.
Because of the nature of this technology, most likely, these AI models are treated as black boxes. No one, including the creators of this technology, can understand, predict, or reliably control these powerful digital minds, as mentioned in the open letter.
The lines between fact and fiction are getting thinner every day. When we humans need to question our own senses, we know that we might be developing a technology that will do more harm than good, if not kept in check.
Research and development are outpacing any regulation or rational thinking. It’s difficult to imagine how we can stop “bad actors” from taking advantage of these immensely powerful models without any regulation or consequence in place.
Meatball from Extinct Mammoth
A mammoth meatball has been created by a cultivated meat company, resurrecting the flesh of long-extinct animals.
Take a minute. Let that sink in.
Who produced this, I hear you ask? None other than the Australian company, Vox, that I wrote about in one of the first editions of this newsletter.
The project aims to demonstrate the potential of meat grown from cells, without the slaughter of animals.
Here are a few quotes from the press release that resonated with me:
We have a behavior change problem when it comes to meat consumption.
The goal is to transition a few billion meat eaters away from eating conventional animal protein to eating things that can be produced in electrified systems.
And we believe the best way to do that is to invent meat. We look for cells that are easy to grow, really tasty, and nutritious, and then mix and match those cells to create really tasty meat.
I am keeping a close eye on this project. I will keep y’all updated.
Use ChatGPT with Caution
If you have read my recent blog post, 15 Ways Ai-powered tools are helping me work smarter, not harder, you will know how I am integrating AI into my productivity system.
I want to underscore an important point if you are planning to do something similar — be careful what data you feed the model.
Especially, if you are using ChatGPT for your work — may be to summarize important memos, prepare meeting notes, or find action items from meeting transcripts — do so with great care and definitely after consulting with your company’s legal team.
Recently, three Samsung employees leaked sensitive data to ChatGPT.
I will highlight one note from the news report above:
ChatGPT’s data policy states that, unless users explicitly opt-out, it uses its prompts to train its models.
AI-Generated Political Ads
Soon after President Biden announced his re-election bid, Republicans attacked Biden with a fully AI-generated ad.
This particular ad is not too different from what you would see in a conventional TV ad sponsored by a political party.
This is only the first step though. Such AI-driven political propaganda has become so easy to create, that any bad actor can spread fake news with AI and the network effect of social media, massively manipulating people’s votes during elections.
The need for some kind of regulation on AI-generated content is becoming more and more important every day (especially with the 2024 US Elections coming up next year).
Meta’s Obsession with Screen Time
One of the biggest arguments that companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook) make when it comes to digital well-being is that they provide tools to the user to monitor their screen time.
However, it’s hilariously easy to dismiss the pop-ups when you have reached a certain number of hours in a day. It’s very clear that the presence of the tool is nothing but a marketing plot by these companies.
People’s screen time is exactly what companies like Meta and Snapchat optimize for. Reduced screen time for users is at odds with the business models of these companies.
In their most recent earnings report, Mark Zuckerberg shared that time spent on Instagram has grown more than 24% since the company launched Reels on the platform thanks to AI-powered content recommendations.
It’s obvious that these social media giants will try their best to keep our eyes glued on their app screens so that they can steal your attention and bombard you with Ads.
It’s on us to make sure that doesn’t happen, if we want to live a deep and intentional life.
How Not to Die
One really cool podcast episode I recently listened to is How Not to Die from the What You Will Learn show.
The episode goes over Michael Greger’s best-selling book, How Not To Die.
Here are a few health ideas from the book that I found interesting:
- High blood pressure is a risk factor for many diseases, including aneurysms, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, etc.
- The high blood pressure of Westerners is due to their diet, which is centered around processed foods and salt.
- To reduce blood pressure, reduce salt intake and increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
These are just a few interesting insights automatically generated by my favorite podcast-listening app, Snipd.
Reading Updates & Recs
You thought March was my worst reading month? April beats it, unfortunately.
I won’t bore you with why it turned out to be such a bad month. I am hoping May turns out better.
The only book I finished:
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel — 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Books that I am currently reading:
Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong
Podcast Updates & Recs
If you are interested in tech, health, productivity, intentional living, and self-improvement, check some of these out.
- Most Popular Diets reviewed with Dr.Neal Barnard
- How Not to Die
- Visions of the Deep Life?
- James Clear, Atomic Habits — Simple Strategies for Building Habits on The Tim Ferris Show
- Developing a Rational Approach to Supplementation for Health
- Breaking free from big tech and big content
- CLASSIC: Titanic Conspiracies
- How to Live an ethical life with moral philosopher Peter Singer
- Jay Shetty on Relationships, Routines, and Finding Purpose
If you are looking for a great podcast app that helps you remember everything you listen to, please check out Snipd (Note: Not sponsored or affiliated in any way).
What I Wrote This Month
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