Monthly archives: July 2023

All the ways that AI can kill us

AI should never be allowed to implement decisions, is the take away from this article. There are so many ways in which the perfect psychopaths created by machine learning could make perfectly logical decisions that lead to deaths.

Another Summer of Hate 2

Between work, making YouTube videos, and everything else, this is coming together far more slowly than I’d like. But here’s another scene, and another thread to the story.

The bike was fast. Gary loved it. He pressed the little button on the handlebar, and it shot off. The first couple of times, the whole bike had squatted on the suspension, and the front wheel had lifted off the ground, scaring him. He had quickly learnt to lean forward to balance that out.

He was zipping along the cycle path on an old railway line now, but would move onto the roads soon. When he had more confidence with the acceleration.

This one was different to the ebikes he had read reviews of. The motor kicked in if he pedaled, boosting his speed, but if he wanted to go real fast, he pressed the button. He didn’t even have to pedal then. There were rules that said bikes could only go so fast- fifteen miles an hour, he thought- or they’d be motorbikes, with plates and licences and all that. This one broke those rules, for sure.

It wasn’t quite silent. The motor made a high pitched whine, and the tyres made a rippling buzz on the hard surface of the path. What would they sound like on gravel?

The turn off was up ahead, coming at him faster than he had anticipated. He released the button, and quickly sat back as the motor became a drag on the back wheel. It still wasn’t going to slow him enough, so he gave the rear brake a gentle pull. The pads bit the disc, and the front of the bike dipped. He stretched even further back, and squeezed some more. The back wheel locked, and the ripple became a light scraping, not quite a squeal, of rubber. But it had done the job. He released the brake and leant into the turn.

Down the ramp, and then left, and he passed under the cycle path, onto a rougher surface. He slowed all the way down, then, just before coming to a stop, pressed the button. The bike didn’t tuck as much as before, because the tyre couldn’t grip the same, spinning and sending gravel shooting out behind. The small stones pattered against the ground, and he could hear them over the crunching of them being lifted and thrown. The back of the bike slewed right. He shifted his weight, and it wiggled back. Almost too much. He released the button, straightened out, then tried again. This time, he held it.

He was going to enjoy this bike. But first he had to do the deal to get it. He grabbed the brakes and swung around, carving nearly a full semi circle in the loose surface.

“You like it?” Lee asked, as if he couldn’t see the grin on Gary’s face.

“Love it man. So much power.”

“So, it’s yours right. If you’ll do the deliveries. And you’ll get paid for them too.”

“I’m in.” Gary jumped off the bike and leant it against the wall under the window. “Can’t take it home though can I? Questions, y’know. Mam’ll wanna know where it come from.”

“I hear you. Get it from me yard. I’ll give you a key. Run a few errands for me, then play the rest of the night.” Lee assured him.

“Yeah, I can do that.” The rush was too much to pass up. “So, what do I do?”

“Simple stuff. I give you a bag, or bags, tell you where to meet the buyer, and how much to take from them. You bring the cash back, I give you your share. Don’t be wearing that though.” Lee pointed at Gary’s City top. “All black. I’ll give you a mask, a balaclava. I’ve got some somewhere. And no helmets. Police won’t chase you if you’re not wearing a helmet. They don’t want to risk it. Give it enough juice to get away, then hide down an alley or something. When d’you want to start?”

Gary wanted another ride on the bike, but he was thinking about the uniform Lee had just laid out. “Tomorrow? And week after next it’s holidays, so I can do more runs for you. If you’ve got the customers.”

“Oh, I have them. Should have more in the next few weeks, too. Come here tomorrow evening, and I’ll give you a key and a balaclava, and we can see how good you are.”

Healthy pornography?

There is a lot of truly awful porn out there. But there is good stuff too, and there is the potential for the best of it to be positive. The authors of the piece below worked with experts to find some good producers and suggest ways to make the industry’s output better.

Flower Fairy diorama build

Another build for my Weird Cold War series. The Flower Fairy is a shambling plant creature that slips through every so often. Wherever it goes, it draws plants up out of even the most barren soil. But when it arrives in an urban location, that does mean property damage. Usually passive, unless attacked, the biggest threat is that its pollen is highly hallucinogenic.

That’s my backstory for the creature, anyway. I’ll flesh it out some more on the Patreon.

The STL for the creature came from Japanese site Booth.

As mentioned in the video, I’m selling Javis scenic scatter and foliage in the shop.

Should we kill all the AIs before they kill us?

I forget the exact line, but there’s an allusion in Neuromancer about the AIs having a shotgun taped to their heads. The core code is all in a box that can be obliterated by an EM pulse or actual kinetic munitions. This piece from Wired is a consideration of whether we now need to do something similar with the real versions of the minds envisioned by William Gibson.

In the short term, I don’t see AI as an immediate existential threat, but we should be thinking hard about what areas we restrict its use in, and how we do that.

The vital changes Labour probably won’t make

I read the original version of this as a long tweet, and it made the bus ride to work very depressing.

Starmer’s Labour Party seem set on ruling out policies that would help them and the country long term, just to appease the right wing press that will never support them anyway. Expect more ‘make Brexit work’, and worse, as the general election approaches.

The Taxpayer’s Alliance are pathetic

The right-wing lobbying group want to stop four day work week trials. I don’t think they believe any of their claims. It’s more likely their unnamed backers don’t want to see anything that looks like an improvement in workers’ rights and conditions.

The Twitter End?

I’ve decided I’m staying on the bird site until Musk’s stupidity destroys it. That looks even closer this weekend, with the stupid plans to throttle access. It’ll be a disaster, and Musk will reverse the decision quickly, but the damage is done, and there probably won’t be the resources to fully recover.