383: Amazon Q4, Google + Anthropic & Dreamix, Tesla, H5N1, Self-Driving vs Firefighters, and The Last of Us
"subjectively, rewards don’t stack perfectly"
Are "like" and "dislike" even commensurate? They have a syllable in common, but they're wildly different feelings, and people are uncomfortable trading one off against the other.
🛀💭🎨🤖 What is new?
I realize this is an ambiguous question: I’m not asking you “what’s new?” as a greeting, but rather I’m pondering the concept of “newness”. When do we consider something to be new?
This is a harder question to answer than it may seem.
There’s always a smartass ready to point out that “actually, XYZ existed before so this isn’t new!”
Was the original iPhone (2007) not new because the components and technologies (touchscreen, mobile phone, portable music player, etc) already existed, or was it something new because of the way it combined these elements together to create a new whole — more than just the sum of the parts..?
There’s a similar phenomenon going on with generative AI.
Some people claim that because you use the name of an artist in the prompt, it automatically means that the output is just some kind of replica of that artist’s existing work or is at best highly derivative.
I don’t think it’s quite that simple.
There are two main effects that I see: The combinatorial explosion of possibilities and the editor’s taste filter.
If I ask StableDiffusion or Midjourney to create something in the style of Picasso, it may create something pretty close to the artist’s work. But as soon as I start expanding with other elements, like Picasso + Rembrandt + Van Gogh + Leonardo Da Vinci + Monet… You get something never seen before.
Even just two styles combined can be unique, for example, Picasso + Greg Rutkowski isn’t someone’s style. That artist doesn’t exist!
Just because something has elements that aren’t new doesn’t make it not new.
I think it’s rather rare that people will try for long to recreate something that already exists — if they wanted the original, they’d just look at that one. So even if they use existing styles as references (because that’s the vocabulary we use — we compare to existing artists as references), the actual output tends to be rather original, if only in color palette, subject matter, mood, perspective, etc.
On top of that, the person making the selection — the editor whose taste is the filter for what happens and what is published — also adds unique elements.
Two people creating with generative AI and the same list of painters’ names will have WILDLY different outputs because they’ll have different ideas about what to ask for, and then different tastes for what they like and decide to iterate on and explore.
ie. Rembrandt never did a series of paintings of lighthouses, but I was curious to see what that may look like in his style — but even what you see above is my own selection out of 100+ very different generated images, someone else would’ve selected others.
🎁⏳ My friend David Senra (📚🎙️, add his podcast to your life, you won’t regret it) shared a quote from the book he’s reading:
Postponing the reward increases the appreciation, a fact that has been forgotten in the current culture of impatience.
Most people would agree this is true, but it’s not about knowing it or not — saying that it’s obvious misses the point — it’s about whether you implement the principle in your life or not.
I try to do it a lot on purpose.
If I need/want five things, I’ll get them spaced out over a longer period just so I always have something to look forward to, and to appreciate each one fully, rather than get all five of them at once.
If you want to get nerdy about it, you could say that subjectively, rewards don’t stack perfectly, so the area under the curve is bigger if you space them out than if you try to go for everything in parallel.
🏠🔥🚫🥶 Murphy’s Law: Just as temps were hitting -40 our house’s gas furnace stopped working. (I don’t have to specify whether I mean Celsius or Fahrenheit because down there, they are the same)
We woke up to a cold house. I was able to make the furnace turn on once, but nothing after that. The first place I called to get a technician told me they weren’t taking new calls for the day and referred me to a second place. Never a good sign!
A few hours later someone came, and it didn’t take long to figure out that the condensate trap was blocked. Once it was cleared up, everything worked fine.
Being the curious type, and because the guy seemed to enjoy talking about it, I learned a lot about furnaces and their various sub-systems. There’s always an opportunity to learn new things!
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🛒 Amazon Q4 2022 🚚📦📦📦📦📫
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