Threads for robinovitch61

  1. 5

    I find this to be a very odd use of the word “vegan” and comparison to vegans. But since that’s where we are, here are some things you may want to check out if you’re concerned with the welfare of animals:

    1. 3

      What do you find odd about it?

      So far I’ve had a few people say that the analogy works really well for them. I’m very interested to hear reasons it doesn’t hold up.

      1. 2

        It’s taking a specific form of a more general idea and using it as the general form. That is, you are talking about veganism insofar as it’s a boycott of/abstention from animal products (though that is not all it is) and applying that to the idea of AI art, rather than directly talking about boycotting/abstaining from AI art.

        In other words, “vegan” has a specific definition and you can’t just throw any adjective in front of it.

        1. 3

          I tried to clarify in my writing that this was a mental model analogy that I’ve been thinking about

          Are you responding just to my headline here, or do you think the analogy as described doesn’t work?

          The key reason I like veganism as an analogy is that I personally continue to eat meat and feel guilty about it - which looks like it may be the way I personally end up using these AI models.

          To put it another way: I am someone who cares deeply about animal welfare but continues to eat meat. I am also someone who respects author’s moral rights to their work while continuing to use AI models they have been trained against that work without their permission.

          Furthermore: the fact that veganism is a deep area with many different aspects makes me like it even more as an analogy for objections to generative AI models - because those too have many factors and I expect that opponents to them will come from a wide array of perspectives covering a wide array of reasons.

          1. 4

            Mostly the term “AI vegan”, since that is after all in the heading and stands out more than what it represents: your own personal ethical conflicts. And as someone who sees animal agricultural as pretty fucking evil, I also find the comparison to be trivializing.

            You could alternatively frame it in the opposite way, and I think it would be a more direct question and would rely less on your own personal position on some other ethical topic: “Ethics: will you be an AI hypocrite?”

            1. 1

              This itself is an interesting ethical conundrum!

              Comparing these two headlines:

              • Ethics: will you be an AI hypocrite?
              • Ethics: will you be an AI vegan?

              The first avoids the risk of offending vegans. But I find it a lot less compelling as a heading - I don’t think it would stick in peoples minds, and lead to extensive conversations in the same way as “vegan”.

              So I’m making an ethical choice here that I think the harm caused by using “vegan” is outweighed by the benefit in terms of starting conversations and expressing my position.

              Basically the same ethical question as a clickbait headline attached to a valuable piece of journalism.

              1. 4

                I am also vegan and I don’t necessarily disagree with your use of the term. It’s a reasonable analogy, and illustrates your point well enough.

                But it does irk me when you consider the magnitude of each decision. At the end of the day, this AI technology is not powered my the mass imprisonment, torture, and slaughter of artists who post their work online.

                1. 2

                  Take a look at how music or other popular media is produced at scale. If the USA’s techniques are not close enough to imprisonment and torture, then consider South Korea’s techniques instead. It is not unreasonable to hope that ML-driven art generation can prevent artists from starving merely by changing the economic landscape of art production.

                  1. 2

                    It’s interesting how it can be seen as offensive from both directions:

                    • Artists: you’re comparing us to animals raised for meat now?
                    • Animals: you’re saying killing and eating us is equivalent to stealing someone’s picture?
                    1. 2

                      I think folks are comparing the scale of harm, not animals to artists, as per my comment here:

              2. 3

                I also feel like something is a bit off with the analogy to veganism, and am trying to put my finger on it.

                It seems like one central commonality is the idea of consent, but the scale of consent feels really different. One end is artists not consenting for their works to be included in model training. This is bad as it may result in a loss of their livelihoods, losing competitive advantages, not reaping the full value of their work, etc. On the other end (veganism), we’re talking about billions of sentient land animals born, tortured, and slaughtered per year for our pleasure without their consent. This is really really bad, worse than exploiting artists, but maybe that’s just me making a value judgement, or maybe the difference in scale of consent doesn’t actually matter for the analogy.

                Another central commonality is the idea of convenience and functionality for the end user. There are a lot of potential other analogies here, many more comparable to the goings on of the digital world: shopping on amazon, duckduckgo over google, email over facebook events/messenger, etc.

                And then there’s all the negative connotations people have with the word veganism, mostly undeserved - preachy, holier-than-thou, social burden, etc. These may distract from the article’s point, although I’m happy to see the comments here discussing the model training issue at hand and not just veganism!

                Either way, it’s an interesting discussion, and if you want to dip your toe into reducing your consumption of animal products while you improve your digital impact, godspeed :)

                1. 1

                  I do worry a bit that artists could take justified offense at being compared to animals that are killed for their meat!

                  For me the value in the analogy isn’t copyright-abuse compared to animal-abuse, it’s eating-meat-anyway compared to using-generative-AI-anyway - it’s an analogy for people making their own personal ethical decisions.

                  1. 1

                    To be totally clear, I’m not comparing artists to the animals, but pointing out the difference in my perceived scale between the harm done to artists by using their work without consent to the harm done to animals by using them without consent.

                    it’s an analogy for people making their own personal ethical decisions

                    That makes sense! I think it certainly works well enough to get the point across.

        1. 3

          Why the choice to use different variables than the nomad cli tool itself?

          1. 2

            Good question…at one point I had conflicts between them when wanting to point at a different cluster, so I decided to make an explicit config set specifically for wander. I can see how it might be a bit annoying given that 90% of users will have the same values for NOMAD_ADDR/WANDER_ADDR and NOMAD_TOKEN/WANDER_TOKEN.

            I’d be happy to change this in a backwards-compatible way. If you think it’d be valuable, do you mind throwing a thumbs up and/or comment on the issue I created for it here?

            1. 1

              I also had this, then just ran it locally with WANDER_ADDR=$NOMAD_ADDR wander to try it out. I did expect it to pick up the nomad envars though, other tooling I’ve used around nomad (mostly grown internally to be fair) reuses those envars.

              1. 2

                Update: wander now uses NOMAD_ADDR and NOMAD_TOKEN (with fallbacks and warnings on the old values) in v0.3.1

                1. 2

                  Ok good to know, thank you. I’ll likely complete that issue and set the prefixes to match :)

                  Let me know of any other joys/pains using the tool, either through issues or email which can be found on my github

            1. 2


              This seems to be a better supported version? Although Wander does seem to do a lot more.

              1. 3

                Thanks for sharing damon! It is a very cool tool, more directly similar to k9s. I started wander not knowing about its existence, and maybe would have just contributed to it directly if I had known. In the end, I made and continued working on wander to:

                • learn bubble tea and other charm go tools (lipgloss, wish)
                • make something new with fundamental design differences to k9s/damon that made more sense for my use cases

                Damon is the official HashiCorp tool living in their github org, but there’s been good reception of wander there AFAIK. They’ve linked wander in their community tools section.

                With the launch of the “exec commands in a running task” feature this weekend, I do see wander as currently ahead in feature set.

              1. 1

                Fantastic article

                1. 14

                  That’s a lot of words to say “I’m smarter than other developers” and “your abstractions and dependencies can cause problems”. It would have been good to see some justification for the the arbitrary exclusion of pre-compiled dependencies from the risk model, too.

                  1. 8

                    I didn’t see it as claiming to be smarter than others. If anything, the author was claiming to be “smart enough” to realize their own limitations, and imploring others to recognize limitations as well.

                    I think minimizing the “amount of risk you take on as a programmer looking at any piece of code to manipulate it, whether coding fresh or doing maintenance on existing code” is a great general heuristic.

                    1. 7

                      Here are some immodest extracts from the article:

                      All I got was blank stares, and this was from professionals.

                      When I was writing my second book, I had to address this problem because reasoning about code and controlling complexity is the number one problem in software development today. It’s the reason we have buildings full of hundreds of developers wasting a lot of time and money. Our incentives are wrong.

                      Nobody talks about ways to understand you’ve gone too far (except for a few folks like me. Apologies for the shameless plug.)

                      False modesty is a bad thing, too. But I’ve met very few programmers (myself included) who are overly modest.

                      And, sure, it is good to understand the pieces you are using and the risks they might pose. But that’s applies to almost any work and is pretty obvious.

                      1. 5

                        And, sure, it is good to understand the pieces you are using and the risks they might pose. But that’s applies to almost any work and is pretty obvious.

                        There’s a divide here between “obviousness” and “actionable understanding”, that is, between:

                        1. People who nod their head in agreement to the aphorism as you stated it (almost everyone).
                        2. People whose actions align with truly understanding that aphorism and taking it seriously (very few ime).

                        Much like the statement:

                        “It’s good to write simple, clear code that other developers can easily understand.”

                        1. 2

                          In my opinion, the toxicity of the “ninja rockstar coder” is so rooted in the software domain, that some (my former manager and director for example) even consider that being able to write (overly) complex code, and (believing to) understand overly complex code is a trait of being an expert at programming.

                          For me, this is more a synonym of mediocre (not in pejorative sense, in the sense of average but not more) software engineers. Not bad, they are really capable of doing things, that is not the question, but they are doomed to fail most of their complex designs in the blinding lights of self satisfaction.

                          And guess what, they don’t care whether they do overly complex stuffs, because they leave the maintenance to others. (personal experience inside).

                          1. 2

                            And guess what, they don’t care whether they do overly complex stuffs, because they leave the maintenance to others. (personal experience inside).

                            Having been a contractor for some years that’s had to pick up and maintain rock star systems, this is depressingly accurate. But unfortunately, management rarely care about whether the code is maintainable when the rock star is in full flim flam mode promising them the world.