One of my newsletter readers was asking me about the difference between “AGI” and “AI”.

In one issue of my newsletter last year, I put it this way:

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is the term for, well, “actual” artificial intelligence: systems that can respond intelligently to a variety of situations, as humans do. We’re already using the term “AI” to refer to text generation, image generation, etc., so we need another term for actual intelligence. OpenAI’s stated mission is to develop AGI responsibly.

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How the bad guys are using AI

A cartoon man holds a robot that's holding a gun.

This week’s AI Week highlighted some of the ways that bad actors are already using AI, and ways they’re expected to use it more.

  1. Bad guys using AI: Cybercrime, Nazis, deepfakes, and the military
  2. AI application of the week: Scientific fraud detection
  3. Davos, plus Google layoffs
  4. Longreads

This week’s issue is about a 10-minute read. Read the full issue here.

Death of a translation tool

I translate from French to English, and one of the tools I use is You search for a phrase and it returns 10-20 examples of that phrase in both languages, in context, pulled from the Internet. It is so helpful for idiomatic translations, because it lets you quickly see how others have rendered it in different contexts. For example, I once used it to see how others have translated the French phrase “Et hop!,” which is one of those all-purpose phrases that, in different contexts, can mean “There you go,” “Done,” “Presto,” “Up you go!” etc. However, in the last year the results have gotten noticeably worse: literal translations are crowding out the idiomatic ones, because of the huge amount of auto-translated text online.

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AI week, New Year’s edition

Happy New Year! I took yesterday off, so this week’s AI Week comes on the first non-holiday day of 2024.

If you don’t read anything else in this blog post, read the first and last items: the NYT is suing OpenAI, and my 10 predictions for AI and society in 2024. (But if you do that, you’ll miss the chocolate cake.)

  1. NYT sues OpenAI over training data (plus: US mulls forced disclosure of training data; recap of 2023 lawsuits; meanwhile, Apple explores deals)
  2. Longreads and not-so-long-reads
  3. AI generates all the things, recipe edition
  4. 10 predictions for 2024

I’d love to hear your comments about anything in this post, but especially the predictions. Please leave your comments below!

Read the rest on ButtonDown, or continue below.
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Happy Holidays from AI Week!

Happy holidays to everyone who celebrates anything at this time of year! In between the solstice and Christmas, I sent out a holiday edition of AI Week. I hadn’t actually intended to do a newsletter, but there was so much interesting news that I couldn’t resist sharing it. I hope you’ll enjoy this Winter Holiday Edition of AI Week.

In this week’s AI Week:

  1. Blizen the Red-Nosed Pegasus
  2. Winter Holiday Headlines: No patents for AI in UK; how to break chatbots’ inhibitions; and oh there’s CSAM in the training dataset
  3. Winter Holiday Linkdump: AI-generated everything
  4. Followups: Chevrolet of Watsonville, Twitter/X, more creepy marketers claiming to spy on your devices
  5. Winter Holiday Longreads

The full newsletter is below, or you can read it on Buttondown. And if you’d like to get AI Week in your inbox, sign up here:

Powered by Buttondown.

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Why book reports aren’t a good homework assignment any more

Big Nate comic

So, everyone knows that the kids these days are using ChatGPT to write their book reports. Even Big Nate knows it!

But what about ChatGPT’s safeguards? Isn’t it supposed to have some kind of anti-cheating baked in, so it won’t just write essays for kids? Why doesn’t that work?

Sure, it does have safeguards… kind of. If you just ask it to write an essay, it responds with a “helpful” answer about how to write an essay. The thing is that these safeguards are incredibly easy to work around.

Let’s pretend we’re a student who has to write a book report on The Kingdom over the Sea, by Zohra Nabi. Here’s how to write it in 20 minutes without even touching the book.
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I started an AI newsletter just in time for OpenAI to implode

AI week

Last week, I decided to soft-launch a weekly newsletter to highlight three or four recent news stories in AI. When I started it, I had no idea this would be one of the biggest weeks in AI news all year. There was one giant story: OpenAI, makers of ChatGPT, fired their CEO, Sam Altman. And then it got messy.

You can read the rest of this week’s newsletter here.

Why a newsletter: I spend several hours a week reading about AI/machine learning. I get frustrated when I see overly-simple takes on AI in the media, on social media, etc. I figured that the best thing I could do about that would be to share what I’m learning every week.

What the newsletter is: A weekly email about some of the past week’s most interesting stories in AI, plus the occasional backgrounder.

What it’s not: Business-focused, highly technical, or comprehensive.

What you’ll get from AI Week:

  • An interesting email about AI in your inbox every week.
  • Background knowledge to contextualize all the breathless media stories about the powers, or dangers, of AI.
  • A feeling for where the field is going, why it’s going there, and who’s powering it.

Where do I sign up? Right here:

Powered by Buttondown.

Blepbot update: Hashtags

I did follow up on on of the possible improvements to the BlepBot in my last post. Mastodon has some fun day-specific tags for animal pics. I decided to use #TongueOutTuesday and #FurballFriday, since almost all the bleps are furry creatures.

# if it's Tuesday, add TongueOutTuesday hashtag
if todays_date.strftime("%w")=='2':
    post_text+=" #TongueOutTuesday"
elif todays_date.strftime("%w")=='5':
    post_text+=" #FurballFriday"

I also wanted to use a couple of cat-specific ones, but only on pictures of cats! To do that, I use to regex search the post text for “cat” (case-insensitively).

elif todays_date.strftime("%w")=='3':
        post_text+=" #WhiskersWednesday"
elif todays_date.strftime("%w")=='6':
        post_text+=" #Caturday"

Of course, we need to import datetime and re to use these:

from mastodon import Mastodon
import os,random,logging,datetime, re

The blepbot code is in github as a public template: Feel free to clone it and make it your own!

Creating a Mastodon bot in Python


Bleps always cheer me up, so I decided to create a Mastodon bot that posted one blep a day. (A blep is a picture of an animal with a tiny bit of its tongue sticking out, and Mastodon is a decentralized alternative to Twitter.)

Creating a Mastodon bot in Python was surprisingly easy, thanks to the library. I’ve documented all the steps here, along with links to tutorials for each library or builtin feature that I used.

Have you created any Mastodon or Twitter bots? Let me know in the comments!
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AI Image Denoising

I tried some free AI Image Denoising tools on a noisy, low-light photo. I had big hopes for a very sweet picture that’s just too noisy to put in a frame. Unfortunately, free tools didn’t get me anywhere.

Result: I can’t tell the difference between the original and the supposedly “denoised” image. 0/10 might as well not have bothered.

DeepAI Super Resolution model
using Super Resolution torch-srgan
Result: The image was noticeably denoised, but the result wasn’t very impressive.
Following enhance, the quality was still poor.

The free denoising is limited to 3000×3000 px, so I had to crop the picture.
Result: Another poor quality, unimpressive result.
After a series of unsatisfying results, I told it “do nothing”. and it closed the eyes and added some wrinkles. ooookay.
The prompt “watercolour painting, pastel colours, photorealistic, detailed image” was better but still mangled the face a bit horribly, and this algorithm seems really determined to make smiling faces squint.