Intro to Large Language Models (video)

Andrej Karpathy has a very well-done Intro to Large Language Models video on YouTube. As a founding member and research scientist at OpenAI and with a two-year hiatus working on Tesla Autopilot, Karpathy is an authority in the field. He is also good at explaining hard things. As a Kahneman reader, I appreciated the Thinking Fast and Slow analogy proposed at about half-length in the video: “System 1” (fast automatic thinking, rapid decisions) is where we’re now; “System 2” (rational, slow thinking, complex decisions) is LLMs next goal. »

The Legacy of Bram Moolenaar

Quoting Jan van den Berg: This weekend we learned that Bram Moolenaar had passed away at the age of 62. And this news affected me more than I expected. Like so many: I did not know Bram personally. But I’ve been using a tool made by Bram for more than half my life — at least weekly, sometimes daily. That tool is a text editor. The best one there is: Vim. »

The Medieval Monks Who Lived on Top of Giant Pillars

Imagine, for a moment, that you are walking along a dirt road in the seventh century Middle East. The sun is hot, the air is dry, your feet are tired. It’s been a long journey, by boat and foot, from your home in Constantinople to where you find yourself now: outside of the walls of the mountainous river city of Antioch. In the bright sunlight, you strain your eyes to catch a distant glimpse of the sight you’ve come all this way to see – and then suddenly, you do. »

Quoting Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth challenged ChatGPT-4 with 20 questions and then submitted the results and his comments to Stephen Wolfram. The whole thing is fascinating in many ways and worth reading. Some remarkable quotes: Of course these are extremely impressive responses, sometimes astonishingly so; thus I totally understand why you and others have been paying attention to it. The most immediate impression is the quality of the wordsmithing. It’s way better than 99% of copy that people actually write. »

Tiny electronic desktop sculptures

Adorable, functional, often internet-connected desktop bots like those below are hand-crafted by Mohit Bhoite in San Francisco, California. It pleasantly surprised me that they’re built as a purely artistic expression. All sculptures (as Mohit rightfully refers to them) are unique and not for sale. Check them all out on his website (via). Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow me on Mastodon »

macOS networkQuality tool

Today I learned about a precious little macOS command line tool, networkQuality. The networkQuality tool is a built-in tool released in macOS Monterey that can help diagnose network issues and measure network performance. Usage: networkQuality -v Example output: ==== SUMMARY ==== Uplink capacity: 44.448 Mbps (Accuracy: High) Downlink capacity: 162.135 Mbps (Accuracy: High) Responsiveness: Low (73 RPM) (Accuracy: High) Idle Latency: 50.125 milliseconds (Accuracy: High) Interface: en0 Uplink bytes transferred: 69. »

Story of Redis and its creator antirez

I read a well-researched story about Redis and its creator Salvatore Sanfilippo, also known as antirez. I was already familiar with many details as I have been following him since OKNotizie and Segnalo, of which I was a user. At the time, as a user, I exchanged a few emails with Salvatore, whom years later I had the pleasure of meeting in person, as we were both speakers at several conferences. »

AI-curated minimalist news

Minimalist News is the first LLM project that excites me but in a nervous way. Quoting the About page: We only publish significant news. To find them we use AI (ChatGPT-4) to read and analyze 1000 top news every day. For each article it estimates magnitude, scale, potential and credibility. Then we combine these estimates to get the final Significance score from 0 to 10. And now the best part: We’ll only send you the news scored 6. »

The religious aspects of the corporate space race

A fascinating article surfaced on Nautilus last week. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, a professor of religion and science in society at Wesleyan University, shares her concerns about the technical strides and aspirations of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the company’s mission to enable thousands of people to live on Mars, and the ethics of terraforming the planet to be more like Earth. What’s intriguing, though, is Rubenstein’s thoughts about the religious underpinnings of the United States space program and how even modern science is still hostage to imperialistic Christian ideas. »

The Interstellar Style of Sun Ra

Pitchfork has a great piece on Sun Ra and his legacy. It’s worth reading if you’re a fan, even more so if you know nothing about him. But what Sun Ra had done, and done best, was reminding earthlings everywhere that he wasn’t mortal. He was a signifier of a life beyond the reality of this one. He was a visual reassurance of the presence of another world. He brought the cosmos to the streets, and, most importantly, he was a reminder that one does not have to subscribe to the status quo—musically, stylistically, politically, ideologically. »

The end of computer magazines in America (and elsewhere)

In the mid-to-late 80s, my excitement used to culminate by the end of the month when BYTE’s new issue would hit the newsstands1. In my small Italian hometown, only one, sometimes two, newsstands would sometime get a copy (BYTE was published in the US and copies sent abroad were scarce; only major, close-to-the-train-station stands had a chance to receive it). I wasn’t the only kid in town interested in that elusive one issue; I had an anonymous competitor. »

Noam Chomsky on ChatGPT

Noam Chomsky’s essays are always worth reading, no matter the topic he decides to address, because, well, frankly, he’s one of the brightest and most well-informed minds of our time. His criticism of OpenAI’s ChatGPT makes no exception. It does an excellent job of explaining how LLMs work, the differences with human reasoning, and why, in his opinion, the advent of artificial general intelligence is a long way to go, if ever. »

The real cost of interruption

I’m just back from reading Programmer Interrupted: The Real Cost of Interruption and Context Switching, an interesting short piece in which I learned about at least two new things. First, The Parable of the Two Watchmakers, introduced by Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon, describes the complex relationship between sub-systems and their larger wholes. In the context of the article, it helps explain, even for non-programmers, the cost of an interruption. It also hints at a possible mitigation technique: »

ChatGPT is making up fake Guardian articles

Chris Moran, the Guardian’s head of editorial innovation: Last month one of our journalists received an interesting email. A researcher had come across mention of a Guardian article, written by the journalist on a specific subject from a few years before. But the piece was proving elusive on our website and in search. Had the headline perhaps been changed since it was launched? Had it been removed intentionally from the website because of a problem we’d identified? »

Playing D&D with ChatGPT as the DM

A dad reunites with his three kids, ages 26, 23 and 15, and they decide to do a D&D campaign together. Now, this alone would be enough to catch my attention: I’ve been an avid D&D player as a boy, my older son has been playing too, and I always dreamed of playing one day with my three kids and maybe my wife. But there’s more to this story. Tenzin, the youngest son and long-time tabletop RPG gamer and DM, proposes to let OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4 be their DM. »

Awesome psql tips

Today I learned about by Lætitia Avrot, an excellent repository of psql (the CLI tool, not the database itself) tips. I like how one randomized tip is playfully served on the home page while the complete list is always at hand. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow me on Mastodon »

On the state of developer conferences

Brian Rinaldi has an insightful post on his blog about the current state of developer conferences, where ‘current state’ means post-COVID pandemic. Brian is well-positioned to reason about this space as a long-time conference organizer. I appreciate that he also takes the time to explain how the developer conference business works. The core of his blog is about post-pandemic conference attendance, which has plunged. independent, in-person developer conferences are hurting. »

The best time to own a domain

Jim Nielsen: That is why owning a domain (and publishing your content there) is like planting a tree: it’s value that starts small and grows. The best time to own a domain and publish your content there was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. More here. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow me on Mastodon »

Author image Nicola Iarocci on #links,

Brad Mehldau plays I am the Walrus

Brad Mehldau plays Lennon/McCartney’s I Am the Walrus, from his upcoming album, Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow me on Mastodon »

Flammarion engraving

I was reading iA’s grumpy writing about GPT (with which I sympathize) when my attention was captured by the image they added to their post. It was so fascinating that I had to research it. As it turns out, this is the Flammarion engraving, a famous wood engraving by an unknown artist, so named because its first documented appearance is in Camille Flammarion’s 1888 book L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (“The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology”). »