There’s a battle raging. For speech, for freedom, for democracy. You’re told a thread is what they’re all hanging onto. Maybe, maybe not. You’ve always wondered who has time for such high-minded meditations. Gas is up, milk is up, and opportunity is down. That’s the battle most are waging.
In the middle of it all springs a four-letter word: Elon. That’s worse than a standard four-letter word in some parts. Upon reflection, you’re not sure an agreement could be reached concerning how many letters are required to spell that man’s name. What was that Orwell passage again?
In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?
Orwell sure comes up a lot these days. Each side thinks the other is “the Party” from 1984, but Orwell’s haunting short story Shooting An Elephant seems more apt given the circumstances.
I had halted on the road. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant – it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery – and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided. And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow.
Spoiler alert: He kills the elephant.
1. Ego Is The Silent Killer
Sturgill Simpson, one of our greatest living songwriters, opens his profound ballad “Just Let Go” by singing, “Woke up today and decided to kill my ego. It ain’t ever done me no good no how.” How many of your bad decisions can be attributed to your ego? Think about it, but not for too long. It’s depressing as heck. Plus, you can do nothing about the past, and you’ve got a day to start.
Here’s a question worth pondering: What’s stopping you—right now—from killing your ego?
Ego’s a funny thing; everyone can see when it drives you. Everyone but you. If you’re a leader, ego is your top adversary and Achilles’ heel. It will hurt you. The only question is how much.
2. ChatGPT Is Magic
Good technology makes your life easier. Great technology feels like magic. Eminem once rapped (pardon the curses), “Music is like magic, there’s a certain feeling you get when you real and you spit, and people are feelin’ your shit. This is your moment, and every single minute you spend tryna hold on to it ‘cause you may never get it again. So while you’re in it, try to get as much shit as you can. And when your run is over, just admit when it’s at its end.”
ChatGPT is the tech equivalent of what Marshall Mathers eloquently illustrates about the power of great music. It may be the most significant technology developed over the past decade; it could also be the beginning of humanity’s end.
You won’t find many news stories about ChatGPT, which means it’s straight to the source to see what OpenAI has to say about their creation:
We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.
We trained this model using Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF), using the same methods as InstructGPT, but with slight differences in the data collection setup. We trained an initial model using supervised fine-tuning: human AI trainers provided conversations in which they played both sides—the user and an AI assistant. We gave the trainers access to model-written suggestions to help them compose their responses.
To create a reward model for reinforcement learning, we needed to collect comparison data, which consisted of two or more model responses ranked by quality. To collect this data, we took conversations that AI trainers had with the chatbot. We randomly selected a model-written message, sampled several alternative completions, and had AI trainers rank them. Using these reward models, we can fine-tune the model using Proximal Policy Optimization. We performed several iterations of this process.
3. The Twitter Files
Journalist Matt Taibbi released the first installment of the Twitter Files. With Elon cheering him on, Taibbi confirmed the social media company’s top executives conspired to suppress and censor The New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in the final days of the 2020 presidential election.
The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre. With the feeling that he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
– George Orwell, 1984