Point / Counterpoint

People are begging to be disappointed, and they will be.

As longtime Tabs readers know, every 2,687 days we do a little thing called Point / Counterpoint.

Point: There’s a rich NY media tradition of imprudent posts by NYU undergrads, so Stacia Datskovska’s Insider story about hating her semester abroad in Florence isn’t unprecedented, and having seven housemates does sound like a nightmare. But every editor knows what’s going to happen when you publish a sentence like “I'm not quite sure whom I resented more during my stay in Italy: my American classmates or the locals.” Pure uncut discourse-bait.


Point: OpenAI just released GPT-4, so get ready to ignore a lot more screenshots full of text you don’t care about. Unlike his company’s products, Sam Altman is capable of learning from experience and in The Washington Post Drew Harwell and Nitasha Tiku quote him desperately trying to lower expectations:

“The GPT-4 rumor mill is a ridiculous thing,” he said at an event held by the newsletter StrictlyVC. “People are begging to be disappointed, and they will be.”

GPT-4 can supposedly pass every test you can look up the answers to online (though not the AP English tests, which is interesting) and give you recipe suggestions from a picture of your fridge. Yogurt parfait! Carrot and hummus wrap! Strawberry… uh… milk.

Counterpoint: Bañana.

Screenshot of a prompt from the linked NYT story “10 Ways GPT-4 Is Impressive but Still Flawed” showing the bot suggesting some mnemonics for English speakers to pronounce Spanish words, including “grassy ass” for “gracias” and claiming “mañana” is pronounced like “banana.”

Garbage Ryan has a lot more AI news today, and I think his vision of “a single AI model that remembers all of your past activity and effectively works as a semantic operating system that lives across your mobile devices, desktop, and wearables” is probably the best we can hope for from all of this, and every day I get closer to abandoning computers completely.

“I should by a boat” newspaper cat meme but it says “What if I built boats”
Tweet by @Bavew97: “Me slowly waking up this morning:” above an embed of an A/V Club tweet that says “Jenna Ortega tried to turn down Wednesday multiple times.”

Point:Everyone needs to grow up” by James Greig in Dazed. No post has ever been more 27 years old. “Make no mistake: the capitalist elites want you to think of yourself as a silly little goose.” Bruh.

I admire the author coming out swinging. That said, this reads like a catalog of things they saw online that they didn’t like. Which is fair, of course, but does not necessarily constitute evidence that “we are a generation of adult babies.”

The thing about this that I really don’t like, other than its childish universalizing, is that it doesn’t actually describe offline behavior. The internet is a place where people post things — and, crucially at this juncture, where people know what it means to post things. In other words: at this point, posting is performance.


[bong rip] There is no unethical consumption under capitalism, man.

Point: BuzzFeed Encourages Reporters to Write More Stories in Attempt to Turn Profit” —Alexandra Bruell in the Wall St. Journal.

Counterpoint: A Homemade Submarine Was Found Carrying 2 Tons of Cocaine and 2 Dead Bodies.” —Deborah Bonello in Vice.

Don’t ask me to explain this one, it’s pure vibes.

Point & Counterpoint: Hasan Minhaj vs. Ronny Chieng

Point: University of Alaska research professor Robert Herrick just presented “evidence that, as recently as 1991, a volcano erupted on Venus.” Unfortunately “NASA has delayed the VERITAS [Venus] mission by *at least* three years," so we won’t be able to follow up on this immediately.

Today’s Song: Petey, “Microwave Dinner”

This has been another Point / Counterpoint, let’s do it again on Tuesday, July 23, 2030.

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