Steve 101

Is this Magic Spoon coded?

It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving: do you remember what your job is? Is it to serve as human decor in some designer’s idea of an Instagrammable office space?

When Ms. Bourlakas photographed Magic Spoon’s new SoHo space, her Instagram followers seemed dazzled.

“So many people commented, like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so sick,’” said Ms. Bourlakas, who recently left Magic Spoon for another job. “‘It’s so Magic Spoon coded.’”

Unfortunately if you’re insufficiently Magic Spoon coded you won’t be able to run away to sea just yet, as CNN reports that “Life at Sea Cruises’ inaugural three-year voyage” is canceled, since “After weeks of silence, the company has acknowledged to passengers that it has no ship.” Relatable!1 If you’re musically inclined, The Brian Jonestown Massacre is probably looking for a new guitarist. And if not, James Mackintosh thinks you should be able to sell your kidney. It’ll grow right back, anyway.2 “Why would anyone object to a legal trade in human organs?” Mackintosh pretends to ask. Well, for one obvious reason:

In a free market, the trade would almost certainly be kidneys from poor people being sold to rich people. This is abhorrent to many, an example of social inequality invading the body.

Yet the same goes for almost everything in life, including health.

Which means it’s fine! If everything is the worst, then nothing is the worst, and everything is equally fine. Cory Doctorow may post about the deployment and subsequent betrayal of “vocational awe” in Silicon Valley and the “the moral injury of having your work enshittified” but do you think he’s considered the counterpoint that actually it’s fine? Capitalism! Don’t worry, it’s fine.

Today in Crabs

Still from a tiktok of a group of crabs exploring a diver’s gloved hand. Crab. Crab. Fascinating. Fasci-fascina-fas-fascinating. Crab. Crab.

Today in Steve

Reporting in Futurism, which sometimes feels like the only publication actively chasing the ongoing AI sinkhole devouring media ethics right now, Maggie Harrison reports that “Basic scrutiny shows that the quality of the AI authors' posts is often poor, with bizarre-sounding language and glaring formatting discrepancies,” such as a five-point list numbered one through one. Come on Steve, that is not Magic Spoon coded.

Emily F. Gorcenski devoted a lot more than basic scrutiny to AI and its egregious claims in 8854 words about the entwined histories of “fascism, mysticism, and technology,” from Manifest Destiny all the way to the present AI boom.

There’s a joke in the data science world that goes something like this: What’s the difference between statistics, machine learning, and AI? The size of your marketing budget. It’s strange, actually, that we still call it “artificial intelligence” to this day. Artificial intelligence is a dream from the 40s mired in the failures of the ’60s and ’70s. By the late 1980s, despite the previous spectacular failures to materialize any useful artificial intelligence, futurists had moved on to artificial life.

Nobody much is talking about artificial life these days. That idea failed, too, and those failures have likewise failed to deter us. We are now talking about creating “cybernetic superintelligence.” We’re talking about creating an AI that will usher a period of boundless prosperity for humankind. We’re talking about the imminence of our salvation.

The last generation of futurists envisioned themselves as gods working to create life. We’re no longer talking about just life. We’re talking about making artificial gods.

I don’t like to say anything is required reading, but if Tabs were a university this would be on the syllabus for Steve 101. Molly White also explained part of the same general field of study in a shorter post focused on the Effective Altruists and Accelerationists. And if your time is extremely limited, at least skim this thread from Emily Bender on the basic things you need to be skeptical of in media coverage of Steve.

Post 16-17 in a thread by Emily Bender: "Also, it's kind of hilarious (lolsob) that OpenAI is burning enormous amounts of energy to take machines designed to perform calculations precisely to make them output text that mimics imprecisely the performance of calculations ... and then deciding that *that* is intelligent. 16/ But here is where the reporting really goes off the rails. AGI is not a thing. It doesn't exist. Therefore, it can't do anything, no matter what the AI cultists say. 17/” with a clip from a Reuters article that reads “Unlike a calculator that can solve a limited number of operations, AGI can generalize, learn and comprehend.”

Have You Noticed: that everyone is absolutely losing it? Today Intern Kira, who is Steveless and very Magic Spoon coded, has news of the troubled seventh iteration of 1996’s self-aware slasher movie franchise Scream, currently being roiled by the cultural fallout of the war in Gaza, because of course it is.

New McCarthyism Does Not Slay

What’s the quickest way to alienate a fandom that comprises young, chronically online film lovers with a penchant for meta-textual analysis? Fire the lead of a film for political speech! That’s precisely what happened last week when Spyglass, the production company behind the modern Scream franchise, fired Melissa Barrera for expressing pro-Palestine views on Instagram. When co-star Jenna Ortega announced the next day that she wouldn’t be returning to the series either (for “apparently unrelated” scheduling reasons), the fan outrage reached a fever pitch. 

But so did the stanning. Barrera and Ortega are now heroes of the people (i.e. film bros, girls, and they/thems), and Spyglass is enemy number one. Data shows that a majority of people under 35 are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and it’s not just the TikTok algorithm: even Scream-heads are raising their knives in agreement. This is a fandom that thinks a teenage serial killer covered in blood is a heartthrob, but these films have also taught them how damaging an uncontested media narrative can be. 

So now we have Ghostface art in the colors of the Palestinian flag, a production company that may have lost the bulk of its audience, and a knife-loving fan base feeling a little stabby. It’s a story Wes Craven couldn’t have predicted, though it’s probably good he’s not alive to see Scream 7’s director whining on X like a helpless widdle (48-year-old) baby. 

DorinaLaBruja posted: “By wrongfully firing Melissa Barrera from Scream 7, Spyglass has no idea they've angered 2 of the loudest, most powerful groups: horror gays & Mexicans”

—Kira Deshler is concerned they might actually mean “slay” this time

Disneyland streaker arrested after stripping down in 'It's a Small World' ride.” It’s a small, small world, but to be fair that water is cold. Caity Weaver on Flo from Progressive. Everyone enjoyed the caviar anecdote (which is good), but to me this is some flawless Caity right here:

To the tree-lined block, the “Superstore” team had trucked a quantity of equipment sufficient to stage a three-hour Beyoncé concert on the moon. There were lights, cameras, actors’ gleaming trailers and portable heaters — it was, after all, 62 degrees outside — but most of the equipment just looked like … equipment? Like: sturdy black tubs with lids, crates, clamps, poles, spaghetti heaps of power cords, racks of racks, extra-large folded-up things, rectangles and tubular items.

And Ben Lerner has an “Experiment” (?) in the December Harper’s which is a self-consciously fictionalized memoir of an early Wikipedia manipulator that eventually collapses into a series of ideas for potential novelizations about this already fictional character, followed by a suitably trite ending purportedly written by ChatGPT which reminds me of the the ending of Camus’ “The Stranger” by being the exact opposite of it. It feels like notes toward something that would be more fun to read, but the stuff about Wikipedia is interesting and it does name-check Gramsci it’s valid Ben Lerner, I guess.

A screenshot of a tweet that says “Jeff Bezos has spent $42 million building a clock that will outlast human civilization in a mountain in Texas,” to which jeremy kaplowitz comments: “big deal, he built a clock that can last 5 years”

Today’s Song: The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, “Maps”

She really loves maps. The playlist claims I’ve never used this song before but I have my doubts. I asked Steve and he said you should subscribe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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