Sorry this should have been multiple smaller posts. Whatever. Skip to whatever looks interesting!
JARVIS, AI, and Trust
I don’t see a world where we can each have our own JARVIS.
15 years ago1 when Iron Man debuted in theaters, I would have said it would never happen because I didn’t think the technology would allow it. I still think it can’t really happen, but longer because of the technology - instead because of trust. I think with the recent(ish) jump forward we’ve seen with AI, it is arguably already possible (or very close to it) to make everyone their own personal JARVIS - see here for some evidence. The thing that will (or won’t, but perhaps “should”) stop it from happening is the issue of trust.
The problem is a matter of whose best interests the AI will serve. Tony Stark built his own assistant. He knows whatever response he gets back will ultimately trace back to the influences he baked into the system.
But people en masse will never program their own AI. People won’t understand how it works. So how can they ever trust that when they ask their own personal Jarvis to schedule an appointment for the closest restaurant that serves a good tamale, that the restaurant picked will have to do with your tastes or the restaurant who paid the AI maker the most.
Once you get to the ultimate “can give you any answer” machines, who decides what’s right? We continue to wade into this strange world of having to code-in ethics. Coding ethics into the machinery we have around is actually already a thing. If you’re in your self-driving car and someone runs out in front of you… should the car swerve off the road to avoid them? Or should it plow them over to minimize risk to its occupants? These questions are actively being asked and I’m real curious about the cross section between ethics and engineering.
The future is crazy, and the future is now.
Speaking of self-driving…
Our Year with a Tesla
Among our friends and family, we were early adopters of electric vehicles. It occurs to me that there’s a >90% chance anyone reading this probably won’t already own one. So here we go. Opinion time.
Two years ago when we started stately looking at vehicles, getting an EV felt crazy. Now that we’ve had one for the past 14 months, it feels totally normal. The Model Y is the most popular EV right now in terms of sales. It’s in the top 5 best-selling vehicle overall in the United States in 2023. It’s everywhere. I used to drive by Teslas and think “oooo how fancy”, but that feeling is gone now.
- Operational expense - per mile, my gas car is (at least) 5x more expensive to drive than the EV, also I’ve spent exactly zero dollars on maintenance on Thorki in the past 14 months. My Ford Escape has cost many hundreds despite being driven probably 1/6th as much.
- Good to go - every night the car charges in our garage. Every morning it’s got “a full tank of gas”. During regular use, you never have to stop anywhere to charge. We have had many full months where we drove every day but never charged outside our garage.
- Safety and speed - Teslas have incredible safety features, while also being the first time I ever understood the idea of a car that’s “fun to drive”.
- Phantom breaking - this is the only serious issue on this list. We have had probably around a dozen instances wherein we were using autopilot and the car suddenly decided it needed to decelerate quickly for no reason whatsoever. They seem to be correlated to very sunny days at around midday. If those conditions are active, I no longer trust autopilot on crowded highways. This needs fixed by Tesla.
- Windshield wipers - the automatic windshield wipers are super aggressive. They wipe like crazy in a light sprinkle and sometimes decide it’s raining when it is, in fact, not. Annoying.
- Car wash mode - we have had a couple instances going into a car wash where the “car wash mode” button was disabled. This resulted in the car wash having to physically stop while we figured out how to make our fancy car do a very basic thing. I refuse to take the car to a car wash now.
- Carplay - although the Tesla infotainment center is top-notch, I’d still rather have CarPlay.
I don’t think we are overly fancy. I think we just so happened to need a new car at the same time that an EV made more sense. Today, if my older, internal combustion engine car were to suddenly go kaput, I would probably replace it with a second Model Y.
Technically we already own two:
Turns out my tattoo is a typeable character if your computer supports a modern version of unicode.
On my windows machine, that displays an empty square. On my Mac and my phone, I see the eye. Neat.
My next tattoo should also be a Unicode character. Right now I’m thinking “§”, which I think is a pregnant snake.
I’ve had the most consistent energy levels I’ve ever experienced lately. Midday slumps and evening crashes are something I was really struggling with for the past 2 or 3 years. These are correlated with some changes I’ve implemented recently. Essentially all of these are from the Huberman Labs podcast, so shout out to Whitney for the recommendation. See the Top 5.
Brief Check-in on the MCU
I used to love Marvel movies. Now I just like them.
It’s hard to know what to do once you’ve reached the end of a 10 year, 22 movie climb and hit the absolute pinnacle of box office success. Hindsight is 20/20 and I honestly love that they tried to do something different, but the unfortunate reality of the MCU is that it grew too big, too quickly. In 2021 there 5 different TV shows and 4 different movies. It’s just… too much. What’s crazy is that I actually enjoyed basically all of them. But I’m not a typical viewer. People other than me were already starting to say “this isn’t my cup of tea”.
Where the MCU really started to make even me lose some of my fervent adoration was in the back half of 2022 and basically all of 2023: Wakanda Forever. Love and Thunder. Quantumania. All movies that should have been great. All of them wound up being pretty disappointing… and then there’s the TV show “Secret Invasion” as a crappy little cherry on top. The bad has been outweighing the good.
At this point, public perception has soured on the MCU. I see headlines everywhere saying “they’re doomed”, which I think is hyperbole - but when I went to watch The Marvels this past weekend I was expecting for it to be “just fine”. And that’s what it was. It didn’t get me hyped. I haven’t thought about it since.
I miss being an uber fan. Maybe I’m just getting older. Maybe they’ve lost their swagger. Who knows. I’ll still keep going opening night for now - even if it’s just out of habit.
Top 5: Changes Currently Working Well for My Energy Levels
5. Powdered Caffeinated Drink Mixes
Recently grocery stores have started carrying higher-powered caffeinated drink mixes. Previously they only had crystal light with caffeine, which is 60mg/packet. New brands like Celsius and Alani have entered the market with proper high-powered 200mg mixes. One of those actually does the job.
4. Morning Walk
I have been trying to get out and do a 10 minute sunrise walk around the block to set my circadian rhythm and get the mind and body going. It’s a really nice way to greet the day.
3. Skipping Breakfast
I skipped breakfast for a week out of necessity a couple weeks back. After a few days I realized I really didn’t miss it. I’m leaning in. Actually started up 30 Day Challenges again with this as the first tone. It’s been great thus far.
2. Delayed Caffeine
I make coffee every morning, but now I don’t start drinking it until 120 minutes after I step out of bed.
I started actually doing cardiovascular exercise. Been doing about 8 miles a week, super slow paced. So definitely nothing crazy. But I run now. Did 3 miles yesterday and didn’t feel like dying afterwards. That’s nuts.
Come on, bro. My 5 year old, who’s taken to calling me “bro” when we play Mario together
Whelp. Crap. I originally wrote “12 Years Ago” here and now I feel even older. Iron Man was 15 years ago. ↩