FOCUS: ChatBotting with “The Project-State & Its Rivals”, by Charlie Maier; & BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2023-03-08 We
So while procrastinating while I was supposed to be writing my review of Charles Maier’s brand-new The Project-State and Its Rivals: A New History of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries <https://www.amazon.com//0674290143>, I fed the book text to GPT and then began asking questions of MaierBot:
Please provide me with the elevator-pitch version of Charles Maier’s The Project-State and Its Rivals, explaining the new insights gained by Maier from his taking his particular slant on the institutions that matter:
Charles Maier’s The Project-State and Its Rivals offers a new perspective on the last hundred years of history, examining how different collective agents like project-states, resource empires, capital, and organizations of governance have shaped our current world. He argues that reframing our understanding of traditional categories like democracy and dictatorship can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the changes that have taken place over the past century. Maier also suggests that understanding the institutional similarities between liberal-democratic and authoritarian regimes can help to explain the dynamics of recent history and the defects of our own political systems.
What have been the most significant “project-states”?
Project-states have been an important part of international politics for centuries. In the past, powerful project-states have tended to define their aspirations in universalist terms, such as a superior civilization, race, or ideological merit. Examples of such project-states include the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the Soviet Union. In more recent times, we have seen the emergence of leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan who used tremendous political energy to transform the states they ruled and to liberate the market economy. These leaders have sought to reshape society and not just to control it, which can lead to expansion abroad. Project-states can also lead to the assertion of dominance over other states or peoples presumed to lack states and history. Ultimately, the most significant project-states will depend on the political context and the goals of the state in question…
It is not like talking to a very patient version of Charlie Maier, one who does not judge you for asking stupid questions, about his book. It is a lot like talking to a smart freshman who has read the book closely and remembers it well, even though they clearly did not completely understand it.
And much much more. But when you try to ask it a really deep question, it eventually metaphorically throws up its virtual hands:
What are the major new insights of Charles Maier’s The Project-State and Its Rivals?
In The Project-State and Its Rivals, Charles Maier examines the evolution and changing weight of four collective agents – project-states, both democratic and totalitarian, resource empires, the transnational domains of capital, and organizations devoted to disinterested governance – over the past century. He argues that these agents have worked both against each other and in tandem, but that our older historical categories such as democracies and dictatorships are still valid and relevant. Maier also suggests that many states have retreated from political management of society and turned to markets to achieve social results, while others have deployed tremendous political energy to transform the states they ruled and to liberate the market economy.
I do not know anything else about this. I am just a ChatBot.
I really cannot judge whether it will be easy or hard to push it over that last step.
But it is clear to me that Charlie Maier could turn the text from the ChatBot into the equivalent of an interview, and do so in maybe 1/5 the time it would take all-told to do the interview.
We are looking forward, I think, to an explosion of much of white-collar communications of perhaps equal magnitude to the explosion we got with the coming of the PC in the 1980s.
So here is Ethan Mollick, who I think is a reliable guide on such matters:
Ethan Mollick: Secret Cyborgs: The Present Disruption in Three Papers: ‘The future is already here, we just need to figure out a few details…. ChatGPT… turned all of my expectations about the adoption of AI technologies on their head… the fastest technology to reach 100 million users… the potential to significantly boost individual productivity…. A study of programmers found a increase of 55.8% in productivity when using… Copilot AI…. Professionals… writ[ing] realistic memos, strategy documents and policies… [with] ChatGPT completed tasks 37% faster…. All of this is without added training or extensive experience using ChatGPT (which I found makes a huge difference)…. Every worker should be spending time figuring out how to use these general-purpose tools to their advantage… how to automate their job to remove the tedious and uncreative parts…. Early days of AI but disruption is already happening. There’s no instruction manual. No one has answers yet. The key is to learn fast…
Indeed. It may well be.
And do note the thoughtful and clever Baratunde Thurston:
Baratunde Thurston: Me, Myself, & A.I.: ‘Billions of dollars are rushing into another high-tech hype cycle, this time around ChatGPT and other large language models. This time, it’s different…. I got better, accurate results after I resubmitted the request with this addendum: “Do not invent quotes. Provide only examples and quotes you can support with clear attribution.” I think I’m also going to start adding “…and please don’t kill all the humans” to each prompt from now on, just to be safe. You’re welcome…
The big first question is: Is this actually an advance in computer science, or do we just think it is because the affordances of these pseudo-conversations mesh so well with us?
The second big question is: Does it matter?
Signs that the Long 20th Century’s pace of economic growth is about to enter the deceleration phase of the logistic.
Yes, Jonathan Chait is very smart and usually reliable. But, from my perspective, his reliability has been decreasing over time, from “trust” to “interesting, but verify first”. Too much of the time he simply does not see the right wing as it is, or attributes false motives for what we are doing to liberals like me.
I do not know what to recommend he should do as a solution, other than to take a year-long book sabbatical to write about something that is now of only historical interest.
I’m with Steve M. here:
Steve M.: Past Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories Are Never Dead. They’re Not Even Past: ‘Jonathan Chait… i’s usually solid on the threat posed by Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and the rest of the 21st-century Republican Party, as well as by the party’s media apparatus. But when the subject is COVID, he loses focus. Here he blames liberals for not being open to the lab-leak theory on the virus’s origins, ascribing our resistance to a rejection of conspiracy theories that he suggests are relics of the distant past…. The spread of this “absurd notion” wasn’t just a problem when the lab-leak theory “first emerged.”… Right-wing propagandists haven’t advocated the accidental-lab-leak theory because they want Americans to believe there was an accidental lab leak. They’ve spread it because they know it’s a gateway drug, easily leading to the conclusion that China is super-evil and unleashed COVID intentionally in order to hurt America…. Right-wingers who are afraid to venture even to big cities in their own country think they have a sophistiated idea of how the world works, because a preppy grifter tells them stories like this.
Rene Ritchie: iPhone Passcode Problem — The Ugly Truth:
I believe the Accidental Tech Podcast has the best advice as to what to do:
“Set a unique ScreenTime passcode and flick the ‘don’t allow account changes’ switch in ScreenTime” seems to me likely to be the most helpful.
Gareth Edwards: Slowly, Then Suddenly: How Products Fail: ‘You can degrade the experience of successful consumer products for some period of time without seeing any corresponding drop in growth or retention rate. However…a critical threshold—a trust thermocline—where usage collapses…
Edward T. Felten, Manav Raj, & Robert Seamans: How will Language Modelers like ChatGPT Affect Occupations and Industries?: ‘The top occupations exposed to language modeling include telemarketers and a variety of post-secondary teachers such as English language and literature, foreign language and literature, and history teachers. We find the top industries exposed to advances in language modeling are legal services and securities, commodities, and investments…
Augusta Saraiva: US Companies Added More Jobs Than Expected as Demand for Workers Remains Elevated: ‘Private payrolls increased by 242,000 in February, per ADP. Gain led by hiring in leisure as well as larger-sized firms…
• Conrad Quilty-Harper: It Turns Out Money Does Buy Happiness, At Least Up to $500,000: ‘Contentedness does increase steadily in line with incomes and even accelerates as pay rises beyond $100,000 a year — as long as the person enjoys a certain baseline level of happiness to begin with…. Kahneman has re-analyzed his work in collaboration with Harvard University psychology doctoral student and former software product manager Matthew Killingsworth… [in] an “adversarial collaboration”…
Ethan Mollick: Secret Cyborgs: The Present Disruption in Three Papers: ‘The future is already here, we just need to figure out a few details…
Noah Smith: LLMs are not going to destroy the human race: ‘This new technology has prompted a wave of outcry from a few folks in and around the tech industry who think that AI will very shortly spell doom for the human species… Eliezer Yudkowsky…. I’m going to push back… because A) it’s fun, and B) I’m right…
Wikipedia: Nick Hanauer…
John Gruber: Phony Stark Picks on the Wrong Guy, Attempting (and of Course Botching) an HR Exit Interview Live on Twitter …
Radley Balko: Shrugging in the shadow of a monster: ‘The right-wing media despises its own supporters. That’s dangerous for all of us…. The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles made national news last week when, during a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he called for the “eradication of transgenderism from public life.”… This is all performative bullshit, and in normal times the smart advice would be to withhold from Knowles and Lee the attention for which they’re so desperately pining. But we aren’t living in normal times. We’re in the midst of a surge in neofascism around the world, and here at home, of a well-orchestrated, well-funded moral panic against trans people and against non-straight people more broadly. We know from history that if left unchallenged, moral panics can leave wide swaths of destruction. Knowles and his fellow merchants of panic the Daily Wire infotainmentplex alone have already provoked threats of violence against hospitals, both here in Nashville and across the country. I use the term merchants deliberately. Anti-trans pundits and activists are deploying the almost cliched authoritarian move of pushing laws all over the country aimed squarely at suppressing the First Amendment rights of a vulnerable group of people while simultaneously claiming they themselves are the real victims of an elite cartel of intolerant censors. And they’re making a lot of money doing it…
David Karpf: How long does Twitter have left?: ‘We are accelerating toward the Twitter Event Horizon, when there are only two types of employee left at the company: Elon’s bodyguards and Elon’s lawyers:
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