Projects and Updates, 2023Q2

I made a cheesecake and forgot to photograph the finished dessert. Zelda is life.

Projects and Updates, 2023Q2

Playlist of music in this post: Spotify

Remembering To Water Your Plants

It's been a couple of years since I wrote about creating my own Power App to track watering my plants.

Well, I broke it recently. I renamed a SharePoint group and everything went all 💣💥.

The app's data is stored in two Lists[1], and it seems Lists are associated with SharePoint groups but aren't actually in SharePoint groups. In any event, I renamed a SharePoint group and the Lists were abandoned to the digital aether.

After recreating the Lists, Power Apps wouldn't connect the old interface to the new data, so I also recreated the necessary interfaces from scratch to generate brand new connections.

For the record, the new Lists are now associated with their own, dedicated SharePoint group that will not be renamed. 😅

I've been playing Tears of the Kingdom. It is very fun.

30 hearts and the Master Sword... what could go wrong??

A few words about Generative AI...
since it's the cool thing right now.

Should We?
This society loves the question "Can we?"; we mostly ignore the question "Should we?"

There's a lot of "Should we?" we should be asking.

Generative AI: Art
Generative AI's art integrates into our lives so readily because its "artistic" process is what we've been doing for years... just less efficiently and at smaller volumes.

Top 40 radio, beer commercials, TikToks: someone examines existing content, they imitate what's popular, they release it, we like it.

While computers are faster at it, it's the same dissociated process we invited into our hearts years ago.

Social Media
Someone will build a "social media" feed that is a generative AI creating content on the fly for individual users as they scroll, interspersed with advertisements generated in the same way.

I sincerely hope we all ask Should we? and then decide we shouldn't.

Generative AI: Text
For years, Microsoft Word, messaging apps, and various other programs with text entry have been trying to autocomplete my thoughts with what's usually said.

While definitely souped up, generative AI in text doesn't feel all that new to me -- it can generate more text with less input, but it's still simply filling in what's usually said.

Good vs. Bad
Generative AI can tell you what has been; it can't decide if that stuff should have been.

Our history is littered with centuries of harmful biases, discrimination, and stereotypes. Our history is also the training data for generative AI.

Generative AI can't understand when it should break away from our history because our history did bad things. Human beings have a challenging time with that, so what hope does fancy auto-correct have?

Value is a weird, squishy word
If generative AI can do a boring task faster than I can do it, it's fair that I would find the service valuable. For example: If I'm a PR firm and I'm writing a "sincere" apology for a client, generative AI might be quite helpful. If I crank out 50+ images per day for my Nothing-But-Memes social media accounts, generative AI might be quite helpful.

In that sense, the technology provides value for end users.

However, the weird trick about this technology is that it thrives when producing content that doesn't matter. The world would absolutely survive without more memes, without glossed-up-but-meaningless celebrity apologies, without press releases and all the other stuff that generative AI will be good at producing.

The technology provides value for end users... as long as they only produce content that has little-to-no direct value.

Part 2
It's weird that we would spend any time producing content that has no direct value, but part of the "value" is the time & energy necessary to produce said content.

A glossed-up-but-meaningless celebrity apology may not have much inherent worth[2], but at least producing one takes used to take some effort. Someone spending time and crafting a hollow apology meant something, even if the apology itself was disposable.

When the apology itself is disposable, and the time & energy it takes to craft one (or one thousand) is negligible, what value is left? Says me: not much.

Does generative AI immediately jump from supplying menial content to obsolescing it, because the AI finally stripped away the last vestige of the content's worth: the effort it takes to produce?

If so, what happens to the value of generative AI?

The Best Science
Flourless Chocolate Cake

A Very Good Recipe


Five Albums

Black On Both Sides, Mos Def

Come Get Your Wife, Elle King

Lotus Glow, Adi Oasis

Luck Of The Draw, Bonnie Raitt

Red Moon In Venus, Kali Uchis

Spotify playlist
Five Albums library

  1. Lists, not lists -- Microsoft 365 has a product called Lists that does lists. ↩︎

  2. Do we believe it's sincere? Do we even care? ↩︎