Welcome to onfocus—a weblog by Paul Bausch where I post recommended links, my photos, and occasional thoughts. Subscribe here if you like RSS.
Landscape scene of Newport Bay with a small boat in the foreground and a mix of boats and hillside houses in the background
Newport Scene
Distorted picture of a mannequin head with long red hair and vintage necklace. Behind is a reflection of the photographer wearing a ball cap.
Window Shopping
closeup of foosball figures on rods with blue and red jerseys
Foosball
pluralistic.net
"Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die."
I really wish this die phase would hurry up. A company can wreck a lot in the time it takes to die. (And Cory has been on a roll lately! This post is a barn burner!)
Popular Information
"Ironically, Manatee County is making thousands of books inaccessible to students just in time to celebrate ‘Literacy Week’ in Florida, which runs from January 23 to 27. Only about 50% of students in Manatee County are reading at grade level."
Felony prosecution for providing books in the classroom! This is the nazi behavior we have been warned about happening in modern times.
Washington Post
"Over the past two school years, the number of attempts to remove books from schools has skyrocketed to historic highs. Of the thousands of titles targeted, an overwhelming majority were written by or about people of color and LGBTQ individuals, according to the American Library Association and PEN America."
The real cancel culture in America. Feels like governments in many states trying to dismantle or at least diminish the effectiveness of public education.
TIME
"But the need for humans to label data for AI systems remains, at least for now. 'They’re impressive, but ChatGPT and other generative models are not magic – they rely on massive supply chains of human labor and scraped data, much of which is unattributed and used without consent,' Andrew Strait, an AI ethicist, recently wrote on Twitter. 'These are serious, foundational problems that I do not see OpenAI addressing.'"
Warning: this article is disturbing. Companies shouldn't be able to cause people psychological damage to get funding.
Bloomberg
"...some internet policy experts say the company’s new direction has exposed the drawbacks of public agencies becoming over-reliant on private platforms, and that issues like the D.C. bus system’s mysterious deactivation could pave the way for a more publicly managed alternative."
Fingers crossed, I guess. It seems like public agencies are more than happy to hand off the problem of managing servers and paying developers to corporations. Unfortunately our public infrastructure suffers in the process. If you can only see important public information though a barrage of advertising and misinformation are these agencies still serving the public?
si.edu
"…where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to more than 4.4 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come."
Fun collection to browse through. I can even post this image of a Bell X-1 cockpit without attribution!

View of flight instrument panel in the cockpit of the Bell X-1
Futurism
"The problem with this description isn't just that it's wrong. It's that the AI is eliding an important reality about many loans: that if you pay them down faster, you end up paying less interest in the future. In other words, it's feeding terrible financial advice directly to people trying to improve their grasp of it."
Our unevenly distributed AI future is terrible already! Update (1/23): And who cares about copyright?
waxy.org
"This academic-to-commercial pipeline abstracts away ownership of data models from their practical applications, a kind of data laundering where vast amounts of information are ingested, manipulated, and frequently relicensed under an open-source license for commercial use."
Andy explains the research to corporate profit pipeline. Seems like there should be a way to handle consent even at this scale. Many CC licenses require attribution—I wonder how these image models handle that.
stablediffusionlitigation.com
"At min­i­mum, Sta­ble Dif­fu­sion’s abil­ity to flood the mar­ket with an essen­tially unlim­ited num­ber of infring­ing images will inflict per­ma­nent dam­age on the mar­ket for art and artists."
Describing image models as sophisticated collage tools takes some of the mystery out of AI and makes it clear work is being used without consent. This essay has a clear description of the diffusion process.
« Older posts