We are in the midst of an unprecedented, intergenerational phone-game renaissance. Wordle has become a pillar of the New York Times brand, newspapers everywhere are resurrecting their crossword backpage, and Words With Friends has essentially transformed into a dating app. These games are designed to be approachably mainstream--every English speaker alive can deduce a five-letter word with six chances--but unfortunately, I am a man of unconventional taste. If I'm going to entertain a daily dose of potpourri, I need something weirder, more challenging, and better suited for the precise category of useless knowledge that occupies my brain. That's why the sports-trivia game Immaculate Grid has become a fixture of my morning routine.
How to Do It is Slate's sex advice column. Send it to Stoya and Rich here. My husband and I have an awesome, intelligent 14-year-old son who identifies as bisexual. We are totally accepting and supportive of him. He has had a few short-lived crushes on different genders, though he doesn't seem to be particularly interested in dating right now. His internet search histories are pretty benign--mostly video game stuff, and the occasional search for "hot girls" and "boobs."
This article is from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. On a Saturday night in mid-September, a senior Google engineer shared some rough news with more than 50 colleagues. Part of the company's cloud services offering was failing Anthropic, a darling A.I. startup and key strategic customer, and they'd have to work overtime to fix it. To repair the faulty part of its service--an underperforming and unstable NVIDIA H100 cluster--Google Cloud leadership initiated a seven-day-per-week sprint for the next month. The downside of not making it work, the senior engineer said, was "too large, for Anthropic (most importantly), for Google Cloud, and for Google," according to documents I reviewed.
As human access to space expands, the influx of new actors promises to forever alter the dynamics of space. The head-to-head U.S.–Soviet rivalry that once dominated the Space Race will evolve into something more inclusive--but also messier. Aspiring space nations, such as Luxembourg, India, and China, together with new categories of nonstate actors, including large industrial players, startups, and universities, raise questions about how we should regulate space. Explosive commercialization is particularly challenging for existing space law, whose foundations were set in the 1960s and designed with national governments in mind. This rapidly changing environment is dramatized in "Little Assistance," a new Future Tense Fiction story from Stephen Harrison.
This story is part of Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University's Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives. The other homesteaders, mostly engineers and technicians, seemed to enjoy outings in the lunar rover. But for Eugene, this was a grinding chore that frayed his nerves. Suddenly, Mel's soothing feminine voice reverberated in his cochlear implant. "Would you like some affirmations?" You are a well-respected judge … You have worked hard to get here, to this special time and place …" As Mel went on, it seemed the suit hugged his chest a little less tightly. He relaxed his grip on the wheel. Why, he wondered, had he not remembered this technique without her prompting? Strange how the basic principles of cognitive psych were always slipping from his mind. Fortunately, she was there to remind him. "You are someone who wants what is best for the American lunar community and ...
Dianne Feinstein's office announced Friday morning that she has died at the age of 90, after more than 30 years representing California in the Senate. As her colleagues share memories of her, some huge, high-stakes questions are looming--namely, who will take her seat, and what will become of her spot on the powerful Judiciary Committee. Jim Newell walks us through what seems likely to happen, and what still remains unknown. Plus: The Waves reflects on the senator's legacy of fighting gun violence and conflict with her left-wing constituents. Unless Congress passes a bill to fund the government by Oct. 1, we're cruising for a government shutdown.
Joe Biden showed up on the United Auto Workers' picket line today--but even with the president's historic gesture of union support, a specter is looming. The shift to electric vehicles is coming, and "this future is not guaranteed to offer the same kinds of middle-class jobs and robust benefits that unionized autoworkers enjoy in many states," Nitish Pahwa writes. He takes a close look at what the EV transition is going to mean for organized labor. Fred Kaplan noticed three of his own books among the list of titles that Meta used to train its new large language model, LLaMA (basically its answer to ChatGPT). So he decided to ask it some questions--what did it think of his books?
When I learned that Meta's programmers downloaded 183,000 books for a database to teach the company's generative A.I. machines how to write, I was curious whether any of my own books had been fed into the crusher. Alex Reisner of the Atlantic has provided a handy search tool--type in an author's name, out comes all of his or her books that the LLaMA used. I typed "Fred Kaplan" and found that three of my six books (1959, Dark Territory, and The Insurgents) had been assimilated into the digital Borg. My first reaction, like that of many other authors, was outrage at the violation. However, my second reaction--also, I assume, like that of many other authors--was outrage that the program didn't include my other three books (The Bomb, Daydream Believers, and The Wizards of Armageddon). Were there really 182,997 books that were better than those three?
This article is from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. This week, Microsoft and Google introduced generative A.I. tools that make attending meetings, writing emails, scheduling travel, and catching up on projects vastly easier. The products channel the wonder of buzzy A.I. products like ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, and Bard into clear, applicable uses. And these obvious uses just happen to be in the workplace. About a year into the generative A.I. phenomenon, it's becoming evident that the technology is most useful in enterprise first, with broader consumer adoption perhaps to follow.
Felix Salmon, Emily Peck, and Elizabeth Spiers are joined by Kashmir Hill to talk about her new book, Your Face Belongs to Us. They dig into the way facial recognition technology is used in unexpected (and sometimes creepy) ways. They also talk about the A.I. revolution and Rupert Murdoch's "exit" from the Fox empire. If you enjoy this show, please consider signing up for Slate Plus. Slate Plus members get an ad-free experience across the network and an additional segment of our show every week.