Two rants and a wry smile

In a distinctly un-Friday 13th Feeling, the @Podnosticators Three gathered for the 78th time to pick through the familiar themes of politics and social media, separately and intermingled. Spoiler alert: this episode may contain rants.

The rest is politics

Sam started by reviewing the remnants and the impact of the recent U.K. party political conference season. Least said about the Liberal Democrats’ opening event the better – not least because it didn’t touch the sides, of either our or the media’s consciousness. Though as Sam pointed out, several commentators have noted that the LibDems’ decision to try to occupy the centre left when disastrous Jeremy Corbyn was dragging Labour further left has come back to haunt them.

With Starmer reclaiming the centre left and the Tories lurching ever further right, there’s clear space – in terms of ideology and electorate – to occupy, and nobody’s making a play for this traditional kingmaker zone of British politics.

We then consider the Tories’ week in Manchester. Comic writer Armando Iannucci – creator of the legendary Thick of It and In the Loop – declared satire to be dead, and that he’d have never dreamt of setting a Tory party conference in the very city where a flagship policy designed to benefit that city was axed in a keynote, leader’s speech.

But sure enough, Lame Duck PM Sunak cancelled the Birmingham to Manchester link of the £100bn-plus HS2 rail project … from the lectern in Manchester. He came over as the modern day Beeching anti-matter – announcing £30bn on branch lines – but as many had already been budgeted and spent, it all rang a little hollow from the Thin (and Short) Controller.

Continue reading “Two rants and a wry smile”

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who will be the sexiest chatbot of them all?

Another month, another deepish dive by the three podnosticators of the SmallDataForum – who Sam describes as “Thomas = the philosopher-academic and historical context-setter; Neville = the champion experimenter and enthusiastic evangelist; and Sam = the dabbler, observer, and sceptic.”

This time, we dive into generative (as well as degenerative) artificial intelligence, large language models (LLMs) and various chat-botty applications, including Neville’s new favourite, Claude, “the most human-like experience”. Turing Test, anyone?

Perfectly timed with our latest podcast release, Quadriga University Berlin launched an e-book on AI and PR, edited by friend of the show, Professor Ana Adi.

Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations and Communications: Cases, Reflections, and Predictions contains timely, critical, insightful essays from practitioners and academics. This includes a piece by yours truly, informed by decades of stochastic (a posher word for ‘random’) knowledge acquisition.

Continue reading “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who will be the sexiest chatbot of them all?”

The three sceptics of the apocalypse

Scepticism, questioning, and an ever-present gnawing uncertainty whether what Them In Power tell us is the case actually is the case – these are three hallmarks of we three Podnosticators at the Small Data Forum. And these three qualities are all present in abundant spades as we enter our fourth, quarter-century of podcasts in fresh-minted episode 76.

We gather in what the British press term ‘silly season’ – in Germany Sauregurkenzeit (“sour gherkin time”), Thomas tells us – and in the hours before we gathered, President Putin had cried crocodile tears over the mysterious downing of a private jet carrying disgraced Wagner mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin; a talented man” who “made serious mistakes”, pace Vlad in full-on Marc Antony mode.

And increasingly disgraced former (and future?) President Trump had his mugshot taken (yet another first) at the notorious Fulton County jail, his fourth criminal indictment in a growing litany of disgrace, this one for “just wanting to find 11,780 votes” and gerrymander the 2020 US Election.

Silly season indeed.

Continue reading “The three sceptics of the apocalypse”

Burn, baby, burn

Fire and music go well together. Sixties rocker Arthur Brown – a long-time resident of the liberal enclave of Lewes, home of your correspondent, Podnosticator Knowles – made an entire career out of his 1968 cult classic, Fire

Indeed, I even played roadie to him and had the honour of putting him out when he caught fire during the first chorus of Fire in a Sussex gig back in 2007, my pimple on the backside of rock ‘n’ roll history. And the first time Arthur had gone up in flames since the 1971 Windsor Jazz Festival.

The least successful rockstar of all time, John Otway, was given a 50th birthday present to remember when his fans “rigged” the charts in a totally legal way and bought him a second, top-ten hit in a 5,000-plus gig career, and that catchy ditty Bunsen Burner stormed the charts.

Its chorus features the line “Burn, baby, burn”, a lyrical echo through the ages, from The Tramps to (appropriately enough) Ash.

And “burn baby burn” is exactly what it appears the planet will be doing – even quicker than the entire combined scientific consensus has unequivocally determined it will do, thanks to our crack-like addiction to fossil fuels – if we don’t shake our very recent, very deep love of generative AI.

Sam starts episode 72 of the Small Data Forum podcast with a look at the latest developments in this new technology, whose poster boy is ChatGPT and one of whose early funders was Elon Musk. But more of the Musky one, anon.

Continue reading “Burn, baby, burn”

Trolley problems

Back in the grey drizzle of a late March Friday morning in the UK, the three Podnosticators of the SmallDataForum convene to take another sideways look at ‘events, dear boy, events’ (something Harold Macmillan apparently never said).

For once, and in spite of recent headline-grabbing incidents, we give relatively short shrift to the unflushable turds of politics on either side of the Atlantic – though Sam briefly reminds us of the two blonde bombshell’s travails – one with the UK parliament’s privileges committee, the other with a Manhattan grand jury.

Perhaps by SDF 72, there will have been some flushing. Though we’re not holding our breath.

In the meantime, we focus our attention on three themes:

  1. The “sic transit gloria – quo vadis” of the Tory party
  2. The UK government’s WORLD LEADING AI plans
  3. The BBC post causa Gary Lineker

Continue reading “Trolley problems”