Infinity. Perplexity. Resentment.

Blair, Clinton, Bankman-Fried at FTX.

On a chilly 1st December, Sam takes us to the Bermudas (only virtually, sadly) – to the “Jurassic Park of crypto” that Michael Lewis (of Moneyball, The Big Short and so much more fame)  describes with trademark virtuosity in his fly-on-the-wall tale of almost-first-trillionaire-cum-felon, Sam Bankman-Fried (“SBF”), of FTX-Alameda infamy.

A self-declared Lewis fanboy, Sam introduces Going Infinite, an account of the life and times of SBF, the people in his cash-fueled orbit, and the fraudulent practices of his crypto business ventures which are now likely to have earned him decades in prison.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How should we shape our future digital life?

The Small Data Forum podcast was created spontaneously and almost accidentally after your three co-hosts met on a panel at a media industry event in 2016, a few weeks before the EU Referendum.

After a lively debate featuring sometimes radically-divergent views to keep our audience entertained well past the scheduled end time, seasoned podcaster Neville Hobson suggested to podcast ingenus Thomas Stoeckle and Sam Knowles that our ramblechats might work rather well in pod land.

Who were we to argue?

And so it came to pass – with Thomas’ wry titling – that the Small Data Forum came into being, with the inaugural episode dropping on 14 June 2016. Since then, we’ve taken a more-or-less-monthly, sideways look at the uses and abuses of data big and Small in politics, business, and public life. 

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