The Rushed Blog Post

How’s everyone doing today? Story time. There was a Friday in late 2020 when we had to quickly exit a Taco Bell and drive home after receiving a text message from one of our colleagues. He asked why the blog post hadn’t been published yet. We got lucky in that case because we had an excuse that no rational person could get upset about: we thought it was Thursday.

Aside from that incident, we got off to our latest start ever today. We didn’t even procrastinate. We were just busy and today featured a record-breaking number of unscheduled calls. The worst thing about this situation is the fact that Google’s blog didn’t do us any favors.

Gemma is plastered all over the homepage, which feels like evidence of Google doing everything it can to erase the memory of Bard. Google is incentivized to do this because it declared that Bard was ChatGPT’s equal a year ago, but it turned out to be flawed in a way that ChatGPT wasn’t: it didn’t really help anyone with anything.

Google changed Bard’s name to Gemini two weeks ago. Now they’re calling it Gemma. In the fast-changing world of generative AI where new models pop up all the time and different outfits jockey back and forth for supremacy, Google may succeed in its attempt to pull off a reverse-Mandela effect that ushers in a reality where no one remembers Bard. We will though (read the third paragraph above the Tay picture).

The good news for us is that we don’t need to hunt for something to write about. The New York Times reported that Google is offering to let the world at large use Gemma to make chatbots. Reporters crawled out of the woodwork to chastise Meta when it did the same thing with LLaMA (which curiously stands for Large Language Model Meta AI) last year. The press lost its appetite for criticism after the trendiest shop, Mistral AI (a Paris-based company that is the only real player in the EU), did the same thing in December. No one bats an eye anymore, although they probably should– we can’t imagine Google’s Gemma gift as anything other than a vehicle for data collection.

It’s too late in the day to add more to this email. We didn’t even want to write about AI this week, which is why we didn’t get into the $60 million that Google paid Reddit to train AI models on its many years of conversational text.

Tell you what. Our closing links today will be drawn from some tabs that we’ve had open for months. We keep thinking that we’ll find a way to work them into the newsletter but never do. Here goes.

Google’s most popular page in Japan isn’t the one that features Search like everywhere else. Brace yourselves for the chaos that comes to mind when Japanese people think of Google. Our second link documents the most popular television streaming service in the United States, which has been YouTube TV for twelve months running. Also, there are so, so many choke points in Nike’s supply chain where its merchandise gets stolen– every stop between you and the factory, basically. It’s shocking. Next, did you know that the NNSA is a federal agency whose sole purpose is the transportation of nuclear weaponry from Point A to Point B? We didn’t get through all of our long-lived tabs, but we’ll finish up with a chilling claim from Cox Media Group, a cable company that most people simply call Cox. Its marketing team boasted that it constantly listens to Cox subscribers through iOS and Android microphones, which ensures that they are unmatched in their ability to target advertisements.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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