Cold December

It is almost February. Happy New Year! Time to round up drafts posts from, um, December.

I’ve been working a bit obsessively on what I think is a pretty great engine for turning any RSS feed, even from statically generated sites, into beautiful subscribable newsletters.

You can now sign-up for an e-mail subscription to drafts, where I am actually writing these days.

If you are interested in the RSS-to-E-Mail service, it’s called feedletter, and I’ve just published a detailed, if too long and intimidating, tutorial on how to set it up. Feel free to hit me up for help.

(You can also, always, join interfluidity office hours, every Friday afternoon @ 3:30pm US Eastern time, 12:30pm Pacific.)

Obsessive feedlettering has crowded out writing in January. I hope to make up for that shortly!

In the meantime, here is the roundup of December drafts.

From How to regulate AI (2023-12-28):

Here is my two point plan for what Congress should do:

  1. Congress should declare that big-data AI models do not infringe copyright, but are inherently in the public domain.

  2. Congress should declare that use of AI tools will be an aggravating rather than mitigating factor in determinations of civil and criminal liability.

From Norms mean you can’t pull rank (2023-12-14):

With norms… [t]here is no authority to appeal to… In any dispute, it is not just the belligerents that are on trial, but also the norms themselves… The habits of command are counterproductive in a normative context. Humans value their own agency. Badgering people to accept a norm you favor can prompt defiance. Norms are enforced by mutual consent. You must invite and persuade rather than demand… [Y]ou can bribe or threaten to force others to take your side. But then rather than reinforcing the norm you ostensibly were upholding, you have undermined it. The norm you have reinforced is that people behave only transactionally, which is the gray goo of norms, undoing all others

Over the past two decades, the United States has collapsed from a soft power to a hard power, has traded persuasion in significant measure by a kind of moral prestige for the crude application of carrots and sticks. Do whatever we say is good or we’ll sanction you.

But hard power is weak power, finite and exhaustible. Only soft power delivers resilience and longevity.

From There’s no such thing as international law (2023-12-10):

International law is a cargo cult. It has founding documents and esoteric codes and courts that interpret them, just like national legal systems do. All of that is masturbatory and ultimately quite destructive, in my view. It adds a liturgical patina of law to a set of practices that cannot operate as law. International law cannot come anywhere near keeping its end of the most basic bargain that the law makes to those whom it binds: If you conform, you will be protected.

As the kids used to say, read the whole things! Feel free to comment on any of them, or on anything, here.

Happy 2024.

May this year be a better year, and portend better times, than the last few. The future is always ours to make bright.


9 Responses to “Cold December”

  1. Detroit Dan writes:

    Regarding international norms and laws, I think we’re letting the words get in the way of coherent, constructive discussion. Coherent, constructive discussion is what is taking place in the International Court of Justice, in my view. Trying to discredit this by saying “There’s no such thing as international law” doesn’t really help.

    You say, “I would shed few tears for a Netanyahu at Nuremberg.” Also, “But the rules are written in how we collectively behave, not in anything Anthony Blinken or Sergey Lavrov or Wang Yi can proclaim, or that the United Nations might ratify. We can only write the rules together.” Yes, we need to write the rules together. In the meantime, our words as well as our actions shape our norms and our soft power.

    Significantly, Russia and China have greatly increased their soft power in recent years (in my view) while that of the United States has diminished (as you note). Our “rules-based order” has been exposed as corrupt and impotent, as has international law in many cases. The solution is to make better and more enforceable international laws, rather than to dismiss the possibility entirely. The world is becoming a smaller place and we need to work together through both norms and laws, while recognizing our limitations.

    Semantics are important in that they often get in the way of constructive conversation. “International law” is a term that’s often misused. But the concept of “If you conform, you will be protected” has been used successfully in internationally relations throughout history. As with domestic laws, international laws may weaken over time and becomeg hypocritical and irrelevant. Such is the sorry today of the world today, but let’s not give up.

  2. Detroit Dan writes:

    should be “sorry STATE of the world today”…

  3. Rob writes:

    Support for your statement about AI being used to shirk responsibility (which I think is 100% spot on):

  4. […] Demographic transition is just specialization and trade Interfluidity (SC), which seems to have a big project going on. […]

  5. […] A transição demográfica é apenas especialização e comércio Interfluidez (SC), que parece ter um grande projeto em andamento. […]

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  7. […] Demographic transition is simply specialization and commerce Interfluidity (SC), which appears to have an enormous mission happening. […]

  8. […] Demographic transition is just specialization and trade Interfluidity (SC), which appears to have a big project going on. […]

  9. […] Demographic transition is just specialization and trade Interfluidity (SC), which appears to have a big project going on. […]