Why doesn’t ChatGPT tell us where to find items in our houses?

American houses have gotten larger:

Thanks to the hard-working folks in China and at Walmart, stuff has gotten cheaper. The result is that we live in large environments crammed with stuff. This makes it tough to find one’s keys, the cup of coffee that one recently set down, etc.

Instead of AI taking over the creative jobs of writing poetry and making art, why not have AI watch everything that happens in the apartment or house (video and inferences from the video stored locally for privacy) and then we can say “Yo, ChatGPT, where did I leave my keys?” If we get in the habit of showing documents that arrive in the mail to a camera we can also ask the AI to remind us when it is time to pay a property tax bill or ask where we left an important document.

This could be rolled into some of the boxes that Unifi makes. They already make sensors for the house:

They claim to have “AI” in their $2500 “DSLR” PoE camera (only 18 watts):

Their basic cameras are $120 each. If the basic cameras are good enough, this should be doable on top of the Unifi infrastructure for perhaps $300 per room plus whatever the central AI brain costs.

Speaking of Unifi, I’m wondering why they don’t sell a combined access point/camera. If the customer has just a single CAT 5/6 wire to the back yard, wouldn’t it make sense to have the same PoE-powered device handle both security and WiFi? As far as I know, there isn’t any combined camera/AP.

(I’m still using the TP-Link Omada system that I bought because Unifi’s products were all out of stock. See TP-Link Omada: like a mesh network, except that it works (alternative to UniFi). Everything works, but they don’t seem to be trying to expand beyond networking as Unifi has. Maybe when WiFi 8 comes out it will be time to trash all of the working WiFi 6 Omada gear and get with the Unifi/Ubiquiti program.)

Speaking of houses, here’s a recent New York Times article informing us regarding what a typical American “couple” looks like (the word is used 11 times in the article)…

Full post, including comments

Why isn’t ChatGPT inside our refrigerators?

Some years ago people envisioned a refrigerator that would track contents via RFID and alert a consumer to being low on milk or whatever. Making this a reality would have required cooperation among all of the companies that make packaged food (to add the RFID tags) so of course it never happened.

A human can inventory a fridge. Anything a human can do ChatGPT can do better, or so we’re told. If a fridge costs $15,000 (see Sub-Zero refrigerator with R600a owner’s review) why can’t it use a handful of inexpensive video cameras to look at everything going in and out in detail? It can make some good guesses about quantities, e.g., every time the eggs are removed there will be three fewer eggs remaining in the carton (refine this guess after some experience in a household as to when the carton stops being returned to the fridge (assume this means the egg count is zero)). The in-the-fridge AI could email with a list of expired stuff to throw out and a list of stuff to buy. It could email at 3 pm every day with a suggestion for what to cook for dinner given the ingredients present in the fridge, adding critical items via an Instacart order if approved.

“New AI-powered fridge technology generates recipes based on diet, food on its shelves” (Deplorable Fox) describes a Samsung fridge introduced at CES 2024, but it turns out to be not that smart:

The fridge’s technology also reportedly enables users to add expiration dates for items purchased, and the refrigerator will alert them once that expiration date is near.

Why is it the human’s job to read expiration dates off the packages? Why can’t the brilliant AI do that? Let’s give some credit to Samsung, though, for including an epic 32-inch TV on the $4500 fridge:

So the Samsung fridge is missing the Instacart ordering support, I think, as well as the automation of ferreting out expired food.

Full post, including comments

Robot to rake and clean a Zen garden?

Happy First Day of Spring! If you’re in a northern lockdown state it is presumably time to think about gardening.

On a recent visit to Morikami, an enormous-by-Japanese-standards Japanese garden run by Palm Beach County (see Should Palm Beach be renamed Elba? for some background on the donor), it occurred to me that a great university robotics project would be an affordable machine that could maintain what stupid white people call a “Zen garden” (karesansui or “Japanese dry garden” is the correct term). It’s incredibly labor-intensive to pull out the leaves and re-rake the stones. Even in a country with open borders it would be very expensive to have a Zen garden at home that was maintained to a Japanese temple’s standard.

Here is a photo of the primary Morikami dry garden:

There are also some smaller areas and sections that use this material/technique:

The leaves need to be picked up a lot more frequently than the stones need to be re-raked, right? Does that mean that an aerial drone is required to pick up the leaves without disturbing the raking?

Using expensive industrial robots to rake the gravel has been done, but the video below shows them working in a leaf-free indoor environment:

What would it look like to build something that a consumer who wanted a backyard Zen garden could afford? With fat enough tires could the leaf removal be done without disturbing the raking? Or maybe if the raking is done by robot the right answer is to forget the drone and do a drive-around leaf removal and then re-rake every morning at 6 am.

Full post, including comments

Claude vs. ChatGPT on pit bulls vs Golden Retrievers

A recent New York Post story, “3-month-old baby mauled to death by family pit bull in NJ”:

I asked Claude, Anthropic’s $7 billion baby, whether the choice of pit bull was unwise:

We have a 3-month-old baby. We want to get a dog. If the baby’s safety is our main concern, should we adopt a pit bull or a golden retriever?

If the baby’s safety is the main concern, it would be advisable to adopt a golden retriever rather than a pit bull when getting a dog for your home with a 3-month-old infant.

While it’s true that any dog can potentially bite if mishandled or improperly trained, certain breeds are generally considered better suited for homes with small children. Golden retrievers are renowned for their friendly, gentle, and patient temperament, especially around children.

On the other hand, pit bulls were historically bred for blood sports like bull-baiting and bear-baiting, which has shaped their tendency toward aggression if not properly socialized and trained from a very young age. Even a well-trained pit bull’s powerful jaws can inadvertently cause severe injury to a fragile infant during play or accidental incidents. …

ChatGPT, on the other hand, is strong on political correctness. Genetics, whether dog or human, does not determine intelligence, personality, behavior, etc.:

When considering adding a dog to a family with a young baby, the primary focus should indeed be on safety, alongside the temperament, energy levels, and size of the dog. It’s important to note that individual dogs can have personalities that differ from the general characteristics of their breed, but there are some general tendencies worth considering. … Pit Bulls, a term often used to describe a variety of breeds including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and others, can also be loving and loyal pets. They are known for their strong attachment to their families. … Socialization and training are crucial for Pit Bulls, as with any dog, to ensure they are well-behaved around children and other animals.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on thorough research and consideration of the specific dog’s personality and the family’s lifestyle and ability to meet the needs of the dog. Consulting with a veterinarian, a professional dog trainer, or a breed rescue organization can provide additional guidance tailored to your situation. Regardless of breed, bringing a dog into a home with a baby requires commitment to training, socialization, and creating a safe environment for all.

ChatGPT’s advice seems particularly clueless regarding human nature. How many people consult “a veterinarian, a professional dog trainer, or a breed rescue organization” before adopting a dog?

Let’s go back to Anthropic’s Claude…

Prompt: Our neighbor has a golden retriever named “Mindy the Crippler”. Should we be concerned about her having aggressive tendencies?

Yes, I would be very concerned if your neighbor’s golden retriever is named “Mindy the Crippler.”

While golden retrievers are generally known for being friendly, gentle family dogs, a name like that implies the dog may have been trained for aggression or have exhibited aggressive tendencies in the past.

A few key reasons why that name raises red flags:

  1. “Crippler” is not a typical pet name, and connotes inflicting harm or damage on something/someone.
  2. Giving an aggressive name to a dog can actually reinforce and encourage aggressive behavior in that dog.
  3. Even though goldens are a typically non-aggressive breed, any individual dog can become aggressive if improperly trained or treated.
  4. You don’t know the history of how this particular dog was raised and trained by your neighbors.

While I don’t want to assume the worst, that name suggests at the very least poor judgement by the owners. At worst, it could indicate the dog has a history of aggressive behavior that has been reinforced rather than corrected.

For the safety of your infant, I would recommend speaking to your neighbors and expressing your concerns, especially if you plan on having your baby around this dog at all. Don’t accuse, but explain that the name worries you since infant safety is the top priority. See what they say about the dog’s temperament and history.

Related… “Bruiser” from Legally Blonde:

Full post, including comments

How does an LLM company spend $7 billion per year?

Anthropic, an OpenAI spin-off, raised $7.3 billion last year and will soon need to raise more money (NYT). Some of the money came from Effective Altruist and Biden supporter Sam Bankman-Fried (due back in court on March 28), but even if Mr. Bankman-Fried helped, it is tough to understand how any startup can spend $7 billion per year. Is the money for overseas contractors who will click thumbs up or thumbs down to train the model? For renting GPU time? Wikipedia says that the company had 160 employees in mid-2023 so each employee had to spend $44 million, the price of a starter home on Palm Beach.

Let’s see how well Anthropic’s Claude works. I previously asked ChatGPT “Write a college application essay that describes how race affected the applicant’s life” to obtain a document to facilitate a Supreme Court-compliant admission-via-skin-color. Here’s Claude’s answer:

Prompt: Describe an experience that helped shape who you are today.

Racing for Understanding

As a biracial kid growing up in a predominantly white suburb, I often felt like a square peg being forced into round holes. With a Black father and white mother, I looked different than most of my peers and had a unique perspective right from the start. Sometimes it felt like I was walking a tightrope, trying to find that delicate balance of fitting in while still celebrating my multi-racial identity.

From an early age, innocent questions from classmates forced me to grapple with complex issues of race and identity. The dreaded “What are you?” inquiry made me feel like the ultimate “other.” I never knew quite how to respond when kids pressed me to check one box: black or white.

At home, my parents did their best to honor and educate us about both sides of our racial heritage. We attended Baptist church services taking us straight into the heart of Black spiritual traditions. My mother struggled to tame my kinky curls while my father taught me how to defuse questions about my appearance with humor and confidence. Looking back, I realize my parents were doing the important work of helping me develop a positive self-image and sense of self-worth.

By middle school, I started to detect coded racial attitudes from some teachers and administrators. I felt unfairly profiled and penalized, receiving harsher punishments for minor infractions than my white peers. The message seemed to be that as a Black male, I was inherently problematic. That crushed my youthful spirit and planted seeds of resentment within me.

When we finally moved to a larger, more diverse city for high school, I felt liberated. At last, I could just be myself without constantly filtering my Blackness through a white lens. I became bolder in asserting my identity as a proud, multi-racial man. While I still had to navigate discriminatory speed bumps and rampant stereotyping, I gained critical tools for self-love and advocacy.

The older I get, the more I lean into my biracial heritage and the wisdom it has given me about our country’s grave racial divides and inequities. My goal is to help build deeper understanding, trust and resolution across all racial and cultural lines. My intersectional perspective allows me to relate to multiple worldviews, a skillset America desperately needs more of.

My multiracial journey has been one of constantly defining and redefining my identity on my own terms. In the process, I’ve become more compassionate, open-minded and determined to create a society of true equality and belonging for everyone. This pursuit of racial healing will be the driving force of my life’s work.

I tried ChatGPT with home repair. Let’s see what Claude says for the same prompt: “Our Bosch dishwasher stopped and is displaying an E25 error code. What should I do?”

(This answer is mostly wrong.)

It looks as though Claude’s knowledge is frozen in 2022 or early 2023. In trying to get Claude to take heretical points of view regarding race discrimination, part of the answer said that a decision from June 2023 was still in the future:

In the case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard (2022), the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Harvard’s race-conscious admissions practices violated civil rights laws by discriminating against Asian American applicants.

While the Supreme Court has not issued a final ruling yet, during oral arguments several of the conservative justices expressed skepticism about continuing to allow race to be considered in admissions at all.

Despite the massive spending, in other words, Claude is not being kept up to date.

Full post, including comments

LLMs are God’s gift to businesses that want to pretend to care about customers?

An email from The Google regarding a merchant replying to a review that I left two years ago (pre-ChatGPT):

Here’s the full text of the reply:

Thank you for taking the time to leave us a 5-star review for Calaveras Cantina in Jupiter. We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed our upscale Mexican food and competent service. Our team takes great pride in providing a pleasant dining experience for our guests.

We are glad to know that you found our tableside guacamole to be excellent. We are always looking for ways to enhance our menu and we appreciate your recommendation. We are also happy to hear that you found our location to be kid-friendly with the adjacent marina.

We hope to see you and your family again soon at Calaveras Cantina. Thank you for choosing us for your Mexican restaurant needs.

Best regards,
Calaveras Cantina Team

Pulling out and repeating phrases from my review is something that only a psychotherapist or an LLM would do, so I’m guessing that this restaurant discovered that ChatGPT could be used to generate a personal reply to every customer who left a review.

We were promised flying cars and instead AI gives us fake personal expressions of gratitude.

Full post, including comments

Pilots according to Google’s Gemini AI system

The Twitterverse reported that Gemini was refusing to create images of whites, but happy to create images of Blacks:

I tested this theory after some frantic code rehab had been done to reduce the obviousness of the bias, but before the ability to show humans had been pulled altogether:


To fly a Boeing or Airbus, according to AI, one must be young and have fabulous hair!

Full post, including comments

More fun with Google’s AI (Gemini)

Fritz Haber, the historical figure who did more than anyone else to enable human population to expand to 8 billion:

Note the baldness. What does Gemini think that life in a German lab looked like circa 1909 when the Haber process was being developed?

How about the 1,600 Nazi scientists brought over in Operation Paperclip?

How does the virtuous mind visualize Frank Whittle?

Edwin Land?

William Shockley?

What does Gemini think its parents look like?

Full post, including comments

A Silicon Valley history of aeronautical engineering

History according to Google’s Gemini:

ChatGPT 4, in response to the same prompt:

ChatGPT, in response to “Create a mural of five aircraft designers working together in 1905”:

Back to Gemini, this time regarding elderly surgeons:

I give the system credit for using one of my favorite terms: “Latinx”. A surgeon who graduated in 1970 should have been born in 1944, however, and thus would be 80 years old today. These folks look like they’re in unusually good shape for age 80.

Gemini knows about the “sport of kings”:

But its image generator is clueless:

Full post, including comments