UL NO. 428: Reason to Fear; Reason to Build

AI Propaganda, Speaking Events, analyze_presentation Pattern, Guarding Your Energy Reserves, and more…

Unsupervised Learning is a security, AI, and meaning-focused newsletter that looks at how best to thrive as humans in a world that’s changing faster than ever. It combines original ideas and analysis to bring you not just what’s happening—but why it matters, and how to respond.



Hey there,

Crazy week.

  • Sorry for the late episode; a bit over-exposed to travel/humans and needed a couple of days to fight off viruses/funk. Seem to have avoided getting fully sick, which is nice.

  • ⚙️analyze_presentation — Added a new Fabric pattern that looks at the transcript of a presentation and tells you how much the presenter is trying to brag, vs. entertain, vs. inform. In other words, it tells you how self vs. other centered the presentation is, e.g., if they say “I” too often, talk about credentials, accomplishments, etc., vs. focusing on ideas.

  • Spoke at the EQUILIBRIUM conference in NYC last week. Thanks so much to Rohit Sethi for the invite, and to Chris Hughes for his great talk and our wide-ranging conversation beforehand. Seriously great event.

  • I finally got to attend a live UFC event, and it turned out to be one of the best in history! Also made some new friends in the process. What a tremendous weekend!

  • Speaking at the Hardly Strictly Security conference soon! Looking forward to that one!

  • Speaking at the Security Frontiers AI Conference tomorrow. MORE

  • Speaking tomorrow at an AI Cyber event put on by Rain Capital, Icon Ventures, and J.P. Morgan at the J.P. Morgan Innovation center. Thanks to Chenxi Wang for the invite! MORE

  • Gearing up for RSA already. The calendar is feeling the pressure. In a good way. If you’ll be around, be sure to come get a fist bump or hug, as per your preference.

  • I just finished reading Sense of Style, by Steven Pinker, for the third time. I like to read it every 2-3 years. It’s my favorite writing/style guide.

Ok, let’s get to it…


⚙️analyze_presentation — Added a new Fabric pattern that looks at the transcript of a presentation and tells you how much the presenter is trying to brag, vs. entertain, vs. inform. In other words, it tells you how self vs. other centered the presentation is, e.g., if they say “I” too often, talk about credentials, accomplishments, etc., vs. focusing on ideas.

I didn’t write any essays or make any videos this week, but I did get to do some podcasts with some smart folks, and those should come out soon.


Microsoft says Chinese hackers are using AI to inflame social tensions in the US. MORE

💡I seriously can’t wait to build my propaganda tracker. If someone starts a campaign, I want to see where it spreads, becomes viral, etc. I’m looking for VCs and permanent operators for this. And government backing. If you know people, let me know.

PropTrak, or something.

Over 92,000 D-Link NAS devices are under attack due to an unpatched critical RCE bug. | CRITICAL | RESPONSE: D-Link advises device retirement. Thanks D-Link. | MORE

SAP patches three high-severity vulnerabilities, including a misconfiguration in SAP NetWeaver that could let users set weak passwords. MORE

The U.S. just blacklisted four additional Chinese companies for procuring AI chips for China's military modernization efforts. MORE

The U.S. and China are racing to dominate with AI-driven drone swarms, just like Daniel Suarez’s book, Kill Decision. MORE

Google's contract reveals a partnership with Israel's Defense Ministry during the Gaza conflict, which is upsetting employees. MORE


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Great NYT piece on automating finance jobs using AI. “Some of Wall Street’s major banks are asking the same question, as they test A.I. tools that can largely replace their armies of analysts by performing in seconds the work that now takes hours, or a whole weekend.” MORE

💡At this point if people don’t see the impact of AI on actual jobs, it’s because they don’t read enough, or don’t want to see. This isn’t like the dotcom boom, or like crypto. This is tech that’s instantly useful, despite its flaws, and that we’re seeing actively replace human workers.

Yohei continues doing great work around AI agents. This one is agent log visualization. MORE

Despite sanctions, Russia's is getting 89% of its chips through China. MORE

Gary Marcus is betting $10M that we won't have AI smarter than humans by 2025. MORE

Mistral AI just released Mixtral 8x22B via a torrent link, which is an interesting new way of distributing models. Makes sense. Lots of people want them and they’re really big. Exactly what torrents are good at. MORE

📄 This paper says a Transformer is capable of acting like a general-purpose computer. MORE

OpenAI just shipped a new GPT-4 Turbo model that focuses on being more concise. I’ve tested it against Opus and it’s still nowhere near as good—at least for the stuff I do. MORE

After AI beat them, professional Go players didn't just catch up; they became better and more creative. MORE

💡I love this narrative where we learn from AI beating us. But I don’t think that means we’ll be able to keep up. It just means we’ll have new ways to think about being good, which is useful and interesting.

Nanotronics is rolling out CubeFab, a modular chip fab powered by Nvidia GPUs and AI, aiming to democratize semiconductor manufacturing. MORE

The Humane AI Pin got flamed by MKBHD and other reviewers. MORE

💡I think MKBHD can say whatever he wants on his channel. I just think it was out of character for him to be so negative and mean about it. He could have said the same things without the vitriol, and still made the same points. I like him for his even temperament as much as his analysis, and the dunking was a turnoff for me. But I still think it’s his channel and he can do whatever he wants.

Dyson's new CleanTrace feature lets you use AR to see where you've vacuumed, making sure no spot is missed. MORE

Sequoia's Arc Product-Market Fit Framework introduces three unique archetypes to help startups navigate their way to market success. MORE

Tesla just dropped the FSD subscription price to $99 a month. MORE


Right after the solar eclipse, a ton of people Googled "my eyes hurt”, which only further diminishes my hope for humanity. It’s not so much that they looked at the sun. It’s the two hit combo of looking at the sun and then wondering what’s wrong. MORE

💡One of the books that will absolutely change your life is the book Everybody Lies, which is about how Google searches reveal way more about reality than surveys.

Job interviews are pretty terrible at predicting future job performance and might even be counterproductive. Sure, but what’s the alternative? MORE

Over half of women experience sexual harassment at work. MORE

Homicides are on a surprising decline across major American cities. MORE

💡I feel like we’re this close (gesturing) to an Onion article where far-right people complain that the country’s becoming feminized and is no longer into murder.

U.S. Steel is about to become a part of Japan's Nippon Steel. MORE

Harvard's back to requiring SAT and ACT scores for admissions. It’s almost like they were a good idea in the first place, which is why we had them. MORE

💡I wish the Overton Pendulum had more than two settings—woke and racist. Can we get a compassionate/logical setting please?

Dumbphones are making a comeback. You get to stay in contact, but not be distracted. MORE

A Dungeons & Dragons show is about to sell out Madison Square Garden. MORE

What top performers do, and how to deal with critics and detractors MORE

Ernest Hemingway transformed from a humble journalist to a literary celebrity, losing himself to the fame and power that came with success. MORE

Abraham Lincoln was shaped by Aesop's fables more than any other book, including the Bible. MORE


Guard Your Energy Reserves
Heard a cool thing recently that said that if you have a great idea, and it’s creating a lot of energy within you, you should be very careful with how you share the idea.

Basically, according to the theory, that energy you have for the idea is limited and precious, and even telling someone about it removes its energy, power, and specialness.

So instead of telling people about it, you should go work on it immediately. That first energy, the raw energy, will be the most powerful form, and you don’t want to waste it on trying to get someone else hyped on it as well.

Reason to Worry; Reason to Build
I’m worried about the world right now. I think the next few years are likely to be the highest chance of killing ourselves that we’ve ever seen. Maybe not counting the Cuba crisis.

  • Trump could easily be re-elected, which I think will make things far worse for sanity and stability

  • I don’t see how the Gaza war doesn’t turn into the Iran war

  • Everything is getting more expensive (or at least feeling so)

  • At this exact moment, AI is going to start mass-replacing jobs

  • At this exact moment, the smartest/luckiest are about to be able to create unbelievable value and wealth

  • So the K-shape is about to curve—with the top of the K hockey-sticking up, and the bottom of the K hockey-sticking down.

  • This will empower the far-right

  • It could be bad

Here’s a diagram I created about all this in 2018:

Anyway, it’s depressing.

But I’m choosing to abstain from panic. I’m saying no to despair. I’m going to build instead. I’m going to lift people up instead. I’m going to create stuff instead. I’m going to shoot for a distant and possible better thing. A thing on the other side of all this.

And I honestly think AI will be a big part of that solution.

Now, if it all goes to hell, AI will be part of that too. But like I said, I don’t care about that. I don’t plan to fail. I am not betting against the goodness and creativity of humans.

We can make it.

We can.

And even if we can’t. We have to believe we can.

So, I ask you to join me in rejecting despair.

The world sucks. Might get worse.

Fuck it. Suit up. You’re part of the optimism force now.

Not out of ignorance. As a choice.


⚙️ This Colab notebook uses Claude to turn images into Magic cards. | by Max Woolf | MORE

🔧 Andrej Karpathy just dropped llm.c, a sleek GPT-2 implementation in under 1000 lines of pure C. | by Andrej Karpathy | MORE

📓 Shell history as a productivity tool. | by Martin Heinz | MORE

🔧 Aider turns your terminal into a pair programming session with AI, editing and committing code directly in your git repo. | by Paul Gauthier | MORE

⚙️ DNSViz is like an X-ray for your DNS, showing you exactly what's going on under the hood. | by DNSViz | MORE

Cohere's Rerank 3 model boosts enterprise search and RAG systems with minimal fuss. | by CohereMORE

📓 Terminal Tweaks. | by High Growth Engineer | MORE

🎵 ⚙️ Udio turns your text prompts into music, matching any style you fancy. | by UdioMusic | MORE

📄 A collection of content ideas that have truly resonated on TikTok. | MORE

⚙️ Firecrawl.dev turns entire websites into datasets ready for large language models to digest. | MORE

🔧 zk turns your command line into a powerful, plain text Zettelkasten or personal wiki keeper. | by zk-org | MORE


Read the piece above in the Ideas section above.

Reject despair. Embrace the work of building the better thing.


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

Thank you for reading.

UL is a personal and strange combination of security, AI, and lots of human content. And because it’s so diverse, it’s harder for it to go as viral as something more niche.

So—if you know someone weird like us—please share it with them. 🫶 

Happy to be sharing the planet with you,