Ben Mann Monthly Sep 2022
Sleep apnea, safety research & evangelism, AI pony fanfic, Ted Lasso, Tesla robots
An index for my memory
A menu of topics for my next conversation with you
A faster way to share what I’m excited about without the barrier of writing a complete blog entry on it
A skimmable way to spread content I found valuable
Experiments and experiences
Sleep apnea intensifies!
My August 2022 edition was almost a whole month late. This is because around the weekend I intended to write that edition, I ended up sleeping 15 hours/day for 3 days in a row, and my heart rate dropped to 32 bpm during one of those nights. A year ago I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). They prescribed a CPAP, but like most people I found it uncomfortable and only used it a few days per week at best. Since there were no obvious triggers for my sudden intense sleepiness, I went to my GP and had all the tests done: blood panel, thyroid levels, electrolytes, and even a 24-hour Holter monitor. The cardiologist told me my heart seems perfectly healthy, and bradycardia is a common symptom of OSA that could explain my pathology. While low heart rate is not a problem, being unable to reach high heart rates is an issue. He suggested I run some sprints to see how high I could push it, the target being my max heart rate, or (225 - age). In sprints I was only able to hit 155, but I mostly attribute this to being out of shape. I'll do more sprints and see if I can hit the max. Until then, I've gotten back on the CPAP bandwagon and am trying to use it every night. I visited the Kaiser sleep lab with my device. They reset it and messed with the settings to enable maximum pressure, as well as gave me a couple new mask shapes and sizes to try. I haven't yet found a favorite, but my sleepiness has gotten much better. All the other tests have come back negative. While it's annoying to have this problem, I'm glad to be confident in the diagnosis and the possible solution!
Parents moved to SF
In preparation for Diana's imminent delivery, my parents both quit their jobs in Massachusets and moved two blocks away from us. As a first time parent, I'm ecstatic and very lucky to have their help! My brother Max decided to visit from Finland for a few weeks too. The challenge will be setting boundaries and taking self-care time, but I'm confident we can handle it. So much for the tail end.
Made a crappy image captioning Colab notebook based on existing OSS, then used it to label 3500 images a friend scraped. The goal was to use the image/text pairs to finetune a stable diffusion model, but something later int he pipeline failed and we didn't finish by the end of the hackathon. Wonder if there's a market for something like image captioning as a service? We're most of the way to making such a thing easy and cheap.
Needled Stable Diffusion folks on their safety plans. They hadn't thought about it much, but they were very receptive! We had a collegial followup chat with them. If they follow through, coordination might be a better strategy than I previously thought.
Met new folks, hung out with old friends, pitched everyone on safety. Great vibes all around, though people's timelines are going to continue to shorten based on the sample I took.
Anthropic alpha access
Fill in this form and we may grant access. No promises.
We couldn't stomach paying a lot for a couch, so we looked on Craigslist. We found a sketchy warehouse in east bay run by some Nepalese dudes that we visited and found something lightly used that we really liked! They did delivery for us two days later for cheap. Surprisingly painless.
🍼 Paternity leave starting imminently!
📦 Moved 3 blocks
🛋 Bought a couch
🥜 Made peanut butter from raw peanuts, then cookies
🤤 Grilled cheese and tomato soup
🎑 Company retreat
💉 BA.5 boosted
5 point Likert ratings for “I would recommend this content to a friend”, sorted
MLP: Friendship is Optimal 4/5
Low quality writing, excellent ideas. Someone builds a recursively self improving AI whose only goal is "to satisfy human values through friendship and ponies." To my surprise, knowledge or appreciation of My Little Ponies is not required. Instead it's used as a surreal and satirical backdrop as superintelligent AI transforms society at its most fundamental levels.
I read this in two sittings: the first two chapters, and then the whole rest of the thing.
Ted Lasso S1-2 4/5
While ostensibly about an American Football coach who goes to London to coach a soccer team, this series is actually a comedy-drama masterclass on being a manager. It was nonstop heartwarming throughout both seasons, with excellent acting, writing, and character development.
Each character has their own trauma to work through. While this is pretty common, the trauma feels believable. For example, Ted gets occasional panic attacks. He's embarrassed about them and wants to avoid talking about it, and he's resistant to getting help, despite being someone who wants to help everyone else. In the end a talented therapist breaks down his barriers and helps him get over it.
I like doing British accents on occasion. This felt like good training, though my Roy Kent impression is probably NSFW.
Completely and utterly over the top Tollywood (Telugu-bollywood) action film, and the highest budget Indian film to date! Why can't western movies be more like this? Lean into your edge a little more.
Two heroes from Indian history start as enemies, but end up fighting for the same cause: throwing off the yoke of colonialism through dance battles and other feats of strength, daring, courage, and indomitability.
Building safer dialogue agents 3/5; 4/5 for AI researchers
Excellent work building on Anthropic's Helpful/Honest/Harmless framework. I liked their more detailed taxonomy of unwanted behaviors, inline evidence, and the rule following training. Hope to borrow some of these soon!
Nice summary thread for Tesla AI day
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent 2/5
For such high RottenTomatoes and MetaCritic scores, I found this to be a pretty standard Nick Cage self-satire, though it delivered what it said on the tin.
Thanks for reading! Get it in your inbox 👇