Oct 26, 2022 3 min read

We're back! Check out a show, samurais, and a thought on AI and Machine Learning

We're back! Check out a show, samurais, and a thought on AI and Machine Learning
This was fun to play around with. Prompt: "we're back"

Fellow Frivolous!

You've all been incredibly patient.  It's been several week since we posted anything and we should explain why.  If you followed our social accounts on Instagram or Twitter, you'll know the reason, but for those of you who've just joined us (thank you, BTW!), Frivolous has made some serious strides as it gets ready to publish original fiction.  We've been focused on launching our Submission Portal, answering lots of questions, seeking out committed first readers and an assistant editor.

We've been awash with submissions - which is amazing and if you're one of the folks who sumbitted, thank you!  Now we're systematically going through all of these stories and poems and artwork and that's taking up quite a bit of our bandwidth.

That said, we're getting our original programming back into gear with weekly "3 Things to Know" emails, podcast interviews (3 will be posted soon), AND we'll be posting original fiction on the site as well.  It's been busy; it's been wonderful; and we're excited to continue to grow this community!

If you're so inclined, I ask you for 3 favors:

  • Forward this on to others and ask them to subscribe
  • If you're a free subscriber, consider upping the ante for $5/month and be in line to get original content piped to your inbox along with other perks as we announce them
  • If you're interested in being a first reader or know of anyone, please send them to our application portal.  Note at this stage we're looking for volunteers.

Okay, enough hawking.  On to the main event!

Pantheon on AMC+

For readers of Ken Liu and his thoughtful and rich stories (via The Dandelion Dynasty Trilogy, Paper Menagerie, among many others, as well as translations of several Chinese authors' works), I was thrilled to see some of his short stories picked up by AMC+.  This series centers around Maddie, a bullied teen, who receives help from a stranger online, who is revealed to be her recently deceased father.

The story is salient and meaty, dealing with the limits of technology, human consciousness, family, and danger.  And the showrunning serves the source material very very well.


The internet provides many opportunities for serendipity if one takes the time.  Occasionally, the effort rewards you with something completely wonderful and other.  I came across this and am enjoying the exploration of a futuristic samurai culture.  The creator lives in Japan and is steadily making his way through writing a sci-fi story Castle Oblivion.  Do give this gentleman a follow and subscribe if you find his work as interesting as I do!

ML & AI Blackboxes

AI and machine-learning are, perhaps not surprisingly, of keen interest to me.  It's probably even cliché.  But to be a speculative fiction nerd and to watch what's happening in the tech world today is pretty much candy and front row seats to an adventure.  Whether that adventure excites or horrifies is a different question and probably oscillates between the two.

All that background to say that Cory Doctorow's recent post about backdoor hacks into AI and ML models jarred loose something I've been concerned about.  The article is a bit of a long read but the gist of his concern stems from the potential to poison ML training models as a hack, and in Doctorow's scenario, use those models to affect the "spin" of an article.  The challenge with training models is that they involve massive amounts of data points - something humans can't audit to ensure integrity at scale.

This brings up a broader question that first came about when issues of biased AI systems started making the news.  As more companies rely on AI and ML, the code and concepts behind them are such specialized disciplines, it's not easy for the layperson to identify what's wrong with a result.  These systems are blackboxes of magic, and I can't help but think there needs be a mechanism by which we can audit or certify them as having gone through some rigor of quality assurance.

As always, thanks for reading our newsletter! If you have thoughts hits the Reply button and send me a note.

Cheers till next week!

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Frivolous Comma.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.