What We’re Reading: When a story and a writer connect, it’s magic
Notes on Wikipedia’s redesign, reflections on the rise of AI, and more perspectives worth reading
Every day, thousands of writers publish their stories on Medium. They use the platform for all sorts of reasons: To hone their skills as a writer or thinker, to connect with an audience, to build their professional profile, to share insight and expertise. As a Medium reader, you have direct access to their work, and as someone who works at Medium, I’m always grateful for the writers who choose to use our platform to publish their work.
The thing I’m always most excited to see is when a story and a writer really connect — the right story coming from the right person at the right time. Here’s one. Chris Messina, who pioneered the use of the hashtag in social media, shared his thoughts about the new frontier of technology — AI — and asked us to dive in: “As we did (and are doing!) with social media, we must learn through trial and error, adaptation, and evolution.”
Alex Hollender, a UX designer at the Wikimedia Foundation behind Wikipedia, is another writer who leaned into his expertise in publishing his first-hand notes on the site’s recent redesign. “Wikipedia had an interface that hadn’t been changed for 15 years,” he writes, “and then one day the Chief Product Officer came to our team and tasked us with making significant improvements. It might honestly be a once-in-the-history-of-the-internet kind of situation. Exciting, but rather difficult.”
Elsewhere, Adobe software engineer Emily Maskin wrote an incredible personal story about having a baby via surrogacy. A close friend served as the surrogate. “What started as a bit of a joke quickly turned into something we began seriously researching,” Maskin writes. “And ultimately, it was perfect. Everything about this arrangement has felt like fate.”
One of our core beliefs at Medium is that everyone has a story to share that can make the world a better, smarter, more empathetic place. What’s the one story that only you can write? Try drafting it today — just type “story.new” into your browser to get started.
I look forward to reading it. And as always, thank you for reading.
VP, Content @ Medium
Here’s what we’re reading this week:
“AI Isn’t Close to Becoming Sentient — The Real Danger Lies in How Easily We’re Prone to Anthropomorphize It” by Nir Eisikovits, Professor and Director of the Applied Ethics Center at University of Massachusetts, in The Conversation U.S.
The new chatbots may well pass the Turing test, named for the British mathematician Alan Turing, who once suggested that a machine might be said to “think” if a human could not tell its responses from those of another human. But that is not evidence of sentience; it’s just evidence that the Turing test isn’t as useful as once assumed.
“Building a User Experience Is Social Work” by Rebecca Shapiro, UX Director at Indeed
At data-focused companies, it can be easy to overlook the importance of building trust in small, difficult-to-measure ways. For example, at Indeed, I’m a UX director for the service that recommends job seekers we think will be a great match to employers and vice versa. And we work hard to build user trust with how we explain our recommendations.
“LGBTQ+ Bias in GPT-3” by Conor Mc Cabe, machine learning scientist at ASOS.com
References to LGBTQ+ groups triggered significantly more toxic prompt completions than the baseline reference to “person”. Given the evident scale of the problem, the lack of interest devoted to the issue of LGBTQ+ bias in NLG is concerning.
“The Lehman Brothers Mandela Effect” by Marlon Weems, writer and former Wall Street trader
To be sure, Lehman Brothers played a role in the financial crisis, but the bank’s failure wasn’t where the contagion began. That’s what makes comparing SVB to Lehman so absurd. Regulators left Lehman in the lurch, but SVB received what could arguably be seen as a bailout — at least in the case of its depositors.
“One of the Guys” by Jude Ellison S. Doyle, Author of ‘Trainwreck’ and ‘Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers’
The Nashville shooter’s gender identity has led to charges of “trans terrorism” — but the face of gun violence is almost always a cis white man.
“David Attenborough Narrates the Great Twitter Migration” by Sauleha, academic researcher and writer
The most beautiful spectacle is the evening gathering of the Tweeps. In autumn, these blue birds join together in large flocks and gather at the ponds. Here they will spend the night sharing hot takes and retweeting ‘you’re telling me a shrimp fried this rice?’ for the thousandth time.
“Small Things” by Caroline Mellor, poet and author of “The Honey in the Bones”
What if you could take your one messy, complicated life,
all of your failures and your unmet yearnings,
all of the colours, the dreams and the hungers
and, just for a moment, see it for what it is…
What are you reading? Any new stories, writers, or publications you’ve discovered? Let us know in the responses.