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What We’re Reading: When you talk about AI, context matters

Medium Staff
Published in
5 min readSep 8, 2023


Hey everybody,

Ever since hosting a robust Medium Day discussion on the future of AI, I’ve been fielding questions about artificial intelligence. And not just technical questions. But ethical questions. Societal questions. Economic questions. Safety questions.

Writers want to know if they lose copyright by running headline options and nut graphs through ChatGPT. Educators are discussing if using apps such as Grammarly to correct run-on sentences and poor sentence structure is appropriate. Shoppers want to know if they’re talking with a human or a robot concerning their returns or their food purchases. And, I was recently talking with a programmer about the ethics of using a large language model, or LLM, to help them write their own code for work. (Sidenote: would that even work unless a human first created the code upon which the LLM is trained?)

Enter data science and AI ethics expert Dr. Brandeis Marshall to the chat.

“The term ‘AI’ has gotten overplayed,” Marshall writes. “Similar to the term ‘data science’ from five years ago, the word ‘AI’ is used everywhere by everybody. It has become the umbrella term for anything tech-related or tech-adjacent…. I’ve realized that it’s critically important to listen to how the majority of the room is understanding AI and in what sector/domain context.”

For Ignacio de Gregorio, discussing AI means Meta’s release of Llama 2, which is a program that can debug code or check human-written codes for errors. Gregorio’s recent analysis praises the model.

Meanwhile, for Luminae Steele, interrogating AI means delving into whether humans prefer human art or AI-created art. Steele reports that “that narratives and perceived effort were crucial factors” for humans deciding between the two.

AI covers a lot of territory, doesn’t it? If you have an essay brewing that touches upon a specific aspect of the past or the future of this technology, I’d love to read what you have to say.

See you on Medium.

Adrienne Gibbs
Director, Creator Growth @ Medium

Your Weekend Reads

From Camelot to the Cloud: The World Has Lost a True Visionary with the Passing of John Warnock” by Jonathan D. Rhyne, Co-Founder & CEO of PSPDFKit

Yet, it was Warnock’s 1990 essay on the “Camelot Project” that set the stage for his crowning achievement: the introduction of the Portable Document Format (PDF) in 1993. His vision for the PDF was ambitious: create a standard document format that would make it easy for people to share and view files, regardless of their hardware or software.

Driverless Cars Have More Trouble Detecting Kids, Dark-Skinned Pedestrians” by Emily Price, writer at PC Magazine, in PC Magazine

Researchers at King’s College in London tested eight AI-powered pedestrian-detection systems against 8,000-plus images, and found that the software’s ability to detect pedestrians was 20% higher for adults than it was for children. The study also found that the software was 7.5% more accurate for light-skinned pedestrians than it was for those with darker skin.

Shutterstock / metamorworks

Great Debate: 7 Times the Term ‘Hip-Hop’ Was Used in Print Before Historians Say” by Paco Taylor, pop culture writer, in Fanfare

By incorporating what can be gleaned from such artifacts into our historical understanding of hip-hop, we may realize that hip-hop culture didn’t exactly need Afrika Bambaataa or anyone else to speak for it. What it needed was for culture reporters, historians, and even pop culture archaeologists (like yours truly), to look, listen, and then dig a little deeper.

Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. Breakbeat Lenny Archive, #8052 • Graphic Design by Phase II.

Why is America So Reluctant to Call These Murders White Terrorism?” by Allison Wiltz, writer and activist

Unfortunately, there is a reluctance to define crimes, no matter how heinous, as acts of terror when the suspects are White, even though that’s clearly the intent behind the violence. Are we not human, do we not bleed? Are we not capable of being terrorized? Black people will never be safe in a nation in denial about the dangers they face.

Tim Scott, the Republican Party, Sexual Identity, and the Ongoing Issue With Being Single in Certain Circles” by Elwood Watson, Ph.D., Professor of Black Studies and Gender Studies at East Tennessee State University, in The Polis

That being said, there are many others who are single. Perhaps they tried marriage, and for whatever reasons, they failed or decided to exit from the institution. They decided not to put a ring on it. They are not interested in pursuing the path of children and family or in having a permanent partner.

Seriously, What Has Happened to Kids Sports Since We Were Young??” by LaurenJane, former nurse and current freelance writer

Sports back then were altogether different. They weren’t competitive like they are now. They were a bunch of neighborhood kids getting together to have some fun.

Then once the game was over, we got a free piece of Nardone’s pizza and a Coke whether we won or lost. We just wanted to have fun with our friends. It wasn’t stressful for the parents or the kids. It was good old-fashioned FUN.

LaurenJane’s photo: “My oldest daughter shooting the game-winning hoop!”

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What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.