5 min read

Weekend Briefing No. 7

Open source based web applications for LLMs are within your grasp!
Weekend Briefing No. 7
Photo by Ian Schneider / Unsplash

Good Saturday morning! In this weekend briefing we look at Meta's successful launch of Threads, crop failures, and how to become an expert in anything!

Interesting data points

Extreme Heat is Leading to Crop Failures

I often write about climate change and sustainability on Medium. One of the topics I don't write enough about is how climate change will lead to crop failures. The extreme heat we're facing in 2023 throughout the "bread basket" of the United States is frightening.

Researchers: We’ve Underestimated The Risk of Simultaneous Crop Failures Worldwide
The risks of harvest failures in multiple global breadbaskets have been underestimated, according to a study Tuesday that researchers said should be a “wake up call” about the threat climate change poses to our food systems.
By "increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases, we are entering this uncharted water where we are struggling to really have an accurate idea of what type of extremes we're going to face," he told AFP.

I could constantly write about the dangers of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but many people won't heed these warnings until they can't get flour, or pork at the grocery store. It's when people are directly affected does it become a problem.

Part of the solution, in my opinion, is for all of us to learn how to grow a garden. We need to learn how to approach using our land and resources better in the age of warming, so we can be prepared for extreme heat, droughts, and other calamities.

Meta's Threads Reaches 100 Million

In one fell swoop, Mark Zuckerberg lands a massive strike against Twitter and Elon Musk. Threads was released in the first week of July and has had a massive influx of new users. Over 100 million people signed up for Threads in the first week with more users signing up everyday.

Good I say, Twitter has become a cesspool of hate ever since Musk fired more than 2/3rds of the staff and dismantled the "checks and balances" systems. Twitter has become unbearable as people fled to Mastodon, Tumblr, or elsewhere. Still, nothing compared with the utility of what Twitter was: breaking news and short public messages.

Threads reaches 100M signup milestone faster than ChatGPT
Meta’s new Twitter competitor Threads has already achieved more than 100 million signups in its first days of existence. That’s faster than ChatGPT

I've moved to Threads myself because I need a Twitter like social media to stay on top of things. I need something that catches breaking news and has a checks and balances system to prevent the spread of hate and white nationalism. Mastodon was a good first start but it quite didn't find the things I was looking for because it had no engagement algorithms. Love them or hate them, engagement algorithms when properly implemented are valuable for viewers and users.

How to Become an Expert in Anything

I loved this article because it intersects with some of the things I've done and do to this day. I'm an avid self learner as time permits and I've figured out what works best for me over the years.

How To Become An Expert At Anything: 5 Powerful Secrets From Research - Barking Up The Wrong Tree
We’d all like to be able to master a subject. But your brain isn’t always so cooperative. Here’s what the research says improves learning…

I recommend reading the entire article but if you want the short summary it's this:

Here’s how to outsmart your brain and learn effectively…
What Doesn’t Work: The tip of your highlighter is where wisdom goes to die. Take notes, remember that familiarity is not comprehension, and cramming doesn’t work over the long haul.
Organizing: Preparing to study is studying. Organizing your notes is critical for memory. (If you took notes on this post, you get a gold star.)
Meaning: Some subjects are complex and when the professor speaks all you hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. But we comprehend and remember better when we take the time to create meaning. Don’t abstractly memorize; create a schema that the facts and ideas all fit into.
Self-Testing: It’s king. Yes, the nerdy kid in school making flash cards was right and you were wrong. Sorry. And don’t learn – overlearn.
During The Test: Don’t be distracted by the scent of looming catastrophe. Make an effort to remember. If you did the work above, it will make a difference. And be afraid don’t be afraid to change answers.

End Notes

This week's end notes is about my current and long time obsession, LLMs and open source. A colleague of mine posted a fantastic tutorial on how to use H2O's open source Wave package and H2O's open source LLM together, as a simple web application.

I love what he did here, in a few lines of Python code he was able to grab the H2O LLM and create a simple UI for end users to use. Is it pretty with all kinds of flashy gizmos? No, of course not, but it works really well and can get you using the power of LLMs in less than an hour.

If you try Martin's tutorial and get your own chatbot up and running, drop me a comment to where it's hosted! I'd love to see what you've done "with the place."

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