Acts Not Facts #8: clock news, client news, AI, AI, AI, and plans

16.20, Friday 19 Jan 2024

Happy new year!

Some years I see how long I can feasibly say Happy New Year to people. My record is March. But this year 2023 already feels like months and months ago.

It’s the first Acts Not Facts update of the year! Weekly is too frequent. But I’ll write notes periodically and there’s a lot to cover today.

Countdown to Kickstarter

My AI clock is now named Poem/1 and - BIG NEWS - Kickstarter gave the green light to the campaign yesterday. So now I’m getting the last few things lined up before hitting that Launch button.

More news over at the AI clock newsletter. tl;dr,

  • I’ll do a reveal on the industrial design next week
  • The Kickstarter campaign will launch probably the week after…
  • …but I want to align it with some press. So if you’re a journalist please get in touch.

Oh I missed this media first time around: Bloomberg interviewed Mira Murati, OpenAI’s CTO, and used my clock as the first example. Watch Inside OpenAI by Bloomberg Originals (YouTube, at 3m7s).

GOV.UK is working with AI to improve the interactions people have with government

That client I haven’t been able to name? It’s GOV.UK, the part of UK gov that looks after digital information and services.

They started experimenting with AI really early, and built and tested a chat UI for the 700,000 pages of information that they look after. The GOV.UK Chat research findings have now been published. It’s been amazing to watch. There are some unique challenges.

Personally I’ve been helping out with “what next”… how should GOV.UK systematically explore AI to build capability and open the imagination, and what is the strategic “why” here? Well, eventually to help transform how people interact with government, sure, but there are stepping stones to be chosen.

The new AI Team is announced here by Chris Bellamy, Director of GOV.UK. I’ve been bringing a perspective of design pathfinding, one that I first talked about with the BMJ back in May and then wrote up here in more detail (Dec 2023).

Plus some heavy advocacy for thinking through making, alongside the research…

More to say about all of that another time I’m sure. It’s a privilege working with this smart and motivated team.

Building at PartyKit

My mainline client continues to be PartyKit, where I invent in order to stretch and explore their new platform for the realtime, multiplayer internet.

Just before the holidays PartyKit shipped AI integrations, and I wrote a long piece on the blog:

The tl;dr is that search got really good suddenly and really easy to build because of AI.

For instance, this is the search experience I recently made for my side project website Braggoscope.

It’s a straightforward, show-the-code account of one of the fundamental techniques in building with AI. One reader review: Was reading the Vector DB blog and honestly I think one of the most approachable blogs I’ve seen on the topic + demo – so I’m pleased with that.

I really enjoyed writing it.

What I find hardest to communicate to people who work with technology, before they use AI, is how much they need to reset their assumptions about how hard things are. e.g. a great search engine is so easy now.

The best way to demystify is to go line-by-line. Code isn’t scary.

And there’s no magic here. An embedding model is just a function call, a vector database is just a function call, broadcasting messages to a multiplayer room is a function call, keeping multiplayer state is a function call. All realtime, all scalable, there’s nothing to it.

Acts Not Facts in 2024

I haven’t sat down and made a year plan for Acts Not Facts, this oh-so-nascent product invention femto-studio of mine. Here’s my off the cuff prompt completion on the matter…

I would say that I’m roughly where I wanted to be, a year in. As the big Venn on the ANF website says, I’m focused on AI, group experiences, and embodiment. At the end of 2023 I’ve built up a decent portfolio that demonstrates precisely that. Good!

Which means the next step is to pick up a team project. Ideally something that involves invention, AI, interactions, and hardware where I get to hire a tiny dream team to deliver.

Lmk if there’s a project we should talk about.

p.s. I have that SF/Bay Area trip coming up w/c 5 Feb. My schedule’s filling up. I’d love to squeeze in a couple more chats.

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