‘The bird is freed’ and may now crash

Twitter


Fig. 1. “Elon Musk shared a video of his entrance on his Twitter account.” Photograph attributed to Elon Musk, October 26, 2022, via the New York Post,[1] fair use.

Now that Elon Musk has completed his purchase of Twitter,[2] I’m seeing some folks looking around, wondering what’s different. I’m seeing a lot more advertising. I suspect I’m also seeing what Reuters is reporting, that Twitter’s most active users are leaving the platform or at least posting a lot less.[3]

My expectation, given Musk’s since rescinded[4] threats to fire three quarters of the company’s staff,[5] has to be that many of these workers are already seeking other employment. (Even without Musk’s takeover, Twitter had apparently planned a 25 percent layoff.[6])

The impact of these departures, whether voluntary or not, remains to be seen. If it’s true that Twitter was genuinely overstaffed,[7] and that the cuts are indeed not so drastic,[8] then impacts might be limited to those of a demoralized, dispirited workforce,[9] much of which is presumably looking for other work. The impacts on site experience might be slight to moderate.

If, however, too many workers depart, it should be fairly obvious that Twitter would be on a downward spiral, with a deteriorating site experience losing users and therefore advertising revenue, leading to further departures (both voluntary and involuntary).

It is awfully hard for me to imagine that Musk will get this right, which will surely mean that William Cohan’s warnings about finances and the possible intrusion of “loan-to-own debt vultures” will be even more likely to come into play,[10] further accelerating the spiral.

This in turn makes it awfully hard to be optimistic about the future of Twitter. I’ve posted invitations to my Discord server on my private Twitter account but am not planning to make that server public. Friends, family, and followers may contact me for an invitation.

Thomas Barrabi, “Elon Musk barges into Twitter HQ as deal nears: ‘Let that sink in,’” New York Post, October 26, 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/10/26/elon-musk-barges-into-twitter-headquarters-as-deal-nears/

Rebecca Bellan, “Now Elon Musk says he won’t fire 75% of Twitter’s staff,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/now-elon-musk-says-he-wont-fire-75-of-twitters-staff/

Sheila Dang, “Exclusive: Twitter is losing its most active users, internal documents show,” Reuters, October 26, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-where-did-tweeters-go-twitter-is-losing-its-most-active-users-internal-2022-10-25/

Elon Musk, “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” Twitter, October 26, 2022, https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1585341984679469056

Elon Musk, “the bird is freed,” Twitter, October 28, 2022, https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1585841080431321088

Faiz Siddiqui and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Top Twitter executives fired as Elon Musk takeover begins,” Washington Post, October 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/27/twitter-elon-musk/

Lauren Thomas and Alexa Corse, “Elon Musk Twitter Deal Completed, CEO and CFO Immediately Fired,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-completes-twitter-takeover-11666918031

Jeremy C. Owens, “Elon Musk on the hook to pay more than $200 million to 3 fired Twitter execs,” MarketWatch, October 28, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-must-pay-more-than-200-million-to-3-fired-twitter-execs-11666927154


Self-driving cars


Fig. 2. Photograph by Mark Doliner, August 1, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Over the past few years, driverless cars have represented a high-stakes bet on the future of automotive travel — one that jazzed traditional carmakers including Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen, which were among Argo’s biggest investors. But failures are not uncommon in blue-sky kind of startups, Mr. [Rich] Fitzgerald said.

“This is going to be driven by market forces,” said Mr. Fitzgerald, adding that there may be future discussions with the city’s robotics industry. “Right now, quite frankly, it’s an industry that needs a return” on investment.[11]

What remains clear, however, is that such a return on investment is unlikely for many years if ever.[12]

Computers can’t deal with ambiguity quite the way humans can. What backers have to be counting on is that artificial intelligence idiocy[13] in combination with truly ubiquitous lightning-fast data networks (even most 5G, at least as I experience it, won’t do) and lightning-fast reaction times can substitute. Maybe it can, but the longer this drags on, the more I suspect that some way, somehow, as a practical matter, it can’t, at least for the foreseeable future.

Ryan Deto, “Argo AI, a Pittsburgh driverless car pioneer, goes out of business,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 26, 2022, https://triblive.com/business/technology/ford-cuts-investment-in-autonomous-vehicle-unit-posts-loss/

Kirsten Korosec, “Ford, VW-backed Argo AI is shutting down,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/ford-vw-backed-argo-ai-is-shutting-down/

Christiaan Hetzner, “Tesla may have hidden a federal criminal investigation into its self-driving tech from shareholders,” Fortune, October 27, 2022, https://fortune.com/2022/10/27/tesla-autopilot-elon-musk-federal-criminal-investigation-justice-department/

Stephen Wilmot, “Ford Can’t Afford Other Bets Like Driverless Cars,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ford-cant-afford-other-bets-like-driverless-cars-11666861656

Kris B. Mamula, “What does Argo’s closing mean for Pittsburgh’s robotics future?” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 28, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/tech-news/2022/10/28/argo-ai-closing-rich-fitzgerald-pittsburgh-robotics-carnegie-mellon/stories/202210270156


Gilead

Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 3. Image credited to Darnella Frazier, made from a video posted to Facebook, of Minneapolis white supremacist gangster Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, May 25, 2020, via ABC News,[14] fair use.

Tom Jackman, “U.S. Capitol Police officer convicted of obstructing Jan. 6 probe,” Washington Post, October 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/10/28/capitol-police-officer-guilty-jan6/

Evangelical Protestants


Fig. 4. “You shall have no other gods before me.”[15] Photograph posted to Twitter by Antonia Lee Donnelly, February 16, 2020,[16] fair use.

Olivier Knox, “Nearly half of Americans say they want a ‘Christian nation,’” Washington Post, October 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/28/nearly-half-americans-say-they-want-christian-nation/

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 5. Department of Justice photograph of seized materials, reportedly partially redacted, via the Washington Post, August 31, 2022,[17] public domain.

Tara Palmeri, “Trump ’24 Foreplay,” Puck News, October 27, 2022, https://puck.news/trump-24-foreplay/

Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein, and Josh Dawsey, “Top national security prosecutor joins Trump Mar-a-Lago investigation,” Washington Post, October 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/10/28/raskin-mar-a-lago-trump-documents/

Tom Jackman, “U.S. Capitol Police officer convicted of obstructing Jan. 6 probe,” Washington Post, October 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/10/28/capitol-police-officer-guilty-jan6/


  1. [1]Thomas Barrabi, “Elon Musk barges into Twitter HQ as deal nears: ‘Let that sink in,’” New York Post, October 26, 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/10/26/elon-musk-barges-into-twitter-headquarters-as-deal-nears/
  2. [2]Faiz Siddiqui and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Top Twitter executives fired as Elon Musk takeover begins,” Washington Post, October 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/27/twitter-elon-musk/; Lauren Thomas and Alexa Corse, “Elon Musk Twitter Deal Completed, CEO and CFO Immediately Fired,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-completes-twitter-takeover-11666918031
  3. [3]Sheila Dang, “Exclusive: Twitter is losing its most active users, internal documents show,” Reuters, October 26, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-where-did-tweeters-go-twitter-is-losing-its-most-active-users-internal-2022-10-25/
  4. [4]Rebecca Bellan, “Now Elon Musk says he won’t fire 75% of Twitter’s staff,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/now-elon-musk-says-he-wont-fire-75-of-twitters-staff/
  5. [5]Elizabeth Dwoskin et al., “Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce,” Washington Post, October 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/20/musk-twitter-acquisition-staff-cuts/
  6. [6]Elizabeth Dwoskin et al., “Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce,” Washington Post, October 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/20/musk-twitter-acquisition-staff-cuts/
  7. [7]Elizabeth Dwoskin et al., “Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce,” Washington Post, October 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/20/musk-twitter-acquisition-staff-cuts/
  8. [8]Rebecca Bellan, “Now Elon Musk says he won’t fire 75% of Twitter’s staff,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/now-elon-musk-says-he-wont-fire-75-of-twitters-staff/
  9. [9]Elizabeth Dwoskin et al., “Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce,” Washington Post, October 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/20/musk-twitter-acquisition-staff-cuts/
  10. [10]William D. Cohan, “The Elon Financial Mindfuck,” Puck News, October 12, 2022, https://puck.news/the-elon-financial-mindfuck/
  11. [11]Kris B. Mamula, “What does Argo’s closing mean for Pittsburgh’s robotics future?” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 28, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/tech-news/2022/10/28/argo-ai-closing-rich-fitzgerald-pittsburgh-robotics-carnegie-mellon/stories/202210270156
  12. [12]Ryan Deto, “Argo AI, a Pittsburgh driverless car pioneer, goes out of business,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 26, 2022, https://triblive.com/business/technology/ford-cuts-investment-in-autonomous-vehicle-unit-posts-loss/; Kirsten Korosec, “Ford, VW-backed Argo AI is shutting down,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/ford-vw-backed-argo-ai-is-shutting-down/; Stephen Wilmot, “Ford Can’t Afford Other Bets Like Driverless Cars,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ford-cant-afford-other-bets-like-driverless-cars-11666861656
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/13/our-new-satan-artificial-idiocy-and-big-data-mining/
  14. [14]Catherine Thorbecke, “Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, complaint says,” ABC News, May 29, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/derek-chauvin-knee-george-floyds-neck-minutes-complaint/story?id=70961042
  15. [15]Exod. 20:3.
  16. [16]Antonia Lee Donnelly, “Now I've seen everything,” Twitter, February 17, 2020, https://twitter.com/DonnellyAntonia/status/1229227422836559873
  17. [17]Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/

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