Merry Monday: MAVEN 10th Anniversary, Insatiable AI

We have passed the inevitable turkey day relatively unscathed — if anyone’s wondering, we had Tandoori game hens — and now it’s back to business.

The MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral ten years ago, and to celebrate University of Colorado, Boulder published reminiscences of the launch from researchers at CU Boulder LASP (Laboratory for Atmosphere and Space Physics), University of California, Berkeley SSL (Space Sciences Laboratory), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and the University of Iowa.

I remember when my daughter Rebecca Jolitz went to the launch as an eager Cal physics and math undergrad working on simulations at Berkeley SSL. She had just returned from several months field work in Tahiti at the University of California GUMP research station as part of the Moorea student research group for that year, and was quite jet-lagged. After a day, she flew out with her father William to Cocoa Beach, his old stomping grounds when he worked long-ago for NASA-Ames. “When the Atlas V entered the clouds, he said this was a good launch and that this would be┬áthe first of many in my career.” Go MAVEN!

As AI companies whine about regulation stomping on innovation (where have I heard that before…), and OpenAI (a Microsoft(tm) company, as it owns 49% of the equity) turns into a soap opera version of “Day of our Lies”, Putin has decided he’s not getting enough attention throwing drones at Ukraine and has decided Russia needs to control AI. While he blathered on about Russian “culture” under attack, the real impetus for his concern is simple: AI-enhanced warfare will make Russia’s old-style top-down command structure too slow and cumbersome. Unfortunately for Putin, most everyone who could possibly do so and has the knowledge and skill fled for greener pastures to avoid conscription and likely death in Ukraine. How like a paper tiger Putin now looks to the rest of the world.

Speaking of OpenAI and Microsoft, another in the increasing number of infringement lawsuits by authors, artists, songwriters, and various other creators of intellectual property have filed suit, this time by nonfiction writers of works used in training OpenAI’s ChatGPT’s voracious appetite for novelty. Unlike the previous suits, Microsoft as well as OpenAI are facing the class-action lawsuit. As I noted above, Microsoft is the largest single equity holder of OpenAI, and curiously, pressured to reverse the termination-for-cause of its CEO, Sam Altman, and booted the rogue board members, adding their own selections without breaking a sweat. Microsoft is certainly the power behind the throne at OpenAI. They’re also the very deep pockets. Lawyers, get your lawsuits ready!