Ken Thompson’s 75-year-project is a jukebox for the ages, Tabby is a self-hosted AI coding assistant, Codeberg is a collaboration platform and Git hosting for open source software, content and projects, TheSequence explains The LLama Effect & Paul Orlando writes about Ghosts, Guilds and Generative AI.
Links for all episodes of Changelog News are in the companion newsletter.
Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧
What up, nerds?! I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the weekly of Monday April 10th, 2023.
We are finally ready to unveil the new name for this Monday news brief that we’re spinning off into its own podcast. Are you ready? It’s called (drum roll) Changelog News! Because hey, if it ain’t broke, right?
So what’s new then? Well, we did go ahead and create a new home for this show. It lives at changelog.com/news and it has its very own feed, too, at changelog.com/news/feed that people can subscribe to if they just want the News and that’s it. We are submitting that to Apple, Spotify, etc. so it’ll exist standalone pretty much wherever people listen to podcasts. So that’s cool.
But, so many of you reached out to say that you love the news right alongside our interview shows, so we’re gonna leave it here too. And you won’t notice much of a change at all. Except for some slightly modified artwork depending the episode’s format.
Now, if you just want the interviews and not the news…
Just kidding, I totally get it. We’ll be creating a new feed with just our interview episodes in it. And we’re working another new format that we hope you like.. more on that later but I’ll tell you the name right now: it’s called Changelog & Friends.
OK, here’s the last thing you need to know before we get into it: Changelog News is not only an audio thing anymore. It’s now also taken over Changelog Weekly as our newsletter. The email is a companion to this podcast..
They’ll both ship out at the same time and they’ll have complementary content. Specifically the newsletter has the top stories we cover here in audio and more stories, links, repos, quotes… other good stuff that we think’s worth covering, but would make the podcast episodes too long.
So, if you want in on that head to changelog.com/news and pop in your email address. If you were already subscribed to Changelog Weekly, we migrated you over. So no action necessary.
Ok that’s far too much naval gazing for my taste, please do reach out with questions and feedback. We’re always trying to improve. Kaizen, right? Let’s get into the news.
You may have heard that Ken Thompson, the 80-year old Unix pioneer, gave the closing keynote at this year’s Southern California Linux Expo. His topic: the tale of his “75-year-project”… a jukebox for the ages.
David Cassel at the New Stack did a great job summarizing the hour-long talk, which we’ll link to for you to read. It’s a super cool project. Ken also took some Q&A at the end, which I found particularly interesting. Here’s one of em:
Ken, if you’re listening… or somebody who knows him. We’d absolutely love to host you here on The Changelog! We have some questions of our own that we’re dying to ask you.
If you listened to “LLMs break the internet” with Simon Willison last week, you already know that my a-ha moment during that conversation was realizing language models don’t necessarily have to keep getting larger for most use cases, especially once we start providing them tools to find answers on their own. That’s promising.
In that arena… check out Tabby. It’s a self-hosted AI coding assistant. An open source / on-prem alternative to GitHub Copilot. Tabby is completely self-contained, with no need for a DBMS or cloud service. Has a web UI for visualizing and configuring things, and provides an OpenAPI interface to easily integrate with existing infrastructure.
The AI game is certainly afoot, but it’s clearly the first few innings and if we’re lucky projects like Tabby can move us toward a future that isn’t dominated by a few big tech companies.
While we’re on the topic of open alternatives, Codeberg is worth a gander. It’s a collaboration platform and Git hosting for open source software, content and projects. Codeberg is not run by a company, but a non-profit based in Berlin. The service boasts about its community roots and commitment to privacy. They say your data is not for sale. All services run on servers under our control. No dependencies on external services.
Let’s talk about The LLama Effect
Luda, no. Not that llama. This is a story about how an Accidental leak sparked a series of impressive open source alternatives to ChatGPT. LLama, of course, is Meta’s language model that they open sourced. I had wondered why they decided to open source it, especially now seeing OpenAI not release any specifics regarding their training of GPT-4. Turns out, they open sourced LLama because somebody leaked it on 4chan, sparking thousands of downloads.
You really can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. Thanks to that leak, we’ve since seen a cambrian explosion of projects that are enumerated in the article: Alpaca, Vicuna, Koala, ColossalChat, FreedomGPT and more.
Friend of the log, Paul Orlando has a new piece on his Unintended Consequences blog. This one’s titled Ghost Shirts, Guilds, and Generative AI.
To kick it off, Paul asks: “Are some things inevitable? And if something is inevitable, what do you do if you don’t like it? You could fight it indirectly and delay how fast the change happens. In that case, you will quietly subvert the system. You could fight it directly, even though you will probably lose. In that case, you are fighting for honor. Or, through a combination of luck and foresight you could build a system that shields you from the inevitable change taking over your corner or the world. In that case, you need to build and defend a boundary.”
He is, of course, talking about the latest AI advancements and the “Pause Giant AI Experiments” letter signed by the likes of Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, and other business leaders and academics.
Paul doesn’t just give his take, though. He walks us down history lane and compares AI hesitation to the Ghost Shirts of 1870s Native American tribes and Guilds of the late 1800s iron industry. Worth a read.
That is the news for now. Of course, there’s more to the story that you can read in our first-ever Changelog News companion newsletter. Check your show notes for a link or subscibe to get it delivered straight into your inbox at changelog.com/news.
This week on our Changelog interview show Adam and I are joined by the one and only Cory Doctorow. It’s a good one. We discuss interoperability, chokepoint capitalism & chickenized reverse-centaurs. Yeah, you heard me right.
Have a great week, share Changelog News with your friends if you would, and we’ll talk to you again real soon.
Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚