Comments: Week of March 13, 2023


“Life After Food,” February 27–March 12

Photo: Pierppaolo Ferrari and Maurizio Cattelan

For New York’s latest cover story, ­Matthew Schneier reported on the sudden ubiquity of Ozempic. The Los Angeles Times’ Laura J. Nelson praised it as “definitive,” and illustrator Robert Bahn called it a “genuinely horri­fying article about the mass adoption of what’s meant to be used by diabetics to ­reduce appetite but has been taken in droves by anybody who wants to be just a little bit thinner, mainly rich people and ­celebrities.” Novelist Jami Attenberg described the article as “one of the most depressing fucking things I’ve read in my life,” and @GibsonShelbyg tweeted, “As someone who works in a pharmacy, this Ozempic thing is getting out of control. The people yelling at me over not having it are the people using it only for weight loss. The diabetics who desperately need it tell me it’s not my fault.” Some ­readers cautioned that the story may ­encourage disordered eating; in his Content ­Consumed newsletter, Casey Miller said the article was “irresponsible” to “romanticize” Ozempic. For her She’s a Beast newsletter, Casey Johnston wrote, “It’s presumptuous of this article, which fails to treat so many aspects of this topic with ­appropriate skepticism, to declare the body positivity experiment over wholesale, on the basis of its shivering and shaking ‘all the girlies are taking Ozempic’ premise.” Others pointed to the cyclical nature of weight-loss regimens. Kate Hagen wrote, “In 1-5 years when the ‘Ozempic: What Went Wrong’ ­articles hit like they did for fen-phen or Olestra, remember that it simply did not have to be this way!” And USA Today’s Barbara ­VanDenburgh noted, “Love that as I’m ­reading this article on the rise of Ozempic, I’m being blasted with ads for intermittent fasting and busting belly fat It’s a mystery why we’re all broken and medicating ourselves thin!”


“You Are Not a ­Parrot”

Elizabeth Weil profiled Emily M. ­Bender, the computational linguist whose work has become pivotal in conversations about the ethics of AI. “This reads like a cooling salve for the crackling hype around machine learning right now,” said computer scientist Leon Derczynski, calling the article “a down-to-earth and articulate walkthrough of why so much of the wild debate around language models and intelligence is unhelpful.” Ed Gerstner said it was “one of the clearest things on generative AI that I have read in a long time,” and Steven Brumby, a co-founder of the start-up Impact Observatory, wrote that it was “deeply thought provoking” on “the serious risks of the current tech arms race to produce human-like conversational AI while we still understand so little about sentience and consciousness.” Shannon Vallor, director of the Centre for Technomoral ­Futures at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, tweeted that the profile was a “hauntingly good read. It has bothered me for so long that so many will now happily deny or devalue the truly miraculous capacities of the human mind—our own minds—merely in order to lower the bar for AGI,” or artificial general intelligence. And Safiya Noble, a UCLA professor and the author of Algorithms of Oppression, wrote, “We should think twice and listen to Bender’s clear call to us: statistical pattern matching should not be a replacement for the deep expertise and reasoned decision-making that is rooted in compassion, love and the nuances of the human experience. Just because something is available and marketed as the next big thing doesn’t mean it’s good for us.”

Photo: Mikaela Martin


“The Original King of Crypto Is Back”

Jen Wieczner chronicled Bitmex co-founder Arthur Hayes’s return to a now-crumbling industry. “Incredible piece of reporting,” tweeted Tim Copeland, an editor at The Block. Laura Shin, author of The Cryptopians, tweeted that it seems like Wieczner “has gotten to do a majority of the fun crypto stories of the last ~8 months.” @Stocktrader added, “I can only hope she has enough time and perseverance to write a full feature novel on the past decade in the crypto industry.” But Stéphane Ouellette, CEO of the digital-assets platform FRNT Financial, wrote, “The ‘goddification’ of platform operators in crypto has been a ridiculous characteristic of the ecosystem over the last half-decade and should go away.” And Madison Weiss, a research associate at Seven­ Pillars Institute for Global Finance and Ethics, compared Hayes to Miles Bron, the fatuous tech billionaire in Glass Onion: “a ‘rule-breaker’ concerned with little more than money and his own image … His need for the spotlight forced the government’s hand, and as happened to Bron, the consequences of his own greed blew up in his face. If Hayes was truly concerned with dis­rupting the system, he would have invested in his community instead of only in himself. As it stands, Hayes is just the latest ‘finance bro’ to receive a slap on the wrist by the courts.”

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Comments: Week of March 13, 2023