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The elephant in the room: AI

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Jul 4, 2024 at 07:29 AM


So, AI seems to be making its way into/onto pretty much all software platforms. And this is not necessarily a good thing.

There are many reasons for this, which I won’t discuss in detail here (although I could). I will sum them up very simply by saying: AI is incapable of distinguishing fact from fantasy, reality from fiction. This applies despite (or precisely because of) the way AI is trained – on the vast quantities of text published on the web. Algorithms have no way of judging this text, nor indeed are they designed to judge anything (“weighting” does not equal “judgement”).

So MacStories have taken an interesting initiative here: https://www.macstories.net/stories/ai-companies-need-to-be-regulated-an-open-letter-to-the-u-s-congress-and-european-parliament/

Personally, I have no wish to see great software marred by the rushed addition of ill-conceived AI features. But maybe I’m alone in this?



Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Jul 4, 2024 at 01:52 PM


Hi, Bill,

You are not alone in your concern about AI being rushed into virtually all apps that deal with information or writing. I’ve found that some apps even try too hard to push AI into my workflow. That’s one reason I appreciate Reflect. It has pretty decent AI capabilities, but it is hidden unless you want to use it. I liken AI to GPS in a way. Handy, but you still need to know where you’re going and how to get there. Otherwise you can still make a wrong turn.

Outlining is useful in several ways, one of which is being a framework for critical thinking on a topic. Using AI as a shortcut just robs the user of this benefit.

Good topic!



Posted by satis
Jul 4, 2024 at 05:10 PM


I don’t use any apps that, if AI is added, (a) do not allow me to disregard it, and (b) want to use my data in any way without express approval. Assuming I have that control I don’t care at all about its inclusion in my software.

Currently I use AI primarily outside writing apps: it’s been baked into iOS for a while, doing everything from allowing me to grab text from inside photos, to Portrait Mode that (has gotten much better in recent months) realistically blurs backgrounds, to improved autocorrect. Lightroom Classic added AI in its new adaptive presets and its Masking categories, allowing for much more granular selections of areas to apply corrections, and easy preset production.

Federico at MacStories went from being a somewhat blinkered fanboy and iPad-only devotee to someone who after a couple of years grudgingly and testily returned to macOS, to being something of an Apple-skeptic, to defending the EU’s onerous new laws coincidentally crafted to focus on American companies (eg DSA and CSDDD) while pointedly ignoring European monopolies and gatekeepers (eg Spotify). So I’m not surprised to see a relative lack of nuance in his open letter to Congress (as if anyone in Congress is interested in hearing from an Italian tech-blogger). But it surely makes for a traffic spike for his site.


Posted by Amontillado
Jul 6, 2024 at 04:15 PM


AI integration could push me away from my Mac systems. I would hate to migrate out of Devonthink. Mellel is my happy place. Linux is a happy place, too. I use Macs by choice, not necessity.

Devonthink, of course, has had AI search features for a long time. I’m fine with that. Searching and pattern recognition is where AI helps. I could also do without the AI features.

Other than that, AI is not welcome on my hardware. Paraphrasing War Games’ General Beringer, I don’t want to trust my writing to some silly-cone diode.

You listening, SkyNet? ;-)


Posted by satis
Jul 6, 2024 at 11:01 PM


If you don’t want AI mixed in your computer’s OS I’m afraid you’ll need to look at Linux. Microsoft has its ‘Copilot’ AI (largely licensed from ChatGPT) even more fully integrated in Windows. But I don’t think that there’s any macOS AI integration that isn’t optional or opt-in, and what’s announced is privacy-preserving, unlike with Microsoft.

Users can opt to write, summarize, and proofread text almost system-wide with Writing Tools, which can act as a grammar and spell checking tool thanks to a proofread function. It has AI functionality that can help change the tone of a piece to be more friendly, professional, or concise. But it’s all optional, and doesn’t access your files unless you explicitly allow it. It’s included in AI transcription in Notes, but again, it’s all done on-device and isn’t shared.

In Safari (which isn’t required to be used), Apple is adding Highlights: when planning a trip, for example, users can get the most relevant details about a location, including the phone number and address of a hotel the user might be interested in. Safari 18 also features a redesigned Reader view, which includes an AI-generated table of contents as well as summaries of news articles. The same summaries will also be available within the Highlights UI inside Safari. All optional. The new Viewer mode immediately detects video on a page and offers the option to move the video to Picture-in-Picture or switch to fullscreen mode.

ChatGPT inclusion is free, is private, (it’s anonymized through Apple and Apple says it will request permission before sending anything off the device), Users can access ChatGPT for free from their Apple devices, plus the chats won’t be recorded. and those who have already subscribed to ChatGPT will get all additional features through the device’s system. Again, totally optional.


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