AI has an “Anus” Problem.


Under pressure from new competitors, Google has added AI summaries to its search results. However, it seems to behaving teething problems. Much of that has to do with the internet information sources Google and other AI services are using. For instance, like OpenAI, Google is using Reddit as a source of data to train its models. It is well known that such conversational platforms have comments that vary from good to garbage. 

Peter Yang shared one such example on Twitter. When asked how to best stick cheese to pizza, Google AI summary suggested adding glue. That ludicrous suggestion came from an 11-year-old Reddit comment. As I had pointed out in an earlier post, we should not be surprised that we are getting “garbage” outputs. It is going to get worse before it gets better. 

This is often the case with technology. I’m fairly certain few remember that nearly a decade ago, Google had to confront an “anus” and “bum” problem. 

Google had developed new OCR software for scanning books into Google Books. Just like the “AI Summaries,” it had bugs — it read “arms” as “anus” and “burn” as “bum” in certain typefaces. There were other such bugs. 

That bug took some of the books in hilarious directions. For instance, here is a quote from John Mackay Wilson’s “Tales of the Borders”

“…poor Janet shuddered at the words which she heard him utter for with strange and wicked oaths he vowed vengeance on the individual who’d persecuted him and she flung her anus around his neck….”

Here is another one from “Matisse on the Loose” by Georgina Bragg:

… “When she spotted me, she flung her anus high in the air and kept them up until she reached me. ‘Matisse. Oh boy!’ she said. She grabbed my anus and positioned my body in the direction of the east gallery and we started walking.”…

Google Books’ OCR has always provided great fodder for the literary minded — as so well articulated in this New Yorker article, The Artful Accident of Google Books. It also inspired its own Tumblr, The Art of Google Books.

Back to the present, like those funny quotes, some of these AI summaries might give us an opportunity to chuckle, but this is no laughing matter. The garbage data will only reinforce more garbage information. 

Given the scale of technology and Google’s influence, the implications of such “mistakes” can be life-threatening. It is not just Google. Open AI is a snake pit of misinformation, as a group of Purdue University researchers have found.

Our analysis shows that 52% of ChatGPT answers contain incorrect information and 77% are verbose. Nonetheless, our user study participants still preferred ChatGPT answers 35% of the time due to their comprehensiveness and well-articulated language style. However, they also overlooked the misinformation in the ChatGPT answers 39% of the time. This implies the need to counter misinformation in ChatGPT answers to programming questions and raise awareness of the risks associated with seemingly correct answers.

We have entered into a new vortex of information callousness — whose impact we can only understand when looking back at the present. 

May 24, 2024. San Francisco/

On my Om

24 May 2024 at 17:16

A startup’s “tablet” gears up to take on Apple’s iPad

Anjan Katta, founder of Daylight Computer

I am a tablet nerd. I have been since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad.

Tablets, especially the iPad, connect with me emotionally, much like my vintage fountain pen and notebook made out of Japanese paper. There is a reason why I use the iPad for most of my work, though lately, it has taken a backseat to a new device — the Daylight Computer’s Tablet.

This is one of the most talked about devices in Silicon Valley. It was created by Daylight Computer, a company started by Anjan Katta to solve his problem — he suffers from ADHD and wanted something that allowed him few distractions and allowed him to work with intent. The reason I am excited about that new tablet is because it is optimized around reading, writing, and productivity. This is very different from the tablets we have had so far.

Arun Venkatesan, founder of Carrot Fertility and a design-centric engineer, on his blog, writes:

At the original 2010 iPad launch, the majority of demos were entertainment-focused, with only a brief nod to content creation. Today, the data shows that the majority of time spent on tablets is indeed for entertainment purposes, not productivity.

Tablets, including the iPad, have largely become consumption-oriented entertainment devices, rather than the revolutionary productivity tools many had envisioned. Addressing this reality requires a more holistic rethinking of the tablet form factor and user experience – something the Daylight Tablet aims to change.

What the company has created is a beautiful tablet — about the size of a normal iPad Air. It is just a “little less than white,” white, with a gorgeous screen. It is very simple, elegant, and lovely. It has an e-ink screen, and the matte monochrome paper-like display is optimized for reading, writing, and note-taking. It refreshes at 60 frames per second, a pretty big deal for e-ink displays. This is much less stressful on the eye and easy to use even in direct sunlight. It has 8 GB memory, about 128 GB in-built storage, an 8-core chip, microphones, speakers, and a powerful battery.

There is no camera — thank God!

It has all the usual networking options – Bluetooth and Wifi. It has no cellular modem. I used it with my iPhone’s hotspot when sitting in the park. At home, I used my home wireless network.

Reading on this device, thus far, has been a joy, especially when sitting in the park. I use it to peruse articles I have saved on my Reader app (from Readwise), lots of papers (PDFs), and, of course, an occasional note I write to myself.

I used the browser and some of the specifically optimized apps such as Pocket. But it is mostly the browser. Much as I disdain Chrome on my desktop, it seems to be in perfect symbiosis with the device. I didn’t have much time with the device; I wish I had. The device I had in my hands was a prototype — and while it did have some other non-productivity apps, I didn’t care much about them. YouTube, for example.

Daylight uses a version of Android (much like other devices, say Oculus) and allows you to tap into the Android app ecosystem — so you can use social networking apps, but that would be pretty pointless.

For now, all I can say is that the team has done an amazing job so far, but a long journey awaits them, for we all know hardware is a hard game. This is an endeavor worth cheering for.

May 18, 2024. San Francisco.

Daylight Computer launched today, May 23, 2024. Here is a video to accompany the launch of the new tablet.

Related Reading:

A Review of Daylight Computer’s Tablet, by Arun Venkatesan. The article gives you a deeper understanding of the why and the how of the Daylight Tablet.

Why I Am Excited About the iPad

On my Om

18 May 2024 at 16:31

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