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  • 🍳 Sunday Bunch #1: Today's Menu: AI, OJ, and Baja Blast Doritos

🍳 Sunday Bunch #1: Today's Menu: AI, OJ, and Baja Blast Doritos

Welcome to Sunday Bunch

Like so many, I am spending a good deal of time thinking about artificial intelligence and its implications for the future of how we work, live, and play.

One theme that I was planning to explore in detail moved front and center this week: AI's insatiable need for data and power.

The Robots Are Hungry

First you get the data. There were two warning signs late last year that the game of chicken was underway:

  1. Last September, speaking at a conference, Sam Altman was asked about training models for OpenAI and said "the data is going to run out"

  2. Then, in December, the New York Times filed a federal lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft seeking to end the practice of using its stories to train its models

AI models need lots of information for training and actually becoming anything more than a nifty parlor trick. The problem is, a lot of that information belongs to other people and companies, often protected by pesky things like privacy and intellectual property laws, terms of use and other legal documents.

The stakes couldn't be higher, and the players are the biggest companies in the world, so there is a growing gold rush to fill the endless data and knowledge appetites of our robot overlords.

Of course, the internet is also a house built on a copy-paste foundation:

Scraping content is a tradition as old as the web itself, and it is being continued today by the likes of OpenAI, who has trained its models on millions of hours of text scraped from YouTube videos.

This is all just the beginning. We know from every innovation cycle since the dawn of the internet, it starts with corporate data and intellectual property, but eventually it moves on to aggregating all of our bits and bytes.

The question is, who can we trust with that task? The companies with the resources to build the worldbrain supercomputers will do so with money printed on top of our personal data, much of which has been mishandled along the way. How are you feeling about whispering your sensitive details into that robot's ear?

I share the excitement about what could be on the horizon as AI rolls out more broadly, and I want to trust that we've learned from previous cycles and will be more responsible, transparent, and fluid with how data is used and shared.

But the current messaging, which tells us how massive AI will be while gradually encroaching on our data in the shadows, does not set a great baseline for the next era.

Then you get the power. Enough to energy to power entire nations, and growing. The most fundamental must-have to deliver on the long-term promise of AI will become one of the most pivotal issues for the remainder of the decade.

Environmental and computing experts alike have raised the overall computing energy concern for some time, with each new innovation from cryptocurrency to AI adding significant burden to an already strained power infrastructure in the U.S. and most of the world.

How do we increase our energy production to meet the growing demands of our next-gen computing infrastructure, and is there any hope of doing so in an environmentally sustainable fashion?

How much can AI really offset its massive power usage by helping us to optimize our grid-wide energy usage?

🤨 A lot of questions, with your help, I'll get us some answers.

Now He's Just Pulp

There were many words written about Orenthal James Simpson this week, but Wesley Morris might have done the best job of capturing the mood for those who came of age in time to know the pre- and post-O.J. world:

When our Great Americans go, we know how to mourn them. Their lives were so grand, so architectural, infrastructural, awesome, admired, adventurous, outsize, so representative of some (or many) of this country’s ideals that the elegies come gushing. But there’s a Great American subset — where the adventure rocks the infrastructure and the life leaves a gash. Our Seismic Americans. That was O.J. Simpson. What’d he register? Almost a 9?

I'm certainly not going to give O.J. Simpson a eulogy and you probably shouldn't expect to see Nordberg clips in the In Memoriam segment at the 2025 Oscars. But if you're trying to traverse American culture from the 1990s to the 2020s, your journey either starts or quickly passes through the O.J. border (to learn more, watch the documentary O.J.: Made in America).

Two more positive footnotes to come out of Simpson's passing this week:

First, O.J.'s death brings the real possibility that the families of his victims may finally get the $33 million financial payout they were awarded by a judge almost 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, in my corner of the internet, the entire thing evolved into a big tribute to Norm Macdonald, whose incredible work on SNL's Weekend Update throughout the O.J. saga eventually got him fired:

RIP, Norm.

Everyone's Getting Blasted

"This year marks the 20th Bajaversary, and Doritos is officially joining the year-long celebration."

- Frito-Lay executives, announcing limited-edition Baja Fiery Mango Doritos, a limited edition celebrating the 20th anniversary of Mountain Dew Baja Blast

They go on to give us a rare glimpse behind the secure walls of the food lab:

“The team was particularly drawn to the mango habanero flavor combination, as it’s a proliferating flavor on menus and felt truer to Doritos brand and the flavor experiences Doritos consumers are seeking.”

So with the mango habanero concept in mind, the team pivoted to “exploring different mango flavor paths that focused on the various properties of a mango — juiciness, tartness, earthiness, etc.,” until they landed on the flavor it’s offering today.

Like Robert Oppenheimer took a daytrip to Flavor Country.

Baja Blast Squares, take two!

Now with real Baja Blast syrup for flavour.... and half a cup of crushed cool ranch doritos in the crust. pic.twitter.com/7idUJAhbNC

— Zev - Attending Furry Weekend Sheplanta (@Fox_Fusion) April 11, 2024

...and one more things:

🤖 Udio and Suno are dueling AI music generation platforms picking up buzz with a similar offering: generate a song with a simple text prompt.

Just as with other Generative AI platforms like ChatGPT and Midjourney, I wouldn't say the results are going to put anyone out of a job anytime soon. But I asked it to make a classic rock song about lazy rivers and while the result isn't exactly a Coachella-worthy banger, with a day or two of work in the studio I could 100% hear it on a Stagecoach side stage.

🤠 Gosling hosted SNL, with help from Kate McKinnon, Emily Blunt, and Caitlin Clark. It was an A+ cold open, strong monologue and a couple more of the season's best moments. They even gave us a 7-minute Papyrus sequel as online-only bonus content.

🔥 Conan O'Brien brought down the house on Hot Ones this week.

🌭 Just in time for backyard BBQs, it's the global glizzy power rankings.

And finally, one of my favorite new things (I'm just like Oprah and Gwyneth):

🍗 If you love Austin and you love food, David Douglass is my new must-follow.

The Weekender is Sunday Bunch's sports section. Not totally sure what the idea is here yet, this is just a warm-up round.

⛳️ The final round of The Masters is in full swing. We are in the path of totality for the eclipse of the riding mower dad and salmon short-wearing bro. If you want a Tesla dealership all to yourself, now is your one shining moment.

🏌🏻For those who care but somehow haven't followed, Scottie Scheffler sits at the top of the leaderboard at the start of play Sunday.

⛹🏻‍♀️ The NCAA women's basketball tournament finished its triumphant run with the biggest basketball broadcast of any kind since 2019, averaging about 18.7 million viewers and peaked at a whopping 24 million combined on ESPN and ABC. For TV audiences in 2024, it's the NFL and Taylor Swift, then Caitlin Clark, then everyone else.

✌️ Shout out to JuJu Watkins, who led USC to the Elite 8 as a freshman, and who is going to lead USC to a title in 2025.

⚽️ Wrexham won their final match 6-0, securing a second consecutive promotion, now reaching League One (third division).

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