Hacking LLM bots

For anyone who missed it, a Twitter account named @mkualquiera recently deployed what seems like a kind of adversarial attack in the wild on a large language model (LLM)-based Twitter bot. I’ll link to the key post below, but it’s worth providing a bit of context, as it wasn’t immediately clear to me what was going on when I first saw the tweet.

Report from FAccT 2022

The fifth iteration of FAccT (the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency) was held earlier this month (June 21–24) in Seoul, South Korea. More than just a hybrid conference, this was actually a full in-person conference, combined with a full on-line conference. These happened in parallel, with virtual sessions starting before and continuing after the in-person component each day. Around 500 people attended in person, with another 500 participating remotely.

Counting Deaths

Although morbid, it’s fascinating to read a recent article in the NYT about efforts in Sierra Leone to use “electronic autopsies” in a large scale attempt at counting deaths. According to the article, this undertaking is part of a broader effort at data collection, including questions on age, religion, marital status, etc. The novelty, it seems, is in trying to be thorough with respect to what people have died of (including extensive questions about symptoms), even though this information is being collected potentially long after the fact.

Modular Domain Adaptation

Despite their limitations, off-the-shelf models are still quite widely used by computational social science researchers for measuring various properties of text, including both lexicons, like LIWC, and cloud-based APIs, like Perspective API. The approach of using an off-the-shelf model has some definite advantages, including standardization and reproducibility, but such models may not be reliable when applied to a domain that differs from the ones on which they were developed…

Stability and Change

One of the biggest frustrations with software is that things are constantly changing. From operating systems to apps to web interfaces, things rarely remain the same for very long, especially for users of Windows or MacOS. There are many reasons for this of course. For decades, hardware has continued to improve at a steady rate, and so software is constantly being rewritten to take advantage of the latest capabilities. Moreover, the incredibly sloppy standard for software quality and reliability (compared to traditional engineering disciplines) means that even the most professional software is shipped with massive numbers of bugs and vulnerabilities, which constantly need to be patched.