Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.



There’s No Free Hot Tub

Technology is rarely additive.

New technologies come along and inevitably we call them progress. And any detractors of said technologies are immediately labeled luddites.

(Which for some reason is a pejorative even though the history of terrible working conditions in early factories is undeniable—and with all of the benefits brought on by the Industrial Revolution, it was by no means a clear “win” when it comes to ethics, humane treatment of labor, and corporate responsibility!)

Yes, new technologies arrive on the scene, and folks look at them all starry-eyed and imagine how stellar the future will be.

But we rarely take the opportunity to consider the costs of these additions. I don’t mean just monetary costs (although that’s legit). I mean ethical, cultural, sustainable, mental, spiritual costs. What do we gain, sure, but also, what do we lose?

Free things in life are rarely free.

I was once given a free hot tub. Free!! Incredible, right? Turned out to be a terrible mistake.

It was going to cost money to set the hot tub on a proper foundation. It was going to cost money to clean. It was going to cost money to hook it up to the necessary plumbing. So we never set it up. An unused hot tub sat there in our back yard for months. (Years?)

And that wasn’t the worst part of it…it ended up costing us real money to haul it away when it came time to move!

The free hot tub…wasn’t free at all.

Technology is rarely additive.

The philosophy of #minimalism has taught me to realize that every new thing I add to my life—whether it’s an object or a technology or a social network or a hobby or a job or even a friendship…everything comes with a cost.

Sometimes those costs are well worth it. Few obvious downsides and the potential rewards are significant. Worth the effort. Worth the risk.

But there’s always a cost. And sometimes the cost is just too damn high.

Any time someone tells you about a mind-blowing new technology (web3) that’s going to revolutionize everything (#generativeAI) and change the world forever (self-driving cars), ask them what the costs are. If they can’t tell you, either they don’t know (because they’re ignorant), or they don’t want you to know (because they’re grifters).

Either way, do your due diligence. And inform the oncoming hordes shouting Luddites! Luddites! that their myopic view of history needs profound correction.

Time Exclusive: OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour

I’ve been sounding the alarm for some time now that #generativeAI is exploitive, but I was primarily considering the ways in which these large learning models rely on scraping online content without the consent of its human authors. Now we learn the uncomfortable truth that these popular tools built by OpenAI such as ChatGPT were made possible by the exploitation of third-party low-wage workers in parts of the world Silicon Valley would rather us Euro-centric netizens not know too much about.


But hey, this is going to be Big Tech’s next Big Thing, so what’s a few poor African souls with faltering mental health in light of Western Capitalism. Hmm, I wonder what ChatGPT thinks about this single-minded pursuit of the almighty dollar, ethics be damned… (Don’t ask.)