The DALL-E imaging algorithm is now available to everyone to play with. Do realise while the entity providing DALL-E is called OpenAI, it is no such thing.

An AI generated color photograph of a 1960s green Volkswagen camper van parked underneath a night sky with the milky way running from front to back, as a commercial airliner with two contrails flies past from left to right

Generated with DALL-E using the prompt “A color photograph of a 1960s green Volkswagen camper van parked underneath a night sky with the milky way running from front to back, as a commercial airliner with two contrails flies past from left to right.”, a single image selected from the first iteration of four.

Stable Diffusion, an open sourced model that can be run on your own hardware, produces this with the same prompt

Generated with Stable Diffusion using the prompt “A color photograph of a 1960s green Volkswagen camper van parked underneath a night sky with the milky way running from front to back, as a commercial airliner with two contrails flies past from left to right.”, a single image selected from the first iteration of four.

I’ve spotted several locations in our neighbourhood where wild hops grow. This one is along the cycling path where Y and I cycle to school. In the mornings last week when the sun was out, it shone directly on a hops plant around the time we pass it. I still need to stop on the way back and smell them. Never have seen them here in the north before, I have encountered them in the hills of Limburg in the south though.

Nicole van der Hoeven published one of her videos on using Obsidian on the topic of the ExcaliBrain plugin. The plugin is made by Zsolt Viczián, the same creator as the Excalidraw plugin which brings easy visualisation to Obsidian. I use Excalidraw within Obsidian with some regularity (I’m mostly text oriented).

It’s not mentioned in the video, but the ExcaliBrain plugin is clearly inspired by The Brain software, both in terms of types of links between notes, and how it shows them (even the placement of the little circles where links attach). The name suggests so too, and the plugin author names The Brain as source of inspiration in the github reposository. I used The Brain as desktop interface from 1997 until 2004-ish, and this plugin seems to bring The Brain as a visualisation layer to my notes. That alone is enough to try it out.

The plugin can both infer relationships between notes, through existing links, much as the general graph view in Obsidian does, but does so in a more navigable style. This I hope allows it to be used as a visual navigation interface to notes, something the graph view does not meaningfully, as The Brain so usefully did for me for a number of years.

You can also set explicit relationships by adding named links to your notes, for which it uses the inline data fields (yourfieldname::) that the DataView plugin makes possible. I already use that plugin so that’s not an extra step for me.
I disagree with Nicole van der Hoeven on her suggestion to comment out explicit relationships so that the plugin will visualise them but the note won’t show the links, except in edit mode.
The notes should always show all links I explicitly set, that’s the whole point of links.
Machine inferred links are a different matter, which deserve a toggle as they are suggestions made to me.
Links are my own and real work in my notes.

Setting explicit links (parent, child, friends ExcaliBrain calls them) is similar to how I already create links. When I write a new note I aim to link other notes in the way Soren Bjornstadt describes in a video of his touring his Zettelkasten. I make three links, if possible, from a new note. One to a higher level of abstraction note, one to a lower level of abstraction but more concrete note, and one to a related note at the same level. This creates ‘chains’ of 4 notes with a content-based implied order.

For example: a note on the role of public transport might link to urban mobility and the liveability of car-free city centers as higher abstration concepts, to a note on urban rail systems or bus networks as a lower abstraction level, to the German 2022 summer reduced fare scheme as an example, and to another communal public service like urban public internet as a same level but different type of note.

I strongly dislike the parent-child-sibling(-friend) vocabulary Excalibrain introduces though, as it implies an order of creation. Parents exist first, children from parents. This means for the way I described creating links in notes that abstract concepts come first. This is not how it mostly works for me. Abstract notions are often created from, intuited from, less abstratct ones. The scaffolding created by less abstract notes and concrete examples is what leads to them. Overarching concepts and insights emerge from linking lower level items. Thankfully the terms you actually use to denote such connections between notes can be freely chosen in the plugin settings. That is a design choice by Zsolt Viczián I greatly appreciate.

Nicole van der Hoeven in her run-through of ExcaliBrain also talks about this implied hierarchy, and mentions a higher level type of use, which is adding more semantics to links using the renaming options in the plugin settings. For instance to express lines of argumentation, and how material reflects on eachother (e.g. Note A reinforces / contradicts Note B). This is the type of linking that Tinderbox allows you to do visually too, which I’ve used a lot. She hasn’t used it that way herself yet she says, but suggests it’s likely the most valuable use case. I think that rings true. It’s where linking becomes the work you have to do yourself again, as opposed to lazy or automatic linking between notes.

I very much want to experiment with the ExcaliBrain plugin.

A screenshot after activating ExcaliBrain of the vicinity of a single note

Bookmarked AI Liability Directive (PDF) (by the European Commission)

This should be interesting to compare with the proposed AI Regulation. The AI Regulation specifies under which conditions an AI product or service, or the output of one will or won’t be admitted on the EU market (literally a CE mark for AI), based on a risk assessment that includes risks to civic rights, equipment safety and critical infrastructure. That text is still very much under negotiation, but is a building block of the combined EU digital and data strategies. The EU in parallel is modernising their product liability rules, and now include damage caused by AI related products and services within that scope. Both are listed on the EC’s page concerning AI so some integration is to be expected. Is the proposal already anticipating parts of the AI Regulation, or does it try to replicate some of it within this Directive? Is it fully aligned with the proposed AI Regulation or are there surprising contrasts? As this proposal is a Directive (which needs to be translated into national law in each Member State), and the AI Regulation becomes law without such national translation that too is a dynamic of interest, in the sense that this Directive builds on existing national legal instruments. There was a consultation on this Directive late 2021. Which DG created this proposal, DG Just?

The problems this proposal aims to address, in particular legal uncertainty and legal fragmentation, hinder the development of the internal market and thus amount to significant obstacles to cross-border trade in AI-enabled products and services.

The proposal addresses obstacles stemming from the fact that businesses that want to produce, disseminate and operate AI-enabled products and services across borders are uncertain whether and how existing liability regimes apply to damage caused by AI. … In a cross-border context, the law applicable to a non-contractual liability arising out of a tort or delict is by default the law of the country in which the damage occurs. For these businesses, it is essential to know the relevant liability risks and to be able to insure themselves against them.

In addition, there are concrete signs that a number of Member States are considering unilateral legislative measures to address the specific challenges posed by AI with respect to liability. … Given the large divergence between Member States’ existing civil liability rules, it is likely that any national AI-specific measure on liability would follow existing different national approaches and therefore increase fragmentation. Therefore, adaptations of liability rules taken on a purely national basis would increase the barriers to the rollout of AI-enabled products and services across the internal market and contribute further to fragmentation.

European Commission

Back in 2014 the FabLab in Donetsk, Ukraine, was closed at gunpoint at the command of someone who was a user of the space until then, and my acquaintance K who ran the Donetsk FabLab had to flee. In the past months I have regularly wondered about Ukrainian makers and small production companies. I’m sure all have been struggling.

During the pandemic lockdowns I ordered online with independent book stores and artisans in several European cities, to contribute something to their continuity.

After the summer I started looking for Ukraine based makers to similarly order some useful things, but I found it hard to find such makers. Then a FT journalist posted a number of links to Ukrainian brands in a Twitter thread, which I looked at.

I’ve ordered a blanket with the printed street pattern of Kyiv, which is a nice open data touch, from woolkrafts. A glass artefact from Olga Turetska, and two copies of an English language book on innovation in Ukraine from Osnovy Publishing. In a conversation with one of the staff at the publishing house, I was pointed to a newly launched online platform where you can find Ukrainian products. It’s called Made with Bravery. The list of makers selling through the platform is slowly growing.

My packages are making their way to me, and one has reached Dutch customs. If you order something too, do allow for a longish shipping period. There are other logistical issues way more important in Ukraine at the moment than delivery of commercial packages.