Ducks, ADHD, and a Bear
Plus, me and a bot get in an argument with a bot
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Kate Beaton on the podcast
This week, Depresh Mode welcomes the author and illustrator Kate Beaton. We talk about her book Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, which continues to haunt me weeks after I read it.
The book is about the two years Kate spent working in a remote area of northern Alberta, Canada in an area known as the Oil Sands. Vast amounts of crude oil lie in the ground there and you got hundreds of workers, almost all men, going about the laborious process of extracting it.
Kate mostly worked in what’s called the tool crib, checking out tools and equipment to the men working on the front lines. That position left her perfectly poised to get hit on by the guys but also to see the corrosive effect of living in isolation from society and family.
Part of what I try to do on the show every week is provide some context as to why we’re having the conversation that we’re having. Not many people listening will have worked in the Oil Sands or ever will but I’m often struck by the dehumanizing quality that seems inescapably baked in to the reality of having a job. I think about how we have to sometimes (often?) find the humanity in the face of our work, we have to shove it back in as best we can.
Kate Beaton is also the author/illustrator/creator of the beloved web comic Hark! A Vagrant, which she started around the same time she was working in the Oil Sands.
People with ADHD are more likely to have other mental health problems
New research from the University of Bath in the UK indicates that adults with ADHD are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than adults with autistic traits.
This study is the first to show that ADHD is more predictive of poor mental health outcomes in adults than other neurodevelopmental conditions, like autism.
Until now, there has been a dearth of information on the effects of ADHD on poor mental health, with far more research focusing on the impact of autism on depression, anxiety and quality of life. As a result, people with ADHD have often struggled to access the clinical care they need to cope with their symptoms.
The study used a large, nationally representative sample of adults from the UK population. All participants completed gold standard questionnaires—one on autistic traits, the other on ADHD traits—responding to statements such as "I frequently get strongly absorbed in one thing" and "How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?"
The researchers found that ADHD traits were highly predictive of the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms: the higher the levels of ADHD traits, the more likely a person is to experience severe mental health symptoms. Through innovative analytical techniques, the study authors further confirmed that having more of an ADHD personality was more strongly linked to anxiety and depression than autistic traits.
People seeking emotional support were secretly fed to an AI bot
Get ready to either scream or finally submit to our AI overlords. People use the service Koko not as legit therapy but to at least get support from a human who can sympathize with human struggles. But the folks at Koko tried something different.
In October, Koko ran an experiment in which GPT-3, a newly popular artificial intelligence chatbot, wrote responses either in whole or in part. Humans could edit the responses and were still pushing the buttons to send them, but they weren’t always the authors.
About 4,000 people got responses from Koko at least partly written by AI, Koko co-founder Robert Morris said.
The trouble started after Morris blithely announced what had happened. He pointed out that the AI-generated responses were rated more favorably than responses written by carbon-based humans.
Leslie Wolf, a Georgia State University law professor who writes about and teaches research ethics, said she was worried about how little Koko told people who were getting answers that were augmented by AI.
“This is an organization that is trying to provide much-needed support in a mental health crisis where we don’t have sufficient resources to meet the needs, and yet when we manipulate people who are vulnerable, it’s not going to go over so well,” she said. People in mental pain could be made to feel worse, especially if the AI produces biased or careless text that goes unreviewed, she said.
I’ll take my AI in this form, thanks:
I asked the Chat GPT AI engine to write a short essay about why AI is good for mental health:
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the field of mental health. One of the main benefits of AI in mental health is its ability to provide personalized treatment. By analyzing large amounts of data and identifying patterns, AI can help mental health professionals understand the unique needs of each patient. This can lead to more effective and tailored treatment plans.
Another benefit of AI in mental health is its ability to provide access to care for individuals who may not have access to traditional mental health services. For example, AI-powered chatbots and virtual therapists can provide mental health support to individuals living in rural areas or those who have mobility issues.
AI can also assist mental health professionals in their diagnostic and treatment decisions. By analyzing large amounts of data, AI can help identify early warning signs of mental health disorders and assist in developing treatment plans.
IS ANY OF THIS TRUE? WE DON’T KNOW. AND THE LINES OF CODE WRITING IT DON’T KNOW OR CARE.
Then I asked it to write about why AI is BAD for mental health. What I found is that the motherfucker couldn’t bring itself to hate itself:
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to greatly benefit society in many ways, but it can also have negative effects on mental health. One concern is the increasing dependence on technology, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from others. Additionally, some studies have shown that excessive use of technology, including AI, can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Furthermore, AI-driven algorithms have the ability to manipulate human behaviors, emotions and thoughts which can lead to mental disorders. It's important to use AI responsibly and to be aware of its potential negative effects on mental health.
SAME ALL-CAPS CAVEAT AS BEFORE!
Werner Herzog’s life advice in 24 parts
via Kottke. It’s about making movies but also about everything.
1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.