Headline, August 21 2023/ ''' '' SILICON VALLEY SPECIAL '' '''


 SPECIAL '' '''

INTELLECTUAL GIG WORK : MIKE MASNICK HAS BEEN a close observer of the tech industry's rise from disruptive force to world-dominating power center, but he has never quite managed to reap its astronomical financial rewards.

The best way to describe how he makes a living is as an intellectual gig worker, equal parts business owner, tech journalist, policy analyst, research fellow and game designer.

Techdirt has a handful of employees and paid contributors, almost all selected in meritocratic style from the comment section.

Because of Mr. Masnick's commitment to the free flow of information, Techdirt has never had a paywall. Advertising and support from the site's millions or so readers have never fully paid his bills.

In the early 2000s - a thousand years ago in internet time - online file-sharing was taking off and CD sales were plummeting. Mr.Masnick exhorted the music industry to accept the internet and the opportunity it offered to connect with more fans. The internet would be great for artists : fewer middlemen and gatekeepers.

The digitization of music didn't go exactly the way Mr.Masnick had hoped. Creators weren't the primary winners; subscription services like Spotify and Apple music were. But artists who had a direct relationship with their audience did gain more power, as many a Taylor Swift fan can attest.

HE'S NOT FRIGHTENED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY. In a world of upheaval, Mike Masnick - a tech vet, lends a reassuring voice.

THAT was the question that Mike Masnick found himself fielding this summer in a WhatsApp chat with about 100 directors, actors and screenwriters. The group, including marquee talent, was worried about a grim possible future in which deepfake versions of actors perform screenplays written by ChatGPT.

Mr. Masnick, a professional tech wonk, told his Hollywood listeners to work with what they had :  Publicly shame projects that replace human labor with artificial intelligence, use state publicity laws against any unauthorized deepfake and fight hard for contractual protections.

[ The fight is on : A.I. is one reason for the writers' and actors' strikes that have paralyzed the film and television industry ].

BUT he also suggested that they capitalize on the technology. Convinced that ''A.I. plus human'' is the future, he sighted the singer Grimes, who invited people to use A.I.generated versions of her voice, trained on music that she had done in the past, in exchange for half of any royalties. One Grimes song is closing in on a million listens on Spotify.

'' Let people be creative and they'll do creative things and expand the interest in your own work,'' Mr. Masnick, 48, said. The technological shift is inevitable, he said, so '' use it to your advantage.''

Since starting his Techdirt blog in 1998, Mr. Masnick has been doling out this same message as wave after wave of tech innovation has stirred fears, going back to the time of Napster : The new thing is less scary than you think it is.

He has been added to the Hollywood group chat about A.I. by Alex Winter, an actor and filmmaker whose oeuvre ranges from '' Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure '' to documentaries about other alarming technology, including Bitcoin and YouTube. Mr. Winter said he appreciated Mr. Masnick's pragmatism.

'' I find people like Mike reassuring because they are setting up guardrails to prevent you from driving your car off the cliff in your zeal to find solutions,'' he said.

By sheer longevity and deep knowledge of tech history, Mr.Massnick has become something of a  Silicon Valley oracle. His message is to embrace change even when painful and beware of knee-jerk legal protections with unintended questions.

It hasn't paid very well, but what Mr. Masnick lacks in wealth he makes up for in influence. Lawmakers, activists and executives consider him an essential guide for what's happening in the technology world and what to do next.

'' Whenever tech policy news breaks, I always want to see what Mike's take is going to be,'' Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said in a statement. Mark Zuckerberg, the head of Meta, has called him '' insightful and reasonable.''

The tech entrepreneur Anil Dash said he '' shows up and ships every day'' and has been '' filing constantly for decades on a beat that is thankless.''

What Mr. Masnick apparently hasn't had time for is a redesign of his blog. A wall of text, heavy on hyperlinks, it has not evolved much since its founding.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Silicone Valley Oracles, continues.The World Students Society thanks author Kashmir Hill.

With most respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - the exclusive ownership of every student : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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