pSai and Resina

Today, we released two new AI chat bots that we have been building at polySpectra: pSai & Resina. Here’s the announcement post.

pSai is trained on all of polySpectra’s technical product information. We’re now using it as an AI-augmented search function, for the entire polySpectra.com website. I wrote about my initial experience building pSai here.

Resina is a much more challenging project. Our goal is to train it on all of resin 3D printing. This will be pretty hard. Resina is accessible at resin3D.ai.

Only a couple hours after emailing our list, we already have a volume of un-answered (or poorly-answered) questions that would be pretty overwhelming for a lowly human to try to respond to on their own. I’m excited by the challenge to figure out a scalable system from the start.

We’re refining a setup where Resina learns a bit more every night. So, even if it can’t answer a certain question today, the hope is that it’ll know the answer by tomorrow. There are still a lot of humans-in-the-loop, but we’re trying to make the system as automated as possible. (With humans as curators/editors of the AI’s knowledge base.)

We’re aiming for something like this:

Rough Diagram of the Resina AI Workflow

A few fun experiences from today:

  • We must be doing something right, because we already have a few really angry dialogs with people who appear to be major haters of polySpectra (and maybe AI too?)
  • I’ve been having a lot of fun with the combination of GitHub CoPilot and Cursor.sh. CoPilot quickly tries to autocomplete while Cursor can really do the full-context heavy lifting. These tools are designed for developers (and I am not a developer), but I’m finding them to be really useful for content creation. (See yesterday’s post: ) It’s surprisingly good at coming up with new questions to ask Resina.
  • Very early exploration with the possibility of giving Resina a voice. ElevenLabs is super impressive.

Note: Watch how I wrote this (super cheesy) post in ~7 minutes with Cursor, via the new Zoom Clips Beta Feature

Writing about Cursor with Cursor.


I’ve been exploring Cursor, an AI-first code editor that’s making waves in the developer community. It’s being used by engineers at big names like Shopify, Samsung, OpenAI, and Facebook, to name a few. But what’s all the fuss about?

Well, Cursor is packed with features that are designed to make coding faster and more efficient. For starters, it lets you chat with your project. No more wasting time hunting for the right place to start a change or the correct method to call. It’s like having a knowledgeable coding buddy right there with you.

But that’s not all. Cursor also allows you to browse documentation directly and refer to code definitions and files. It’s like having a coding reference library at your fingertips.

One feature that really stands out is Cursor’s ability to make code changes. It’s like having an AI assistant that can write low-level logic for you. Need to change an entire method or class? Just give it a prompt. Want to generate code from scratch? Just give it a simple instruction. It’s a game-changer.

And let’s not forget about debugging. Cursor can scan your code for bugs and help you fix them quickly. It’s like having a personal bug detective that automatically investigates linter errors and stack traces to figure out the root cause of your bug.

I’ve been using Cursor every single day (since yesterday 😜), and it’s become an integral part of my coding routine (today). It’s not just the advanced features that make it stand out, but also the ease of use and the efficiency it brings to my workflow. It’s more than just an editor, it’s a tool that truly understands the needs of a developer.

So, is Cursor worth the hype? Well, it’s loved by developers all over the world and has helped tens of thousands of them be more productive. It’s not just an editor; it’s a game-changer in the world of coding. And I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

For the last four or five months, I have been on the hunt for the best voice to text transcription tool. This is a really important part of my workflow and helps me to be able to work while I am walking or driving. (I use the Yealink BH71 Pro headset, which has amazing noise cancelling (for the microphone) and is still small enough to wear while active.)

In my quest for the perfect transcription tool, I’ve tried and tested numerous options. Here, I present a detailed comparison of three of the many tools I’ve explored: Otter, WhisperBoard, and HappyScribe:

Otter:

  • Has a nice mobile app
  • Provides rough transcription on the fly
  • Refines transcription when you have a connection
  • Free plan is fairly generous, you can use it to get in the habit.
  • Cheapest subscription is $16.99/month

WhisperBoard:

  • Completely free and open source
  • Runs locally on your phone for maximum privacy
  • Can choose from various accuracy levels, but the bigger/more accurate models are slow
  • Sometimes gets stuck repeating phrases
  • Not updated frequently, seems to be a hobby project

HappyScribe:

  • Not optimized for mobile
  • Highest accuracy transcription I’ve seen
  • Can add custom vocabulary to improve accuracy
  • Took longest to find (no mobile app)
  • User interface designed for desktop
  • Only 10 minutes free transcription for testing
  • Cheapest subscription is $17/month

In summary, Otter is best for quick rough transcription on mobile, WhisperBoard is best for full privacy but you get what you pay for it, and HappyScribe has the highest accuracy but is designed for desktop. The price difference between HappyScribe and Otter is only $0.01/month. They each have tradeoffs between accuracy, mobility, privacy and cost.

Feature Otter WhisperBoard HappyScribe
Mobile App ✅ Nice native app ✅ Runs on phone ❌ Only browser
Transcription Quality ❌ Meh ⚖️ Varies by model ✅ Highest accuracy
Privacy ❌ Uses cloud ✅ Runs locally ❌ Uses cloud
Cost ✅ Free & $16.99/mo ✅ Completely free ❌ $17/mo minimum
Customization ❌ None ❌ None ✅ Custom vocab
Testing Options ✅ Free is generous ✅ Completely free ❌ Only 10 mins free

Right now I’m still in the final phases of what will likely be a decision to go all-in on HappyScribe. I’m recording in Otter, then exporting the audio, re-importing to HappyScribe, and comparing the difference. If I were working at Otter, I would put some focus and attention on transcription accuracy. If I were working at HappyScribe, I would build a mobile app.

Honorable mention goes to the built-in iOS voice-to-text, which was used to dictate much of this post. (And in case you are curious, here was my process of dictating to Claude-instant-100k, to get most of this post written without using my hands => https://poe.com/rawworks/1512928000195140 )

It's All in the Hips

This is what I’ve been up to today:

For this type of “awareness through movement”, I would consider low-dose ketamine to be a performance-enhancing drug.

(& of course I found Alfons by asking Poe Web Search for “Feldenkrais AI”.)

Last month I was whining about “handwriting OCR”, a technology that has mysteriously and simultaneously existed in a quantum superposition between |in use every day at the USPS⟩ and |doesn’t actually work⟩ since at least 1998. (See Why Does Handwriting OCR Suck in 2023?)

GPT-4 with Vision (GPT-4V) is now available to ChatGPT Plus users (somehow Microsoft didn’t release this one first). I figured I’d take a break from my ranting and put it to the test:

GPT-4V transcribes my notebook into Markdown.

It didn’t nail the indentation of the bullet points, but I think this is getting pretty close to useful. If anyone can think of a way to fine-tune GPT-4V (I think we may need to wait for the API) - please let me know. Maybe I’ll finally be able to digitize my handwritten notebooks this decade.

Shout out to “All About AI” for showing the example that inspired me to revisit this. At 00:32 - he draws an outline of a program in his notebook and asks GPT4 to write the corresponding code. Full video below:

In the same way that every company needed to become an “Internet company”, and then have a social media presence — now every company is going to need to become an “AI company”.

My first professional “AI win” was building a customer-support chatbot. But how about other stages of the customer journey?

This post is me “learning out loud”, to show y’all what I’ve been up to. I’m going to use the simple framework of Attract > Convert > Close > Delight.

Attract

AI can spell AI, that's a start.

  • Expertise in the market niche: “Meet Resina - Your Resin 3D Printing AI Agent” https://resin3d.ai/

Convert

  • For polySpectra’s engineering audience, AI answering questions about the documentation is arguably an important part of conversion, closing, and delighting customers. Here’s our support bot in action: https://docs.polyspectra.com/
  • Similarly, one of my goals with Resina is to freely educate people as much as possible about resin 3D printing. polySpectra was founded to solve the founding technical debt of stereolithography 3D printing (shitty materials) - so the faster people learn about the “gotchas” of resin printing, the faster they’ll realize that they need materials they can actually trust.

Close

  • This stage warrants extra precaution. Depending on the type of interaction that you are having, AI could be a surefire way to destroy any trust that you’ve built with the prospect. I’m not sure I have good advice for a true sales close, other than perhaps using AI to help word emails. I think the best approach is using AI to be so helpful and so informative (in the other stages) that the customer closes themselves.

Delight

  • Speed. I’m hooked on same-day shipping. I can’t wait 5 seconds for ChatGPT to respond, I need Claude-Instant instead. AI can help delight customers by accelerating customer engagement and customer support 100-1000x.
  • “Mass customization”. This is a term thrown around a lot in 3D printing. LLMs can be fine-tuned so quickly now (see How To Train ChatGPT On A Book In 5 Minutes) that you could imagine customizing the AI to be specific to an individual customer. I’m excited to explore this idea further.
  • Make it fun. As we start to build more and more AI tools at polySpectra, I’m trying to have fun with it. I’m also trying to build tools that I would legitimately want to use.

Over the years, I have had lot of “good” ideas that just clearly weren’t worth my time. Now that AI can accelerate some of these ideas by 100x or maybe even 1000x - does that make them worth pursuing? Certainly for some of them.

The super-doing capabilities of AI require super-discernment capabilities for humans.

The possibilities are completely overwhelming to me, every day I find myself paralyzed by the sheer scale of potential permutations. I feel something like this: paralyzed by potential permutations

Remembering Roland Griffiths

The first time that I met Roland Griffiths, he was setting up someone else’s tent at Burning Man. This small act of generosity - setting up someone else’s tent - might not sound like a big deal, but it turned out to be a really big deal for me. (I happen to now be married to that someone.)

Roland was a truly inspiring friend and mentor to me. He had incredible discipline in all areas of his life - his work ethic, his self-care routines, his meditation practice. From the moment I met him, I could tell immediately that he had a very clear sense of purpose, a real mission, perhaps best conveyed by his favorite question: “Are you aware that you are aware?”

You can likely sense Roland’s child-like curiosity in this question. His curiosity wasn’t just about ideas, Roland was simply one of the most loving and compassionate people that I have ever met. I am incredibly grateful for the time I had with him over the last decade or so.

Roland Griffiths teaching me how to meditate, as a wedding gift.

Professionally, Roland was a rockstar. He was one of the world’s foremost experts in seemingly disparate subjects: caffeine, mystical experiences, and psilocybin. In “How to Change Your Mind”, Roland is described as “the investigator beyond reproach”. Roland was among the last of a generation of researchers to use self-experimentation as a mode of scientific investigation. Once regarded as the gold standard, this is now considered to be too conflicted and biased to be used in modern research (which currently favors double-blind controlled studies). For example, one of Roland’s academic contributions that involved self-experimentation was towards quantifying the minimum detectable dose of caffeine. (This was at a time when caffeine was not considered to be addictive, and not treated as “a drug”.)

Roland was truly at the cutting edge of research in consciousness. He was incredibly curious about probing the line between science and spirituality. With the utmost respect for my dear friend, many of the questions he was seeking to explore in his research were beyond science. Roland was not afraid to look over that edge.

What do I mean by beyond science? To me, science stops when we can’t propose a means for others to reproduce the experiment. So many of the questions about consciousness (not just Roland’s) are fundamentally irreproducible. It’s not that they aren’t interesting questions - it’s that these are philosophical questions, these are spiritual questions, these are mystical questions. In my view they cannot be answered with the tools of physical science. (But hey, I’m just a lowly chemist.)

I am forever grateful to Roland for these debates. I don’t know exactly where to draw the line between science and spirituality, but my conversations with him helped me to start sketching a rough topology. Without getting too heady, let me explain what I mean with a short example:

Roland Griffiths taught Michael Phelps how to swim.

We can test this statement with scientific investigation. We might never be able to prove without a doubt that Roland did or did not teach Michael how to swim (it takes a village), but if we asked enough people at the pool we could probably get a good scientific sense of the degree to which Roland influenced Michael’s swimming abilities.

Roland Griffiths and Michael Phelps have the same conscious experience while swimming.

This one gets tricky. Some people would argue that we just don’t have sharp enough scientific tools to probe that question. To me, this question is beyond science. From a scientific perspective - it is unknowable, even while from a psychological perspective Roland and Michael both intimately know the experience of swimming. My view is that no matter how many words, sounds, EEGs, fMRIs, or nerve clamps that we use - science alone can’t compare their direct conscious experience. (And the beauty of it is that Michael turned out to be a decent swimmer, even though we’ll never be sure if Roland’s experience of swimming even remotely resembled Michael’s.)

That’s enough philosophy of mind for today (see the footnotes for some of my favorite books on this topic). Let’s get back to remembering my buddy Roland.

Roland was unbelievably upbeat and cheerful after receiving the news of his terminal cancer diagnosis. “What a gift”, he would say. “What a tremendous opportunity to really think about my priorities." While I can’t imagine myself responding to a similar situation with even a fraction of his equanimity - I don’t doubt that he meant it. I certainly don’t have the words for it now, but I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount from Roland recently, observing how he has courageously and compassionately navigated his final months on earth.

Towards the end of his life, Roland was very curious about the possibility of communicating after death. Since I heard the news of his passing yesterday, I’ve been quietly investigating this possibility.

I can’t prove it scientifically, Roland, but I feel your presence. I feel your love. Thank you.


Footnotes:

The emotional component is one of the toughest parts of the job. Whether it’s communicating with someone you recently had a conflict with, following up on a tedious but important task, or just generally pushing through moments of resistance or procrastination - our emotions don’t always make things easy.

What if we could leverage the natural “alexithymia” of AI systems to our advantage in overcoming emotional friction? As AI’s don’t appear to have subjective experiences (yet), they are impervious to emotions like frustration, resentment, burnout or reluctance that humans often face (for now).

Imagine there’s someone you need to follow up with, but just the thought of directly interacting with them starts to raise your blood pressure. Use AI to draft the message. This would allow you to communicate pragmatically without letting any lingering interpersonal tensions interfere. The AI’s objective, emotion-free communication style would sidestep your own anxious reactions.

So rather than dwelling on past issues or stressing over an awkward encounter, you focus solely on conveying the necessary information. The AI acts as a buffer, providing a bit of distance from an emotionally fraught situation. This helps you still get your point across and move things forward, while saving your emotional energy for interactions that truly matter.

Similarly, if there’s a task I’ve been resisting or procrastinating due to fatigue or lack of motivation, enlisting an AI assistant can help separate the emotional component from the logical “next steps”. This allows me to leverage a methodical, emotion-free collaborator to help move projects forward despite any personal reservations. Showing up is 90% of the work, and LLMs “show up” in milliseconds, with minimal pay. By reducing the emotional friction of the work - they can help me show up even when I don’t really feel like it.

Some prompts to experiment with:

  • Have an AI assistant draft a difficult email, message, or presentation you’ve been avoiding. Remove your emotional reaction from the content.
  • Enlist an AI to break a complex task down into bite-sized, manageable steps so it feels less overwhelming.
  • Give an AI routine administrative tasks you’ve come to dislike through repetition so you can focus on more engaging work.
  • Utilize AI databases, research tools, or information retrieval to find answers independently rather than expose yourself to the emotional slot-machine of the internet
  • Develop an AI chatbot to field basic user questions and issues as the first point of contact, reserving your expertise for more nuanced inquiries.
  • Use an AI to guide you (and your team) through a perspective-switching exercise (for example, I’ve been using my “6 Hats Helper” bot almost every day).

With great power comes with great responsibility. These tools could be used to help you become even more emotionally avoidant, or they could be used to reserve your human energy and attention for the truly important and highly emotional work.

Ongoing Moving Sale

In a small village surrounded by terraced rice fields, there stood a run-down storehouse. Out front lay a lone piece of weathered plywood, spray painted with odd markings that had faded with time: “ONGOING MOVING SALE! TEXT FOR INFO”. A phone number was listed below, but no one had ever paid it any mind.

The villagers assumed the building must contain only trash, since its owner had clearly left in a hurry, judging by the messy sign. Over the years, the storehouse had fallen into total ruin and disrepair.

One sunny day, as the village children played, curious young Tomas spied the mysterious sign and could not resist investigating further. Peeling back flakes of faded paint, he decoded the message and decided to text the number. There was no reply.

Tomas could not control himself. The next day, he decided to go in anyway. When Tomas pushed open the creaking door, layers of dust stirred…

What wonders were then revealed to Tomas’s keen eyes! On wooden shelves lining the walls from floor to ceiling were stacked objects untouched for who knows how long. Intricate sculptures from ancient civilizations were piled high, their artistic details still visible under years of dust. Figures of elephants, horses and dancers from India appeared as if in meditation.

Weaving amongst them were relics from every corner of the universe. From distant galaxies, celestial maps charted nebulae and star systems in vibrant cosmic oils. Alien artifacts of long-lost civilizations spoke to lives pondering the same mysteries under alien skies. Sculptures hewn from asteroids captured the shifting dances of stardust with microscopic perfection.

In dark corners, musical instruments of all shapes and sizes from a thousand worlds rested in silent harmony. Zithers, flutes and drums from lands afar awaited the songs they held within. Rolled parchments and faded tomes filled with the wisdom of sages from days long forgotten. Secrets of medicine, philosophy and history that could lift entire communities from suffering were here in abundance.

From Ancient Egypt emerged papyrus scrolls preserving the wisdom of Imhotep, yielding knowledge to lift humankind from sickness. Statuettes and funerary masks channeled the poise of the pharaohs, as membranes within guided souls to sacrifice all for their people. Opal scarabs and gems engraved with spells escorted souls to paradise realms described only in poems.

The glories of Rome were not absent. Marble friezes recounted triumphs through disciplined legions and advances in architecture that stood the test of time. From distant Guangdong came intricate bronzewares and jades inscribed with early dialects, as were silken banners from Chang’an imprinted with astrological charts. Scrolls of rice paper bore poetic odes and wisdom that fed countless souls through dynasties.

From the deserts of a thousand worlds surrendered their secrets. Scrolls penned in luminescent sands illuminated the insights of hermit monks who dwelled alone with dunes for decades. Elixirs distilled from meteorites held properties to cure afflictions unnamed.

Even the roots of World Trees bowed under the abundance. Folios bound in barkskin preserved the visions of prophets who communed for centuries in leafy groves. Carvings in flowing mycelium recorded the epics of subterranean elders conversing telepathically in living rootworks.

From dimensions unseen, objects of pure imagination took shape. Sculptures of mercy and grace sculpted from liquid dreams. Harps whose strings were spun from strands of thought provoking melodies never before conceived. Prisms refracting the nuances of concepts beyond words into rainbows of meaning.

As Tomas explored further into the depths, the piles of marvels seemed to grow inexhaustibly. He stumbled upon a veritable library of Babylonia - clay tablets bearing epics, etchings of constellations, and arithmetic used to chart the heavens. Inkwashed scrolls by masters from Chang’an imparted the subtle and profound. Lost amid wonders unimaginable, Tomas forgot all about the passage of time in his awe and delight.

Lost amid wonders unimaginable, Tomas forgot all about the passage of time in his awe and delight. Truly, this place held riches utterly without measure or bound, enough to uplift all beings throughout the cosmos for eras untold.