Simon Willison’s Weblog


25 items tagged “politics”


Voters in the Clapham and Brixton Hill constituency can rest easy - despite appearances, their Reform candidate Mark Matlock really does exist. [...] Matlock - based in the South Cotswolds, some 100 miles from the constituency in which he is standing - confirmed: "I am a real person." Although his campaign image is Al-generated, he said this was for lack of a real photo of him wearing a tie in Reform's trademark turquoise.

Private Eye

# 8th July 2024, 3:20 pm / politics, ai, generative-ai

LLMs may offer immense value to society. But that does not warrant the violation of copyright law or its underpinning principles. We do not believe it is fair for tech firms to use rightsholder data for commercial purposes without permission or compensation, and to gain vast financial rewards in the process. There is compelling evidence that the UK benefits economically, politically and societally from upholding a globally respected copyright regime.

UK House of Lords report on Generative AI

# 2nd February 2024, 3:54 am / ethics, politics, ai, generative-ai, llms


The EU AI Act now proposes to regulate “foundational models”, i.e. the engine behind some AI applications. We cannot regulate an engine devoid of usage. We don’t regulate the C language because one can use it to develop malware. Instead, we ban malware and strengthen network systems (we regulate usage). Foundational language models provide a higher level of abstraction than the C language for programming computer systems; nothing in their behaviour justifies a change in the regulatory framework.

Arthur Mensch, Mistral AI

# 16th November 2023, 11:29 am / politics, ai, llms, mistral


I Lived Through A Stupid Coup. America Is Having One Now (via) If, like me, you have been avoiding the word “coup” since it feels like a clear over-reaction to what’s going on, I challenge you to read this piece and not change your mind.

# 21st November 2020, 1:21 pm / politics, trump

How much can you learn from just two columns?

Visit How much can you learn from just two columns?

Derek Willis shared an intriguing dataset this morning: a table showing every Twitter account followed by an official GOP congressional Twitter account.

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Practical campaign security is a wood chipper for your hopes and dreams. It sits at the intersection of 19 kinds of status quo, each more odious than the last. You have to accept the fact that computers are broken, software is terrible, campaign finance is evil, the political parties are inept, the DCCC exists, politics is full of parasites, tech companies are run by arrogant man-children, and so on.

Maciej Cegłowski

# 30th May 2019, 12:03 pm / maciejceglowski, politics, security

What the Hell is Going On? (via) David Perell discusses how the shift from information scarcity to information abundance is reshaping commerce, education, and politics. Long but worthwhile.

# 17th March 2019, 4:50 pm / education, internet, politics


Analyzing US Election Russian Facebook Ads

Two interesting data sources have emerged in the past few weeks concerning the Russian impact on the 2016 US elections.

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Exploring the UK Register of Members Interests with SQL and Datasette

Ever wondered which UK Members of Parliament get gifted the most helicopter rides? How about which MPs have been given Christmas hampers by the Sultan of Brunei? (David Cameron, William Hague and Michael Howard apparently). Here’s how to dig through the Register of Members Interests using SQL and Datasette.

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Miss Wilson, when she was a resident superintendent in this Palace, had a cat that apparently caught up to 60 mice a night. The corpses were then swept up in the morning. Finally, does the noble Lord recognise the fire hazard that mice pose, because they eat through insulating cables? It would be a tragedy for this beautiful Palace to burn down for lack of a cat.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

# 31st March 2010, 4:06 pm / cats, hansard, houseoflords, politics

They Write For You. I helped put together this visualisation of stories written by MPs for various newspapers at last Friday’s ’Hackers and Hacks" hack day.

# 2nd February 2010, 9:27 am / hackday, mps, newspapers, politics, projects, visualisations


Crowdsourced document analysis and MP expenses

Visit Crowdsourced document analysis and MP expenses

As you may have heard, the UK government released a fresh batch of MP expenses documents a week ago on Thursday. I spent that week working with a small team at Guardian HQ to prepare for the release. Here’s what we built:

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HTTP + Politics = ? Mark Nottingham ponders the technical implications of Australia’s decision to apply a filter to all internet traffic. Australia is large enough (and far enough away from the northern hemisphere) that the speed of light is a performance issue, but filtering technologies play extremely poorly with optimisation technologies such as HTTP pipelining and Google’s SPDY proposal.

# 15th December 2009, 3:36 pm / australia, filtering, google, http, mark-nottingham, performance, pipelining, politics, spdy

MoD sticks with insecure browser. Tom Watson MP used parliamentary written answers to find out that the majority of government departments still require their staff to use IE6, and not all of them have upgrade plans to 7 or 8. Not a single department considered an alternative browser. “Many civil servants use web browsers as a tool of their trade. They’re as important as pens and paper. So to force them to use the most decrepit browser in the world is a rare form of workplace cruelty that should be stopped.”

# 24th July 2009, 10:18 am / browsers, civilservice, politics, tom-watson, ukgovernment

Early Day Motion to support Bletchley Park Museum. Time to fire up and drop your MP a friendly note of encouragement.

# 21st July 2009, 1:56 pm / bletchleypark, edparsons, politics

The Straight Choice | The election leaflet project. Nice crowdsourcing app by Richard Pope, Francis Irving and Julian Todd—UK political leaflets are hard to keep tabs on due to the way they are distributed over small geographical areas, so this site encourages you to take photos of leaflets delivered to your home and tag them with postcode, party and key topics.

# 8th June 2009, 4:23 pm / crowdsourcing, francisirving, julian-todd, politics, richardpope, thestraightchoice, ukpolitics

We are facing an economic crisis that is within our capacity to solve, and an ecological crisis that we lack the political means to prevent. It's only by failing at the former that we might have a chance at surviving the latter.

Maciej Cegłowski

# 19th March 2009, 4:11 pm / climatechange, economics, maciejceglowski, politics


Obama ’08 for iPhone (via) Slick app, impressive for a three week turnaround. I’m guessing it uses the phone number area codes in your address book to arrange your friends by state for the “call your friends” feature, which is an ingeniously simple hack.

# 2nd October 2008, 6:13 pm / barack-obama, iphone, politics, ravenzachary

Growing the ORG community. The Open Rights Group want a fiver a month from 750 new people to support their excellent work fighting for digital civil liberties in the UK political arena. Going by their past performance this is a very worthwhile investment.

# 7th July 2008, 6:42 pm / civilliberties, digitalrights, openrightsgroup, politics

A Look at the Presidential Candidates. The Big Picture (the Boston Globe’s fantastic photojournalism blog) presents a fascinating collection of historical photos of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

# 4th July 2008, 9:09 pm / barack-obama, john-mccain, photography, photos, politics, thebigpicture


Google Reader ruins Christmas (via) New sharing feature automatically reveals shared items to Gmail contacts, causing political rows.

# 25th December 2007, 2:59 pm / google, google-reader, politics, privacy, sharing, socialnetworking

Death and Taxes (via) Beautiful massive zoomable/pannable infographic of the 2008 Federal Discretionary Budget.

# 19th April 2007, 2:37 am / ajax, infographic, javascript, politics

Discourse DB. A collaborative effort to collect the opinions of the world’s journalists and commentators about ongoing political events and issues, powered by Semantic MediaWiki so there’s metadata coming out of its ears.

# 12th April 2007, 4:38 pm / discoursedb, mediawiki, oxfordgeeknight2, politics, semanticmediawiki


’National interest’ halts arms corruption inquiry. “It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest.”

# 15th December 2006, 2:09 pm / politics, scandal, uk


They Work For You

Today is/was (you never can tell with these wretched time zone differences) NotCon 2004, London’s premiere low-cost, informal, one-day technology conference. Friday’s MiniNTK promised the unveiling of a new project from the people behind FaxYourMP and PublicWhip and sure enough, here it is:

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