Project Tailwind. Yet another "tool for thought", this one from Google

Steven Johnson on the new tool he’s been working on at Google: Project Tailwind - by Steven Johnson - Adjacent Possible

The tool itself:

I’ll just watch this one from the sidelines. It’s not available outside the US anyway.


Why can’t these guys be more original in naming their products? The name Tailwind certainly has a brand already for folks using CSS.

Perhaps they should learn to use google search before they use a name?


Tailwind is a project, maybe they will choose another name if it is ever released as a product. Or perhaps they will just use the name and let the lawyers deal with any fallout.

That’s how Apple got permission to use the name “iPhone” from Cisco, who owned the name at the time Steve Jobs announced the product.

I wonder what a successful product based on Tailwind technology would do to software like Obsidian? Would it eliminate the need for backlinks, etc. and wipe out an entire category of existing software?

It should eliminate some need for them. Easy case: some people maintain a bunch of Bible verse/chapter/book nodes. An LLM should easily be able to infer your references and answer more flexibly, e.g., “when did I preach from wisdom literature books last year?”

Other backlinks should still be helpful for the LLM, I’d think? Due to the nature of LLMs they wouldn’t be strictly required to make an inference, but they would make good inferences possible in smaller datasets/less training cost.

Plus Project Tailwind users would still manually browse their documents sometimes, or want to maintain a document they periodically send/show other people.

Overall: I have a lot of respect for Stephen Johnson, and I’m glad heavy Google users will get an integrated tool for thought–but I’m most interested in how independent tools learn from this project.

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What are the options for us folks that store everything in apps like devonthink or eagle filer? :frowning:

I know! It’s so annoying. There’s another Clarke Ching in the world. He’s a dentist. He lives in Canada. His parents were very thoughtless when they named him, I think.

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Evil thought: they own it, so they could rank first if they wanted.

I’ll give you a related example of how something like Tailwind or other AI power technologies may affect or eliminate the use of other applications.

I choose a biblical theme for each school year. This year’s theme was Holiness. Next year’s is Faith in Service. The biblical theme serves as a fulcrum for staff devotionals and student chapels and is also referenced in other presentations and communications throughout the year.

Knowing that I must prepare at least nine talks on this theme, I gave ChatGPT this prompt to see what it would deliver: “Outline nine 20-minute Christian devotions on service from a theologically reformed perspective.”

I would not take the results “as is,” but they are a good jumping-off point, giving me ideas I had not considered. Below is a screenshot of the outline. I removed all Bible verses from the screenshot, but ChatGPT included the biblical text for each major point. For example, the first one was:

1. Begin by reading Ephesians 2:8-10 and reflecting on how God’s grace leads us to good works.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8–10).

Instead of using something like Obsidian’s graph to see related topics/concepts, one could use Tailwind or other AI-powered tools to cross-reference a lot of text and generate an outline. I am NOT suggesting that we use these tools in lieu of our deep thinking, creativity, and hard work. I’m suggesting that these tools can serve as a catalyst and research tool for our thinking. Of course, these are early days, so we are just getting a glimpse of the possibilities.

On a related note, I just received my invitation to Google’s AI Test Kitchen. This should be interesting. :slightly_smiling_face:

Outline of service topics: