Situational awareness and kindlegen

On June 4th Leopold Aschenbrenner dropped a 165 page PDF – “Situational Awareness: The Decade Ahead” – a comprehensive essay series exploring the future trajectory of artificial intelligence, particularly focusing on the development and implications of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). I wanted to read it but, for me, 165 pages is a bit much for a reading session on the laptop and sending the PDF to a Kindle results in a terribly small type zoomy-inny zoomy-out reading experience, so I figured I’d quickly turn it into an eBook to read on my Kindle.

The end result is this native Kindle format file which you can copy to your Kindle via USB to enjoy the piece too - Note I’m not affiliated with Leopold and am not even endorsing the material in here, I’m just saying it was worth the schlep I undertook to read. I figure Leopold wants the material to be read and therefore won’t mind me reproducing here (otherwise, LMK!).

Kindlegen in 2024

kindlegen was Amazon’s official tool for making Kindle eBook files, but it doesn’t seem to be maintained any more. There is a 64-bit binary for Mac but it is intel only, so you have to run under Rosetta (softwareupdate --install-rosetta). Making a final eBook is then an exercise in “how much stuff do I need to strip out of the html to stop kindlegen crashing”. It’s quite non-deterministic (e.g. different permutations of sub-chapters of the above worked but the whole thing segfaulted at various milestones along the way.)

I’ve put the final clean-up script that I put all the html through to produce a happy kindlegen in this GitHub gist.