Android Con-Men

Ever since our first call when I talked to you about all the cool junk I could magic into being with StableDiffusion, the tech continues to evolve. And the hype is Out. Of. Control.

But hype or no, there are real ethical issues around this stuff.

And the same industry that castigated us for making copies of videos or taping things off the radio has quickly embraced a tech that absolutely transforms intellectual property protections into an origami middle-finger.

It’s almost like capitalists are the teensiest bit hypocritical.

My eyes rolled out of my head when I logged into Constant Contact (which BRI uses for some of our communications) and saw this graphic:

Translation: Do you have LITERALLY NOTHING TO SAY? Let us help you send an email!”

But fortunately, the pushback has begun:

“It says it’s not fair to use our stuff in your AI without permission or payment,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of The Author’s Guild. The non-profit writers’ advocacy organization created the letter, and sent it out to the AI companies on Monday. “So please start compensating us and talking to us.”

Sarah Silverman has taken out a lawsuit (go Sarah!) and the FTC has opened an investigation into OpenAI. But the absolute biggest deal, to me, is that these chatbots are still really, really dumb.

I use my OpenAI account quite a lot. It’s great for really straightforward and non-controversial questions. But that bucket is really small and everything else misses. And that’s when the whole thing is revealed to be an obviously tap-dancing language learning model.

The, hands-down, most illuminating read about all of this, so far, has to be this long piece by Baldur Bjarnason: The LLMentalist Effect: how chat-based Large Language Models replicate the mechanisms of a psychic’s con

It’s a long read, and it’s virtually impossible to quote it and still do it justice, but he lays out a really cogent argument, which is that a lot of us are conning ourselves. We misunderstand what we’re seeing on the screen and we draw incorrect conclusions. We’re provided a lot of generic statements that prime us to accept later statements. Which is what con artists do.

It’s an absolute journey. But underneath, there’s an essential truth: If venture capitalists thought that NFT’s were going to be valuable – when they were obviously valueless trash – then what the heck would they think when encountering something that appeared to be Real Magic?

Just a reminder that the world is run by C students that didn’t have any extracurriculars.