Should we let the horse leave the barn?

Brian Feldman wrote about some of the criticisms of ChatGPT and questions about what the impact of AI software is going to be:

“All of these questions are asking “Should we let the horse leave the barn?” while the people asking stand in front of an empty barn. If years of collective online activity is anything to go by, this stuff is good enough for everyone else. If ChatGPT is a blurry JPEG, it’s worth pointing out that the vast majority of web users are totally fine with blurry JPEGs. I see them all over the place. (Sometimes, as I wrote in 2014, the blurriness is the point.) We love parlor tricks like SmartChild and Akinator.”

“Whether or not machine-text and -art is “good” or “convincing” is not the relevant issue. The issue is whether it is “good enough.” Clearly, to many people, it is good enough! Internet users are really skilled at convincing themselves that the convenient thing in front of them is the thing they want, whether that’s a barely coherent machine-generated article about what time the Super Bowl is or dubious footage a preferred/reviled political candidate.”

“I just think it’s worth reiterating that the story of internet culture recently has not been one of austerity or moderation. It’s about taking the easy route and flooding the zone with the same meme templates and TikTok sounds everyone else is using at a regular interval — as opposed to things that are creative and unique and, well, good. This has been true for years: consistency over quality is a winning strategy in terms of audience growth. All of the stories I read about content creator burnout are about how exhausting and awful it is to have to post so often, rather than about what most artists have traditionally struggled with throughout most of human history: being in a creative rut. To me, that’s extremely telling.”

“A flywheel system that encourages this type of brainless output incentivizes the proliferation of automated systems that let people continue to pump out at-best-mediocre stuff while shirking responsibility for what’s actually generated. So I see the twisted appeal of the shortcuts, and am not more aghast about it than anything else I’ve seen over the last decade. The posters have been sleepwalking for a very long time.”

4 Replies to “Should we let the horse leave the barn?”

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