About this more social, emotional, and philosophically-oriented, stream-of- consciousness, alter-id, techno!-diary, companion to AIgitated.
When I was collecting and dissecting the causes that resulted in creating AIgitated, I realized that in order for that site to fulfill its intended mission, it needed to be taken very seriously by the creative communities being abused before those causing those specific technical, legal, and economic concerns would take us seriously as a force to contend with.
Before I became acutely aware and focused on the nexus of the issues above, I had a few weeks of more generalized and unspecific anxieties about AI, related technical fields, and social implications. Much was being written about the glitzy new AI-generative tool-toys being offered for free (for now, but that is changing fast), almost all glowingly positive. There was almost nothing, at least in the first week or so, about foibles in the tools, the disruptions already occurring in the workplace and society, threats and outright dangers in this rapidly developing and expanding techno-quagmire.
The embrace of these new technologies is occurring before there is any serious effort to do a thorough survey of what AI technologies (I simply call the aggregate IT) have been at work in our lives since the 1950s before rushing into blind acceptance and acquiesce to future “advancements.”
I think all these shiny new AI-generative artsy digital toys—like a digital Etch-A-Sketch® using prompts instead of knobs—are a deliberate marketing and socialization blitz using what appear to be benign diversions to incrementally further familiarize, inculcate, and stealthily continue to enculturate the general public, generally oblivious to its present ubiquity; to embed the technology so quickly and deeply that by the time the legislatures and lawsuits finally catch on and catch up to what is going on, there will be nothing that can be done to rein IT in because society’s addiction will be complete and too deep to be reversed, so the best that can be achieved is some kind of containment. Sound familiar? (Or are there too many historic cross-metaphors?)
I notice the age of those who are the vanguard promoting—n-a-a-a-ay, consecrating—these new additions to allegedly “progressive” advancements, and my ennui increases. I read a lot of posts, articles, and comments saying IT can all be controlled and will be the biggest boon to humanity that ever could be. They dismiss with imperious disdain those who aren’t “in the club,” who don’t “get it,” and dare to even suggest looking behind the curtain, to question, or simply advise caution. They often want you to see they have special initials after their name, displaying them as a badge of having not just mere expertise but rather gnostic knowledge.
What I see is so many, being so specialized, that they can’t perceive the possibility of their myopic tunnel vision and kool-aid naiveté. They are certainly free to exercise their right to be a cheerleader (or snake-oil pitchman). If they want to be wide-eyed, unflinching optimists, all-in on all this, so be it. But their delusions will not absolve them from responsibility for their failure to anticipate, see, see but unheed, or otherwise confront consequences, intended or not.
And they are coming. Actually, they are here.
I have always subscribed to the idea that just because something can be done does not, and should not, mean it should or must be done; examples just of unintended consequences alone abound. But I will admit that once the genie is out of the bottle, a debate is pointless.
I’m an old goat now, cantankerous, tough, and sinewy. Been around the block. Been places, done things, seen things. With age comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom. I have learned that it’s wise to evaluate things new and unknown to me and occasionally revisit things thought to be “settled” or have been static for some time, evaluating using my Shopping Site Principle.™ You may practice a form of it yourself and not even recognize that you do.
Mine goes something like this:
I want to purchase an item. So I head online to one or more shopping sites I’m sure we’re all familiar with. I note brands…do I know any of them? I note prices. Then I note the ratings.
I look at the 5- and 4-star percentages. I will probably dismiss an item if those two combined aren’t 86% or higher, and I note the total number of reviews. If this is substantial, that carries some weight; if only a few, I surmise they are likely shills and disregard the item.
I look at the bottom two ratings, the 1- and 2-stars. If that is no more than 6 percent, that bodes well. But I take time to look them over because often, many are off-topic, panning delivery, the packaging, or customer service rather than the item, and so I disregard them. This usually means 4 percent or less are actually bad reviews of the items.
But here’s the key: I give great weight to the remaining bad reviews that are well-written and make very specific observations, especially if, say, the item is photography equipment of which I am knowledgeable, and I can tell the reviewer is knowledgeable, and especially if I find agreement from others of commensurate knowledge.
Bottom line: A few well-founded and presented narratives contrary to the sense of the commons and common group-think often have a greater impact on me: The 4 percent can trump the 86+ percent.
I apply the same principle when I am assessing socio-techno-politico discussions. (No, we can’t avoid the political aspects of this general subject because those of low knowledge in high places, ceding to agents of influence, will control our destiny.)
I’m obviously not a modern techno-Luddite; I’m not a die-hard contrarian. I’m just an old goat who has been through situations over the course of his life that have some of the same qualities and uncertainties as this broad subject. But none of them had the same aura of developing crisis about them that we are sensing now.
The concept of crisis has equal elements of danger and opportunity. The developing era of IT has the potential for both maximum benefit and destruction for everyone, everywhere. And as I have said above about how I evaluate these kinds of things, I think it wise to pay attention to that ainxiousness,™ that squeezing tension in my head caused by a concrete yet nebulous, known but inchoate and indescribable sense of disruption, discord, and disconnect that gives me aigita™ for which there is no pepto.
Have I hit on anything you may be feeling but were afraid to admit, afraid to seem out of touch, feeling afraid to speak your mind in these disturbing times about yet another potential disruption in your life? Then join this old goat and feel free to say what you will about this topic (in accordance with the common-sense site rules).
Are there any other benefits to subscribing? If you do, and then get down on your hands and knees, I might climb on your back and use it as my billy pulpit to rave agin’ “the machine”…machine learnin’… and whatever else is related that gives me agita and causes me techno-ennui.
Where else will you find an offer like tha-a-a-a-at?
So don’t just kick the can down the road (the label might be mighty good eatin’, and this here ain’t Congress)! Click that dang subscribe button below…and that other one, too.
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