More than meets the AI: Hang the Devs

This issue of More Than Meets The AI is brought to you by panic. Panic on the streets of London.

Panic on the streets of Birmingham. Panic on the streets of Carlisle, Dublin, Dundee, and Humberside.

  • Hang the Developers (367 words)
  • That’s AImore! (146 words)
  • I haven’t seen it (304 words)

Hang the AI developers

Burn down the disco

Hang the blessed DJ

Because the music that they constantly play

It says nothing to me about my life

I saw a tweet today that said the primary use case for generative AI models was “bullshit.” I couldn’t disagree more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as critical a cynic as you’re likely to find when it comes to AI. I’d be willing to bet that, over the past five years, I’ve written more words tearing down bullshit AI than just about any other journalist on the AI beat.

But if, for example, you walk into a grocery store and start saying that “canned goods are bullshit,” you’re not being cynical about the use cases for stored food: you’re being oblivious.

So, sure, you’ve tried out ChatGPT and decided that it doesn’t serve a purpose in your life. That’s fine. But then you also decided that it doesn’t serve a purpose in anyone else’s life. That’s not fine.

First off, ChatGPT says plenty about my life. I use it as a sounding board for stupid ideas. In my business, it’s “go big or nobody reads you today, but if you go big and miss hard nobody will read you tomorrow either.” That’s a lot of pressure. Tossing some of my sillier ideas at a chatbot feels like a massive upgrade over the old static drawing board.

Second off, ChatGPT and similar models represent a lifeline for queer people who either don’t have physical communities to turn to or fear reprisal for outing themselves. Sure, we’ve got hotlines and emergency services, but I shouldn’t have to shut up and keep everything inside until I feel like I need emergent intervention.

ChatGPT lets me riff on my own queerness without judgment. It’s not perfect, but it’s a better listener than a stuffed animal and I never feel like I’m wasting its time or embarrassing myself by venting.

The fact of the matter is that generative AI isn’t perfect. It’s scary because we don’t know what kind of harm may come from these models over time. But that doesn’t mean that those of us who get something out of it are dumb, ignorant, or missing the point.

That’s AImore!

I can pinpoint the moment I fell in love with the idea of AI technology. It was the summer of 1986 and I was watching the movie “Short Circuit” for the first time.

There’s a scene in the movie when Number 5, an AI-powered robot who’d come to life after being struck by lightning, picks up a book and starts reading it. The robot flips through it at superhuman speed, finishing it in a matter of seconds.

That was my eureka moment in life. I didn’t want to create an AI, I wanted to be one! As a young, voracious reader, I could think of no superpower more amazing than the ability to absorb knowledge at the speed of thought.

Over the years I tried a few “speed reading” techniques but eventually learned that I’m just a regular-speed reader. And that’s fine. For now.

I haven’t seen it

My Twitter feed is flooded with posts about “M3GAN,” the movie about an AI doll that terrorizes a family by rehashing the plots of Wes Craven’s “Deadly Friend” and Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.

If that sounds like a negative review, it isn’t meant to. I haven’t actually seen M3GAN, but I loved both Deadly Friend and A.I..

Being honest, I still haven’t seen the newest “Child’s Play” movie wherein I’m led to understand the Chucky doll is an AI-powered robot that comes to life (as opposed to the previous entries in the franchise where it’s an inanimate doll that comes to life after being inhabited by an evil spirit).

It’s not that I don’t want to see those films, I just haven’t gotten around to it.

That being said, aside from “Short Circuit,” mentioned above, if there’s one movie about AI that I’d recommend above all others, it’s “War Games.”

But, before you watch it, let me warn you. When I say “recommend,” I don’t mean because it’s a good movie. Most people see it as a cautionary tale about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

I see it as the ultimate mediocre white guy fantasy. Here we have a world wherein scientists have solved AGI in the 1980s to such a degree that the US government has implemented it directly into its missile defense program with autonomous target acquisition and launch capabilities. And the only thing standing between humankind and the apocalypse is a high school kid who knows how to write code in DOS?

That’s the nerdiest “good guy with a gun (ahem, computer)” fantasy I can imagine. 

Oh, and if you’re interested in watching “War Games’” sleazy cousin of an 80s movie, check out “Electric Dreams” — it’s the conflation of “Single White Female” and “You’ve Got Mail” that nobody asked for. 

Read more More Than Meets the AI here



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