Digital Work: Pick Up the Rake and Get with the Program

June 27, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The sky is falling, according to “AI Is Killing the Old Web, And the New Web Struggles to Be Born.” What’s the answer? Read publications like the Verge online, of course. At least, that is the message I received from this essay. (I think I could hear the author whispering, “AI will kill us all, and I will lose my job. But this essay is a rizz. NYT, here I come.”)

6 27 raking leaves

This grumpy young person says, “My brother dropped the car keys in the leaves. Now I have to rake— like actually rake — to find them. My brother is a dork and my life is over.” Is there an easy, quick fix? No, the sky — not leaves — are falling when it comes to finding information, according to the Verge, a Silicon Valley-type “real” news outfit. MidJourney, you have almost captured the dour look of a young person who must do work.

I noted this statement in the essay:

AI-generated misinformation is insidious because it’s often invisible. It’s fluent but not grounded in real-world experience, and so it takes time and expertise to unpick. If machine-generated content supplants human authorship, it would be hard — impossible, even — to fully map the damage. And yes, people are plentiful sources of misinformation, too, but if AI systems also choke out the platforms where human expertise currently thrives, then there will be less opportunity to remedy our collective errors.

Thump. The sky allegedly has fallen. The author, like the teen in the illustration is faced with work; that is, the task of raking, bagging, and hauling the trash to the burn pit.

What a novel concept! Intellectual work; that is, sifting through information and discarding the garbage. Prior to Gutenberg, one asked around, found a person who knew something, and asked the individual, “How do I make a horseshoe.” After Gutenberg, one had to find, read, and learn information.” With online, free services are supposed to just cough up the answer. The idea is that the leaves put themselves in the garbage bags and the missing keys appear. It’s magic or one of those Apple tracking devices.

News flash.

Each type of finding tool requires work. Yep, effort. In order to locate information, one has to do work. Does the thumb typing, TikTok consuming person want to do work? From my point of view, work is not on the menu at Philz Coffee.

New tools, different finding methods, and effort are required to rake the intellectual leaves and reveal the lawn. In the comments to the article, Barb3d says:

It’s clear from his article that James Vincent is more concerned about his own relevance in an AI-powered future than he is about the state of the web. His alarmist view of AI’s role in the web landscape appears to be driven more by personal fear of obsolescence than by objective analysis.

My view is that the Verge is concerned about its role as a modern Oracle of Delphi. The sky-is-falling itself is click bait. The silliness of the Silicon Valley “real” news outfit vibrates in the write up. I would point out that the article itself is derivative of another article from an online service Tom’s Hardware.

The author allegedly talked to one expert in hiking boots. That’s a good start. The longest journey begins with a single step. But learning how to make a horse shoe and an opinion about which boot to purchase are two different tasks. One is instrumental and the other is fashion.

No, software advances won’t kill the Web as “we” know it. As Barb3d says, “Adapt.” Or in my lingo, pick up the rake, quit complaining, and find the keys.

Stephen E Arnold, June 27, 2023


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