AI Adolescence Ascendance: AI-iiiiii!

December 1, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

The monkey business of smart software has revealed its inner core. The cute high school essays and the comments about how to do search engine optimization are based on the fundamental elements of money, power, and what I call ego-tanium. When these fundamental elements go critical, exciting things happen. I know this this assertion is correct because I read “The AI Doomers Have Lost This Battle”, an essay which appears in the weird orange newspaper The Financial Times.

The British bastion of practical financial information says:

It would be easy to say that this chaos showed that both OpenAI’s board and its curious subdivided non-profit and for-profit structure were not fit for purpose. One could also suggest that the external board members did not have the appropriate background or experience to oversee a $90bn company that has been setting the agenda for a hugely important technology breakthrough.

In my lingo, the orange newspaper is pointing out that a high school science club management style is like a burning electric vehicle. Once ignited, the message is, “Stand back, folks. Let it burn.”

image

“Isn’t this great?” asks the driver. The passenger, a former Doomsayer, replies, “AIiiiiiiiiii.” Thanks MidJourney, another good enough illustration which I am supposed to be able to determine contains copyrighted material. Exactly how? may I ask. Oh, you don’t know.

The FT picks up a big-picture idea; that is, smart software can become a problem for humanity. That’s interesting because the book “Weapons of Math Destruction” did a good job of explaining why algorithms can go off the rails. But the FT’s essay embraces the idea of software as the Terminator with the enthusiasm of the crazy old-time guy who shouted “Eureka.”

I note this passage:

Unfortunately for the “doomers”, the events of the last week have sped everything up. One of the now resigned board members was quoted as saying that shutting down OpenAI would be consistent with the mission (better safe than sorry). But the hundreds of companies that were building on OpenAI’s application programming interfaces are scrambling for alternatives, both from its commercial competitors and from the growing wave of open-source projects that aren’t controlled by anyone. AI will now move faster and be more dispersed and less controlled. Failed coups often accelerate the thing that they were trying to prevent.

Okay, the yip yap about slowing down smart software is officially wrong. I am not sure about the government committees’ and their white papers about artificial intelligence. Perhaps the documents can be printed out and used to heat the camp sites of knowledge workers who find  themselves out of work.

I find it amusing that some of the governments worried about smart software are involved in autonomous weapons. The idea of a drone with access to a facial recognition component can pick out a target and then explode over the person’s head is an interesting one.

Is there a connection between the high school antics of OpenAI, the hand-wringing about smart software, and the diffusion of decider systems? Yes, and the relationship is one of those hockey stick curves so loved by MBAs from prestigious US universities. (Non reproducibility and a fondness for Jeffrey Epstein-type donors is normative behavior.)

Those who want to cash in on the next Big Thing are officially in the 2023 equivalent of the California gold rush. Unlike the FT, I had no doubt about the ascendance of the go-fast approach to technological innovation. Technologies, even lousy ones, are like gerbils. Start with a two or three and pretty so there are lots of gerbils.

Will the AI gerbils and the progeny be good or bad. Because they are based on the essential elements of life — money, power, and ego-tanium — the outlook is … exciting. I am glad I am a dinobaby. Too bad about the Doomers, who are regrouping to try and build shield around the most powerful elements now emitting excited particles. The glint in the eyes of Microsoft executives and some venture firms are the traces of high-energy AI emissions in the innovators’ aqueous humor.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2023

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