Goat Trading: AI at Davos

January 21, 2024

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

The AI supercars are racing along the Information Superhighway. Nikkei Asia published what I thought was the equivalent of archaeologists translating a Babylonian clay table about goat trading. Interesting but a bit out of sync with what was happening in a souk. Goat trading, if my understanding of Babylonian commerce, was a combination of a Filene’s basement sale and a hot rod parts swap meet. The article which evoked this thought was “Generative AI Regulation Dominates the Conversation at Davos.” No kidding? Really? I thought some at Davos were into money. I mean everything in Switzerland comes back to money in my experience.

Here’s a passage I found with a nod to the clay tablets of yore:

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during a speech at Davos, flagged risks that AI poses to human rights, personal privacy and societies, calling on the private sector to join a multi-stakeholder effort to develop a "networked and adaptive" governance model for AI.

Now visualize a market at which middlemen, buyers of goats, sellers of goats, funders of goat transactions, and the goats themselves are in the air. Heady. Bold. Like the hot air filling a balloon, an unlikely construct takes flight. Can anyone govern a goat market or the trajectory of the hot air balloons floated by avid outputters?


Intense discussions can cause a number of balloons to float with hot air power. Talk is input to AI, isn’t it? Thanks, MSFT Copilot Bing thing. Good enough.

The world of AI reminds me the ultimate outcome of intense discussions about the buying and selling of goats, horses, and AI companies. The official chatter and the “what ifs” are irrelevant in what is going on with smart software. Here’s another quote from the Nikkei write up:

In December, the European Union became the first to provisionally pass AI legislation. Countries around the world have been exploring regulation and governance around AI. Many sessions in Davos explored governance and regulations and why global leaders and tech companies should collaborate.

How are those official documents’ content changing the world of artificial intelligence? I think one can spot a hot air balloon held aloft on the heated emissions from the officials, important personages, and the individuals who are “experts” in all things “smart.”

Another quote, possibly applicable to goat trading in Babylon:

Vera Jourova, European Commission vice president for values and transparency, said during a panel discussion in Davos, that "legislation is much slower than the world of technologies, but that’s law." "We suddenly saw the generative AI at the foundation models of Chat GPT," she continued. "And it moved us to draft, together with local legislators, the new chapter in the AI act. We tried to react on the new real reality. The result is there. The fine tuning is still ongoing, but I believe that the AI act will come into force."

I am confident that there are laws regulating goat trading. I believe that some people follow those laws. On the other hand, when I was in a far off dusty land, I watched how goats were bought and sold. What does goat trading have to do with regulating, governing, or creating some global consensus about AI?

The marketplace is roaring along. You wanna buy a goat? There is a smart software vendor who will help you.

Stephen E Arnold, January xx, 2024


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