Former Microsoft and Google engineer David Auerbach says Big Tech gurus are right to be frightened of their own creation.
After a few years on FB and insta -I took a break then found I’ve been unable to get back on. I get an icky feeling and lost all desire to participate. This is basically the only level of social media I participate in now. Posting on articles. I wondered what would be the next big tech thing -the thing I will fall behind on. AI is it. I do not fully grasp all the future implications and uses. I guess I lack imagination. I don’t care really. I prefer the real world more and more each passing year. Face to face communication, time with my family, being outside, petting my dog. I worry about my 20 yr old and her future. I’ve been treading water daily for an hour. Rehabbing from an accident. No screens, no music, just in the water with my thoughts. Will I ever be a grandma? Will my daughter get a good job? Will she get married? Or will she tell us one day she’s in love with an AI being? Everything gets weirder by the day.
I spent years in the IT field and built some of the first generation of Internet connected apps. I've kept my hand in the field studying machine learning and robotics in my free time. This guy makes sense. There are way too many people who are either wildly optimistic or pessimistic about machine learning. That is the term people in the field prefer -- rather than AI -- since anyone who has experience behind the scenes on these things pretty much knows they're not "intelligent" in any meaningful sense.
Good journalism. Solid. That's what makes this place worth subscribing too and the New York Times not.
DA's last comment nails it - and should be posted on every wall:
"Be critical, be doubtful, get outside your narrative bubbles, and resist viral attention traps."
Find a news source that exposes you to things you'd rather not read - that disagrees, politely with your basic ideas - and forces you to reexamine them.
Better yet, if you are lucky enough to meet a person who disagrees with you, but can have a civil conversation and explore the differences. Take the time to build a relationship with that person - it will be worth the effort.
Perhaps the real positive of AI will be a reawakening of critical thought? We are all capable of it - but it requires exercise.
Dear Bari, Thanks to you and your staff. Once again you hit the nail on the head.
Basically follow the direction of Intel co-founder Dr. Andy Grove. Who wrote a book titled "Only The Paranoid Survive."
Be Paranoid, its apparently the key to survival in uncertain times. These days, "conspiracy theory" seems to be a code word for Forewarned.
AI is the tech world's version of gain of function research.
Anyone who's played with a mission statement generator sees through the language construction workings. Beyond that, what is ChatGPT but anything more than a fancy 'grep' command with really good output reformatting.
Current ChatGPT can provide amazingly good output, and surprisingly absurd results at the same time. Even a poor rhetorician such as I, can lead ChatGPT into amusing contradictions.
Whilst not a keen student of "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds", I do recall even the great thinker Thomas Edison predicted great danger from supplying the newfangled Alternating Current to households. Fast forward 100 years, and we can't imagine living without it. But then again, what do I know, I've only survived the past dozen or so existential crises.
Very realistic comments about AI from Auerbach.
There are positive and achievable advances that can be made from AI such as computer augmented interpretation of x-rays, language translation (both written and spoken), augmented chemistry for the exploration of new drugs, and driver assistance (not fully automated driving).
From the beginning, I was highly skeptical about fully automated driving and said so at a conference in about 2017 (GOMAC). Time has only proven my skepticism to be well founded.
Still remember when someone on the board of Nvidia, in about 2002, told me that my job (analog circuit design engineering) would be replaced in a few years by "AI". Artificial intelligence has been incorporated into analog design tools, but even after twenty years, we are nowhere near replacing analog circuit designers with "AI".
To some degree, the World Economic Forum has used "AI" as cover to lay people off with the excuse that "AI" has replaced a lot of jobs. This mostly hasn't happened. Instead, a lot of jobs have been offshored to lower wage countries under the guise of "AI".
I agree with Auterbach that ChatGPT can easily be backed into a corner. I've already seen people who don't know much about AI get ChatGPT to say obviously untrue things. Seems to be quite easy to do this.
Like a lot of other big tech products, AI needs regulating. The effect of "likes" on social media sites (even substack) deserves closer attention. One thing I've been aware of for quite some time is that it is very difficult online to take the middle ground on any issue. Invariably, one ends up between camps, with people afraid to be caught in no man's land between two warring factions. A lot of important information online is suppressed because it doesn't fit into a given narrative that people are familiar with.
It's time to impose heavy duty regulation on deep fakes and some of the other obviously criminal content online.
I agree with Auerbach that something needs to be done about the tendency of social media to create information silos.
I've always been a listen-to-my-gut kind of a gal. Recently I had the opportunity to talk to a super intelligent young woman who works as a coder for a new A.I. start-up company. She looked at me as if she didn't understand what I meant when I mentioned that humans, unlike A.I.'s, are able to listen to their intuitions and be guided by our internal "gut feelings." The story of Stanislav Petrov demonstrates how important it is for humans to continue listening to their "guts." I look forward to sending a copy of this article to my young coder friend! : )
Teenage is the appropriate age to read Vonnegut. I loved him at sixteen. Tried reading him at thirty and couldn't stand him anymore. Pretentious manipulative elitist.
I think Ayn Rand may be his dual. She also doesn't wear well after teenage, but is great during.
Also, I love the picture used here…I just fell off my big horse after jumping and boy do I know how it feels to not always be able to control your ride
AI is still wildly inaccurate. For example, a lawyer requested a list of legal scholars who had been accused of sexual harassment. ChatGPT reported that "Turley [a professor] had made sexually suggestive comments and attempted to touch a student while on a class trip to Alaska, citing a March 2018 article in The Washington Post as the source of the information. The problem: No such article existed. There had never been a class trip to Alaska. And Turley said he’d never been accused of harassing a student." How long can tech companies cover their butts by simply putting a disclaimer on defamatory output?
"A lot of what you get out of these machines is what you put in, and these machines are not anywhere close to conscious or sentient."
lol. what do you get out of these machines that you don't put in?
Here's what I got:
Hello! How can I assist you today?
Write me a joke about Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the style of Richard Pryor.
Sure, here's a joke about Ovid's Metamorphoses in the style of Richard Pryor:
"Have you heard about Ovid's Metamorphoses? Man, that book is wild! I mean, these gods and goddesses are turning people into animals left and right. It's like an ancient version of Freaky Friday, but with way more fur and feathers. And you know what's crazy? Some of these transformations are just for petty revenge. Like, imagine getting turned into a tree because some god got mad at you for being too good-looking. That's just messed up, man. I guess the moral of the story is, be careful who you piss off, or you might end up barking up the wrong tree. Literally."
The extended examination of "What are we doing.here?" has always submitted to and obeyed the greed and lust for power of the few who are truly addicted. I fear these tools in the hands of the security state, which is our real government. They and their corporate bedfellows are not going to pause for even a minute, much less 6 months, merely because thoughtful scientists are worried about where all this might go.
Great article, thank you
"resist viral attention traps".
This is probably the most profoundly important thing I've read in awhile. I think that's why I liked the article yesterday about the de la Motte family. If there is one thing they have done, it's that.