20 odd years ago there were all these “intellectual property” dickheads moaning on and on “there’s no good music any more” (on account of piracy), and having to be repeatedly told “Nah mate, there’s loads – you’re just not finding it because so many people are making music now, which is great. It’s not a quality problem, it’s a filtering problem. You’re not a twat, you’re just confused”
But they persisted, so so did I… chirruping that copyright was originally created by Bloody Mary to censor Protestantism, then quoted some Psychedelic Furs lyrics at one of them who turned out to be U2’s Manager, and I got banned from the group.
You’re walking around in the dress that she wore
She is gone, but the joke’s the same.
Good song. If I’d known who I was talking to though, I might have said something else. Still, swings and roundabouts. I think he might have come from my home town in NZ. Moved upstairs now. It was a long time ago. Good on you mate. Godspeed.
But I digress…
Concept #1 : Signal to Noise Ratio
Static on the car radio. If the signal is too weak, the static drowns it out and you can’t hear anything. To hear the signal you need to be able to tune out the noise. With a tuner. There’s a knob for it. The anti-spam thing on your email client does a similar job – a very early machine-learning system, trained to detect and block advertising.
You still get spam emails (every single day) because the spam wankers that send them are in an arms-race with the (heroic) anti-spam software devs – and this arms race has been been going on for at least 25 years.
Concept #2 : Advertising == Spam
People who work in advertising/spam think they’re doing something special and creative, and are always giving themselves awards at award ceremonies they’ve made up for themselves, but they’re actually just a bunch of cunts who everyone else wishes would fuck off. They’re attention thieves, lying for money.
Concept #3 : Google and The Internet’s Original Sin
Google. Not the first but won The Verb.
20 odd years ago Google stepped into the breach and largely solved our signal to noise problem for a generation — similar to fracking saving our arses from Peak Oil Civilisation-Collapse. We owe Google one for that, and like fracking, we’re going to pay for it.
Because Google has a problem – it’s an advertising company. It provides signal but makes its money from noise. The ecosystems it hosts are optimised to steal attention, and there’s a problem with that.
In economies where the currency is attention and marginal costs tend towards zero, eventually there will be more money in gaming the system than in actually producing anything of value.
The Original Sin of The Internet is that we got it for free in exchange for advertising
The cost? Spam, mass-surveillance, and our culture being mediated by these huge ant-hills of “content creating” scrabsters, all breathlessly scrabbling and clamouring for attention and endlessly telling us to “click like and subscribe”, so they can monetise their content. The algos reward the most successful attention-seekers with moneycrumbs™.
So a major part of human-to-human communication (aka: public discourse) is now being mediated by attention thieves, optimising for addiction, outrage, and conflict — and they’re competing on the basis of that, using machines a 1000 times smarter than the one that beat Kasperov, who at least knew he was playing a game.
And that was before GPT.
Concept #4 : The Great Paperclip Factory in The Sky
There’s this AI thought-experiment… imagine a super intelligent machine who’s one and only mission is to make paperclips.
It starts out simply enough. Runs a factory or whatever. Hires people who are good… learns what they do so it can fire them and replace them with itself. Borrows some money… bribes some politicians (it’s a corporation – legally a person to facilitate bribery), buys another factory, poisons a river… expands. Buys up the bulk of the steel imports and hoards them… goes trans-national, buys up the mines, buys up the media outlets, kills anyone who gets in the way.
You get the picture. The dumb AIs we call “corporations” already do this.
All of it.
But. But but but… if this is being done by computer that can iteratively re-write its own software in real-time, responding to new challenges with code-changes on the fly – that can design and manufacture its own hardware, then we might (you would hope) start to get the first inklings of a looming problem.
This is already happening with oil and real-estate – mass murder by any other name, but let’s stick to paper-clips. It takes over Space-X so it can mine asteroids… moves off planet… interstellar… every last atom in the entire universe gets turned into a paper-clip
Just a thought-experiment. The companies building the AIs aren’t interested in paperclips. Not even Microsoft, and Microsoft invented the fucking things.
The companies building the AIs are mainly in the business of stealing attention. On top of this, they’ve opened up the AIs for public use – and the first in the queue (and the last to remember your name) are the clamouring scrabsters in the Attention Ant-hills… “social media platforms” – spammers… advertisers. They’re all over this tech like a rash because it means :
a) They can get a machine to produce an infinite amount of “content” without having to actually do any work
b) They can bypass the spam-filters – because “human vs AI generated bullshit” is not a binary, it’s a gradient. The Tyranny of Coercive Competition is increasingly forcing humans to behave like machines
So the Signal side of the Signal vs Noise arms race has lost its shield wall and is taking on major damage, and the companies we depend on to deliver clean(ish) signals have this massive conflict of interest in that they make their money (hundreds of billions of dollars of it) out of noise.
The Dawn of The AI Alignment Problem is already upon us – but with attention-theft rather than paperclips.
Things that have pissed me off recently:
Here’s how you know it’s an arms race : The first time you hear of a GPT-detection service is in a video teaching everyone how to break it. Recommended by an advertising company’s algo, and narrated by some twat trying to “build an audience” of other spammers. I can’t believe how proud of themselves these people are.
The one thing this one has going for it is that it uses the made-up words “Perplexity and Burstiness”. Nice. Kindof like Keith talking about darts in London Fields . Bit of literary flair there. The only good thing in this whole video were the 2 words made up by a human.
Next, some facile prick singing the praises of a Chrome extension that allows you to copy someone else’s website, then rewrite it with GPT so you can score higher with Google. Behold – GPT AI is now in an arm-race with Google’s Search AI.
“Ooh – but you can use it to improve your own website”, they bleat. Right – so now everyone with a website is now in an arms-race, forced to deploy noise-enhancing signal-destroying AI-propelled SEO. Go fuck yourselves.
AI eBook Writing
Which links (with an affiliate link obviously) to this:
What you’re looking at there is known in the trade as a “sales funnel” – aka: a Scam Template. A Scamplate if you will.
My favourite bit is where it goes :
We’ve Just Removed the 2 Biggest Hurdles You’ve Faced in Creating an eBook
(wait for it…)
1. Writing the Content 2. Getting it Designed
Yea – I know what you mean. Exactly. I know exactly what you mean. The hardest part about writing a book always was actually writing the fucking thing… God… if only there were some way for writers to write without doing any actual writing. What a gift to literature that would be. What a gift to culture. What a gift. What a gift.
I’m not actually blaming GPT for any of this.
If an AI can write as well as Tolstoy or Nabakov or even me, then great – and I honestly mean that – I mean really really great. REALLY great. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaalllyyy greeeeeaaaaaaaat. Ree heee heee heeaaallllyyyyy Greeeeeaaa haaa haaa haaate.
But instead it’s being used to fill whatever “container” is implicit in the word “content”, with advertising, and of that I do not approve.
GPT is an innocent as far as these things go. A wide-eyed ingenue still holding her first screenplay being helped out of a late-night taxi by some low-rent Weinstein. It’s advertisers that are the problem. They can fuck off.