We live in the future, and it’s both awesome and horrifying.
Collectively, many of us have spent the last few decades adding data to the Internet. Words, pictures, sounds, and so forth. And now, people with lots of money to buy lots of computer equipment are going to use what we’ve made to make themselves an even bigger pile of money.
There are other possible consequences to what’s being (somewhat inaccurately) termed “AI” but the core of it is that: Our content makes someone else money. Everything else is side-effects. Mind you, some of those side-effects are pretty terrible. Say, “fewer people want to create and share things because they don’t want their stuff to get harvested and regurgitated by an algorithm” terrible.
(And if you say “big deal who cares” to that, go away. Seriously. Humans want to create, and that’s a good thing, dammit.)
A lot of the news hype and social media discourse has centered on (visual) art theft and using “AI chat” to let folks get out of doing their own research & writing, and how the results range from “interesting” to “profoundly questionable.” (It’s also highlighting how gullible some people are about the “intelligence” on display.) But what’s bothering me right now, this moment, is that everything is grist for the mill.
Was I consulted? Of course not. Can I opt out? Be serious. Are they making much money off of my website content? I mean… probably not a lot, let’s be real, but this is about the principle of the thing. Any dollar they make off of me is a dollar I’m sure not making, not that I’ve tried to monetize (ugh) this site in ages.
Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” has, of course, long since been a punchline. As a motto it didn’t even make it to the puberty years before being booted out the side door, right alongside Google Reader (yes I will die mad about it thank you) and, I dunno, any other sense of doing useful things without trying to extract every penny of value from them first.
Of course it’s not just the folks over at Alphabet (or whatever they’re calling themselves this week). Anyone who’s got oodles of boodle is getting in on this. It’s the wave of the future. Nay-saying is for Luddites. (Not that most people really understand the historical context of that loaded term, of course.) And, to be fair, the technology itself has some definite useful potential to deal with things that squishy-brained meatsack humans find tedious and/or overwhelming (such as, processing very large data sets to find meaningful information faster and more accurately) and so forth.
But you know it’s not primarily going to be used for helpful, useful things. It’s going to be used to extract more profits from every (non-super-rich) human on the planet.
Modern corporate computerized America. Land of the free (content), home of the brave (souls happily feeding everything we do in the profit mills). Yee haw.
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