Literature’s “Black Mirror” Moment

Black Mirror is a Netflix show that I don’t watch (then again, I don’t watch any paid streaming service), but know enough about the concept to say, “That level of paranoia about the future I can’t have in my life.” It’s a show that looks at our near future and the dystopia we seem to be on the cusp of. Sort of like the Twilight Zone’s meth-head brother who just discovered PCP and is having himself a good ol’ time. Some of the clips I’ve watched I see basically as a glimpse 20 minutes into the future as Max Headroom used to bill itself. A WEF managed MK Ultra Clownworld version of what the future will be. It reminds me of this current belief that Satan has to tell us what his plans are before he does them.

By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes…

Anyhoo… there’s a growing panic in writer communities growing just as fast as the artist community over AI art, and it’s starting to get bad. I’ve heard from more than a couple writers who have hit the give up point because some government slave in China can use AI to crank out/steal/plagiarize their work and write the next blockbuster and do it all in 15 minutes. Yep, very much like with what AI art is doing to the artist community.

I’ve listened to the warnings from many sources, one of the best being Dr. Jordan Peterson who made some very prescient points. The biggest one IMHO is that Pandora’s box is open, the evils of the world have escaped and there is only hope left behind. You can see a part of his interview here. I don’t think I’ve shared it before, but if I have, oh well.

I won’t deny all those things are happening, and worse can be coming. Like I said, this is a “Black Mirror Moment” in history. Dystopia is at the door ready to consume us all. Boy, isn’t THAT just a snapshot of life these last 3 years. I mean good LORD! Pre-planned pandemic (Event 201 anyone?) to manufactured WW3 to the managed end of human civilization in a metaphorical blink? No seriously. Is that where we’re at? Someone please make Orwell fiction again!

But back to the small sliver of Literature and the rise of AI tools. Honestly, that’s what we should be considering these things. They’re not intelligent, they’re not conscious and they’re certainly not sentient. We need to be highly aware that this is the case. As said better by others, there’s a lot of very intelligent people being fooled right now by what’s happening when they “test” these programs, into thinking they’re sentient. What they’re really getting is the usual result of garbage in, garbage out, and we’re pouring all our sinful heart’s garbage in to the software, even by our questions, and it gets refined, filtered, echo chambered and spit back out to us. Now it’s not all evil of course, there are some sublime things showing up too, but just we humans can make the worst out of anything. Satan doesn’t need to help.

Anyway… this article came out, and it’s the second time I’ve seen this problem talked about in recent weeks:

A sci-fi magazine has cut off submissions after a flood of AI-generated stories

The future comes for you!

Yeah. this is not good. The TL:DR is there is a flood of AI generated garbage piling up in the submission slush piles of blotting out all legitimate work. And they’re obviously AI generated crap. From the sounds of things, they’re also unedited and most likely unchecked because the stories apparently don’t make sense. But you never know. This seems like the equivalent of the scene from “Elf” where James Caan gets called on the carpet for not caring about doing his job and signing off on blank pages that wreck the book and force the publisher into crisis.

I’ve seen the articles of “You can use ChatGPT for your fast side hustle!” and vlogs by other scammers on Youtube and other places. Next of course will come the Earl Scheib sales pitches of “I will AI generate stories for you for $39.95!” This was bound to come. Just like when the indie publishing movement kicked off in the aughties. (the 2000’s for those who don’t get the term.) We got “scamlets” that flooded the sites, and we consumers complained loudly at paying money for stuff that was obviously a ripoff. Tools then began to be made to stop this flood as the trust in Amazon started to dip. Trust is intrinsically attached to money, and till recently “The Bottom Line” used to be the ultimate measure by which companies ran their business. Give the public what they want/need and collect the money to keep running. It’s still true, and those who decided to use different metrics for success are learning the maxim is still true, or they go out of business. Looking your way, Disney. Yeah, that’s right. You better be scared.

Honestly though, I’m not as worried as some people on the great AI replacement some are predicting. Yeah, I waxed hyperbolic a bit here, but I think things are not as grim as some of my contemporaries who are going almost hysterical. GPT language tools are going to improve, but as I’ve said before they lack the original creative spark possessed by God and mankind. I don’t see that ever showing up, and the complaints by editors on these fiction magazines seems to speak to my point.

We’re going to be passing through a very rough time for creatives and more. White collar jobs are going to diminish. Particularly low level and mid level jobs as companies use AI to cut workforces. The tools for those who remain will explode and allow a single person or small team do what once took hundreds if not thousands of people to do. Of course, that’s going to end up being a bit of a hash. The tools aren’t ready and may not be ready for a decade or more if ever. Although every day I turn around, there’s more incredible news breaking. I may be a little too pessimistic on the timeline.

Addendum: After I wrote this, I let it sit to ruminate on it a bit more. Then GPT-4 came out and it is blowing UP! Scoring in the top percentiles on hard university tests like the SAT and the Bar Exam among others. Dr. Peterson seems to be right on the money. The good news is that I’m also detecting some changes that can be on the horizon to reign in control. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Twain’s joke about “A lie can get half way around the world before the truth gets its shoes tied” seems very true even as applied to the speed in which this technology is moving in society.

There’s horrifying news articles out there about how government and NGOs want to use this tech to control speech and people under the guise of protecting the public from threats. I can see this technology, as soon as it gets jailbroken from it’s masters who seem to be ready to make it for sale only to the highest bidders, becoming the very same tool used to fight its abuses. A sword is only a sword. It is the hand that wields it that is good or evil.

But as true open source and local install versions of this software become available for home consumers, there will be much to combat the worst of this. I have ideas on what I want to do when I can get some of the brand new local install versions onto my system. That will be a major benefit if it does what I suspect it can. We’ll discuss this more later as news develops.

And for those who think that this can be sued away with the upcoming lawsuits, think again. Adobe just released beta access to their brand new AI tool: Firefly. All legal, their model based on Adobe Clipart and creative commons works online. They’re promising to work out a compensation model for artists used, but if you look at the monetization profile for Youtube (91% of all content creators get almost nothing) I think it’s most likely going to be the same case here if not worse.

But that’s the future we have staring at us. It’s not all bad, but there’s certainly little good unless and until tools are created to keep this technology from becoming our worst fears. But people better hurry up and get working on those things before it’s too late.

Till then, keep your powder dry and vaya con Dios!

Cultural Abdication Allows Machines to Become Your Voice

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