We Are Now - In More Than a Couple of Ways
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This past year has seen many more people join the People First journey from countries all over the world, and many different religious persuasions. Thank you all for joining our journey - and welcome.
Christmas and Hanukkah have passed. The ‘New Year’ remains to be rung in, so allow me to close out 2022 with a shout out to ‘InBetweenus’ - the People First version of ‘Festivus’ …
People First builds ‘on the shoulders of giants’ …
‘People First’ - Where Humanity and Technology merge.
… and if that is true (it is), it would be wrong to let 2022 pass without a massive head nod to the emergence of something we have come to know as ‘Generative Models’, that include the use of artificial intelligence in;
Text Generation - create blog posts and essays.
Chat Generation - engage in a live chat with someone from history.
Video Generation and Editing
Article Summaries - reduce the 15 page read to three paragraphs
Highlighting and navigating podcasts and videos
… in fact ‘Generative pretty much anything’ is a click away. If you need confirmation of how big this has become in 2022 … the graph below says it all.
Technology and Humanity crashing together to create the melee that is ‘Generative A.I.’ is surely a topic that People First should be exploring.
Don’t worry, I am not about to dive into what it all means to the future of work and humanity (yet), or bore you with three paragraphs of ChatGPT text that does exactly that, because there are plenty of other places to go read and view all that. Rather a brief check in on the ‘InBetweenus’ of A.I. - because …
We have only just got going and yet we’ve already gone rather a long way.
1] Venkatesh Rao - Ribbonfarm
“A.I. and crypto have achieved ‘mediocre-human parity’.”
If you would like to ‘speed read’ this ‘15 minute read’ - this link will take you to that ’same’ document with my highlights - and if you do that … enough will be said. A fascinating read.
2] Stephen Marche - The Atlantic
I have long argued that our education system is very broken, designed not so much to educate rather than train generations of our children to ‘feed the machine’.
“The connection between humanism and technology will require people and institutions with a breadth of vision and a commitment to interests that transcend their field. Before that space for collaboration can exist, both sides will have to take the most difficult leaps for highly educated people: Understand that they need the other side, and admit their basic ignorance. But that’s always been the beginning of wisdom, no matter what technological era we happen to inhabit.”
As the sub-head declares … “Nobody is prepared for how A.I. will transform academia.” … and you thought it was just rocketing fees and COVID that was going to do that!
3] Jeremy Kaplan - Wonder Tools
A far better guide to what is and what is coming to your ‘app of choice’ than I could ever produce.
OpenAI (think ChatGPT, and DALL·E 2) and Midjourney are both centrally managed systems that are grabbing headlines - but Stability.ai is the one that really has my attention. You might have heard that Canva and Photoshop have enabled A.I. in their products. Their A.I. comes from Stability.ai who are developing models for image, language, audio, video, 3D and biology (and that’s just the start!)
I like the approach because it doesn’t introduce another app to go to - but instead introduces A.I. into your workflow. Consider the image below, which is a screen grab of a new reading app I use called Readwise. Once I have the document ‘captured’, I can then enable ‘bionic reading’ through a menu choice right there in the app. (To my knowledge Readwise does NOT use Stability - but the principle holds.)
So What Does It All Mean?
Of course I can’t finish the newsletter without a short exploration into what this all means for humanity. I mean, if I can generate some new art in a minute and not pay a designer to do that work - what do designers do? How do artists make a living? If I can have a chat bot generate a post, an essay, even a book - what does that do to writers?
When robots started to be used in factories, ripping away the jobs of the working man - the idea was that human’s would be freed up to follow their passions. (I know. I know.) At the time the argument went that if your job could be taken over by a non thinking machine mindlessly repeating the same actions - maybe it should?
This time it is different - although the mainstream arguments are that it is just the same. Yes - new jobs will be created. Jobs we can’t even imagine - and yet for me something isn’t sitting quite right - but we will come back to that in a future exploration.
The Creative Artist
First, as extraordinary as Generative technologies are and right now (and they are extraordinary), if there is something specific you want, you do really need to know what you are doing.
I am old enough to remember when Fiverr was going to destroy the creative industry. At the time we asked how will creatives make a living if you can get a logo for your new company for under 10 bucks?
Generative A.I. doubles down on that question, but unlike mainstream thinking - I think it is far from clear. After all, now you can create a logo for free with A.I. right in your Shopify app!
Prompt writer and A.I. image/video editors are in increasing demand - but for my taste, we still don’t really know what the future holds. Trawl through job bulletins boards and there are all kinds of ‘jobs in A.I.’ being advertised. But my feeling is that they are short term solutions.
Then again, regarding that worry about whether we are here to serve the machines - or the other way round? Well, you might want to read ‘Becoming a chatbot: my life as a real estate A.I.’s human backup.’
Writing blog posts - was that ever a career? So will it matter that A.I. write them? What tech will people have to sift through the morass of words that will arrive on our machines, so we can reduce the clutter and remove the dross.
SPAM is hardly new and before it has got better - it is already getting worse.
Another big question hurtling down the pike towards humanity. How do we stop the abuse of A.I.? Things like feeding false information into an already confusing landscape of competing narratives. How do we stop bias. How do we make sure unintended harm doesn’t occur?
Once more technology is hurtling along at warp speed, seemingly with little consideration of such vexing questions that will only ‘slow us down’.
Emad Mostaque is the CEO of Stability.ai and is arguably under the heaviest fire in the ethics arena. Why - because of his mission …
Stable Diffusion seeks to democratize A.I. and use its potential to ‘awaken humanity’s potential’.
… and part of that mission is through open sourcing their product and putting it into the hands of as many people as possible - for free! But how do you exercise control of your products? How do you stop it getting into the wrong hands?
Allow me to paraphrase Emad …
… and the argument from there is probably the topic of a future newsletter.
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