To be clear. The title is not original, rather borrowed from the excellent ‘Ribbon Farm’ … more of that later. But first, Artificial Intelligence ….
The date of copyright at the bottom of the graphic reveals that this has been running through my brain for a while and yet in the past few months, the acceleration is palpable. The crypto winter hardly over, we jumped over spring, and stepped straight into the summer of AI. The world’s gone mad. You’ve read the headlines, one of which says it all;
ChatGPT is the fastest growing ‘app’ in the history of computing.
Not my intention to rehash so much of what I (and likely you) have read - rather some rapid interjections, with future issues exploring even more ideas of how all of this is going to affect People.
AI Gives Wrong Answers
“You can’t rely on AI its often wrong.”
Have you noticed how that’s true of most things? Even with search engines you get conflicting answers to your search on the first page of the results.
It's like saying you can find false info in Google. You certainly can. And no one thinks Google is less valuable because of it.
💬 Dave Winer
In fact, modern day discourse has reached the point that …
Being wrong is not a bug - it’s a feature.
💬 John Philpin
AI Is An Oxymoron
“Artificial Intelligence is an oxymoron.
See the opening graphic. Somehow ‘artificial’ has moved up the rankings from ‘loser’ to ‘winner’ .. how did that happen?
No need to add to Olle’s succinct summary, but you can read more here.
AI Is Killing The Search Engine
LLMs will kill search engines.
Will they though? And if they do. So what? After all …
People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.
💬 Theodore Levitt
Likewise, nobody wants to search. They are searching because they want an answer. Are we seeing the dawn of ‘Answer Engines’?
Chris Lockhead is at the vanguard of thinking that LLMs are starting to define that new and fast emerging category … ‘Answer Engines' - and needless to say there are lots of opposing opinions.
My corollary - ‘Search engines’ morph into ‘Exploration engines’ - think about the excitement of wandering into a book store, record store, antique store,… there is still nothing in the online world that gets close to that experience.
AI Means People ‘Last’
Peter Kafka over at Recode Media has a great podcast. He has just finished a three part series on AI. Here’s just one quote (the speaker is Josh Browder) from the very beginning of the first show in series that speaks volumes …
“ ‘We’ can have and use AI. ‘You’ cannot. “
Some things never change do they?
AI Reveals That We Have Reached ‘Peak Mediocre Computing’
Ribbon Farm has been part of my reading for years. There is an article from the end of last year that I can highly recommend called The Dawn Of Mediocre Computing. (Not to get ‘meta’ on you, but rather than sharing the original link to the source of the quotes, I am sharing a public link to the article stored in my Readwise account, so I can continue to noodle, highlight and comment. A selection of quotes just from that one article.
It’s a fascinating take - and IMHO - very much ‘spot on’.
Finally, keeping to my promise that each newsletter should attempt to provide guidance as to what you can do to improve your lot in light of what we are talking about. Behold - A New Section.
I thought about creating a list of all the things that you and your company can do to mitigate the inherent emergent risks as AI takes hold (Make no mistake - it is taking hold). But so many people are already writing such lists - and they are all amazingly similar.
It’s similar to the ‘Jobs of the Future’ articles that you read, which I wrote about three years ago - the central thesis being the total lack of vision in what are essentially homogenous, vanilla fillers for magazines and web sites. (If you choose to revisit you will notice that nobody mentioned ‘prompt engineer’ as a career path - though quite a few did talk about becoming a programmer … (hope nobody followed that advice 🤣 ).
The same thing is occurring today around ‘AI Risk Mitigation’.
Just three examples from the past 6 years, written by humans with ‘risk mitigation strategies’ as the theme.
Brian Solis (2023)
How to Future-Proof Your Business Career Against AI Disruption
Harvard Business Review (2021)
How Organizations Can Mitigate the Risks of AI
Worried About AI Taking Over? Here Are 13 Ways You Can Protect Your Job
Here’s the thing. I thought I’d ask ChatGPT - get the answers straight from the horses mouth - so to speak.
According To ChatGPT,
Ten things that you can do to embrace the future of AI whilst mitigating the threat of losing your liveliehood.
Ten things that corporations can do to empower their employees and their use of AI whilst NOT reducing their workforce to increase profits.
Is the advice given by human’s any better?
I think not.
Come the revolution ….
To riff on the original line ‘Military Intelligence is an oxymoron.’ (Attribution Unknown.)
Ignoring shouts from the gallery that the first two are but subsets of the third!
The article opens ‘AI is everywhere’ - and this was in 2017.
Had another thought around the mediocrity thing … your poetry example is a good one. Someone who knows Yeats and good poetry would get that it is not as good as the original.
The point of ‘peak mediocrity’ is that current LLMs are good enough to be acceptable to more than half the population more than half the time (Not a high bar given our current state … but moving that aside ) and that ratio will only get better.
The old measure was that AI had to ‘beat the best!. Now you only have to ‘beat the average” … and the old meaning of ‘beat’ was ‘**win**’ … good, better, best in this new world is not absolute.
‘Mediocre people’ won’t be able to tell the difference .. case in point … your Yeats example … count me in as someone who would likely be ‘hoodwinked’.
Lovely to see your words flowing across the screen John. Thankyou for taking the time to write - and I am totally with you. A big takeaway from Rao's points for me is that the AI challenges used to be 'be the best' - can you win Go, can you win Chess ... etc ... Now the challenge for the AI is to be 'good enough'.