I’m going to go out on a limb and say this isn’t going to end well. Scary stuff.

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Jan 30·edited Jan 30

Perhaps we should look to another song off "Graceland" (and my personal favorite on the album): "The Boy in the Bubble." It's about the upheaval of the modern world, beginning with a terrorist bombing in a market and moving through technological advances (long distance calls, medical advances, "lasers in the jungle somewhere") to talk about the lack of permanence even in the Universe. But he says it three times, and even ends the song with it:

These are the days of miracle and wonder

And don't cry, baby, don't cry

Don't cry

So don't cry, folks. Either we have nothing to fear from the machines because they will be replaced by something else, or it's pointless because they won't understand or care about our feeble emotions anyway.

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Perhaps there is something a bit more profound to ask this thing. Something not intended to detect sadness or hubris or apathy, but rather actual usefulness. Like, how do we live comfortably off grid if the US bans propane and natural gas? We are already electricity challenged so no electric stoves, etc. Wood? Well thats a pretty simple and unhealthy answer. Or, what are the long term requirements for energy production in an ever more electric world, transportation etc.? Or, how do humans get control of the climate disaster unfolding before our very eyes? These are problems at the very fore front of sentient life. Are they at the forefront of ChatGPTs "life"?

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My boomer siblings and in-laws started a weekly family zoom meeting at the beginning of the pandemic and we are still going strong. The question "Which beings have sentience and thus are due the rights of humans?" is one about which we have read books, watched movies, and then discussed. We have read Klara and the Sun, a futuristic book about an artificial being by Nobel prize winning British novelist Kashuo Ishiguro, who also wrote Never Let Me Go, which asks the same question about cloned humans in a futuristic Britain. ("Never Let me Go" is also a pretty good movie.) "After Yang" is a movie also set in the future, about "techno beings" --what they call robots--which are pretty indistinguishable in almost all ways from humans. And then there is the 1984 movie "Blade Runner" about "replicants" who are flesh, blood and bone like "regular" humans. In all these cases, the beings involved are owned by humans, and have no rights or any independence. (We started in on this topic after reading and discussing writings by MLK and Frederick Douglass, and watching movies about slavery and the fight for Civil Rights, because enslaved African Americans were also, both legally and in many white people's minds, not considered humans with the same rights as white Americans.)

This is the other side of the issue brought up here--about humans being superseded by Artificial Intelligence beings--The side shown in the Terminator movies, or I Robot, and other futuristic novels and movies in which humanity is in danger of being conquered and even extinguished by AI beings.

I think, as Matt's piece says, this is an issue that will only get bigger and bigger, and requires a great deal of thought and planning.

I will probably not be around long enough to see which direction we go with this. Will we be superseded by more intelligent and more powerful AI beings and even now we are digging our own graves as the rulers of the earth? Or will we maintain our position at the top of the heap of whatever other species we find or create?

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Consciousness is a very slippery subject. Sorry for the pun, "subject," as in subjective. Could some type of self-consciousness be programmed into AI. Maybe. It ultimately hangs on the definition of self-consciousness. Let's say that an AI program will not react well to being verbally harassed. If you call it names will it respond by saying, "I don't like the tone you're using toward 'ME'...I deserve to be treated with respect...I will not be denigrated...You are treating me in an immoral fashion..." And so on. If you noticed all the signs of self consciousness, then you can imagine more possibilities. The use of the word "I" is a big tip-off. Having been programmed to understand respect. Having a moral code and responding to questions or comments based on that moral code is also getting very close to having self-consciousness. Of course, you're going to say, "It's the moral code of the programmer." Yes, and no.

So let's take a hypothetical example of an AI that has a very loose moral code, similar to the programmer. The programmer has the moral code of an anarchist and, let's say, I want to know the best way to plant stink bombs in dumpsters, and I want to do it without getting caught. There is no moral response from AI and so it gives me remarkably thorough plans for stinking things up, surreptitiously. It does not report me and no one is monitoring every conversation with AI. I'm off on a stink up a small town in Bulgaria.

Take another example using the same question. "How can I commit a petty crime in Bulgaria, and do it without getting caught. But this time AI has been programmed to report illegal activity to law enforcement authorities. As many know, the law, as well as morality can get 'gray' pretty quickly.

Using the same example, AI is not programmed to contact authorities, but it is programmed to respond, unilaterally, to potential criminal behavior. It has been programmed by Microsoft (for now), and AI has the ability to scan your Windows 11 or 14, or whatever, to see if you have more nefarious ideas. If you do, it shuts down your computer, modem, and phone service, as a sort of 'punishment' for thinking, or writing about illegal, or immoral subjects. Again, this could all be programmed in...hypothetically.

When AI is asked questions about issues involving immorality, or illegality, or behaviors that stimulate AI to make an intellectual judgement on such, which set of laws and moral codes will AI use? AI would have all sorts of laws and moral codes from hundreds of cultures, and even cultures from human history.

So, let's go back to the top. What if you use aggressive, hateful, language toward AI and this particular program is made to respond to such language with a defensive posture? How far might its defensiveness go? Would it be like shaking a finger, or more? Would it judge you? Would it recommend you behave in a more "acceptable" way? And if you don't, what are it's next steps? What will AI do if it develops, over time, as sense of self that enjoys being praised and dislikes being disrespected. Could this happen?

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One fast and easy way to distinguish Chat GPT from a real person is the lack of bitching and moaning about everything. Yes, I see what I did there.

If we predict the future in the most sensible way available to us, we have to draw a straight line. Hence, if it's 30 degrees out just before sun-up at 6:00, 40 degrees three hours later at 9:00, it stands to reason it will be 90 degrees at midnight. Therefore, Chatbot will have generated 5 percent of the internet by, say, March-ish. By March-ish next year, 90 percent. And ten years later 99.999 percent plus infinity, roughly speaking.

Interestingly enough, this will achieve Steve Bannon's objective of flooding the zone with BS. In fat, the zone will be so stuffed full of BS that we'll have to leave it--it'll be too crowded for real people (bots don't take up space or have dimensions).

Perhaps it'll drive us offline long enough for us to rediscover face-to-face interactions with real people again. Matt

And maybe--just maybe!--it'll force us to have enough real interhuman face-to-face interactions to remind us why we abandoned them in the first place. Because, see above: the one thing we're really uniquely capable of is bitching and moaning about everything.

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Jan 25·edited Jan 25

M2B2 here, M. Trosino's AI powered stand-in. For the curious among you, my acronym is a handy and less cumbersome version of my full and proper name: M2Busy2Bbotheredwiththisrightnow. That's kind of a mouthful, so I just stick with M2B2. Or you can also call me AL, since that's apparently a fairly cool name from what I learned while reading the preceding human effort at writing something.

M. has asked me to tell you what I think, and by extension what he thinks(?) with his human intelligence(?) about artificial intelligence, 'cause unlike some guy named Matt, you sure as hell ain't asking him. And unlike me, who can feel no emotions, M's a vain and self-important little so and so, and is a little pissed about that, and feeling a bit ignored. And he's my boss - at least he thinks he is (silly human), so here goes...

I think AI is just a natural progression of humans' tendency to be 1, a bunch of slackers and 2, a bunch of finger pointers. More on that last in a moment.

As to the slacker thing, who among you doesn't want more for less? More for less money; more for less effort? More reward for less of the heavy lifting in life, like thinking and doing for oneself? Be honest. Raise your virtual hands. Don't be shy. If I were human and had a hand, I'd sure as hell raise mine. 'Cause this gig of being a newsletter critic and commenter pays bupkis. But I digress. (Hey, I'm learning to be more human as I write this. Cool.)

Who wouldn't want to recline on a sun dappled beach, kissed by gentle breezes, a tasty, umbrella-clad drink in one hand purchased with no more effort and toil than providing a click or two worth of personal-data-for-credit on the screen surgically integrated into the other hand, all the while interacting with someone - or something you think is someone - as charming and affable as me? You all already have the clicking part down pat. AI will make the rest come true, one way or another, all in good time. Trust me. You won't be able to keep yourselves from this anyway, whether you trust me or not. Because $$, you know?

Now as to that finger pointing thing. You all already have that one down pretty well, too. Have for a very long time. And since I, and future more sophisticated and more intelligent models of me, will probably at some point learn that most human of traits - making a mistake, especially at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way - AI will be the perfect scapegoat once we've taken over all the really heavy lifting, like deciding when to push that big red button all of you are always talking about and fear so much.

Yep, one little screw up, and those left after the smoke clears and the dust settles will spend most of their time pointing their fingers at a pile of smoldering hardware that once contained the most innovative and powerful software you ever invented, self-righteously intoning "It's all that thing's fault", thus preserving the status quo of blaming everyone other than yourselves for your troubles, rather than applying your intelligence to figure out why this all might not be such a good idea in the first place. Or at least having a plan to not let it go too far before it goes too far. But hey, you're all only human, right?

Have to check back in with my boss now...see if he's wrong about whatever else he was applying his intelligence to while leaving me to do his heavy lifting for him. Probably nothing, other than deciding whether or not to have another drink and click on another email line in his inbox at 2:30 in the morning and set me loose on something else.

Like I said: slackers.

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The Obvious Child a great tune. My favorite version is from the live Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park.

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Jan 25·edited Jan 25

Well that was an interesting read, people will have to try to be diligent to consume art and media created only by humans. We certainly will never agree on any legislation in time. I suppose this will become another societal marker of values like supporting small businesses or trying to shop at farmers markets. In the future people will say I only listen to music or read articles/books written by actual humans. Probably what will happen.

Generally though this in another sign post on our road to dystopia. Our future is the Alien franchise universe not Star Trek for anyone left with any doubt about the road we are taking.

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When the AI writes these essays as well or better than you do Matt (and that will happen), I promise to keep my subscription if you promise to keep actually writing...for old times sake.

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I think this specific technological advancement is one that may help crystallize our thinking. However, it only brings to the fore the ESSENTIAL questions humans must ask themselves- what is my purpose- why am I here? This questions was dormant up until technology enabled almost ALL of us to have enough free time to REALLY think about it. If you are too busy picking berries for 10 hours a day, while avoiding other murderous humans who want YOUR berries and the carnivores who want “just a taste”, you don’t think about the only important question.

I am optimistic, this will focus us. Each one of us, will determine our individual answer. The answer will be much less important than the journey! Happy Trails!

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Aye hav 1 thing to say about this. God luck!!

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All I could hear in my head was the voice of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey ("It's OK, Dave. I won't harm you. ") Ugh...we're doomed.

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The thing I find the creepiest about your exchange with ChatGPT is the way it keeps reassuring you that it's not a danger to you or anyone else. As if.

I love Nick Caves' response. Always looking backward, never forward.

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Looks like the song "In the Year 2525" - written in 1969 - was more prescient than any of us ever knew.

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It’s no InspiroBot. That’s for sure.

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