Scattered ChatGPT thoughts
Sunday March 26, 2023 — Brooklyn, New York
I started trying to write something about ChatGPT and “AI” for my other blog, but it made me to sad and annoyed to be able to write something good, so I’m just going to dump some stuff here.
It’s legitimately terrifying to me how many people seem to be comfortable conflating language ability with intelligence or sentience. It’s terrifying to me that so many people don’t seem to notice that they’re doing that, and don’t seem to be able to think critically about it when it’s pointed out to them.
It’s astonishing to me how little people have learned about trusting centralized entities with huge amounts of power in their lives. LLMs are a fundamentally centralized phenomenon — they take a huge amount of human and computer time to make, and are thus only accessible to enormous institutions. I don’t understand if people are simply blind to these power relations, or if they don’t care.
I put a large amount of effort in my life to avoiding allowing ML models to put things into my brain where at all possible (for instance, using adblock to remove all recommended YouTube videos). It’s very strange to see people run to fill their brains with ML output, while I regard it as a sort of contamination that should be avoided as much as possible.
I try to have the things in my life — particularly books, media, and software — be as high quality as possible, because I enjoy having a nice life where things work and I am surrounded by beauty. Seeing people transfixed by a machine that can generate massive amounts of mediocrity is baffling to me.
There is no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
— John M. Culkin, A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan (often misattributed to McLuhan himself)