The machines will destroy us with personalized generated content to amplify distrust.
I’m not a fan of artificial intelligence. It’s not that I don’t see the positive impact of these technologies. I’ve worked on AI based projects at IBM that were designed to perform tedious bureaucratic work quickly. My concern is that we’re making very powerful yet easy-to-use tools to generate deceptive written and visual content (audio and video aren’t too far off) that is becoming more and more difficult to interpret as authentically created by a human. We’re on a path to destroy the Internet — and maybe worse — as we know it today. I’ve been feeling like an old man yelling at a cloud on this idea, and then I read The Expanding Dark Forest and Generative AI by Maggie Appleton.
The dark forest theory of the web points to the increasingly life-like but life-less state of being online.
Most open and publicly available spaces on the web are overrun with bots, advertisers, trolls, data scrapers, clickbait, keyword-stuffing “content creators,” and algorithmically manipulated junk.
To complicate matters, language models are not the only mimicry machines gathering speed right now. Image generators like Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion have been on a year-long sprint. In January they could barely render a low-resolution, disfigured human face. By the autumn they reliably produced images indistinguishable from the work of human photographers and illustrators.
There’s a swirl of optimism around how these models will save us from a suite of boring busywork: writing formal emails, internal memos, technical documentation, marketing copy, product announcement, advertisements, cover letters, and even negotiating with medical insurance companies.
But we’ll also need to reckon with the trade-offs of making insta-paragraphs and 1-click cover images. These new models are poised to flood the web with generic, generated content.
If this doesn’t unsettle you to the point of needing to shift in your chair — it should. And if that is the case then either you embrace and fan the flames of anarchy or you have not had to contend with friends and family members who are easily baited by convincing content created by trolls (human trolls ) on the internet. These AI tools are going to make it a thousand times worse.
And yet, despite all of the problems trolls have created for societies around the world in the past…