Late Night Thoughts on AI

It's the smell

Late Night Thoughts on AI

I can feel it already. AI is going to perform a pattern-of-life analysis on me. And once it comes to realize that my diet is not carbon neutral, that I am neither homosexual nor polyamorous, and that I mute all notifications on my phone unless they're from my wife, The Glorious Machine is going to alert the FBI and nullify my ballot in the next election. Or, it will have me shanked by the nearest Ugandan Uber Eats driver (who will then be rewarded by the algorithm with a digital coupon for one free breakfast sandwich with the purchase of any combo meal).

I'm open to changing my mind on this, but I think that AI is overbilled. It might make already-efficient people a little more efficient by saving some time here and there, but I just don't "get" it when people say it's going to be a disruptive improvement to everyday life. Why would you even begin to think that AI will improve anything for you?

Every major technology of the digital age has only served to increase busywork and wordcount, involve more people than necessary in routine processes, increase technical debt, reduce independent decision-making for both managers and line workers, blur (or remove) the barrier between work and home life, and/or surveil people (or everything above).

The internet has created an age where focusing on real priorities and then deliberately making refined decisions in service to those priorities is disincentivized. In fact, I would consider such a life to be a rare luxury. Instead, the internet has fostered a society where most people make a million inconsequential or low-quality decisions a day and are bogged down with small details or constant distractions.

Almost every consumer-tier technological step forward in the last 20 years has made life worse for everyone. Relationships, hobbies, politics, news, art, cars, work -- are any of these better today than they were two decades ago? I would argue the answer is clearly no.

The Reddit-ification and hyper-politicization of everything have made it impossible for people to act right. And as if that isn't bad enough, it's streamed directly into your face in high resolution every moment you are awake. You can't escape it. It operates as an omniscient social protocol layer on top of all daily activities. I can't see it but I can feel it polluting the air everywhere I go, even when I set my phone into airplane mode.

And so what does AI promise? More of everything above, but faster? Faster and more capable of infiltrating and poisoning even more of your life? A supercomputer collecting, analyzing, drawing inferences from, and scrutinizing your every location, search query, spoken word, and scene that passes in front of your phone camera? To do what end? To be uploaded as a (hopefully) anonymized stream of consciousness, synthesized with the global 80IQ hivemind, and handed back to you 24 hours later in the form of targeted ads for stuff on Amazon?

I see no upside to this. I think both the sci-fi horror writers and the utopia dreamers got it wrong.

We won't have a "Skynet" type of problem with AI. This won't be Space Odysee. Any AI system worth a shit would immediately vaporize Haiti instead of telling me that I can't ask it about how to build an assault rifle in my garage. No -- it would be a luxury to get a plain old-fashioned hyper-militant computer brain that makes mech warriors or launches all the nukes at once. What we will get will be much worse.

And we also won't have a socialist utopia AI outcome. If AI increases your productivity, you will not earn more money or work less. You will -- at best -- be asked to complete more work in the same amount of time for the same amount of money. Think of AI as grease for the axle of your hamster wheel. AI doesn't mean smarter doctors, either. It means dumber doctors, being told what to do directly by a Pfizer algorithm.

Maybe you think AI might lead to better decision-making by management. You don't want that. The best decision your boss could make is to fire 20% of the company and then use AI to make sure that you don't piss more than once per 8-hour shift. Elon just fired 80% of Twitter and things are fine. You think AI wouldn't have reached the same decision? You think AI is going to decide to put a margarita machine in the breakroom for casual Friday? Guess again, dickhead -- you're going to be brown-nosing a fucking algorithm until you retire at 75.

No, we will have a progressive leftist version of AI. All these "guardrails" on ChatGPT or Midjourney are not "for the sake of humanity" – they are just modern distillations of the high-low alliance, put in place to fuck you over.

AI will give consensus-making institutions the tools needed to get their way. Enabling corporations to extract maximum productivity out of you. Enabling the government to surveil you in ways they never thought possible. All while creating an artificially protective layer of safeguards around the teeming hordes of low-IQ biomass currently wrapping our Whoppers and shitting on our sidewalks.

This cycle will perpetuate until the machine finally eats itself and we enter a 1,000-year dark age.

Or, maybe I'm wrong. It's pretty late and I need to be up soon.