Our AI future

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AI generated art

The First AI-Generated Piece of Art Comes to Auction:

AI artwork sells for $432,500 — nearly 45 times its high estimate — as Christie’s becomes the first auction house to offer a work of art created by an algorithm

I honestly think that within ten years or so, a large percent of the “media” people consume, from TV to porn to news to music to art, will be computer-generated and only vaguely checked/edited by humans for errors.

We’re already halfway there. The news content in your feed is already curated by computer algorithms. Your YouTube playlists and recommendations are curated by algorithms.

Walmart uses Big Data, not human logic, to determine that Poptarts should be stocked next to the hurricane supplies. Walmart never had to think, “People want tasty food that doesn’t require cooking in waterproof packaging when hurricanes are coming” to notice a trend in the data and stick the poptarts next to the bottled water.

But those are algorithms dealing with human-produced inputs; some human did actually invent the poptart.

AI generated story (the bold text was my input):

The dark elf walked into an inn, carrying a harp and dagger.  He approached the bed when a rous’do shouted, “Oh, that’s my archer! I got you!”  “Hah! I told you to leave me alone.”  Dark elf pulled out a weapon he found lying on the bed, pointing it at the hooded man, “Oh, I thought that you wouldn’t be so clever. I’ll take your archer with me!  So please, don’t come back!”
Dark elf shouted, “I ain’t leaving you alone!  Don’t come back, you filthy, rotten little whore!”  “I ain’t leaving you alone!  No, this time I’m taking all you have and turning you into a fine specimen!”  “I ain’t leaving you alone.”
The hooded man yelled, “Oh, my God!”  “Don’t you know we have enough to eat?  Come to my house, we’re on the list to have your head on a plate!  I will have you punished!”
“No no!  I can’t.  It’s not fair.”  “I said you can’t!”  “Oh, really?  That’s a great idea!

Some AI generated news:

Donald Trump proposed buying Greenland today.  I wonder if we could do to ourselves what he did to Scotland, to Greenland. Trump’s promise to build a barrier around Greenland would be a major change in tone, considering his attitude toward North Korea as well.
We were reminded recently that it has been three decades since the last time a major American leader came to Greenland to visit.  I can recall only one visit–and it was a very short visit.  I imagine the President’s visit could be as small or as large as he wants, without much of a change in tone.  So maybe we could do it too.
What did George W. Bush do for the people of Greenland?  Well, we probably got our oil, but no oil.  There’s just enough room for one of his family’s homes–but the rest of the land is off limits.  Trump has not been shy in his praise of Greenland’s icecaps, saying: When I see it there, you see the majesty of the icecaps…. When I look and see how Greenland has been working since this summer, people are thanking me for all this ice…. I know Greenland well.  From Greenland is a country where you have to learn about your country.  Ice is also a key economic component for Greenland.

AI generated porn, coming soon:

These technologies aren’t great yet, but they’re improving fast. And besides, how do you know your memes weren’t AI-generated already?

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What does this thing even mean?

In some areas, like art, the AI will be vastly better than us humans. Cameras already are; algorithms trained on the likes of Kinkaid, Wyland, Rembrandt, and Monet will churn out cheap, beautiful art (and calendars) in any style you want.

In other arenas, like novels and news articles, the results will be bad, mostly because so much nuance goes into human language, politics, and communication. People will consume these anyway.

Once the main use of AI-generated art isn’t avant-garde but beautiful, people will argue that it isn’t “real art” and only plebes will buy beautiful AI-generated paintings, while AI-generated news will seep into your feed without you even noticing. Entire classes will consume AI-gen news without blinking an eye.

In a way, they already are.

AI-generated porn has the potential to be good, but in practice will be terrible because no one cares if their porn is terrible.

Eventually, whether one consumes media made by actual humans will become a social marker of sorts–probably first of low status, as only rich people can afford $400,000 paintings; later of high status, as AI-generated memes and incoherent news articles flood the timelines of people who are, unfortunately, not smart enough to realize that they don’t make sense.

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Burned by the machine

Of course, AI will not be neutral. Remember the time Microsoft released an AI chatbot and let it just interact with the internet, but forgot that the internet is full of humans and humans love teaching parrots to curse, so they had to shut it down?

When you think about it, humans are really the weak link in AI-generated content.

The Amish, of course, will just go on about their lives, interacting with real humans while the rest of us watch AI-generated superhero mashups with a never-ending AI-news ticker in the bottom right hand corner of our VR dome, probably while sipping bug-protein based soylent replacement because people were afraid soymilk would give them boobs.

The video games will be awesome, though.

8 thoughts on “Our AI future

  1. Walmart uses Big Data, not human logic, to determine that Poptarts should be stocked next to the hurricane supplies.

    Is this an invented example, or have you seen information to this effect? I read a while ago that one thing differentiating Walmart’s shelving decisions from other grocery stores was that the shelver at Walmart is responsible for deciding what goes on the shelf (since the person stocking the shelves is in the best position to see what is and isn’t selling).

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  2. I wouldn’t read too much into the high prices that painting is going for. The modern high end art market is heavily involved with money laundering & other fiscal crimes. That of course heavily distorts the prices of art works to have nothing to do with the “quality” (i.e. how much people enjoy looking at the painting, or showing off to their other rich friends) of the work. Here is an article on that.

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  3. Color me unimpressed. I saw a “fake nude” where two women were hugging on a beach; the software erased their bathing suits and painted in *one* set of boobs and genitalia, as if it they were one big woman. I also watched a video from Nvidia showcasing randomly-generated faces, and spotted a moment when the side of one head morphed into the face of another; it should have rotated the head while changing faces.

    It’s like when a person initially comes off as erudite and intelligent, but then says something mind-blowingly stupid, and you realize he’s just remixing smart words he heard somewhere else. AI regularly makes mistakes that show it has absolutely no clue what it’s doing.

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  4. I am not a big believer in AI, precisely because it requires humans. Consider Bayesian spam filtering. The reason it works is that people angrily click the “It’s spam!” button, and the email not only gets removed but also goes into the database, updating the data the identification engine works with. Effectively, it does not filter spam in the objective sense, it basically filters whatever people consider annoying enough to make them click on “It’s spam!”. Since the goal is user satisfaction, not showing users emails that annoy them, it is a success. But at the end of the day all it does is learning user preferences.

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