Out-Random the AI

If you are a creative person, AI is frightening. It should be. It is yet another technology that we know more than enough to not pursue, but will anyway because our culture is an untethered, nihilistic avarice addiction cloud in which we are all entrapped.

The truth is that whether or not AI determines our future will be decided by a confoundingly small minority of humans who nevertheless control a counfoundingly vast majority of the world’s wealth. This is not a technology issue, really, but one of structural inequality.

But back to the desk for a moment.

You may have heard it said that whether [INSERT PROFESSION HERE] will be replaced by AI is unclear, but [INSERT PROFESSION HERE]s that don’t use AI will be replaced by those that do. Perhaps. But, as usual, that seems a motto fit for those who have already ruled on that matter, doesn’t it? It’s the sort of thing predictably said by those who will never use AI but employ those who will.

In the meantime, when it can take exponentially longer to produce something worth a damn with AI than it would to just do it yourself the “old fashioned way,” the rhetoric is simply rubbish. Anyone would find it intolerable to be forced to train their replacement; being given moral admonishments to “embrace the future” and use their replacements is worse.

Use the tools if you must. But a better use of your extra energy — such as it is — is to live the gap between human and AI. Can an AI gather, synthesize, calculate, and even speculate faster than we can? Yes. Can it do all those things better than we can? Maybe. Can it be more interesting, unexpected, artful, or meaningful? Well that’s just a matter of taste.

Every day, I consider the things I put in my own notebook and wonder whether an AI could be trained to do it like I do. I don’t dare to presume more originality than is due, believe me. But the question is not whether an AI could, given enough access to what I have already done, produce words that sound like me or images that look like mine. The question is whether an AI that can do all of that can do what I am going to do next. I doubt it! I surprise myself. But even if it could — even if AI could generate a book full of pages that look like something I would make — would that mean there is no place in this world for me to keep doing what I am doing, without the AI? This is the only question.

It is human nature to create. This can define us without differentiating us. Someday we may discover that every creature of every kind creates art. That won’t make it any less meaningful that we do. If we make a machine that can do the same thing, that does nothing more than confirm what we already know about ourselves. Why? Because we made it. And we’re letting this moment in that story convince us that our making is over? Do not be deceived. Make what you will make; be fully human; out-random the AI.

Written by Christopher Butler on April 1, 2024,   In Log

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