we could, if we chose, put the genie back into the bottle

Andrew Dana Hudson is slowly coming round to the Butlerian jihad—or at least to its presence at the negotiating table.

The Butlerian Jihad is also the answer to this claim that “the genie is out of the bottle” and we have no choice but to accept these products. There’s lots that we could do that we have chosen, collectively, to try to forbid. Slavery, for instance, or child marriage, or incest, or various war crimes and weapons of mass destruction. We’ve made these choices because of a combination of practical and moral considerations. None of these prohibitions are baked into human society; they were won with organizing and argumentation. So we could, if we chose, put the genie back into the bottle — or at least chase it out of our homes and workplaces and platforms.

I’m just gonna leave this here. I want me to have a seat at the table, too—but mostly in the hope of making the boosters eat a plate of their own shit before my wolves chase them out of the throne-room.

I’m too old now, I’ve seen too many cycles of the grift. I am no longer prepared to be merciful. Sure, as seems obligatory to say, there are potentially non-evil uses of generative “AI”—but I have yet to see a single one of them mentioned that we couldn’t just as well do without.

So if you’ve got a software that predicts protein folds or identifies tumours, I suggest you label it henceforth as “protein folding prediction” or “tumour identifcation”… because otherwise those Two Little Letters will plague your future reputation like a face tattoo at a Goldman Sachs job interview.

Get off the gravy train now, or pick yourself out of the wreckage later. Your call.


Related, here’s an aside from a long and satisfyingly ranty interview with Tobias Revell:

Maybe it is the designer in me, but I look at these AI gadgets and services and they just defy common sense! There’s this great anecdote about the Rabbit R1 – which can supposedly act on your behalf – in a live demo only being able to order the most popular pizza because it can’t actually replace your sense of taste or make discriminating judgments like even my two year old can. Like, who needs that?! Who goes to a pizza place and just goes ‘give me what everyone else likes?’ The only reason for this thing is as a symbol and for people who are cash rich and time poor.

Which goes to my theory that a lot of this latest horrible rash of techno-culture is nihilistic; it’s about removing you from having to interact with, contribute to or be beholden to other human beings.

But we’re so deep in this imaginary AI future that billions are being thrown at these useless, vain projects because they make all these assurances about future success. So yes, people may well have their well-being outsourced to bots for someone else’s profit, but I don’t think anyone actually wants that. No one worth listening to is suggesting, “You know who we should automate? Psychiatrists and social carers.”

(That link via Jay Springett, who rightly notes that the portrait Tobias provided to go with that interview is really something.)


Three things make a post, as we used to say… so I’ll throw in a Financial Times column which—beneath the droll style, and amidst hefty blockquotes from a breathless investment advice thing from Barclays—basically makes the case that the “AI” bubble’s reached the full-bore irrationality phase that presages its bursting. Here’s hoping, eh?


Unrelated wisdom, too good not to share:

I feel like it’s okay to live in your own head, because it’s not like you didn’t pay for all the fucking furniture

This rug really ties the room together, you know?

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