not bathed, but drowned

There is a lot being written about AI, much of it rather speculative and not especially good. Even the critical pieces aren’t really as insightful as authors seem to assume that anything challenging the underlying assumptions of Silicon Valley Tech must be. So is pleasing to encounter that rare piece that is refreshing enough to change how you think about the subject. It is also pleasing to see someone share your own general line thinking:

This is an awkward fact about new media technologies. We imagine that they will remake the world, yet they’re often just used to make crude jokes. The closest era to our own, in terms of the rapid decentralization of information technology, is the eighteenth century, when printing became cheaper and harder to control. The French philosophe the Marquis de Condorcet prophesied that, with the press finally free, the world would be bathed in the light of reason. Perhaps, but France was also drowned in a flood of pornography, much of it starring Marie Antoinette. The trampling of the Queen’s reputation was both a democratic strike against the monarchy and a form of vicious misogyny. According to the historian Lynn Hunt, such trolling “helped to bring about the Revolution.”

What the Doomsayers Get Wrong About Deepfakes — By Daniel Immerwahr

My own suspicion has been that the chatbots are fundamentally the latest development in movable type. The fact that we have these chatty, irresponsible, unreliable, and inane copywriters at our disposal might just be as dramatic an historic development as being able to mass produce copies of the bible in the vernacular.