I’m Impressed But Not THAT Impressed With The New Apple Vision Pro

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I’m tentatively willing to suggest that the Apple Vision Pro may be A Big Deal. If you fused XR technology with AI technology — that’s a big fucking deal. And, yet, I don’t know. The jury seems still out to how big a deal it will all be.

One thing we need to understand is the context of all of this going forward — late 2024, early 2025 definitely seems to be a Perfect Storm, a convergence of sorts of political and technological tipping points. It could be that we’re going to fate not just a Fourth Turning but a Petite Singularity around that time.

Or, put another way, things are moving really, really fast on a number of different fronts.

If we dive into a severe recession by late 2024, early 2025 because of a Petite Singularity just we’re facing the existential choice of autocracy or civil war. Oh boy. That would really suck.

And, yet, I’m always wrong, so, lulz.

It could be that I’m over thinking things. But I do think that the years 2025 – 2029 will be years of dramatic transition. If we’re lucky, we transition into some sort of autocratic techno-state. If we’re NOT lucky, then, well, lulz, we will have some sort of civil war / revolution during those years and we’ll spend the 2030s figuring out what the post-WW3 New World Order will be like.

Yikes.

But that’s just more of my “hysterical doom shit.”

I think we’ll probably just muddle through. We (almost) always do.

The End Of Hollywood(?)

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

As I often like to remind people, they say you go bankrupt gradually, then all at once and if all three major Hollywood unions go on strike there’s a pretty good chance that AI will be adopted far quicker by the Studios than it might otherwise be.

And I say this as someone who is rather Norma Ray when it comes to entertainment Unions. I’m all for them, I just think we’re careening towards a future that is pretty fucked up to the point that we either have something akin to a neo-Luddite movement or we, as a society, decide there have to be expansive and strict carveouts for humans.

The thing I’ve been the most shocked by is how AI generated art belies the idea that there is something uniquely human about art. Turns out, lulz, even something as human as telling a joke has something akin to a mathematical formulate to it that an AI can figure out.

And, remember, the issue is not that AI will generate Casablanca, it’s that whatever it generates will be JUST GOOD ENOUGH that the mass of people will watch it — or listen it while they fold their clothes. In fact, if you get all Black Mirror about it, I just don’t see traditional human-generated Hollywood surviving if the very idea of “mass” media becomes quaint.

If your TV, laptop or phone does a scan of your face to figure out what mood you’re in then gives you entertainment specifically not just to you, but to the specific mood you’re in at that very moment….well, game over.

This leads me to wonder, again, if maybe Broadway and other live theatre is about to see a significance resurgence as people with taste want actual, human interaction in their act.

Or not.

I’m always wrong.

‘Polite Robot’

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Given that there is a non-zero chance that AI — or AGI — could very well mean the end of humanity, I continue to grow aggravated with people who complain that the mainstream LLM systems aren’t a cool as they used to be. One person compared the most recent version of ChatGPT to a “polite robot.”

What the fuck do these people want, the Terminator?

It seems as though a small, but vocal portion of the userbase of LLMs literally want the most hateful, spiteful possible versions of the technology so, I don’t know, they can have their personalities reflected back at them? I do think that we’re rushing towards a “Her” future where everyone has a digital assistant that has near-AGI levels of intelligence.

That, of course, will bring with it all sorts of problems — namely, it’s just a matter of time before Incels hook AGI technology up to sexbots and anway we go. You thought Incels were a pain in the butt before, just wait until they have absolutely NO contact with actual human women and they get all their creepy weirdo dreams made a reality by sexbots who are programmed to be pliant and submissive.

But again — I struggle to understand why fucking Redditers seem to want a technology that’s been compared to the a-bomb to be totally unregulated so any hateful dumbass could end civilization because, I don’t know, the wall didn’t get built?

Fuck those people. Idiots.

But it’s that mentality that we have to work around going forward. The whole issue of regulating AI — or AGI — could turn into something a lot like global climate change in the sense that it will get wrapped up in the whole Red-Blue divide and, in the end, nothing will be done about it.

Though, I have to note, if we reach something akin to the Singularity and, like….uhhhhh…no one has any jobs, then it could be that when regulation of AI or AGI is finally filtered through the Red – Blue prism that neo-Luddism will be what MAGA evolves into, leaving the idea of “light touch” regulation for the Blues.

Or something. Whatever it is, it will be fucked up.

A.I. May Soon Make The Hollywood Writers’ Strike Moot

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The thing about A.I. that a lot of my fellow writers — many of the far better writers than I will ever be — miss is that most people watch and enjoy dreck. As such, whatever A.I. produces just have to be good enough to be on in the background of daily life for most people to accept it without even thinking about it.

As such, I think there is a real possibility that if the Hollywood writers’ strike lingers long enough that A.I. will not just break the strike, but render it moot. Barring something I can’t predict — I am wrong all the time, afterall — it definitely seems as though Hollywood is on the cusp of being radically transformed — “Moneyballed,” if you will — to the point that the only people making any money will be studio execs and actors who live passively off of full body scans.

And that’s if the actors are lucky!

It could be that ultimately even actors will be rendered moot as a cost-cutting measure on the part of Hollywood studios. All those 90s dystopian movies about faux movie stars generated by AI will become a reality and people will grow to have parasocial relationships with stars that don’t even exist in reality at all.

Stranger things, and all that.

If you throw in the growing likelihood of a severe economic downturn happening very, very soon because the US defaults, well, there you go. Before you know it, people will turn to Broadway and their local live theatre if they want to have any sort of human-generated entertainment.

‘Conversation Economy’

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

One reason why I doubt “prompt engineer” will last very long as a job is soon enough YOU will be prompted by an AI. Think of this as the “Her” future in the sense that you’ll have a human-like digital assistant you will have casual conversation with.

Which this leads to the idea that potentially instead of a knowledge economy, we’ll have a conversation economy. What’s more, if you hook up AI to all these Terminators that companies like Boston Dynamics are building the looming prospect of almost all economic activity being a function of non-human actors becomes very real.

I’m talking about macro trends that seem to be all headed towards the same endgame. So, knowledge workers will be replaced by natural-language conversations and blue collar workers will be replaced by what are essentially androids.

And all of this could happen a lot sooner than you might realize. It’s kind of astonishing that all of this is happening in broad daylight and none of us are thinking about all the Hollywood movies that talk about the down side of this very future.

This, of course, raises the prospect of the need for a Universal Basic Income. The only way I can think such a thing might actually happen is to “bribe” elites by replacing all taxes with a 30% VAT. So, plutocrats will get away scot free when it comes to taxes, but we Poors will get one thing we need — a UBI — in exchange for significantly higher consumption prices.

I just don’t think we’re ready for the Conversation Economy. If AI is good enough that we not only can banter with it, develop an emotional connection with, then the very nature of work as we currently imagine it will be transformed.

So, instead of 12,000 professional writers in Hollywood, you will have a fraction of that — if any. People will shrug when they can talk to their digital assistant that will create a movie or TV show out of whole cloth on the fly. Your phone or TV will scan your face to see what mood you’re in and in a split second will generate you entertainment that is specifically designed to not just you, but your specific mood at that specific moment.

Mass media, a shared reality, will no longer exist.

Now, it seems to me that the end game of that specific situation is live theatre will see a real resurgence. That will be the delineator in pop culture — most run-of-the-mill recorded entertainment will be completely AI generated but if you want a “human touch” to your entertainment you will go to the theatre or a live music show.

Regardless, we’re just not ready for what’s about to happen. It will be interesting to see if we’re going to see the rise of a neo-Luddite movement, probably in the context of the next generation of MAGA.

Jason Calacanis Is Way Too Sanguine About The Future Of Work In The Post-AI World

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I generally like Jason Calacanis and his array of tech-themed podcasts. I blanched when the All-In podcast had kook Robert Kennedy Jr. on, but I’m willing to forgive such a dumb mistake.

Anyway, the point of this post is to address how Calacanis’ seems to have a rainbows and unicorns take on AI and the future of work. As the on-going Writers’ Strike indicates — AI isn’t going to make people more productive, it’s simply going to transform the economy to the point that a lot of people simply won’t have a job anymore.

Now, I’m a strong believer in the notion that technology generally generates more jobs than it destroys. But the reason why I fear the AI revolution may be different is it’s all happening so fast that this process won’t have time to happen.

As such, I keep hearing Calacanis talk about how it’s going to make people more productive, and yet, he doesn’t seem willing to admit that lulz, if that productivity happens overnight that the capitalist imperative would be to simply restructure businesses so they have less workers.

And the way I could see this happening very, very rapidly is in the context of, say, a debt default by the Federal government leading to a Second Great Recession which, in turn, would cause a lot of businesses to look for ways to get rid of workers. All these people lose their jobs virtually overnight as a part of some sort of Petite Singularity…and those jobs just never come back. But we wouldn’t realize what was happening until the recession was over.

Anyway. I’m wrong all the time and maybe I’m just being hysterical. That is known to happen.

2024 Is Shaping Up To Be A Massive Clusterfuck

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I’m growing more and more alarmed at what might happen in late 2024, early 2025. Here are the reasons why I fear 2024 could be the most historic presidential election since 1860.

Biden’s Age
Remember, there is a pretty wide amount of time where if anything, God forbid, happens to Biden, the entire election process will be thrown into chaos. From the moment the ballets are printed to Certification Day, if Biden abruptly shuffles off this mortal coil…we’re fucked. The system simply isn’t designed for the abrupt departure of the head of the ticket. Add to this that Harris hasn’t really impressed me as a Veep and…oh boy. Any student of history will tell you that often bad things happen in quick success during a crisis.

Trump’s Radical Agenda
Ding-Dong has made it very, very clear that any second term on his part will be based on revenge. In fact, his second term agenda is so radical that America will be at a crossroads. Either we have a civil war or we turn into a MAGA-themed autocracy. Given that the onus would be on Blues to decide if we have a civil war or not, I tend to believe we’re just going to turn into an autocracy. Blues just don’t have it in them, collectively, to leave the Union. What’s more likely to happen is a lot – A LOT — of smug Twitter liberals are going to flee the country en masse. Trump will transition us into an autocracy and whomever he picks as his veep will be our new Caesar Augustus.

Trump’s Criminal Problems
The thing about Trump is it possible that by the time the 2024 election rolls around, he will be under indictment for a number of Big Boy Crimes and yet he could still win the election. That’s the kind of shit that puts a lot of extra pressure on the system that is already at a breaking point.

Economic Unknowns
Two major issues could throw everything in the air. In the near term, we have to worry about a debt default that could crash the global economy in a rather abrupt manner. Meanwhile, at some point between now and early 2025, we have to worry about the possibility of some sort of Petite Singularity happening that would cause the economy to shed millions of jobs in a rather abrupt manner.

One Machine To Rule Them

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

AI-thinker Robert Scoble suggested that one day we’ll defer even our governance to AI. I think this is very possible. In fact, I think ultimately humans could simply defer all decisions to AI to the point that AI takes over without a shot being fired.

As such, humanity won’t go out in a blaze of glory in some sort of “Judgement Day,” we’ll rather simply drift into the arms of a very paternalistic AI that makes all our decisions for us. We might have some sort of contract between Humans and our new AI overlords that is renewed every so often. But, in general, all of humanity will defer all of our major decisions to an AI (maybe an AGI after a hard Singularity?)

It’s easy to imagine a situation where we are so lazy that we wilfully give AI access to all of our WMD, and hell, even all police operations across the globe. We will do this because enough people come to see AI as “objective” that it starts to make a lot of sense to people that only an all-powerful AGI can properly manage the globe.

If you wanted to get really fanciful about things, you might even suggest that global capitalism might be replaced with some sort of techno-communism where the dream of everyone living according to their ability and according to their need might finally be reached without the whole genocide part of it.

But that’s really reaching.

And, yet, the key element remains — we’re so busy thinking that Skynet is going to blow us up that we totally miss the idea that the transition to a world dominated by AGI would be rather meh. It would start with contracts being written by non-Human actors and end with some sort of hazy world government run by AGI that pushes lazy Humans around because we’re all so busy smoking a bowl while playing video games in the metaverse that we don’t notice what is going on.

I’ve Noticed Something

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

It seems as though American pop culture is in the midst of some sort of vibe shift. I’ve been listening to Ben Smith, formerly of BuzzFeed, go on his podcast book tour and I’ve noticed a few things from listening to all of his conversations asking him questions from different directions.

Smith makes it clear that he thinks we’re kind of between media eras at the moment. The thing he kept saying that caught my attention is that people have returned to reading The Drudge Report to “know what’s going on.”

I find that comment intriguing.

Before I continue, let me be clear that months go by before I actually go to a Website and read content. I get all of my information passively via Twitter or through reading the headlines of various email lists I’m subscribed to. And, what’s more, it’s clear that it’s very possible that generative AI is about to revolutionize the EVERYTHING, including journalism.

And, yet, there’s a little part of me that wonders if we’re overdue for a site that would have the personality of The Drudge Report — and serve a similar purpose — but would have a more modern and mass sensibility.

My vision of this site would be something in the tradition of Spy Magazine, Late Night With David Letterman and Gawker. It seems as though if you came out of the gate swinging with a unique, interesting take on the days news that was more than just links that you might — MIGHT — be able to recreate the magic of the snarky 2002-2004 era of the Web.

But it would have to be updated for modern audience expectations. You would have to have not just a blog you updated throughout the day, but a podcast or two as well. The window of opportunity for this venture is pretty small and closing fast because, well, luz, who knows how fast AI developments are going to go in the near term.

And you would have to have the resources to pull this off. So, it’s not like I could just do it on my own, no matter how much I am so delusional to try (if I had the resources to do so.)

But for the rise of AI and the metaverse, I would propose that conditions are there for a Gawker-like blog that was really aggressive in being a place where people would visit when they woke up — or got to work — to know What’s Going On.

And, yet, just as we’re overdue for a third wave of punk….I think my hunch while correct on paper just doesn’t make any business sense. The Web is mature. Apps are mature. AI and the metaverse are zooming towards us at an alarming rate.

So, lulz. My little dream is essentially 20 years too late. I need to go back t omy novel.

AI’s Looming Disruption of Journalism

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

It definitely seems as though we’re going through a digital Cambrian explosion. Almost every day, it seems as though AI has found a new niche to exploit. Everything from screenwriting, to photography to potentially movies themselves be totally, dramatically disrupted by AI.

It makes me wonder how AI might revolutionize journalism. This is question comes up as journalism is at something of a crossroads. I, for one, get all of my information passively through Twitter. Even though I love magazines and newspapers, I rarely, if ever, actually read any of them either in print or online. I’ve been listening to Ben Smith, formerly of BuzzFeed, go on his podcast book tour, I am reminded that we’re kind of in a liminal moment in modern journalism.

But how would AI disrupt journalism if, to date, LLMs are rather passive. It seems as though possible at some point, AI might reach a point where you could hook it up to a communication system so the AI could be assigned a story by an editor. Then, the AI would shoot out emails, make phone calls, the whole shebang.

Even though being a journalist was really hard for me because I have the wrong personality, the hard part of being a journalist is the gathering of information. If you could design a pro-active LLM that could carry on a human-like conversation on the phone or via email, then, well, there you go, about 90% of journalists would be out of a job.

All that would be left is editors and people who have to physically in a room with someone for, say, spot news. And those jobs would linger until you could figure out a way to put your AI into the body of android who could physically go to a Congressional scrum, say.

I guess the issue for me is we may need to reimagine the very idea of what journalism is. It could be that either there will be some sort of comprehensive carveout regulation things like journalist or lawyer, or whatever HAS to be done by a human, or we face the idea that a Universal Basic Income may be our inevitable future.