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👩🏭 When play becomes work
There are horrific white men on Twitter doing free labour for AI companies
Hello — my brain is very fried from re-writing a 40-page report so please bare with me on this one, please I beg you…
This week had the energy of two obnoxious teenagers wearing socks and slip-ons, riding Lime bikes through London. I hope that makes sense. Scroll aggressively downwards for:
I’m going to briefly dig in to what the cringe AI hype influencers with blue checkmarks are really doing
A new creepy ‘child safety’ bill has emerged from the US
Imgur is about to delete all that p*rn you were storing
🤡 No one asked for generative AI and it also has no point
Here’s a screenshot that perfectly summarises our new embarrassing Twitter Blue reality:
‘We’re supposed to be different’ is just another way of saying ‘I pay Elon Musk $8 a month to keep a piece of my brain in a jar’.
Anyway, while Elon Musk chases celebrities around with blue check marks (while ignoring all the people willing to die on mars for him) my For You page continues to get worse and worse. It has become completely littered with white men who tweet like they have a permanent concussion. Lot’s of them are horrid AI influencer guys who’s tweets go viral because they give you ‘five ways to boost your productivity with AutoGPT!’ And others are whatever this is:
The growth-mindset bootstrapping guys annoy me less than the cringe AI ones tbh: let’s for a second look past their disgusting use of hype language — e.g. things like ‘the future is AI’ and ‘you’re going to be left behind if you don’t master these five types of prompts’ — and focus only on the idea that AI can somehow boost productivity. For argument’s sake, let’s say that boosting your productivity is something important that you should actually care about. It’s still an utterly fruitless pursuit.
We, the white people who send emails for a living, do not need to boost our productivity; we have already done that. The boost to productivity exists in the invisible labour that knits these systems together; it’s the droves of underpaid clickworkers labelling images on our behalf and making ‘computer vision’ possible. We personally are not more productive, we’re just marvelling at a fake photo of the pope in a big white coat.
Personally I quite like leaving my productivity where it is, and looking at generated film stills of The Matrix directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky in 1989. To me — if I remove all peripheral concerns — generative AI has just created a different kind of content for me to scroll past. But the thing that’s bone crushingly annoying about the AI hype artists is how they are unashamedly addicted to transforming play into work.
The emergence of LLMs and text to image generators have no purpose beyond ‘hm, let’s see if we can do this’. I can very easily picture Sam Altman and other executives at OpenAI egging each other on to build ever larger, more powerful systems, quite literally because they all feel they have something to prove: ’bet you can’t build an NLP engine with more than 2bn parameters!’ they yell at each other, over beers, in 2019.
Essentially, these systems were built without purpose; the idea was to release the tech and let the people decide on use-cases. So what we get is the AI hype guys infecting our Twitter feeds with tips on how to make a steady income using ChatGPT and escape obsolescence — they have taken something that could just be pure fun for the sake of fun, and have decided to turn it into work. They have imagined up a money train, and are yelling at all of us to jump on it ‘before it’s too late’, when most of us haven’t even had a chance to figure out what cool inconsequential non-work things can be done with these tools. It’s like being told to monetise your hobbies again, except the people telling you to do so are insufferable white men who’ve never had a hobby in their life — and also a ‘generative AI hobby’ is barely even a thing yet.
The refusal to play, and insistence that we must use AI for work, is another indication that it cannot be used to ‘boost productivity’. The hype artists have not become more personally productive as a result of AI and neither will you if you follow their advice. Instead, they are doing real, hands-on, voluntary labour for OpenAI and other capitalist institutions — the only productivity they’ve really boosted is for the owners of these technologies via their relentless tweet threads and persistent use of the tools.
👼 Something something ‘child safety’
There’s a US bill floating around that aims to ban anyone under the age of 13 from using social media. Okay great, good idea — what a great excuse to build a government-sanctioned age-verification system into the largest social media platforms in the world.
It’s just so interesting when politicians who are also parents use their authoritarian approaches to parenting as a basis for policy decisions. I would say this bill has less to do with child safety, and more to do with co-mingling of technology companies with government control. This is why I find it hilarious when any government talks about their commitment to ‘reigning in Big Tech’s powers’. They have no interest in reigning-in this power — their interests lie in using the power.
Important fact: pretty much every major social media platform does not let anyone under the age of 13 make an account, anyway. Obviously, anyone can lie about their age on the sign-up form, which is why the US government want something more enforceable (good luck). I want to also note that social media companies are not excluding children under the age of 13 because of anything related to care — laws around targeted ads for that age group are a lot tougher, so social media platforms would rather not bother trying to navigate those. It’s purely risk mitigation.
🖼️ Be your own image host for once ffs
Image hosting website Imgur is about to do an automated delete of ‘old content’ so prepare to see a bunch of broken images on random websites. Stuff like this always reminds me that we are so often at the mercy of whoever has the most disk space. Of course Imgur are about to delete all of those old memes you had saved; they have bills to pay!
This kind of thing is also why I never ‘back up to the cloud’. Backing stuff up to the cloud is like paying to store your most important data on a strangers computer — why would you do it? Just?? Buy an external hard drive???
Anyway, it’s time to press send. I hope you all found this useful. Bye then.