Published on [Permalink]
Reading time: 2 minutes

Tech leaders have learned nothing and neither has the press covering them.

On OpenAI: Let Them Fight - by Dave Karpf:

Sam Altman and OpenAI were pitching a perfect game. The company was a $90 billion non-profit. It was the White Knight of the AI race, the responsible player that would make sure we didn’t repeat the mistakes of the rise of social media platforms. And sure, there were questions to be answered about copyright and AI hallucinations and deepfakes and X-risk. But OpenAI was going to collaborate with government to work that all out.

None of these organizations or companies (and they are all, to Karpf’s point earlier in this piece, companies underneath the non-profit, altruistic window-dressing) can avoid repeating the mistakes of the rise of the social media platforms. They can’t avoid those mistakes because they are structured exactly the same way as the social media companies and have all the same underlying incentives.

The large language models that underlie these “AI” platforms require immense amounts of compute and storage infrastructure, and that stuff doesn’t grow on trees. That is before you even get to the development and engineering costs. Where is the money going to come from? OpenAI tried to going the nonprofit route for a bit—although how serious they actually were about that is an open question—and we see how that turned out. Once they turned to investors to fund their business, that opened the door to all the usual market-driven crap as the investors look for a return on their money and endless growth.

Beyond that, though, I’m not sure any of these people really think that most of the stuff that is gross and harmful about the social media platforms are actually mistakes. That they didn’t sufficiently control the regulatory process, or that even the limited public scrutiny the social media platforms have gotten has revealed rampant social and physical harm in the real world? Sure—I imagine they probably do view those as mistakes.

But do we really think that any of the tech billionaires and the tech/business journalists that carry their water think the business models of ad-supported platforms hoovering up vast amounts of data and using it to drive engagement and fuel growth at all costs are really a problem? I am skeptical.

✍️ Reply by email

✴️ Also on another weblog yet another weblog