AI will be less than we’re promised and more than we need
The Great Promise of Silicon Valley AI Technology
Technology is framed as the Great Promise.
I feel a little deceived.
Maybe even betrayed.
Not me exactly, but all of us. Led down a garden path. Promised something never delivered.
What are the roots of these feelings of betrayal? What do we trust? Where is the compass?
I was always suspicious. I didn’t understand, and I asked a lot of questions. But I also took a lot on trust, and in life, that can be a terrible choice.
Instinct is where you begin. Pay attention to how you feel, and how I felt when I first moved forward into this brave new world promised us by the Digital Lords of Silicon Valley was confused. What was being told to me made little sense.
When I expressed that confusion, the reaction was usually derisive. Get with the program. Don’t be left behind. Generational put downs. A whole raft of rolling eyes and shaking heads. I just didn’t get it, apparently. Except I did.
The Resistance’s Predictions and Today’s AI Disruption
Alexis Madrigal collected early criticisms of the web in The Atlantic article, The People Who Hated the Web Before Facebook.
Resisting the Virtual Life published by City Lights covers data harvesting discrimination, online gender inequality, and public space reduction. It also proposes solutions for a democratic future. The essays predicted economic instability due to the internet, the rise of the “boy engineer” culture, and the impact of personal data on corporations. “What could go wrong with the web?” the authors asked. The answer they found was: A lot. They called themselves “the resistance.”
Google and other fast-growing companies ignored the criticism and rephrased it as “freedom of speech” and “democratization of opportunity” for the “new creative era.” Regulation, they said, will break the internet, like the internet was a precious resource beyond any consideration of ethics or boundaries.