ChatGPT (Also) Exposes Bullshit

The crypto bros are all about how cool ChatGPT and how the possibilities are endless. People who actually know what they're talking about are in awe about ChatGPT's potential. I'm an incurable optimist: I am happy with its immediate applications. I think it's extremely useful even if all you do is acknowledge its limitations, and use it as a standard for gauging bullshit.

ChatGPT's critics are quick to point out that "AI" is a misnomer. It's not intelligent and it can't learn. It has no conceptual model of the things it's saying, no "real" knowledge, not even an understanding of what it's being asked to do. It's just a bundle of math, and the only reason it seems magic is that it's a really thick bundle. Looking at the "essays" or the programs that ChatGPT writes, it's hard to contradict them. I take this criticism at face value.

So who's afraid of ChatGPT?

Public schools, I hear! Turns out it's super dangerous. To the point where it's being banned because students can use it to cheat, oh my!

The real news here isn't that AI is super smart. It's not, it's a dumb automaton, with no "real" knowledge and no ability to formulate original ideas, or even assess existing ideas. Hell, it can't even tell between reality and facts it makes up. The real news is that we came up with an education system that isn't able to tell the difference between that and an A+ student. The real danger, and the reason why people in the school system are so afraid of it, isn't so much that students can use ChatGPT to cheat: the real problem is that everyone else might just realize that the whole grading system -- along with everything it's based on, from standardized tests to berating children -- is a whole load of bullshit.

It's not like we didn't know this already. All of us who've gone through the school system have fond memories of a few teachers who inspired us and taught us things without which we'd be so much less than we are. And not so fond memories of most teachers. Most of the work we did was not substantial intellectual work, done in the pursuit of understanding and knowledge, but menial brain gymnastics done in the pursuit of the high grades that would get everyone off our backs. It did not produce original works of the mind. It consisted, primarily, in regurgitating things that kept our teachers pleased. Lacking in substance and educational value, the education system is easily gamified. And when it comes to gamifying systems, the puny human brain is, indeed, hardly able to hold a candle to the power of cloud computing.

Who else is afraid of ChatGPT? The search engine/advertising industry and, oh, fate, your humor burns hotter than the Sun, the SEO/copywriting industry. The former's afraid that it'll be drowned in AI-generated content; the latter is afraid much of its workforce will be replaced.

ChatGPT's extraordinary intelligence is, again, not at fault for that. Remember? It's a dumb automaton. The search engine industry should suck it up: they're the ones who created the premises for creating this monstrosity in the first place. If the nerds at Google hadn't come up with a service that ties some contorted metrics to the ranking of their search engine/ad machine (what a stupid contraption!) there would've hardly been a reason for other nerds to come up with a service that automatically generates text that makes said metrics go off the scale. Boo-hoo, Google.

Neither is ChatGPT's extraordinary intelligence at fault for the increasingly likely demise of the SEO industry. Who came up with the business proposition of writing swathes of text with little value, at a very low price, for no other reason than to have your website rank high enough in the ad machine? ChatGPT does exactly that, just at a much lower price. How's the invisible hand of the market treating ya, guys?

I am not one to rely on the mercy of fate but in this case, I think fate might actually smile on the people who bore the brunt of the work in the SEO and copywriting industries. There will be plenty of work for them in the age of ChatGPT -- it's just going to move to other channels. There is a real demand for people who have a good mastery of words and can articulate ideas. Newsletters need to be edited; scripts for Instagram and TikTok videos need to be written; now that people are tired of timelines, "engaging" them may revert to the dark ages of, you know, talking to people, so people who can speak human will be in demand.

This is what ChatGPT truly exposes: the over-inflated value of bullshit metrics. The price of meeting them just went down to basically zero.

Hey, who knows: perhaps early AI will be our ticket to averting being wiped out by the singularity. With any luck, it might force us to re-confront our humanity, to the point where, by the time we get to build a truly advanced AI in our image, it won't be such a bad image.

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