Some stories just land in your lap. Granted, they’re rare, but when they land, they land big time. This is one of those stories. It appeared in my YouTube feed at just the right time, because the hot topic at work is Generative AI, the sexiest expression of which is ChatGPT.
You could be forgiven if you thought ChatGPT was a new phone or electric vehicle or Elon Musk rocket to Mars, but it is none of these. GPT stands for “Generative pre-Trained Transformer.” It’s all the rage right now, although I can see it being just as popular if they named it “GpTT” or, better yet, “GpT2.” I predict a Silicon Valley startup with that name in the next six months.
GPT is basically a computer system with the ability to identify patterns and “make decisions” based on the data dumped into the system. And I do mean “dumped,” since I look at it like the old programming saw, GIGO (Garbage-In, Garbage-Out). That is, the quality of the pattern recognition and “decisions” made by the computer will be only as good as the data that programmers and technicians put into it.
This reminds me of the Coors beer commercial from 1986 boasting about how they started with Rocky Mountain spring water and that making great beer “is all about the water.” I guess Budweiser did not have access to the Colorado River at the time, and now they’ve got bigger fish to fry.
The upshot of this is that choices will have to be made about all kinds of knowledge, not just technical or scientific: everything from Balzac to baseball. The amount of data to be dumped into ChatGPT will be enormous, curated–unfortunately–by people like Australia’s “eSafety Commissioner,” Julie Inman Grant, who declared at the World Economic Forum last year that, “We need a re-calibration of a whole range of human rights that are playing out online, from freedom of speech to be free from online violence.”
I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in “eSafety” Commissars passing judgment on what is appropriate to include online. And I certainly don’t want them telling me what is real or fake, violent or peaceful. I am an adult and can think for myself, thank you very much.
Enter the killer robots. This story didn’t just grab my attention. It twisted my collar with both hands and exhaled its hot breath in my face. It came out of Japan, the land of Godzilla, samurai, and Hello, Kitty. Why wouldn’t it? Allegedly, 29 humans were killed by four robots that went on a shooting rampage in a research facility exploring the military applications of AI. Employees at the lab managed to deactivate three of the robots but not the last one, which linked up with an orbiting military satellite in an effort “to restore” itself.
While I tried imagining the Shootout at Robo Corral, I discovered that the story was a rerun of fake news made by an independent investigator of UFOs and other sundry–what would you call them?–unexplained mysteries of the tinfoil variety. I do not like that characterization, mainly because I use foil for leftovers and find it valuable. This story, too, was a leftover and debunked by a credible source. At least, I judge them to be credible and not backed by people with an agenda like Mark Zuckerberg, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or the Chinese Communist Party (see Reuters Fact Check).
Hollywood has spun gold out of that very idea. The Terminator franchise produced so many films (6) it comes close to Planet of the Apes (9). The larger issue, however, is that even though this investigator deals more with sci-fi than fact, I would not censor her or restrict the information she provides her followers. After all, she is in the business of entertainment like the rest of mainstream media. She has every right to talk about Japanese killer robots just as others have the right to tell her she’s off her rocker, which may have happened once or twice already.
I don’t judge her, nor would I say sayonara to her message about killer robots or “Tall Whites” from another solar system, which she also makes videos about. But I do judge and condemn the eSafety people. They’re more of a threat to mankind than Terminator machines, at least for now. So, let’s leave the killer robots alone. We need them just as much as we need Japanese transvestite elves. And we all know they’re real.
Image credits: feature Possessed Photography; forest attack robin mikalsen; closeup Maximalfocus; warrior robot wu yi; girl Andy Kelly; Honda robot Maximalfocus. Want more? Go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”