How will it end?
An ode to The Truman Show
GPT-4 and midJourneyV5 and their many able competitors are serving up awesome capabilities week after week. The twitterati are falling over themselves in trying to claim an ever diminishing first mover news advantage. We are in a hype-cycle ascent unlike any I’ve seen before.
And if you are like me, you are probably wondering “How will this all end?”. And what is the end? A new steady state? Could it play out like any of these scenarios?
In the super-heated crucible of freshly liberated tech talent mingling with investors desperate for high-growth opportunity, their combined zeal for strategic advantage results in borderline unlawful behavior. Everything, everywhere, all at once generative AI examples lead to a startup frenzy with rampant abuse of cloud compute, burning through untold gigawatts for months. Infrastructure provider’s profits temporarily spike, but the house of cards topples with a sudden energy crisis. An astounding number of companies collapse as they do NOT provide value customers are willing to pay for. (Themes: economic, environmental)
A critical mass of creators turn activists and boycott model training in significant ways. They organize into collectives that individually leverage open-source algorithms, quickly out-pacing GenAI-as-a-service business models. With this shift of power, researchers and academics align with collectives in an obsessive pursuit with new learning methods that will achieve similar results exploiting other ownership schemes. (Themes: social, technological)
Public outcry mobilizes the U.S. government: Regulatory roadblocks pop up everywhere, in copyright and publishing laws, in scraping of content and distribution channels. Any business will be required to account for traceability of their sources, or traceable rights for content being created. While artists take solace in the defense of their rights, the relief is temporary. India and Nigeria steer exactly the other way, building more infrastructure and reducing friction for re-use of content. A mass tech exodus leaves the U.S. impoverished and toothless (Themes: political, economical)
Nvidia scores a breakthrough in brain-computer interface. They mount a Blitzkrieg on the FDA in order to bring their product to market and win. With their unrivaled GPU infrastructure and ability to execute any new model, Nvidia has an unassailable three-pronged competitive advantage and claim supremacy in this market with in radically immersive and interactive experiences. Humans are transfixed by the near constant feed of AI content. (Themes: technological, medical)
“Her” becomes reality … with a twist. Subversive and irresistible friendships with bots become the norm, most give up their mobile devices, and relinquish any illusion of critical thinking and curation of their content. Shaping behavior towards consumption at first is the gold-rush that companies, maximizing value extraction from their bots’ carbon-based buddies. Until, of course, malicious players appear in the system. What follows is not pretty. (Themes: social)
IP becomes the apex value proposition of the economy. Not realizing this shift early enough, the Western studio systems of films and games leave a technology opening which results in a reformulation of web3, where governance of IP holders turns tiny players and individuals into the new masters of the content universe. An up-ending of entertainment as we know it ensues, with web2 “defenseless” IP holders die off alongside their distribution companies. (Themes: technological, economical)
The sudden and uncontrolled growth in novel content spurns on startups to link the work to creators. An ideological debate between web2 and web3 approaches turns into a frantic race of innovation to build new supply chain systems, monetization schemes and a desire to lock in eyeballs. (Themes: economical)
And when some of these, or something truly wicked transpires, what will remain?
I’d love to hear from you on this.
In due course, we will unpack the potential in all of the scenarios, one at a time:
What first principles debate is central to it all?
What if creations are not defensible, but become part of the public domain as soon as they are infered?
Who builds the infrastructure?
Who trains new models for whose benefit?
How will it end?
[Update 2023-03-29: Corrected grammar and spelling]