Various and Sundry

How Much Toil & Trouble is in the A.I. Bubble?

The hue and cry about “A.I.” –aka all sorts of machine learning and algorithm use– that exploded last year shows no sign of letting up this year. Not only that, this flavor of AI is creeping into all sorts of technology we use if it’s not there already. For example, iOS 18 will purportedly include a major overhaul including A.I. when it launches later this year.

Now, my seven or nine regular readers might have concluded that I’m very against AI, given my previous posts. However, I actually think the current crop of generative AI tools promises to be tremendously useful. I mean, I keep seeing use cases in my dayjob. Processes can be automated and made more efficient, but with humans clearly in the loop. Not only that: some processes can be overhauled in a way that demonstrably improve some work. That’s thanks to the enlarged scope and increased cadence that data analysis can be performed that would be too labor intensive — and you can still have the human in the loop making decisions about the analysis.

This is all good.

This doesn’t eliminate various issues, starting with frequently opaque processes on what data goes in to build models, train algorithms, and how your data is secured. I mean, it’s not like PII or SCI are new concepts. Then there’s the whole use of creators’ IP without permission, which remains distinctly not cool — and yes, I know the free labor/content adds/you-are-the-product is the essential ingredient of so much social media and related technology these days. Still: not cool… and I’d also argue not giving us the best outcomes for us users (again, I realize that doesn’t matter to companies wanting a longing gaze from investors, but again, still not cool.).

So I read Cory Doctorow’s recent piece musing about our current crop of AI with a touch of schadenfreude –sure– but mainly focused on his central question: what sort of bubble does AI represent? Because the mania for AI comes across as the latest of a series of technology hype trains we’ve seen most recently with cryptocurrency and NFTs. And lest you think I’m just going with someone on the record as “not enamored with tech companies,” there’s also pieces in Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and Forbes that caught my eye.

Because even in the case of a hype train derailment, the tech companies that be will surely try to keep on making ducats. And what will that mean for the AI I have to deal with at work or elsewhere?

I suppose I could ask ChatGPT…

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