Curated Resource ( ? )

Oops! We Automated Bullshit.

Oops! We Automated Bullshit.

my notes ( ? )

them to generate bullshit. So is Elon Musk right, that nobody will have to work any more once AI is achieved? Perhaps so, if producing bullshit is the only kind of work we need - and you can see how the owner of (eX)Twitter might see the world that way.

AI systems like ChatGPT are trained with text from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other huge archives of bullshit, alongside plenty of actual facts (including Wikipedia and text ripped off from professional writers). But there is no algorithm in ChatGPT to check which parts are true. The output is literally bullshit, exactly as defined by philosopher Harry Frankfurt, and as we would expect from Graeber’s study of bullshit jobs. Just as Twitter encourages bullshitting politicians who don’t care whether what they say is true or false, the archives of what they have said can be used to train automatic bullshit generators. 

The problem isn’t AI. What we need to regulate is the bullshit. Perhaps the next British PM should convene a summit on bullshit, to figure out whose jobs are worthwhile, and which ones we could happily lose?

If you'd like to read more, my new book on Designing Alternatives to AI, to be published by MIT Press in 2024, is available as an online free preview.


Emily M. Bender,  Timnit Gebru, Angelina McMillan-Major, and Shmargaret Shmitchell, "On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?" in Proceedings of the 2021 ACM conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (March 2021), 610-623.

Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit. Princeton University Press, 2005.

David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Penguin Books, 2019.

Murray Shanahan, Talking About Large Language Models. (2022). arXiv preprint arXiv:2212.03551.

Glenn Zorpette,  "Just Calm Down About GPT-4 Already. And stop confusing performance with competence, says Rodney Brooks," IEEE Spectrum (17 May 2023).

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