Fix: A realistic decision on ChatGPT

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I flew to New Zealand last month to speak at a conference on geopolitics and artificial intelligence. For inspiration on how to explain the ensuing consequences of this Promethean moment, I turned to the past, specifically to Henry Kissinger, who turns 100 this year.

Kissinger warned of an AI arms race and the impossibility of maintaining human control.

Despite his well-deserved retirement and his legacy of continued scrutiny over his actions in Cambodia, Chile, Argentina, and Vietnam, Kissinger is still actively engaged in current policy debates, particularly regarding technology and its effects on national governments and geopolitics. He wrote five years before the release of ChatGPT Atlantic How AI will end the Age of Enlightenment and then go on to co-author a book on the subject. In a recent wide-ranging CBS television interview, Kissinger warned of an AI arms race and the impossibility of maintaining human control over AI.

To help me panic about the impending singleness, I’ve turned to others like Gary Marcus in his new podcast series Humans vs. Machines To take a more balanced view of the future of AI and its capabilities.

More machine-generated Kissinger art
More machine-generated Kissinger art

As a kid in 1990s America, I grew up in the golden age of hip hop, watching how the exclusive party tricks of Bronx DJs and MCs like Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa transformed American – nay, global – mainstream culture. This year marks the genre’s 50th anniversary, along with many of the biggest hip hop names of the 1990s from the 50s and 60s. Dr. Dre even appeared on the mock cover of a senior citizen magazine – which in my opinion gives new meaning to the term “old head”. So for the anniversary, I’m reminiscing about Fresh Air’s series of interviews with hip hop pioneers (and how in high school I saved up to buy a pair of Timberlands to go with my jean overalls—a catch, of course).

I was struck by how so much of the lyrics and rhetoric of what was later dismissed as gangsta rap foreshadowed the central message of the Black Lives Matter movement around police brutality and systemic racism. Like hip hop, BLM began in the United States but soon spread and influenced the world, seeding its own local definitions and movements. (Though, as Lil Wayne explains, not all are allies of the hip hop movement.)

And absent a new release due to the writers and artists strike – largely due to concerns about how the creative industry has become and will be affected by AI – I look forward with disdain. Billions, which snuck out of production before the shutdown. The dialogue is clever, with improbable plot twists and unlikeable characters – but this campy, cut-rate successor It serves as a reminder of how money flows and global finance influence world affairs and power politics as much as diplomats and generals.

Speaking of the one percent, hip hop has produced many billionaires and multi-millionaires – from the aforementioned Dr Dre to Rihanna, Diddy, Jay Z, Russell Simmons, 50 Cent and Ye. Does this represent the commodification of culture under the insatiable appetite of global capitalism? Or how hiphop was the perfect blend of capitalism and art? contains a number of hip hop references BillionsI’m thinking the latter.

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