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Quackcast 677 - You can't spell "Fail" without "AI"

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, March 5, 2024

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I remembered that a promised Quackcast was AI: slavery for artists and creators.
This is an important subject to cover especially from this angle.

It's slavery because it uses our creative products as fuel for it's database training for free and then uses our work to make money for their creators, essentially exploiting us for free. This isn't just about the image generators, it includes crap like chat GPT too: that system steals and repackages the creations of others without credit, payment or any acknowledgment.

The use of all this sort of AI (except the ethical ones), is immoral, unethical and is a practice that basically endorses slavery.
People are moronically starry-eyed with the idea that it answers their silly queries like a knowledgeable human, not realising the obvious fact that all it can do is repackage other people's writing for them. The fact that they use chat GPT instead of googling the information themselves is an indictment of their own characters. And this is quite apart from the fake “creative” stuff that's generated.

How does it make money?
Currently most of the companies that developed these programs are offering the use of them openly in order to get free testing from the public and to increase their profiles in hopes of getting billions of dollars in investment from people like Google and Facebook, which is already happening. Already our creativity is making masses of money for a few people and we're not seeing any of it. In the future whoever runs these generative AIs will simply charge for their services if they're not incorporated into other services that we already pay for (either directly or indirectly through advertising).

The idea that it will always be the way it is now or that “the genie is out of the bottle” and “there's n going back” is childishly naive and completely ignores the way previous examples of “disruptive” tech are integrated into the commercial world. Great previous examples are the spread of free music, programs, games, and videos on file sharing services in the late 90s. We STILL happily have for all those things now and they're all still multi-billion dollar industries because things adapted and laws were changed.

The moral is: if you are an intelligent, moral, ethical person then do not use generative AI. And don't think that this is the Apocalypse and that it's all doom and gloom with no possible hope in sight. The industry will eventually correct itself and there will be a new balance, as there always is.

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme inspired by Sandra’s Day - A spicy little latin number Chassé’s in with some fancy footwork, does a clever spin, grabs a willing partner and twirls them around the dance floor before finishing up with a hard stomping finale, a crash and a grand exit!

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
Adventures of Sena -

Featured music:
Sandra’s Day - - by Lionclaw, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Ozoneocean -
Tantz Aerine -
Banes -

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Gunwallace at 11:04AM, March 7, 2024

Speaking of shoddy essays ... many years ago now I wrote a bunch of articles and entries for US science textbooks and encyclopedias. I have noticed that many of these are now available to buy for a small fee online from the original editor/publisher. Perfect for an essay on that topic. Not much I can do about it though, I was a writer for hire. But glad to know somewhere out there students are paying for one of my old bits of writing and submitting it as their own. They'd at least get a B-.

PaulEberhardt at 8:49AM, March 6, 2024

@Ozoneocean: You've got a point, of course, but there will always be some people who will happily pay for something that writes shoddy essays for their teenage kids, respectively some kids will themselves. I know all too well from when I studied that there were online platforms where richer students could hire poorer ones to write term papers for them - which was of course quite illegal; both could be expelled if caught. Officially it would be called "proofreading", which existed too and was perfectly fine. There is bound to be a market for AI as a cheaper version of that, and being much cheaper this will be attractive for more and younger customers. All the company needs to do is put up a notice that using their product for what it's for would be illegal and it's your own responsibility if you do it anyway. DIY stores do not promote clandestine employment, but I wonder how many would go out of business without it. This is no different.

PaulEberhardt at 8:20AM, March 6, 2024

@TheJagged: Fight fire with fire! - Lol, yes, that's exactly what it is. It's a point in case that it's never about the new tool but about what people do with it, and that this always seems to boil down to an arms race. No big surprise here, since arms races are the most profitable option for arms dealers. Believe me, I'm only too well aware of that, but it's a matter of everyone's dignity - mine and theirs - to make successful cheating at least as much of a challenge as honest work. Brains have to be exercised to stay in good shape.

TheJagged at 4:22AM, March 6, 2024

@PaulEberhardt "I catch cheating with AI. I've got the help of a newly-developed AI-detector that has an astonishing hit ratio of 98%" (...) I love that. Fighting with fire. Who will win, the AI that steals or the AI catches the AI that steals? An unstoppable force VS an immovable object! WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN

TheJagged at 4:19AM, March 6, 2024

I keep saying this, but some mega corp simply needs to slap the ban hammer on web scraping. That solves the entire issue. No more google search, no more unethically trained AI. If you can only raise your machine brain on legally acquired data, then there is no moral quandary. The entire structure of the internet is the root problem. People stealing images and information off the web? Heck we all do it, cast the first stone if you never right clicked to "save image as", or spent quality time on the pirate bay. AI just makes it too easy to mash it up and pretend it's something new.

Ozoneocean at 9:31PM, March 5, 2024

@PaulEberhardt- I don't think that the system will continue as it is now. Already the AI stuff is moving to being incorporated into big business. I envisage that not too long in the future people won't be able to use ChatGPT for that sort of thing, soon you'll only be able to do it through Google or Facebook and they'll remove people's ability to come up with fake essays or wat least make it too difficult for most people. But yes, we need to keep up the criticism for people who indulge in it.

Ozoneocean at 9:27PM, March 5, 2024

Falling into the trap of using AI generators for that is something we need to police against because it hurts us and society. It's like taking an energy drink when you're tired or buying a packet of chips when you're hungry: both incredibly harmful things* to us and all society but we do it out of "harmless" habit :( (promotes obesity, the use of plastics and harmful non-disposable waste, promotes working beyond one's limits so it encourages the physical addition to the products to keep you performing at the same level etc).

Ozoneocean at 9:23PM, March 5, 2024

@marcorossi - no, slavery fits because unlike the Tax example where you give money to the government as a reasonable payment for your life in a stable country with all sorts of services (ones that those people think they deserve for free), they people that the work is stolen from get zero for it and the people who steal it (the AI developers) get billions. It's actually those "taxation is slavery" people who would be the very biggest supporters of the current AI regime because they think they deserve the products of other people's work for free. :)

PaulEberhardt at 1:50PM, March 5, 2024

It's essentially the same in art. So making a point of instantly calling out people for using AI, being as cynical and nasty as we can force ourselves to, will possibly have to be the way to go in the long run, even if it does bear the risk of being called a "hater" by a billion chat bots in retaliation... Yes, we all will survive AI, but it may hurt a bit.

PaulEberhardt at 1:42PM, March 5, 2024

I haven't so far been criticised for being too harsh on any students I catch cheating with AI. I've got the help of a newly-developed AI-detector that has an astonishing hit ratio of 98% and was programmed by a graduate student who lives nearby for his master's thesis, but those few students who try it are usually dumb enough to give themselves away easily (it's the same telltale signs that make copy+paste from Wikipedia easy to spot too). My standard procedure is unceremoniously giving zero marks with the six-word justification "no independent work: task not solved" and countering any complaints (which there curiously almost never are) with "I could rephrase it to simply 'theft' if you like." My point is, though, one day AI will be considered normal, and I'm dreading the day when parents start complaining I'm being too harsh when I do that and someone even backs them up. That will be the day I know ethics, morals and acting with a resemblance of intelligence have taken a serious blow.

PaulEberhardt at 1:08PM, March 5, 2024

In the end AI will succeed in dumbing everyone down. Most things some misguided people praise as "democratisation of information" end up that way. This is - one - because a mass of people can't act responsibly, especially if they get stuff given for free (the human brain tends to label anything that cost nothing to get, not even any effort, as worthless, and as this is a self-fulfilling prophecy it's often right) and - two - it doesn't really democraticisificate (or whatever the word is) anything but just invites inept would-be content creators craving attention into joining a vicious circle of flooding everyone with more of the same junk, "created" by going on blind scrounges on all the other junkyards. Therefore AI isn't in any way new, nor innovative, nor anything awe-inspiring, but just another, more efficient shit-stirring machine in the cesspits of the commercial internet.

marcorossi at 8:43AM, March 5, 2024

I don't like the use of "slavery" because it reminds me of the "taxes are slavery" idea from the right, these uses are overblown. That said, "AI is theft" makes a lot more sense. But the problem is that people who use AI often do not use it in a way where for them it makes sense to see it as theft: for example I play a tabletop RPG campaign and my friend often use AIs to create instant memes for stuff that just happened during the game. This is such a "cheap" use of AIs, and has such a low value, that it doesn't make sense to say that they are "stealing" anything. If people start using AI generated stuff for commercial reasons, the story changes, but even there I think it would be companies or people who are not really interested in the AI product: e.g. a company that sells a tabletop game that is interested in the game but just needs some random illustration for the box etc.. In reality pictures and photographs are already super cheap/freee today.

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