AI is now remorselessly generating tragedy

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

The amount of AI-generated content is beginning to overwhelm the internet, Erik Hoel argues:

Or maybe a better term is pollute. Pollute its searches, its pages, its feeds, everywhere you look. I’ve been predicting that generative AI would have pernicious effects on our culture since 2019, but now everyone can feel it. Back then I called it the coming “semantic apocalypse.”


Now that generative AI has dropped the cost of producing bullshit to near zero, we see clearly the future of the internet: a garbage dump. Google search? They often lead with fake AI-generated images amid the real things. Post on Twitter? Get replies from bots selling porn. But that’s just the obvious stuff. Look closely at the replies to any trending tweet and you’ll find dozens of AI-written summaries in response, cheery Wikipedia-style repeats of the original post, all just to farm engagement. AI models on Instagram accumulate hundreds of thousands of subscribers and people openly shill their services for creating them. AI musicians fill up YouTube and Spotify. Scientific papers are being AI-generated. AI images mix into historical research. This isn’t mentioning the personal impact too: from now on, every single woman who is a public figure will have to deal with the fact that deepfake porn of her is likely to be made. That’s insane.


YouTube for kids is quickly becoming a stream of synthetic content. Much of it now consists of wooden digital characters interacting in short nonsensical clips without continuity or purpose. Toddlers are forced to sit and watch this runoff because no one is paying attention. And the toddlers themselves can’t discern that characters come and go and that the plots don’t make sense and that it’s all just incoherent dream-slop. The titles don’t match the actual content, and titles that are all the parents likely check, because they grew up in a culture where if a YouTube video said BABY LEARNING VIDEOS and had a million views it was likely okay. Now, some of the nonsense AI-generated videos aimed at toddlers have tens of millions of views.


For the first time in history developing brains are being fed choppy low-grade and cheaply-produced synthetic data created en masse by generative AI, instead of being fed with real human culture. No one knows the effects, and no one appears to care.


That is, the OpenAI team didn’t stop to think that regular users just generating mounds of AI-generated content on the internet would have very similar negative effects to as if there were a lot of malicious use by intentional bad actors.


Since the internet economy runs on eyeballs and clicks the new ability of anyone, anywhere, to easily generate infinite low-quality content via AI is now remorselessly generating tragedy.


  1. VXXC says:


    Now touch grass, take the kids’ electronic babysitter-pacifier-substitute parent away. Take away the Toy of Idiocy and Evil.

    Tell them to go play outside, especially boys. And if they want to read, read A BOOK.

  2. Phileas Frogg says:

    The degree to which Frank Herbert’s Dune series has proven successfully predictive is flooring.

    Between the Butlerian Jihad and the Golden Path he seems to have sussed out real human responses to social and technological realities with startling clarity. Luddites and Fundamentalists may not rule the modern world, but it becomes increasingly apparent that they will certainly survive it.

  3. Wanweilin says:

    VXXC, I recall mom putting us out the backdoor and locking it saying,”Go play!” In the 60s. Good times in the woods, creek and bike.

  4. Albion says:

    One of the good things about the proliferation of AI generated material is that it is becoming easier to discern it and reject it. I began using one or two AI ‘engines’ (in reality things that can be culled from the vast swathes on stuff already created and freely available on the web) to explore some possibilities, but very quickly I saw it was pretty much all the same.

    Ask ChatGPT (which seems impressive at first) for a specific passage and it always follows the same, flowery language approach, and reaches predictable conclusions. Its ‘psuedo-ness’ swiftly becomes apparent once you have seen what it can do.

    Gradually then although it has a rapid growth factor for now, discerning people will soon be separating it from what they really want from life, be it a book, a movie or any human interaction.

    Again, the old maxim of choosing people, choosing life will win through for those who are aware.

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