Bots need rules
"Everything Starts Out Looking Like a Toy" (No.28)
This week’s toy: the KFConsole. This is what happens when a fast-food restaurant makes a game console. Really. Edition No. 28 of this newsletter is here - it’s January 9, 2021.
The Big Idea
A Neural Network called Dall-E created these images of an avocado wearing a wizard hat watching TV. In a world where this is possible, how do we build tools to help us know whether images are manipulated?
Bots Should be Self Governed
Let’s talk about the need for a 4th law of robotics, following the classic laws suggested by Asimov: “A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.“ I am not the first to suggest this (or probably the last); I am pointing out that AI systems need to declare that they are generated and not human.
What does it mean for an AI system to self govern? In this context the expectation should be that AI augmented content should identify itself. In a world where generated content is obvious, we’ll at least know that a person wasn’t behind it.
Discoverable by an AI
Another way to treat this problem is to use the same tools to detect AI as the tools that are generating it. By building “an AI to detect AI”, you might imagine a chrome plugin or similar browser tool to tell you in real time whether the content you’re seeing is likely generated by AI or a person.
Discoverability, of course, is subjective. As AI technology gets better at generating plausible business writing, we need a way of challenging that writing to force the generated content to prove it’s more like a person.
Discoverable by People
Until that defensive AI is available, I think we’re going to have to rely on people to report when they see content that seems robotic and generated. Much like the reverse image search that you can use to find identical images in multiple places on the web, we need something like a text search to show an 80-90% match with known generated text. This won’t work for long, as it’s likely the machine models will be able to surpass the typical person’s ability to know: person or machine?
So does it matter whether you know whether you’re talking to a bot or not? For some interactions, it matters a lot. You probably don’t want a bot to manage a contract negotiation. But for many kinds of opening conversations, a bot might make sense.
What’s the takeaway? Technologies like OpenAI open the door to automating lots of forms of business content. We have a responsibility to decide how to use and moderate this information so that readers are well informed.
We’d like to know …
It’s been … a crazy week. How are you feeling?
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Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my eye.
1/ Start with small changes - James Clear writes eloquently on the impact of small changes. It’s a good reminder to start making changes by improving the smallest big thing possible rather than trying to change everything at once.
2/ The future of marketplaces - the easiest connections between buyer and supplier have been made - that was called “ecommerce.” Now - in the age of the marketplace - Dan Hockemaier writes there are new opportunities to be had by understanding how buyer and supplier connect.
3/ A thought on competition - Are you fighting your competition, or simply any alternative that might be better than what you are offering? Brian Balfour argues that focusing on a 10x improvement over an alternative is more productive than focus on the competition.
On the Reading/Watching List
Jon Meacham’s view on American history has always been interesting to me. When I heard he had created a podcast on important speeches in our history, it became a must-listen. It was Said is a podcast you can find on many streaming services.
Mental performance is the key to improving almost everything you do. I’m listening to The Inner Game of Tennis, a classic sports psychology group about improving everyday focus. It’s a great listen so far.
What to do next
Hit reply if you’ve got links to share, data stories, or want to say hello.
I’m grateful you read this far. Thank you. If you found this useful, consider sharing with a friend.
Want more essays? Read on Data Operations or other writings at gregmeyer.com.
The next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” - Chris Dixon