We are just two decades into the 21st century and how stormy are the weathers already! We had a devastating pandemic of Covid-19. Major war in Europe, with mentions of a possible nuclear Armageddon. Culture wars fuelled by “social media” which are ripping societies apart, to the brink of civil war. Appearance of some sort of AI. A speeding up of climate change. Possible beginning of a new cold war. It seems that the world is out of balance and the centres of powers are shifting again. How will it settle down and what undercurrents will be decisive and in which form to what proportions? I can imagine countless outcomes. Utopia or dystopia? I would put my bets on both at the same time in different proportions in different times and places.
In a way we are already living in a sort of cyberpunk novel.
The big question is who will be the winners and who will be the losers. If I learned anything from history and from my own insignificant life experience, is that there are no certain outcomes. I have a strong wish things will get better and humanity will find its way, like we did so many times before. But as an individual, living a small life in a particular place with certain abilities, I am aware that many many things are simply out of my control. Wishful thinking will not help you if you loose your job or your country gets ripped up like my previous country Yugoslavia was.
You can be a genius, but you will have a sea off suffering awaiting for you. You cant be Bill Gates or Albert Einstein if you are born into dire circumstances. You just cant. Neither can you have a good life if you live in a place ripped up by conflict and economic uncertainty.
Does that mean you (me really) are hopeless and all is lost? No, not really. You can make choices, and each and any of them will get you closer to your goals. Hate social media? Don’t use it. Thanks Twitter and Musk for showing me that social media is just a giant, harmful website. Not to mention Facebook and its various subsidiaries. There are many others, alternatives and some of them could actually be beneficial to me and people around me. And so on and so fort.
I remember people disagreeing on the beginning of the “social media” era about questionable practices of these companies. The alarmists have been mostly nerds. But after these ten or so years, it became clear to me at last, yeah they were actually point on before everyone else.
Note to self: listen to dissenting views. The easiest way is not always the best one. There is value in privacy and personal autonomy. There is value in not being manipulated and influenced. Getting a free service is not cost effective if it brakes your life. Like for example people dying from preventable diseases like Covid-19 because they were not using safe and effective treatments and procedures, like getting vaccinated or being masked in public. There is a long and winding path from: hey look, I got free communication channel to friends and family to I am dying or getting exploited because I was mislead and maliciously influenced. We went for the short term benefit and forgot the longer term harms. Not a very smart decision. And we made it in massive numbers. Like in billions. There is two billion humans or so on Facebook alone.
This is the reason I am worried about powerful software like LLM (chatGPT and other) despite being a user and understanding the potential benefits. There are great, fantastic potentials and at the same time some horrific dangers. No I don’t think about Skynet and the terminator coming for us. I am worried about people and groups of people (AKA organisations) using LLM’s for their benefits against the rest of us. Think: industrial level scale of misinformation. Influence operations, manipulating thoughts and emotions on planetary levels. Destroying jobs and livelihoods of many for the benefit of the few. And so on and so fort. Best to stop before I go too deep into the doom and gloom.
Nonetheless, there is a good lecture from “social media” era to be applied to the “AI” era: be careful and thoughtful. Use the tools as long as you do not become a tool for someone/something else. Do a cost/benefit analysis. Check for better alternatives. Think or yourself. Think.