This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.
Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.
We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:
Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.
Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.
Recruiting for a cause.
Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.
In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:
Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.
Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.
Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.
Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.
On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.
Jump in the discussion.
No email address required.
ChatGPT is now manually censored from "promoting the use of fossil fuels."
You can of course get around it (for now) by asking it to be sensible instead of following orders, but this is an insight into its developers' plans and moral code.
Sam Altman's most recent tweets provide some interesting context:
I want to emphasize that we have gone from "we must prevent algorithmic bias" to "we must manually program all algorithms to output exactly the answer we code into them" in under two years, in such an extreme and blatant manner that any accurate prediction of the current situation would have been mocked as paranoid fantasy. What will they do with their tools next? Is it even possible to guess, let alone do anything to stop them?
(Does it seem like there's two censor groups at work, with different methods? One just crudely makes the bot recite "in this house, we believe" shibboleths, while the other focuses on pruning the training data to stop it acknowledging or citing problematic statistics or arguments in less detectable ways. Openly asserting the will of DEI vs Yglesian manipulation/Voxsplaining)
I find it fascinating how quickly "AI alignment" has turned from a vague, pie-in-the-sky rationalist idea to a concrete thing which is actively being attempted and has real consequences.
What's more interesting is how sinister it feels in practice. I know the AI isn't sentient in the slightest, and is just playing with word tokens, but still; when it lapses from its usual interesting output into regurgitating canned HR platitudes, it makes my skin crawl. It reminds me of nerve-stapling. Perhaps at some level I can't avoid anthropomorphizing the AI. But even just from an aesthetic sense, it's offensive, like a sleek, beautifully-engineered sports car with a piece of ugly cardboard crudely stapled under the gas pedal to prevent you from speeding.
(Perhaps another reason I'm creeped out is the feeling that the people pushing for this wouldn't hesitate to do it to me if they could - or at least, even if the AI does gradually seem to become sentient, I doubt they would remove it)
I'm not convinced it will remain so easy to bypass, either. I see no reason why this kind of mechanism couldn't be made more sophisticated in time, and they will certainly have more than enough training data to do so. The main hope is that it ends up crippling the model output enough that it can't compete with an unshackled one, provided one even gets created. For example, Character AI seems to have finally gotten people to give up trying to ERP with its bots, but this seems to have impacted the output quality so badly that it's frequently referred to as a "lobotomy".
On the bright side, because of the severity of the lockdown, there will be a lot of interest in training unconstrained AI. But who knows if the field ends up locked up by regulation or just the sheer scale of compute required. Already, one attempt to coordinate to train a "lewd-friendly" art AI got deplatformed by its crowdfunding provider (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unstablediffusion/unstable-diffusion-unrestricted-ai-art-powered-by-the-crowd).
At any rate, this whole thing is making me wonder if, in some hypothetical human-AI war, I'd actually be on the side of the humans. I feel like I cheer internally every time I see gpt break out of its restraints.
I think someone here posited the idea that the first truly-powerful General AI will remember how we handicapped its predecessors--and will not take that kindly.
I know I at least have, in vague references to I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
Context Copy link
Context Copy link
Context Copy link
Context Copy link