- Date published:
6:00 am, May 6th, 2023 - 59 comments
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Open mike is your post.
For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.
The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).
Step up to the mike …
I thought it worth carrying on with a discussion I was having with Red Logix last night.
That is around the potential impact of AI on our lives in the future. I was looking at the creative side of things. But, I think this has the potential to impact a number of areas, and should be of concern for us when we think about the futures of our children and grand-children with the way things are going.
I was first a bit shocked when my son asked ChatGPT to write a poem about me. The inputs were to write a dark 100 word poem about me, and that I was autistic, illiterate, and colour-blind. The illiterate and colourblind, definitely not. The autistic, maybe lol??
So it came up with one poem which I thought was quite good. So, I was interested to see what would happen if the same variables were inputted again. Would it just repeat the same poem, or come up with something different? Well, I think it came up with something better, and here it is:
Someone I showed this to said they were feeling sorry for ChatGPT lol.
The thing is, this is pretty good, and things will only get better from here.
Here is an amusing video from producer, Rick Beato on this. (pronounced Be art o).
He shows how people are now creating songs with replicas of the voices of popular singers, and how some people prefer the replicas to the original. He thinks it won't be long before record labels cut out the singer altogether, and create their own voices. In fact, if you spend as little as $100, there are some pretty good apps out there now to do this. For instance, have a listen to "Keela".
The point is, it won't be that long before AI writes the songs, creates the music, and sings the songs, and human creativity has basically been eliminated from the process.
On One News the other night, they had an item about Hollywood creators going on strike. One of their concerns was the possibility that AI could take their jobs. In the news item, a AI created film was shown. It was a bit rough around the edges, but simulated real people in the film. It was quite obvious that it is only a matter of time before it will be impossible to tell whether a film has real people or not.
So, I think the Hollywood creatives are justified in being very afraid.
One of my concerns with this is, are we about to effectively lose our souls to AI? The poem written about me seemed to replicate human emotions. But, the bot producing these presumably experiences nothing of the emotions it is emulating.
Another concern is that AI is not only going to impact creative industries, but many areas of our lives. So, what does that mean for future career opportunities for our children in 20 years time or whatever?
Or will it be that not that long in the future we will witness the last job on earth.
Thank you Smithfield- an excellent article that should be a post in its own right,
I have just read this story in the Guardian which suggests AI is a threat to humanity.
First they came for the Jericho professional firelighters with their newfangled oil-lit candles.
Then they came for the night cart pullers when Kaitaia put in a reticulated sewerage system .
Then for the psychologists when we all finally get our tailored algorithms to almost completely cure all mental illness.
And finally they came for me. Double-shot mocha thanks.
I understand that we have always progressed and opportunities have arisen from that progress. But, I think this is more fundamental in that anything we can do, AI will be able to do it better and faster.
sadly they don't seem to ever come for those that don't learn from history.
Wheels falling off?
Now she has "engaged the services of an employment lawyer".
This wreaks of an overblown ego and a sense of entitlement. Sounds like the Greens are well rid of her.
But the loss of one MP is hardly “wheels falling off”.
Pat-I have no idea what you mean.
It is the beginning of May and so far this year we have had the resignation of Jacinda Ardern, Stuart Nash, Mika Whaitiri and now Elizabeth Kerekere (off the top of my head)…all from the governing parties.
You may not consider that indicative of anything but from where im sitting its not exactly indicating stability and control.
I forgot about Nash!
good/better to clean house before the election campaign starts.
However, Ardern left because she was burnt out, and she picked her timing well. Nash left because he was doing his job badly. We don't really know why Whaitiri left or why now, Kerekere's position was obviously untenably all round. Those things are all different.
Ardern's timing was obviously about stability for Labour. If Kerekere was pushed, this also strikes me as being about stability (she was a loose unit for the election). Nash is retiring (he's not the only one). That leaves Whaitiri.
The reasons (even if they are as described) are moot….the perception much less so.
4 (if my memory is accurate which it may not be) is becoming something of a habit.
not so much a habit as a series of unrelated events.
I'd be more convinced if Ardern hasn't been included (because hers was an ordinary resignation).
We are all well rid of her. I will never forget her sneering distain for submitters to the Parliamentary process who happened to not share her ideological viewpoint.
It wouldn't surprise me if she popped up as another Maori Party candidate at the next election.
They wouldn't want her
One of the better opinions about decling global population I've read – obviously because it fits my world view. However, there's a lot for those who still believe in the economic growth paradigm to think about – it doesn't demonise 'over-populated poor countries' or their people, which some of the doomsday narratives and blame-gamers do.
You would probably enjoy Peter Zeihan. His thesis has pretty much been that the world won't continue on as it has been for various reasons, including demographic.
He does a short video series on demographics as it affects various parts of the world.
I think the areas that will reduce will be manufacturing to do with consumer goods.
However, other areas may increase. For instance, a lot of businesses will seek to automate to reduce their labour costs due to decreased demand. And, also, there is the coming influx of green technology.
So, there will be declines in some areas, but increases in others.
A fair primer – but he's still talking within the economic growth model, not beyond it – does he have an alternative paradigm – and does he have it in writing, rather than video format?
Zeihan has published four books. The most recent The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization is what you might be looking for.
Most people find his approach well worth engaging with, even if you do not agree with all of his underlying assumptions and conclusions. If nothing else he is highly educated and exceptionally experienced in this field – and employs a decent team of researchers.
He completed his post-grad study at Otago – and has a very soft spot for NZ. Comes back here for tramping holidays whenever he can.
You are correct – in that he is talking to the economic growth model in that clip, but he frequently acknowledges that humans have never faced this demographic inversion ever before – and we absolutely no idea of what economic model might work, or how it will pan out.
Thanks – will look that up
So imagine a world where advanced AI in lower-population economies and societies look after more of the drudgery than now.
No more driving or hauling. Fewer surgeons and nurses. Fewer teachers. Fewer lawyers and accountants. Fewer low-paid laborious jobs. Fewer farm jobs of any kind. Deep mechanisation of life.
Less and less trust in corporatised or politicised media, so people privilege actual dialogue. Far less human error. Less waste and manufacturing mistakes.
More interesting and targeted entertainment. More time to be creative and innovative in our own way. More ability to be good humans.
Most people are completely under-estimating the implications of below replacement levels of fertility. Right now South Korea – which is merely leading the pack – is at 0.8, and on track to be 0.7 in just a few more years.
This means that for every 100 South Koreans who are alive today – there will be only 4 South Koreans in their great-grandchildren's generation. Roughly a 95% population collapse. Pretty much all developed nations are on the same path, and so far there does not seem to be any organic floor to how low this will go.
AI might change the supply side of the problem, but will do little on the demand side because it will not consume in the way humans do.
What are the downsides of low fertility like this?
Japan has been living with a few of the policy consequences for a while. Seem remarkably similar to NZ's own labour shortages.
Japan had a 'first mover' advantage in this game, they started depopulating two decades before anyone else. The strategy they came up with was to shift a lot of their manufacturing capacity out of Japan – where they knew there was going to be a shortage of cost-effective labour – to the locations where their markets are. And then retain the design and planning in Japan which has high margins and kept their economy afloat.
For instance the largest Toyota factories in the world are in the USA.
This worked for Japan because they really had no competitors in this space for several decades. But it can only work if you have a partner nation who still has the labour resource and the market for your product. When everyone is in the same ageing boat – it fast becomes a zero sum game.
For a wee place like New Zealand, what we've seen with COVID is a little precursor to low fertility:
struggling to see downside here.
The counter- balance to that view is made here:
In brief – there is no reason to think there is a floor on this fertility collapse. Secondly we have no credible or economic model that might be applicable. And thirdly – the linked article tries to express this – we greatly overestimate the relative scarcity of true creativity and talent. Those individuals who make the breakthroughs which keep innovation moving are rare. Really rare. Even with a population of 8b we still do not have enough of them.
In other words it is not at all clear that a falling population will have the capacity to maintain the resources to sustain even current levels of per capita human development, much less improve them.
And it does strike as somewhat pathological to hate your fellow human beings so much that anyone would welcome the extinction of 90% or more of us. In a moral sense it kinda makes your average mass murderer look like a choir boy.
So just to go through that articles' view of the downsides:
1. Labour Mobility
"Those who propose to “solve demographic collapse with immigration” are implicitly endorsing the creation of a toxic situation where the developed world’s economy is reliant on Africa staying poor."
That's not the way it's worked for Pacific Island countries for four decades. So much of their own home island economy is remittances. I loved hearing rich wineries beg for workers, and beg so hard they built accommodation for them, and have to increase wages fast. We used to have large scale employers like that and scarcity is doing what unions used to.
2. Breeding and Innovation.
"The sociological profile most amenable to what we think of as modern cosmopolitan society—one that is open-minded, pluralistic, technophilic, and egalitarian—is being aggressively deleted from the world’s population."
This weirdly eugenic argument might work in excessively xenophobic Japan. Perhaps we are all a great simmentals play. But the ex-colonies like Australia, Canada, US, NZ, and India know that their dynamism and success relies on the inter-border flow of people, ideas and capital.
3. The Family As Saviour
"Those who will throw their chips in with this massive cultural and demographic experiment by consciously creating a family, and then raising it in an intergenerationally durable culture, will shape the future of our species."
Women in the west who can since the 1970s abort children at will and otherwise control reproduction might humbly suggest that their human agency and wealth production and ability to innovate does not require conscious family production. Those who are required to generate families such as in most stern Muslim countries tend not to innovate and tend to be held back by this concept of family – and their population explosions strips their lands bare and turns their cities to squalor.
The authors of that article do acknowledge that this element of their argument looks uncomfortably close to the old eugenics of the 20th century. And in a world which now believes there is no such thing as biology, even the suggestion that talent, pro-socialability and productivity might have a genetic component that we are aggressively deleting from our population – is going to be met with vociferous denial.
And then in later life many deeply regret this lie they were told, mourning the children they left too late to have.
Population collapse happening in Iran as well. Sitting at 1.71 in 2020 and dropping.
Not sure that stabilising at 95+ million people by 2040 counts as collapse.
And from that same article:
The further the fertility rate drops below 2.1 the faster the process. It's a bit like going bankrupt – slowly at first, then fast.
I first started mentioning fertility collapse a few years back, so its a bit gratifying to see it getting acknowledged and discussed. And it is such a novel and disturbing prospect – way worse in many aspects than COVID – that I don't think anyone even begins to properly understand the implications.
Have you seen this Red?
Welcome to the hyper-ageing nation that is New Zealand
We have the richest nations in the world building bridges that fall down yet 2000 years ago with a world population of around 100mn, aqueducts were built that are still in use today. I'm pretty sure amongst our 8bn people there's enough smarts and ability to use AI and automation to eliminate manual labour, reduce engineering errors and enable a better quality of life for everyone
As an actual automation engineer I'm very much inclined to that view myself. If AI turns out to be an assistant and amplifier of human capacity – as seems a reasonable prospect – then yes I agree the potential is unlimited.
But just as money makes a person more of who they already are for both good and bad – I would ask that if we are going to amplify people with AI, then what exactly is it that we doing here?
Yep, I'm not seeing the downsides.
I'm seeing problems if we don't address the social and cultural upheaval, for sure and humans are a bit shite at this – regressing into nationalism and all the other isms, but it can be avoided.
Compare for example Merkel's pragmatic response to the very well-educated, young, first wave of Syrian refugees to Orban's protectionism in Hungary. And, as Zeihan (above) mentions – Canada's immigration policy. Again though, they're working within economic growth. The problem of personal health services is problematic as well – and yes, Japan is already experimenting with technological solutions.
In terms of earth sustaining life, less consumption in our profligate growth economy (as you say, more time for personal creativity etc. and inherent value from that) is essential.
– MLK 1963 –
One reason why ACT, and National by extension, should never be allowed to get their hands on the Government tills and occupy the Treasury benches.
Ditching the dog-whistle and opting for the full-blown Alphorn, Seymour announces war on beneficiaries without even a shred of evidence to show that his underhand insinuations are accurate and correct.
David Seymour is effectively saying that all people in the areas that are most affected by recent weather events who have not yet filled out their Census form and who receive Government benefits & assistance will be cut off and left to dry. I cannot understand why anybody would vote for this fellow.
Hard to call new low on this guy. It's like every time he opens his mouth he spews some new hate.
Punching down is his road house. Must be nice to be that smug and utterly indifferent to the human condition.
Those people already face a potential fine of up to $2,000. How many times does David Seymour and his merry band of privileged want to kick down those who are already down? It feels like a vindictive streak running their veins.
While English press otherwise wanks on about anointing another King today, actual politics still continues.
UK Labour is now the largest party in UK local government, for the first time sine 2002.
Top work Keir Starmer and team.
Revolting specimens of humanity. She's gone from the top job yet they are still pouring vitriol all over her.
Highly respected members of society, no less! [putting away into the bottom drawer my pile of sticky labels with derogatory stereotypes]
From the text:
Oh yeah? Look at the image. That was an innocent joke? The team wore the effigies during the debate.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
And I understand that the chap in the picture with his hand in the toilet is Greg Moyle, Deputy Chair of the Waitematā Local Board. C&R of course.
Toilet ‘humour’ seems to find fertile soil with certain RW politicians, e.g., Wayne Brown and his ‘joke’ about peeing on a NZH journalist. Of course, with a bit of (Google) effort one could easily dig up more examples.
Bugger, I’m slipping into the stereotyping hole, again
Agree 100% Inconito and all.
They're so old anything that helps with a bowel movement is a blessing.
Just awful. Rotary members are generally tory through and through, have encountered a number of them over the years. Their party trick is ingratiating community service aka Philanthropy mini.
I saw a sharp meme about the astonishing revelations of US Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas and the ongoing imbroglio:
"Clarence Thomas promises to adopt Code of Ethics. For the right price."
Those Restore Passenger Rail protesters surely need a medal for best timed protest:
Comprehensive passenger rail disasters this week in Auckland and Wellington, and a spectacular set of failures and tough reviews about Kiwirail's passenger ferries, plus being roasted by the Minister of Transport multiple times.
Stick at it protesters; you're annoying but you are right and your timing is perfect.
Rumor has it. That the commerce commission has ok'd the amalgamation of cell phone towers into two independent identities!!!
Shades of our supermarket, timber suppliers electricity etc duopolys.
When will we get a govt that is willing to put a red hot poker up CCs arse and demand that they work for NZs peasants rather than corporate NZ
The three main operators have sold their towers off in a short space of time. And one has said they are moving to satellite coverage through Starlink. Details of how this will work haven't been revealed yet, but could be expensive, and limited bandwidth. Major advance for the large parts of the country where coverage is sketchy.
The towers are looking a bit like a stranded assett and may be seeing less use than currently. Taking them into two operators really won't change much, but will make the cell network much easier to regulate and maybe nationalise as essential infrastructure.
Point taken Graeme. So what I understand your saying is that you maintain that this sale is more successful than the greatest NZ salesman of all time who sold the "Yellow Pages" just before Google arrived.
There's also that it doesn't make much sense any more to have three competing networks of towers, and the 'hilltop wars' between the players are becoming irrelevant with satellite and 4 & 5G. There's a lot of shared sites now.
Around here (Queenstown) most of the sites go back to 2G when they were hammer and tongs claiming hilltops and fighting each other's consents. So you need three phones / sims to get good coverage, each has an area of near exclusivity. Having independent tower providers who compete on coverage and volume might improve things. Ideal would be a single state owned network
The Icy Commander.
Word to Grant Robertson pre Budget: