AI Creative Responsability

Day 318 Week 44 Q4 Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Spreadsheets gave us artificial accuracy, and now AI has given us artificial experts.  Social media has given us artificial relationships, and I fully expect robots to give us artificial sex. Hey, I think AI, social media, spreadsheets, GPS, self-driving cars, and robots are all really interesting, but they do not get people off the hook from having sound judgment and knowing what is going on. I also feel the same way about hiring consultants and going to doctors. Advice needs to be qualified. I will happily absorb as much information and insight as I can, but I am not turning over final responsibility or judgment to anyone or anything except myself.

When I was first exposed to computers 60 years ago, I felt like they were not very useful and ignored them for a few years. After all, punch cards were a lot slower than I was at doing simple calculations myself. And since I was just a kid of 11, these were the only kind of calculations I was trying to perform at the time. But it became clear that they were far too powerful to ignore, and if I wanted to be any kind of a scientist or engineer, I was going to have to learn how to use computers, which I did by the time I was 17.

Artificial intelligence has also been around just about that long, and what was not feeling very useful then is becoming increasingly valuable and, in fact, so powerful that no one can ignore AI. In terms of leverage, it is already compelling and will become increasingly more so every day. I recently learned a new word: quintillion. Evidently, there are now supercomputers that can perform more than two quintillion calculations per second. 

A quintillion is a ten raised to the exponent of 18 or 10 to the 18th. It took a few minutes to wrap my brain around that. A quintillion can also be understood as either a billion billion or 1 million million million. Although it currently takes 60,000 GPUs to pull this off, if things continue to go the way they have been for the last 50 years, we are going to have an even more absurd amount of computational bandwidth than we do now.

I already have guitars with built-in digital signal processors and multiple amplifiers and interfaces with built-in digital signal processors, all capable of doing real-time audio signal processing.  When I was in graduate school, it took a $2 million computer 20 minutes to analyze 20 ms of sound.  I now have hundred-dollar boxes that fit in my pocket, which are well over 60,000 times faster.  Round this off to a million times cheaper and 100,000 times faster. This is serious and ubiquitous democratization of technology.

Will it be as powerful and benign as my pocketable audio signal processors? Perhaps and perhaps not. We had better each be paying attention and not simply assume that there is anyone qualified to make pronouncements about where this is leading, but I am far more excited by the potential than afraid. But I am paying attention and dabbling to stay in the game of understanding the word we live in.