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AI/LLM/GPT Roundup, June 13: AI Gods and Old Timey Religion

Mercifully, particularly after OpenAI’s Calvinball move of raising to “ASI,” the AI horseshit fire hose’s been throttled somewhat. Which doesn’t mean nothing ain’t happening, of course. But it gives me time to collect quotes on an aspect that fell by the wayside: religion!

Here’s some juicy quotes, starting with Graydon Saunders on Mastodon:

AI needs abstraction, extrapolation, and generalization. (People are not as one should say ideal at any of those!)

What we’ve got is a measure of similarity. It’s not any better than a butterfly recognizing flowers, and it’s orders of magnitude more energy intensive. (Especially if you count the hardware manufacturing.)

People want a god. If they have a god, they don’t have to be responsible.

And where there’s any hint of a god, there’s a grift. That’s all this is.

Snake oil’s always been successful, but successful beyond belief when sold from the pulpit. The recurring motif of passing one’s responsibility to someone else, i.e., from human actors to a diffuse entity, was already touched upon in two quotes from the last roundup, that “AI has only ever been a liability laundering machine” and that you can abdicate responsibility by saying “It’s not me that’s the problem. It’s the tool. It’s super-powerful.” Next, Rob Pickering at Mastodon:

AI isn’t going to press the button, but it is already being used as an occult tool by humans whose only qualities are wealth and self serving ambition to exert control over societal opinion.

Sounds eerily familiar, right? Then, Kenan Malik in the Guardian:

We have stumbled into a digital panopticon almost without realising it. Yet to suggest we live in a world shaped by AI is to misplace the problem. There is no machine without a human, and nor is there likely to be. […] Too often when we talk of the “problem” of AI, we remove the human from the picture. We practise a form of what the social scientist and tech developer Rumman Chowdhury calls “moral outsourcing”: blaming machines for human decisions.

Such moral outsourcing works terrifically well, naturally and historically, when superhuman, godlike abilities are conveniently projected to any given entity, be that “god” or “satan” or “ASI.” Finally, not least for its entertainment value, this spirited quote from Charlie Stross:

The AI singularity is horseshit. Warmed-over Christian apocalypse horseshit (minus the God/Jesus nonsense). Roko’s Basilisk should be the final clue: it emerges logically from the whole farrago of nonsense but it boils down to AI Satan punishing the acausal infidels for their AI original sin. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a duck: or in this case, a Christian heresy.

Seems as if Neil Gaiman’s New Gods have become just another pack of Old Gods rather quickly.