Linkblog | Google apologizes for ‘missing the mark’ after Gemini generated racially diverse Nazis

from the are-we-the-baddies? dept

What we currently call “AI” isn’t actually intelligence; it’s just pattern-matching. A colleague of mine calls it “spicy autocomplete.” Unfortunately the rapid development of this spicy autocomplete has led to an expectation of intelligence that doesn’t actually exist.

Take this article, for example. It’s pretty clear what happened: in an attempt to address the issue of systemic racism in AI, Google has added in some sort of “prompt salting” (there’s probably an actual terme d’art for this, but I don’t know what it is and I like that this hearkens back to “spicy autocomplete”) that automatically appends “…and don’t make them all white” to prompts asking for pictures of people.

It’s the naive solution, but it also probably solves the problem decently well for most requests.

Still, the AI doesn’t know what a “Founding Father” is, any more than it knows what a hand is. The LLM doesn’t even know what a “picture” is; it just knows that there’s a strong pattern of the word “picture” being associated with some other format it can’t read. And the image generator doesn’t know what “diverse” means, it just knows that the neurons matching pictures of non-white folks should light up when it sees that word. Both of them could probably tell you a pretty convincing fiction or draw you a pretty convincing picture about their understanding of both of those concepts, but only because we’ve drawn diagrams and written definitions that they can scrape and pattern-match.

And so, when it tries to generate a picture of “German soldiers from 1943,” the LLM (or some dumber algorithm) recognizes a pattern that it determines is asking for a picture of a group of people and appends “…and don’t make them all white.” The image generator, not knowing any better, dutifully does so. It doesn’t know anything about revisionist history or whataboutism, it just pattern matches a photo of Nazis with the added instruction of including diversity.

All of this is why AIs, while impressive and even convincing, are still not a replacement for humans; they don’t have any true understanding of context. Just educated guesses and pattern matching. And since the internet is the source of those patterns…well. Let’s just call this a reminder that it isn’t ready for anything more than helping us out with simple tasks.

Linkblog | Jon Stewart Tackles The Biden-Trump Rematch That Nobody Wants | The Daily Show

from the importunate-widow desk

Note: moderate language advisory for this video

Jon Stewart Tackles The Biden-Trump Rematch That Nobody Wants | The Daily Show
Jon Stewart kicks off his Daily Show Monday night residency by coming to grips with the reality of America's two chronologically challenged presidential cand...

Jon Stewart is back on The Daily Show. For one day a week, at least. His first show was this past Monday, and he came out swinging with a piece about the upcoming presumptive election battle between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. The whole piece is good (it’s worth asking why we have to choose between two very old men of whom the question of capacity at least has to be asked, when there are plenty of capable and qualified people under the age of 50 who could be on the ballot).

But his closing words are a tour de force.

So what’s the good news? …That was not rhetorical framing, I’m literally asking you.

Look, the next nine months or so (and more than that, depending on the coup schedule)— they’re gonna suck […] it’s all gonna make you feel like Tuesday, November 5th is the only day that matters. And that day does matter, but man, November 6th ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at, or November 7th.

If your guy loses, bad things might happen, but the country is not over. And if your guy wins, the country is in no way saved. I’ve learned one thing over these last nine years [note: since his first run on The Daily Show ended]—and I was glib at best, and probably dismissive at worst about this: the work of making this world resemble one that you would prefer to live in is a lunch-pail [bleep] job, day in and day out, where thousands of committed, anonymous, smart, and dedicated people bang on closed doors and pick up those that are fallen and grind away at issues ’til they get a positive result—and even then have to stay on to make sure that result holds.

So the good news is, I’m not saying you don’t have to worry about who wins the election. I’m saying you have to worry about every day before it and every day after, for-ever.

Although, on the plus side, I am told that at some point, the sun will run out of hydrogen.

If you’re a Christian like me, please resist the urge to mentally tone-police or redraft Stewart’s statement here. Yes, the word “worry” is a little bit outside our theological preference. Yes, the nihilism of the sun’s eventual demise is far from the actual hope we have in the future. Yes, the Lord is sovereign over our elections.

But the message he’s sending here comports with Christian theology, as well as probably every theological framework people in our world subscribe to. Namely: that the fate of the world isn’t decided on a single day, and the outcome of even the most fateful days is less important than that of the days that precede it and follow it; and that our role in the meantime is to keep trying to make this world resemble the one that you would want to live in (Jeremiah 29:7), to pick up those who are fallen (Matthew 10:7-8), and to grind away at issues ’til you get a positive result (Luke 18:1-8).

And Stewart is framing this as good news! Because it’s funny, yes—but also because it brings things to within our sphere of influence. We can affect the way this world works, and in fact we should. We have the ability and opportunity to make changes.

So let’s do that.

On George Floyd

I’m pro-life. That’s why I’m grieved that George Floyd’s mother was given an extremely late-term abortion against her will by the Minneapolis Police Department.

I’m for rule of law. That’s why I’m furious that George Floyd’s guilt or innocence was not established in a court of law before his sentencing or execution.

I’m generally for smaller government intrusion on our lives. That’s why I’m concerned that the closest expression of government in the life of George Floyd committed such a broad overreach as to kill him.

I’m a fan of the Constitution. That’s why I’m upset that George Floyd’s Constitutional rights to free speech, due process, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, security in his person against unreasonable seizure, and protection against cruel and unusual punishment were all taken from him without writ or cause. That’s why I’m upset that the people protesting his death are being denied the right to peaceably assemble, forcing them to assemble unpeaceably (because when peaceable assembly is prohibited, unpeaceable assembly is required. That’s literally the story of the American revolution). That’s why I’m upset that the press is being denied their right to cover these events.

But more than any of those things, I’m a Christian. I believe that people are made in the image and likeness of God. That’s why I’m worried about the officer’s callous disregard for that image in George Floyd, and the same disregard in (thankfully fewer this time) Christians who would profess the same belief whenever it would concern a white man.

I haven’t spoken much about this, because what is there to say? Yes, if you were upset by Kaepernick’s knee but not by the knee on George Floyd’s neck, you need to examine your idols. That was said much better than by me. Yes, the commodification of life leads to looting when life is taken unjustly. That was said much better than by me. Yes, Trump’s rhetoric has encouraged this behavior and the reaction against it. That was said much better than by me.

But I was a Republican, so I see in this injustice something that need not be—should not be—a partisan issue, something that Republicans like I was can get behind. And I am a Christian, so I see the intersection here of divine grief and worldly sorrow that Christians (Evangelical and not) can get behind.

So I guess I must speak now.

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This post was originally on Facebook. Apparently this is a problem, because it was removed without notice or explanation. So I’ve put it up here.