Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence

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Generative AI: autocomplete for everything

Having played around with GPTChat, and having seen dozens of examples of how powerful this latest iteration of artificial intelligence has become, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re witnessing the beginning of a new era in human-computer-interaction. This joint analysis by an economist and an AI researcher provides a good high-level perspective. Key quote: «Applying the idea of comparative advantage at the level of tasks instead of jobs, we can see that there will always be something for humans to do, even if AI would do those things better.» Strikes me as both fairly depressing, and overly optimistic.

From Weekly Filet #421, in December 2022.

I trained an AI chatbot on my childhood journal entries…

Imagine you could chat with your childhood self. What would you like to ask? What could you learn about your current self? How would it feel? This is the story of coder/artist/scientist Michelle Huang who fed an artificial intelligence her childhood diaries and taught it to emulate her «inner child». With all these AI models rapidly progressing, reality is catching up with science fiction faster than ever. I’m equal parts intrigued and scared.

From Weekly Filet #420, in December 2022.

40,000 Recipes for Murder

Spine-chilling, to say the least. This is the story of two scientists who developed artificial intelligence technology to discover medicines for rare diseases. Basically, the machine tests any and all combinations of molecules imaginable, to find ones that could work as a drug against certain diseases. One day, they realise they could — with just a few adjustments — make the machine do the opposite: Find the most lethal combinations of molecules. It found thousands, some orders of magnitude worse than what’s previously been known. What now?

From Weekly Filet #409, in September 2022.

We Need to Talk About How Good A.I. Is Getting

Smart people disagree over whether artificial intelligence is still mostly overhyped or on the cusp of surpassing human capabilities (and whether that’s good or bad). But there is no denying that a lot of noteworthy progress has happened lately and that we should pay attention. This piece gives a good overview of where things stand — one of the main things to consider, in my opinion, is that we humans are just very bad at grasping exponential change. Things can move slowly for a long time and then change very quickly very fast. (Gift link that gives you free access without a subscription)

From Weekly Filet #406, in August 2022.

The “most important century” blog post series

Let’s zoom out for a bit. Could this century be the most important for humanity ever — of all that ever were and ever will be? This long and thoughtful series of posts makes that argument. In a nutshell:

  • Artificial intelligence will lead to an unimaginable explosion of scientific and technological advancement.
  • When that happens, humans as we know them will no longer be the main force in world events. Instead, it will be digital people or misaligned AI.
  • This could happen as early as this century. Therefore, now is our last chance to shape how that transition happens, making this the most important century for humanity.

To be honest: I went into this series like 🙄 and now I’m like 🤯. These are not simply Sci-Fi musings, but conclusions drawn from research (speculative in nature, sure, but well argued).

You can choose to read a summary or the whole series, you can listen to the series read by the author, or hear the author explain his theory in an interview with Ezra Klein — whatever works for you. Trust me, diving into this is worth your time.

From Weekly Filet #392, in April 2022.


This is a truly remarkable piece, on many levels. The author struggled to write about her sister’s death, so she let artificial intelligence help her. In the first attempt, she writes nothing but the first sentence, and lets AI take it from there. With every attempt, she writes more before letting AI take over.

From Weekly Filet #389, in April 2022.

Hackers Used to Be Humans. Soon, AIs Will Hack Humanity

One day not too far into the future, we’ll look back to simpler times when humans hacked computers. By then, artificial intelligence will be hacking critical infrastructure, after that, artificial intelligence will hack artificial intelligence, and, if I’m guessing correctly, it’s artificial intelligence all the way down. «…and humans will be little more than collateral damage.» Read it now

From Weekly Filet #345, in April 2021.

Moore’s Law for Everything

Imagine a world where, for decades, everything—housing, education, food, clothing, etc.—became half as expensive every two years.» There are (a lot of) good reasons to be wary of a future powered by artificial intelligence (remember that Facebook piece from last week?). Every now and then, I’ll allow some techno-utopianism. Especially if it’s not about what artificial intelligence will and won’t do, but how it might change the entire fabric of society. So maybe all we need for a great future are AI, and taxes?

From Weekly Filet #340, in March 2021.

Are Humans Intelligent? An AI Op-Ed

In recent weeks, an artificial intelligence program named GPT-3 has wowed people. It’s arguably the most powerful and smart language generator ever produced. And it inevitably sparked a recurring discussion: While AI is good at specific tasks — will it ever be capable of true intelligence? That’s a very human-centered way to think about it. Why not turn things around for once, and let an artificial intelligence program argue whether or not humans are capable of true intelligence? This is exactly what you’re about to read. GPT-3 pulles no punches.

From Weekly Filet #312, in August 2020.

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