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A major difference between LLMs and cryptocurrencies

It can be hard to discern between what’s real and what’s bullshit hype, especially as charlatans in one space pack up for greener grifting pastures.

But as Evan Prodromou notes:

A major difference between LLMs and cryptocurrencies is this:

For cryptocurrencies to be valuable to me, I need them to be valuable to you, too.

If you don’t believe in crypto, the value of my crypto goes down.

This isn’t the case for LLMs. I need enough people to be interested in LLMs that ChatGPT stays available, but other than that, your disinterest in it is only a minor nuisance.

In a market, I benefit from your refusal to use it. AI-enhanced me is competing with plain ol’ you.

This is the complexity of the moment with pattern synthesis engines (“AI”, LLMs, etc). Regardless of how our personal feelings interact with the space, it is already creating outcomes for people.

Those outcomes may not always be what we want. One reddit thread from a game artist finds that visual pattern synthesizers are ruining what made the job fun:

My Job is different now since Midjourney v5 came out last week. I am not an artist anymore, nor a 3D artist. Rn all I do is prompting, photoshopping and implementing good looking pictures. The reason I went to be a 3D artist in the first place is gone. I wanted to create form In 3D space, sculpt, create. With my own creativity. With my own hands.

This is classic “degraded labor,” as described by Braverman in Labor and Monopoly Capital:

Automation and industrialization—through atomizing tasks and encoding them into the behaviors of machinery, assembly lines and industrial processes—eliminate the process of craft from everyday labor. Instead of discovery, discernment and imagination, workers were merely executing a pre-defined process. This makes such laborers more interchangeable—you don’t need to pay for expertise, merely trainability and obedience.

So, we can feel how we want about pattern synthesizers, but they already create outcomes for those who deploy them.

Clearly the labor implications are massive. My hope is that for all the degradation of everyday work this may usher in, it also expands the scope and impact for individuals and small teams operating on their own imagination and initiative.

A major difference between LLMs and cryptocurrencies A major difference between LLMs and cryptocurrencies