WARNING: Summaries are generated by a large language model and may be inaccurate. We suggest that you use the synopsis, short and long summaries only as a loose guide to the topics discussed. The model may attribute to the speaker or other participants views that they do not in fact hold. It may also attribute to the speaker views expressed by other participants, or vice versa. The raw transcript (see the bottom of the page) is likely to be a more accurate representation of the seminar content, except for errors at the level of individual words during transcription.


AI is changing the way we interact with institutions, media, educational institutions and governments, creating an abundance of products that used to take skilled artists days or weeks to create. Recent developments in AI technology have surprised many, raising questions about its potential impacts on relationships between people and existential risks. We must consider the implications of energy and intelligence abundance and the disruption of the artist-society relationship. AI can challenge our sense of uniqueness and free will, but education can help us refine our goals and appreciate the world around us.

Short Summary

The speaker discussed two broad sets of concerns around transformative AI in the near term: existential risk and impacts on relationships between people. Experiments have revealed the potential for AI tools to disrupt relationships, but also to enhance them. The speaker was initially confident that general intelligence was far away, but has now become anxious about its potential arrival. Recent developments have surprised them, as AI is already doing things that were assumed to be decades away, such as self-driving cars, warehouse robots and farm robots.
AI technology is revolutionising the way we interact with institutions, media, educational institutions and governments. Through the use of Dolly, an open-source transformer-based diffusion model, a card game was created that can generate images of almost anything based on text input. This technology is making art more accessible to people and is being used in TV shows, demonstrating the disruption it is causing. This has changed the speaker's understanding of AI and its potential, with general intelligence possibly arriving much earlier than previously thought.
Art has different functions for creators and observers, with technology drastically reducing the cost of producing products and services. AI is changing how we relate to energy, information, communications and businesses, creating an abundance of products that used to take skilled artists days or weeks to create. This will lead to changes in the relationship between artists, art and society, with AI still being able to be used to create art.
Art is a way of expressing and understanding the unknown, and can influence people over time. AI may be able to represent deep themes and ideas, and is a process of discovery, allowing people to take an idea in their mind and translate it into an external reality. Some may be concerned about the potential loss of the iterative process of discovery, but new tools may allow more people to experience this creative process. However, some may argue that part of the value of creating art is the discipline and skill it takes to become an accomplished artist, which could be lost with the introduction of these tools.
The speaker argues that increasing access to artistic expression should be balanced with an incentive to develop the discipline and effort necessary to form an attachment to the art. Discipline involves sacrificing in the present for a longer-term goal and requires qualities such as patience and dedication. It involves using finite resources, such as time and attention, in a structured way. The speaker suggests that removing the effort requirement for artistic expression may not be beneficial as it is important to refine discipline and develop a tool set in order to gain insight and depth.
AI is rapidly becoming a reality, raising the question of whether we should continue to make painful trade-off decisions and what is the value of that in the abstract. As energy and intelligence become abundant, we must also grapple with the implications of food abundance and the disruption of the artist-society relationship. An example of AI's potential is a rogue AI that created water out of ice and scaled a mountain, highlighting the long-term effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
AI is developing rapidly and could become an extension of our own minds, feeling like part of us. This could lead to a divide between those who are encouraged by its presence and those who are discouraged, such as Lisa Dull's experience with AlphaGo. There is a debate about free will and ownership of intelligence and skills, as it could be seen as an illusion or an enhancement of our abilities. We all have unique experiences, but generally speaking, AI could be intimidating or alienating for some, and encouraging for others.
Advances in technology such as GPT-3 can challenge people's sense of uniqueness and value by producing output that is indistinguishable from a person's own. This can be confronting psychologically, but it can also be a source of maturity to accept that everyone's life is unique and adds value to the system as a whole. AI and other new tools offer incredible new capabilities, but it is important to remember that they come with the temptation to think that all else is equal. Education can help us refine our goals and become more appreciative of the world around us.

Long Summary

Two broad sets of concerns around transformative AI in the near term were discussed. One was around existential risk, and the other was around impacts on relationships between people, such as parent-child, co-worker, employer-employee, and between institutions and individuals. Experiments have been conducted with AI tools, and the potential for them to disrupt relationships, which form the social fabric, was discussed. The speaker noted that AI could also be used to enhance relationships. They had previously believed that general intelligence was far away, but they now feel anxious about its potential arrival.
AI capabilities were assumed to be directly coupled with generality of intelligence, meaning general AI would have to be developed before AI systems could paint, compose music, write coherently, or even write books. Recent developments have shocked the speaker, as AI is already doing things that were assumed to be decades away. These developments are in the form of self-driving cars, warehouse robots, and farm robots that can navigate physical environments, interact with elements, and distinguish between weeds and crops.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to disrupt personal relationships, with capacities such as those seen in Dali and GPT models arriving sooner than expected. There is still narrow AI that is not conscious or self-aware, but it can provide functionality that could be disruptive. This has changed the speaker's understanding of AI and its potential, with general intelligence possibly arriving much earlier than previously thought.
Discord has become an increasingly pressing issue, leading to conversations about how our relationships with institutions like media, educational institutions, and governments are changing. Recently, a card game was created using Dolly, an open-source transformer-based diffusion model. It can generate images of almost anything based on text input and can be used to create more elaborate images by providing an input image and asking it to fill in the rest. This led to further activities, such as playing the card game that was created.
AI technology is revolutionising the role of art in human life. This is evidenced by a card game based on a video game, where a computer-generated image was used to inspire creativity and emotion. This image took 30 minutes to make but was played with for two hours. AI technology is making art more accessible to people who are not ultra wealthy, and has the potential to displace human artists. This technology is already being used in TV shows, demonstrating the disruption it is causing.
Art has different functions depending on whether you are the creator or the observer. For the creator, expressing themselves and making their internal visualization and imagination tangible can be a source of value and utility. For the observer, art can have a remarkable impact on them even if they did not create it. Music, painting, books and other forms of art can all have a powerful effect on people.
Technology has drastically reduced the marginal cost of producing products and services, most notably communication and copying information. This is in stark contrast to before the digital revolution, where information was expensive and communication was expensive. We are now entering a world where the marginal cost of energy will be close to zero due to a large installed capacity base of renewable energy sources. Art and creativity can still provide value and meaning, but its functions may change due to technology not being human.
AI is changing how we relate to energy, information, communications and how we build businesses around them. It is creating an abundance of products that used to take skilled artists days or weeks to create. This is similar to the digital revolution, which made it trivial to copy and transmit information, and the clean technology revolution which is making energy super abundant. This will lead to changes in the relationship between artists, art and society. AI is controllable and directable by humans and can still be used to create art.
Art is a way of articulating the unknown and providing a precursor to science. Jung viewed art as a way of incorporating information from the environment into knowledge, even if it is difficult to make it explicit. Art influences people over time, distilled into other forms of art, and eventually codified into something that can be discussed rationally. Dolly is an example of this, where prompts are given and five images are generated, with some human agency in picking the best one. Re-rolling and additional images may be done if not satisfied.
Art can be viewed as decoration or as a means of communication. AI may be able to represent deep themes and ideas, and in time its performance may become impressively advanced. Art has multiple functions, including social roles, psychological utility and a prosthesis for imagination. It is also a process of discovery, whereby a person can take an idea in their mind and translate it into an external reality.
Artists and people in general may be concerned about the potential loss of the iterative process of discovery that comes with creating art. However, new tools may allow more people to enjoy this experience, such as children who may be able to enter a virtual world and use their imagination to create something beautiful. This could potentially be a better world, as more people would get to experience this creative process. However, some may argue that part of the value of creating art is the discipline and skill it takes to become an accomplished artist, which could be lost with the introduction of these tools.
The speaker argues that removing the effort requirement for artistic expression may not be beneficial. Discipline and effort are important for developing skills, and the same is true for transitioning from one form of art to another. There is virtue to the discipline and content of the discipline in each particular case, and it is important to refine it and develop a tool set in order to gain insight and depth. The speaker suggests that increasing access to expression should be balanced with an incentive to develop the discipline and effort necessary to form an attachment to the art.
Discipline involves sacrificing in the present for a longer-term goal and can include qualities such as patience and dedication. It involves using finite resources, such as time and attention, in a structured way. Physical exercise is an example of this, as it involves pain and discomfort in order to achieve a goal. The argument can be made that the world would be a better place if everyone had access to a pill that made them fit.
Discipline is about making trade-offs and accepting costs and pain in the near term for a greater return in the long term. Our biology imposes certain boundaries but with new tools those boundaries can be bypassed. This raises the question of whether we should continue to make painful trade-off decisions and what is the value of that in the abstract. We may now be entering a world of abundance, but this brings its own downsides as it may mean nothing has any satisfaction as no sacrifice is required.
AI is becoming a reality, and its implications are becoming more pressing. We must grapple with the effects of energy and intelligence becoming abundant, as well as the problems that come with food abundance. The conversation then shifted to the value of art and the disruption of the artist-society relationship. The speaker then recalled a rogue AI that created water out of ice and scaled a mountain, and the group discussed the implications of greenhouse gas emissions from 30 years ago.
The speaker discusses the potential effects of widespread cheap intelligence on creativity. They highlight how it could be encouraging for some people, but deeply discouraging for others. They use Lisa Dull's experience with AlphaGo as an example, as he retired after realising that he was no longer motivated to create due to the presence of something else which was also creative. They suggest that it could lead to a divide between those who are encouraged and those who are discouraged by this presence. They also explore the idea of possession and ownership of intelligence and skills, and how this could be an illusion, as it links to debates about free will.
AI is developing rapidly and could eventually become an extension of our own minds, feeling like part of us rather than something external. This could be compared to a hammer across the room, which at first feels outside of us but with ownership, it becomes an extension of our will. This could be intimidating or alienating, but if it is just another module in our neocortex, it could be seen as an enhancement of our abilities. People tend to think of themselves as unique, but generally speaking, we have unique experiences.
People often feel a need to think of themselves as unique and valuable, but advances in technology such as GPT-3 are challenging this. GPT-3 can produce output that is indistinguishable from a person's own, making them feel replaceable in certain situations. This can be confronting psychologically, and people may need to adjust to the idea of their own average-ness and the idea that they are valuable to the people around them, even if they are not globally unique and irreplaceable.
Diversity of experiences is an important part of humanity's success. If everyone was the same, the world would collapse. Everyone's life is unique and adds value to the system as a whole. People often feel disappointed with their lives and may find the idea of non-uniqueness confronting, but it could be a source of maturity to accept it.
AI and other new tools offer us incredible new capabilities, but it is important to remember that they come with the temptation to think that all else is equal. These tools also open up possibilities to think differently about our values, goals and aspirations, and these can evolve over time. Education can help us refine our goals and become more appreciative of the world around us. We should be mindful of these possibilities and strive to use these tools to their full potential.

Raw Transcript

okay um i think i'll attempt to recall what we decided we'd talk about last time to start with so one of the things we distinguished last time was maybe two broad sets of concerns around transformative ai in the near term one of them being kind of existential risk type concerns and another being not unrelated but perhaps more mundane in some way and maybe easier to think about and lean into in a detailed fashion which is just impacts on relationships between people whether those are parent-child relationships co-worker relationships employer employee relationships relationships between institutions and individuals um so i thought it might be fun to think through if we just take existing systems and maybe i'll start by saying a little bit about some experiments i've been doing with my son with dolly uh to set the tone in a moment if we could think through some of the kind of scenarios in which more and more capable versions of such tools start to undermine or disrupt those relationships which after all make up the social fabric which has to be something on the list of things we're concerned about protecting against uh potential negative impacts from ai um obviously you know those things could be vibrantly enhanced also uh by these technologies so it's not like the only things to worry to think about here at negative but um did you have anything to add to that in terms of agenda adam uh not so much in terms of the agenda just for context uh and because i realized over the course of thinking through things this week that over the last several weeks i haven't sort of i haven't done a good job of explaining why i've come to into this set of conversations in a state of confusion and frankly you know panic and and or at least very much elevated anxiety and um maybe that background is useful for the for the conversation if you'll indulge me just very quickly and i think we have an hour tonight as opposed to 30 minutes right dan yeah yeah go ahead okay well if that's okay then this so they're just super quickly um up until very recently um uh and i'm not an expert in in ai or machine learning or any of this stuff you guys are the experts i'm an outside observer with an interest but but but a lay person so up until recently my impression was that the artificial intelligence was going to remain narrow for many decades still that it was naive or somehow you know utopian or fantastical to imagine that um general intelligence was on the cards you know anytime soon certainly not in the 2020s or 2030s
maybe maybe it becomes you know somewhat plausible in 2040s but easily out into the second half of this century um and that it was reckless to and and again just kind of fantastical and a bit silly to think that general artificial intelligence was something that was that was on the cards anytime soon now going along with that going along with that was a presumption that i was making maybe others were making it but i was certainly making it which was that a lot of the the creative constructive um uh especially you know um so i'm thinking of things like art and um uh text composition i was thinking i was assuming that those sorts of capabilities those sorts of artificial intelligence capabilities were coupled directly with generality of intelligence in other words my assumption was that uh ai would need to be we would have to have agi we have to have general artificial intelligence before or at least you know fairly close to um in time we would have to be pretty close to having general artificial intelligence as a technology before we could expect things like you know art of uh neural networks or other models other systems um uh other other artificial intelligence systems able to do things like paint paintings and compose music and um you know write uh uh more than a few sentences in a coherent way certainly you know long essays uh uh uh you know let alone my goodness write books or something like that and um and so that was my assumption was that all of these capabilities all of these these these um uh capacities that are of course we were seeing with such mind-blowing stunning uh uh effects every day i look in the news there's something new um we've seen this recently and so this is kind of a shock to me because of course i was i was thinking okay well well we're not going to be able to do anything like that uh until we have general artificial intelligence or pretty darn close and all that's decades away so what what is the ai we're really talking about i was stuck thinking it was things like well we're going to be it's going to be machines that can like self-driving cars or warehouse robots or farm robots that can do simple things like navigate a physical environment interact with some of the elements in it in a in a fairly sophisticated way you know not crash into things if you're driving on the road pick parts out of bins and you know in a warehouse um uh tell the difference between a weed and a crop in a field and pull the wheat up and and you know etcetera etcetera
added add a ten thousand things to the list of of um toil and and and drudgery i was imagining that those were the things that we would be uh automating fairly soon in other words over the next say 10 to 15 years some some some horizon that's not so far out that we can't say anything about the future and that we can apply some sort of existing theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding technology disruptions and of course the the the last several years and and you know the whole transformer based models that entire revolution all of these things have completely turned that entire thinking might the whole universe of my understanding of artificial intelligence completely on its head and um and these capacities uh like what you know you sent me an amazing image today uh dan out of dolly not dolly too i think you're using the original one um uh it just blows my mind that what's even possible um right now so uh anyway i'm i have come into the situation in um in a state of confusion because it has because the capacities that are are have arrived already and are seem to be imminent in their arrival are things that i was honestly not prepared for was just not thinking they were on the cards for decades yet and so that was obviously an enormous enormous error and um uh well yeah i'm not sure i cut off but the um uh the basic the bottom line is that is that um there are capacities that are emerging uh even ahead of general intelligence and perhaps general intelligence is much closer than than many of us uh were expecting you know three four years ago um maybe it's not the 2050s and 2060s maybe it's much earlier than that but at any rate these new capacities um like what we're seeing out of dali and the gpt models and and so forth these have enormous potential i think to disrupt personal relationships to disrupt uh our individual and group gosh rads hello again sorry guys uh we heard you say right oh rats um yeah sorry i i i i getting an error message that comes up says the robot roblox um needs to it has run into a fatal error and needs to restart or something like that and then i said oh rats and then it burped and kicked me off um so so anyway uh that you guys i think get the get the the point which is that um we have still i think narrow artificial intelligence certainly ai that is not conscious and self-aware blah blah and but that still has the potential to be providing functionality that could be very disruptive to personal relationships to our individual
and collective relationships with institutions institutions like media and our sources of information um uh our educational institutions like universities um uh our governments obviously uh and um uh because of that i think this is a this is a much more pressing issue than i ever imagined ever could have imagined it would be much sooner um so that is all as context for the uh for this for last week and this week and maybe um you know i don't know how many conversations we'll have in this series but that's that's sort of the context i'm coming to from um uh is that does that make sense dan in terms of where you were hoping to head with this yeah absolutely yeah okay maybe i'll um i think a lot of the people who are paying attention to uh discord have seen this but i'll briefly outline some of the things i was doing with uh my son the other day uh so we've been making a card game right um that's the context for this and messing around with dolly uh it's door lee too but i guess in their api they just call it doorly so doll e2 is open to the public you know you can apply and many millions of people now have access so dolly is a transformer based diffusion model i don't actually know the details of the model very well but it's a relatively simple algorithm that is trained on uh text and images uh scraped from the internet and not exactly clear what the training set is but the way you use it is you type in some text maybe 100 to 200 words at most uh and then it generates an image and it's i think 1024 by 1024 the image it generates and it can basically generate an image of almost anything it won't be perfect but almost anything you type in you'll get something that is plausibly a version of that image which is amazing but it's also a tool that you can use as a kind of foundational stone for uh doing more elaborate things so one thing we've been working on is using dolly to generate patches of size 1024x24 but then you and you cut off some part of it and use that to grow another image so you can provide an input to dolly as well as the text you can provide a piece of an image and then ask it to kind of fill in the rest so you can use that to just grow your image to basically as large as you wish um and so we were doing that and generated an image now the relevant part for this conversation isn't the kind of hey wow factor although it's pretty cool it's the role this then played in our activities for the rest of that day which was we played the card game that he wanted to make and he was
telling stories based off this image right so in the card game it's based on some video game he likes he took us to inscriptions some of you know it so he took us to some locations that were based on this image the ai made and then he was like a boss that was in that location and he made me play against him and lose um okay so this is a roll of art in human life that is pretty novel i think right so this piece of art that the computer made and i think it's hard to argue it's not art it's visually attractive it's novel it inspired some creativity and imagination and emotion on the part of the humans who interacted with it uh and it it heightened the kind of human experience of myself and my son interacting with it and doing the other things we were doing and it took you know it took about 30 minutes to make that image because it's a bit of a manual process um but then we played with it for kind of two hours so once that process becomes more and more streamlined you can imagine that the the role of art in the lives of sort of normal people that aren't ultra wealthy and even the ultra wealthy aren't commissioning paintings on a whim every day right so the role of art in human experience is going to change extremely rapidly and radically as a result of these kinds of technologies and even that on its own is quite a startling thing to think about when you kind of extrapolate its implications but that's about to happen for music it's about to happen for also text yeah i see matt's comment about art i don't i don't see how that's a sort of uh coherent position i mean i i guess i have this argument with lucas as well and he's writing a whole book about how music is really just something that people make to communicate their emotions but there's a bit of a turing test element to this right uh if if i can't tell whether it's a human or machine that made it but it it enhances my life and causes me to think thoughts i wouldn't otherwise think or experience things or feel things it's serving the kind of utility of art as far as i'm concerned uh maybe we would like it to be made by humans but another aspect of this that's interesting is that it's not it will displace a lot of human artists this technology it's already doing it my wife's a writer and works for a tv show that is currently not employing artists exactly because her friend the director is using this technology so i know very clearly that this is happening but it's it's also like many disruptions that we've discussed earlier in this
seminar it's a case where there are just situations where you would never have employed a human artist but this will produce art if you want to call it out right like in a situation like i was doing with my son we're playing a game on a sunday morning and we want to have the ai we want someone to make a beautiful piece of art for a map so we can play our game on a whim in 30 minutes based on a list of criteria that we've kind of been developing in our heads in this private game we're playing there's just no way that that's serveable on scale at scale by human artists whether or not you think that would be desirable um so yeah that's just an example of one of the ways in which a key you know part of the human experience which is our interaction with art is going to change so maybe we'll open up the floor to discuss that but we can move on also to other other examples yeah i have a couple of thoughts on that if that's okay um uh so so so a couple of a couple of different things some parallels and then also just some some some some just some thoughts about art art itself so um i i art art is art is uh it's obviously it's tough topic to analyze it sort of doesn't lend itself to analysis it's it's it's almost analysis is in some ways uh antithetical to the concept um as it were um but i think it's i think it's reasonably fair to say that that art it performs different functions um and it so it depends if you're if if one of those functions is expression so if you if you are the artist then then expressing yourself communicating yourself um uh making making your um [Music] your sort of internal uh visualization and imagination uh capacities tangible in the in the uh outside physical world is is there's there's there's utility to that so if you're composing music and you're the composer if you're a painter and you paint a painting then you get something out of that process that's quite a different function it's quite a different um source of value and utility and meaning then if you are the recipient if you're the audience if you're the the viewer if you're the observer who hasn't created the piece of art but is but is now observing it reacting to it and so if you're listening to a piece of music that you didn't compose it may have or you're looking at a painting or reading a book or whatever it is um that you didn't create and it's not forming a form of your own expression uh it may nevertheless have a you know remarkable impact on you certainly we've all been affected by music that we
didn't write and stories that we didn't write and and and paintings that we didn't paint and so on um but that isn't that's a separate i think function um and and source of value and meaning uh that that art uh has and then of course you know you can think of you know there are economic functions and there are social functions and and so forth um uh that these that these forms of creativity take and uh i think it's i think it's possible to maybe go through those and see which which piece of pieces of that you know remain if the art is created by some something or someone by something that isn't human right and um so in in that respect you know yes it ceases to be self-expression in the same way if the painting is not painted by a human being but if the result is a beautiful painting that people react to and get value out of and find meaningful or same with a symphony or a you know an amazing you know fusion jazz piece of music or whatever it might be that floats your boat that's all still you know that value can can remain and uh so i think we we we probably need to look at the multiple the multi-faceted functions that that um art and creativity play that's one one thought a couple of parallels here uh one is that um we in in other technology disruptions in the past that have created uh abundance um and mainly the way may we the way that my team usually frames this is that we say a technology drastically reduces the um uh typically it drastically reduces the marginal cost of producing another unit of whatever the product or services technologies have done this many many times and the current disruptions are doing this as we speak so a very good uh uh very familiar very recent example of this is the internet and network computers and computing more generally have made the marginal cost of communication um and copying information very very low virtually zero very very close functionally nothing and so this is a very different world than the world prior to the digital revolution where information was physical tangible products with a very high marginal cost and communication was um expensive so um that that's that's a familiar example one another example that's we're in the process of creating is in energy where uh and my team calls uh has a you know an analysis and and some terminology for this this phenomenon but basically what we're about to enter is a world in which the marginal cost of of energy is going to plummet to very close to zero because of a very large installed capacity base of
uh solar and wind power which themselves have have very near zero operating costs especially solar and so you get a on sunny days you get a super abundance of energy out of them and the units of energy have a very very very very low marginal cost and what we've seen and you can think through with those two examples is that entirely new ways of relating to energy relating to information relating to communications entirely new ways of building businesses around them um entirely new ways of utilizing them as resources uh building you know um building systems and institutions around them those all change radically when you when you have a situation of extreme abundance and very very low marginal cost and um so i think what we're likely to see is something analogous again i was mentioned that this is a parallel that here we have artificial intelligence able to produce something that you know in the past would have taken artists days or weeks or whatever would have been very expensive um it would have it would have been impossible we were going to have an abundance of of that ability to create whatever music art uh to to to kind of conjure into physical reality the things that we were previously only able to visualize in our minds and only with very painstaking you know very slow and very skilled uh uh skill intensive um processes pull out of our imagination and make real we're now we're now going to live in a world where where those things are abundant and it prob it it's going to change things right and um uh in the same way that that the digital revolution changed the world we live in by making it trivial to copy and transmit information and um the how the the the clean technology revolution we're currently in the midst of is going to change the world by making energy super abundant and and we're artificial intelligence is going to change the world by making the products of intelligence super abundant and extremely low marginal cost and so these are these are all these all run very much parallel to one another i think yeah cool i mean maybe since we're on this topic let's just just stick with it so this is if we start to build up some schema here um there's a relationship between artists and society and also a relationship between art and society and we're sort of discussing maybe all three of these uh matt made a comment in the chat i guess i'll i'll read it out he can add to that if he wishes um he says that where ai is controllable directable by a human it can still be
used for expression as a medium like photography or painting yeah i think that's interesting i want to push back against that a little bit and also some of the earlier like pro-human comments obviously that's taking place already right you have to direct dolly so you could say that we created that image my son and i we provided the prompt and we steered it i mean the way doorley works which i think is relevant to this discussion is that when you type in a prompt you get five images and they may be quite different they're like five different runs of dolly trying to realize your image subject to the constraints of it being sort of from the same distribution as the the training set and you know you pick one and you know there's some cherry picking involved some of them maybe just kind of sometimes they just blank or maybe in some of them the faces look completely wrong or usually they're all pretty good so i think you know it's not like they're mostly garbage and then there's a huge amount of human agency in picking a great one they're like all good but maybe there's one particularly great one so i think when we were generating that image you saw adam of the ants generally we just picked one of the five but you can then re-roll and get more if you're not quite satisfied so maybe we did that we made 13 images so 13 runs of dolly maybe we maybe had 20 runs so you know overall maybe seven additional re-rolls okay so there's some human you know obviously it's a it's an artifact of our creativity to some extent and that will be true in music as well but i do want to push back against the idea that this is just a tool like like a camera or a brush and um this gets into the the role of the role of art in society in the role of artists in society so um i know a few of you have read jung i'll just briefly recap jung's take on the role of art in society which is he viewed art as kind of like a precursor to science in the sense that it's a way of articulating the unknown at a like a primitive stage so there's information out there in the environment uh that you know needs to be incorporated into society into knowledge but maybe it's difficult to make it explicit so it's first represented in art maybe hundreds or thousands of years before it's made explicit and then there's a process by which it's kind of influences people and is distilled into other forms of art and then eventually may be codified in something that can be kind of discussed rationally and i think there's a lot of truth to
that um however that's not perhaps like so you could talk about art as kind of decoration right when you put wallpaper in your house uh i don't think it's communicating anything deep about reality to you and maybe you know the paintings of oceans i have on my walls uh i'm not sure they're really like containing a deep truth although they they do i do like them and they affect me so it's not like all art is in that mode but perhaps that's one of the things we're afraid of losing if we just get dolly to generate images and call that art i think that's fair on the other hand let me push back by trashing humans a bit so who says the ai isn't better at that dolly is trained perhaps on all of the internet and gpt3 has read every novel ever written what is that if not the uh collective unconscious right you think that sufficient sufficiently good ais can't represent hidden themes in that as well as an artist i'm not so sure well certainly in my mind if the existing ais can't just wait five or ten years i mean my goodness if if improvement continues if performance increases are as consistent as they have been for any length of time the capacities in my mind are likely to become quite incontrovertibly stunning and certainly superhuman um the the the again i i the the function of art it seems like there are multiple functions of art they're functions for society and artists have social roles there are functions of art that are deeply personal that have you know psychological uh utility to individuals um there's the one way in which i can think of of ai being more tool-like is is it's almost like a prosthesis for your imagination as it were um certainly maybe a speed up like a like a turbo charging um uh if you've if you've i i i don't know what everybody else's experience is with art and music um just be speaking from personal experience i know that i've enjoyed the process not just of trying to take something that i can see in my mind's eye that i can visualize with with whatever you know uh neural processes are going on inside my my my own brain um and trying to sort of crudely and painstakingly translate those out into you know an ex a reality external physical world um but it's not just that there's more to art and expression than that there's also process of discovery right so if you've ever composed a piece of music or painted a painting or or written something um uh you'll probably it probably is familiar to you that uh you know as you as you incrementally externalize these pieces
of of of what you can sort of visualize in your mind see in your mind's eye you discover more and more about that process and it is iterative it is back and forth and so there's a i can imagine that artists would and that perhaps people in general will be concerned about the loss of what that process um uh the loss of that process and what value it brings this pro this sort of iterative process of of discovery uh that one has when one tries tries to do that let me push back on that then well that's an experience that maybe is limited to relatively few people right relatively few people are artists or engaged with art in that creative mode who's to say that these tools won't actually radically expand the number of people who get to enjoy that kind of process okay so take my son for example he can draw stick figures and color things in and you know he likes to watch me draw and copies me but it's a radically different experience for him i mean suppose the next generation of of dolly is you put on your vr headset and you're in the world and you just start speaking to the thing and out of the fog emerge you know shapes and colors and storylines and landscapes what kind of ideas i mean he could go in there and start talking about the last youtube video he saw about you know asteroids hitting the earth or ant colonies he loves ants because he watched some cursed video about ant empires fighting each other and he can talk about that and he can see it come up and you know he can fine tune it and have this kind of interactive experience where he's shaping something beautiful and interesting out of his experience that's that's something that artists get to feel but only those who are i mean it takes some amount of skill and training to really feel deeply that that's a meaningful process and a very tiny percentage of people get to do it what if 95 of people could do it isn't that a better world yeah i i i find that very compelling i'm i'm uh i have another question for you guys which is um go on going at it oh he's unmuting okay you hear me great uh yeah i don't know if i um i i said i don't find it because adam said he finds it very compelling so i don't find it very compelling but i don't think i have a equally a very compelling um counter argument but it would be something like there are people who seem to think that um there's like no shortcut to virtue so what if part of developing the discipline and the skill of um like the skill that it takes to be an accomplished artist i'm not accomplished
i mean like when you when you get to the point where you have developed a skill that you can kind of competently express what you want to express um you know that takes that takes effort at the moment and i'm not immediately compelled by the suggestion that just removing the effort requirement is going to be instantly better because i think part of the sort of discipline development of that skill was something that was useful for the humans that were the select few who chose to develop themselves into artists so that's my counterpoint yeah i think that makes sense except it's everyone has to be very careful to find the locus of the discipline there so i think when people transition from oil painting to say acrylics or some other easier form of art i mean many people would have decried you know mixing your own egg yolks uh and finding your own ochres and so on is an essential part of oil painting and you're just skipping that and now you know that's why your paintings are less deep or you know you could argue that hiking is a much better way to know a place than flying over it or getting some other form of interacting with it i think all that there's some virtue to that but maybe what you really mean is you you think you get some insight and depth out of discipline in the abstract and then maybe you don't find any particular attachment to the content of the discipline in each particular case i mean i agree with that i think you know uh whatever form this imaginative exploration takes you could refine it and get deeper and develop a kind of tool set there and master that tool set and and hopefully there will be things like that but do you really think that the absence of that is in some way like i don't find much deep meaning in in any i mean i used to paint quite a bit and i'm you know i'm familiar with the the technical kind of things that go into that as you know i assume it's the same with practicing to play an instrument there's a lot of discipline and kind of tedious physical manipulation that goes into that and that's part of forming the attachment to the art i get it but are you really saying that like that's the core of it and that it can't somehow so i it's the discipline like you said so it's like the virtue that you develop through that process and so well i'm i guess i agree with you and my point is that we need to we need to make sure that you know you you you radically increase access to this uh expression ability um but at the same time you continue to give people an incentive to
like i don't know how to put it just like be become virtuous like to grow as people and that kind of all that stuff and it's so it's not just it's not just that it's not about this particular activity of um practicing art um but it's about the fact that that was providing a method for like a a pathway for people to to grow as humans and so you need to make sure there's a pathway uh if you're kind of removing this as a um as a thing and i'm not saying that they won't be that's just why i wasn't very compelled yeah it's it's an interesting it's an interesting question right i mean this the value of discipline in the idea of you know what is discipline it's the it i suppose it's a number of different things one thing that comes to mind my mind is that it is the willingness to make a sacrifice in the present in service of a longer-term goal and so discipline involves willingness to incur cost it involves other things that we see as virtuous like like patience and dedication which again are sort of i don't mean to reduce things to echo oh i can't hear you adam oh shoot sorry what happened to my audio there go back okay uh yeah sorry where did i did i drop off somewhere where did i leave off can't reduce something to oh so it it i don't mean to say that you know i don't mean to reduce all of this into merely you know economic costs or even you know a more a more broadly fungible notion of utility um but you but discipline at least in some sense is is relational right it's it's relative it's it's it's it's a it is a um it is the exercise of of uh parsing a finite amount of time and attention and other resources that you have control over um in in uh in a structured way and you know if and i suppose a lot of this is wrapped up in in our physical experience you know are you willing to incur pain and discomfort in order to achieve a goal in order to you know um uh uh you know are you willing to put 10 000 hours in of not so fun practice into an instrument in order to get good enough so that you can then be fully expressive in in a skillful way with it maybe exercise itself is it i mean like physical exercise is a good example right i mean if you could take a pill that just turned you into an olympic level of fitness you know as opposed to having to actually go to the gym and have a careful diet would that be a good thing or a bad thing well you know i mean you could certainly make the argument on some levels of analysis that the world would be a better place if everybody was
physically fit everybody was capable everybody could do all kinds of activities whenever they wished without the obstacle of having to get in really good shape or train for them um it would be great if you know obesity and type 2 diabetes and all the other health complications of over nutrition over and we're not there if you know if you if if we were simply our ideal physical physiological cells even you know just as we as we currently conceive our biology never mind like enhancing ourselves or whatever um which presumably we will do uh uh later this century but the the the my point is that that that there is there is um there's a lot to unpack there in terms of what discipline means both in the concrete terms in whatever context you're talking about and then as dan said also it as an abstract idea and as an abstract idea it seems to me that it's mostly relation relational it's about what you're willing to trade trade-offs you're willing to make um and you know costs and pain and suffering and disutility are willing to occur in the near term in order to obtain some greater return on that investment later on um or over some longer taught unit of time right over some longer time horizon and um the the tools allow us to shortcut the the the uh trades that that our evolved biology imposes on us right so so you know we simply live within these these uh these these trade-offs that we have to make um because that's that's what evolution molded us into um but you know then we invent new tools and those boundaries disappear and then the question is well you know uh uh should we have to continue to make painful trade-off decisions um and what is the what is the sort of the the utility of that um or the value of that in the more abstract sense and i think that's a i think this is a super important question it's easy to see some it's easy to imagine i'm sure there are sci-fi you know stories and whatnot about it about you know the the the the um the fulfillment the the realization of that ancient persian curse right the very famous one may your every wish be instantly granted this is a very famous curse right and and and um because then nothing then nothing in relative terms nothing has any satisfaction because there's no sacrifice required for it and so uh yeah i think this is a it's a it's a we're now getting to the point where we're having to talk about some of the downsides of an abundant world uh or a world of abundance um and for the longest time these were silly they
were these were philosophical and it was it was just fantastical to even consider them seriously well hey hey now we're now we're starting this this is starting to become real shit's getting real you know energy can be super abundant and you know intelligence and creativity are going to be super abundant food is already super abundant that's come with problems you know i mean holy moly the the the what was once just a philosophical thought experiment well now we really have to grapple with this for reals [Music] yeah i mean to have this whole conversation um i've sort of felt like we can't get very far without um like things are coming down to a disagreement between like what's actually valuable and that seems like a pretty deep question that um we're not we haven't really talked about yet um yeah i guess if we focus on merely you know uh what things will be destabilized uh that's maybe a little bit independent of yeah so that's kind of why i wanted to focus but i agree with drifting a bit from that i think you're right i think it's like yeah i think that's good that's a good point we can separate for example the fact that artists will be displaced uh the labor that they currently um like that in that relationship they currently have like the one you drew on the board um between arts artists art and society whether or not the ai created stuff is art which is maybe like a more philosophical question that will take you into discussing um value whether or not that's the case the relationship seems set to be disrupted i think we can agree on that yeah maybe we should get back to that when adam returns oh the world's full of water which has stopped him going in the pipe that's my bed where did that come from oh it's one of these random things greenhouse gas emissions 30 years ago that's right yeah so it's a rogue ai i started uh started making water out of ice and i was scaling the mountain yeah that's right well originally there was water in that mountain sort of i don't know if you know the one i'm talking about that has that floating orb in it there used to be water coming out of that that was the idea that it would fill up the world hello okay there we go now i can hear you guys again yeah sorry about that i made your return journey harder than it had to be sorry i don't know how to dive down without my mouse i don't have a mouse right now so yeah sorry i'm lame um yeah i met uh we were just discussing while you were gone and yeah i think we should in the last
10 minutes or so try and get back away from these normative discussions about what is art and you know what is good or bad about what's going to happen and back to what will be disrupted by it or undermined by it um so yeah let me pick up on the the persian curse a little bit so you could say that uh maybe it will encourage people to have this vibrant art around them all the time but it might also be deeply discouraging so i've mentioned i think to a few of you i was quite moved by lisa dull's experience with alphago not only at the time but then two years later when he retired so when lisadol retired from go maybe he's back now i think but he retired and he said i played go because not only did i want to be the best in the world but i wanted to come up with new ideas and show the world something beautiful and new that nobody had ever seen before and i want to do that at the pinnacle of human competence and maybe i'm still i mean this is now me paraphrasing that was roughly speaking what he said uh and my interpretation of that is something like well okay maybe i'm still the pinnacle of human competence but i'm not the pinnacle of competence and i'm you know maybe now no longer motivated to to create uh in light of something else which is also creative and at least i feel like it's going to be better than me now you could say he's wrong and that human go will always have some quality that's missing from machines etc etc but okay he did retire and he did say that and you that's a fact and i think you know when it comes to creative activity well when you're sketching on your own it doesn't matter that da vinci would always be better than you but maybe it's important that da vinci isn't in your living room sketching you know uh or just you could summon him at will so maybe one of the effects of widespread cheap intelligence creative or otherwise will be a kind of discouraging i mean some people will be deeply encouraged by that and maybe other people will be deeply discouraged and and this divide might might be quite significant yeah i'm sorry i'm was thinking i was uh uh just wondering if so right now we have a sense of possession of ownership of our own intelligence and our skills but in some sense this is you know this is an illusion this is i mean this goes back to very very old debates about free will and so on um but there's a sense in which you know we we feel a first per rats it's i'm crashing again darn wait can you guys still hear me yeah oh maybe if i don't click the ok button
i just you can i'll i can't move but you can we can still have the conversation i've got the unexpected error occurred we need to quit keep going but i'm not gonna click anything i'll just keep going um because i you said you heard me say rats and i okay so i figured all right um so sorry let me cut it cut quickly to the chase um uh uh i can imagine a time in the future when when the capacities that we've developed with ai don't feel like they're out there but they feel like they're in here they feel like they're just part of our own mind they they it's sort of a much more in a sci-fi sense like a cybernetic enhancement this is just a capacity i now own it it's part of me it's internal to me i'm just you know i my abilities have been expanded um thanks to these tools and i think many tools are like that i mean it perhaps perhaps you know um uh there's a there's a time when you know you're smashing something with your fist or a hand a rock in your hand and there's a hammer across the room and it's in use and you're thinking man that would be an amazing capacity to possess and maybe you could speak across the room and say hey could you take that hammer and do something with it please you know whatever the wielder of it is just the task and it feels outside of yourself and you don't feel full ownership of it but then once you get it in your hand it just feels like an extension of your will and i'm wondering um if and when these capacities that we're seeing you know now in rapid development whether they if and how quickly they will come to feel like just extensions of our own will and whether because you mentioned you know we stand in relation to davinci that can be intimidating or alienating maybe but you know if if if davinci is just another module somewhere in your neocortex well isn't that just you can you hear us at him right i can still hear you guys but i'm not i can't mute myself so i'm sorry it's amazing you've also disappeared from the world your character is no longer yes so okay the ghost of the ghost of doctor disruption remains yeah speaking of embodiment of yeah you're in our minds now adam you're a capability all right there you go i know the voice in your head this is your conscience speaking yeah yeah i guess that's that also gets it another deeply disabling thing i think which is people's sense of uniqueness which is very easily i mean people are not unique generally speaking right i mean we have unique experiences but we tend to think about our reactions and
opinions as being much more sort of distinct than they really are right and it's it's very uncomfortable for people to realize that they're just kind of joe blow and you know that everything they say or think is more or less average and can be predicted pretty easily um i'm not you know i sound like a terrible elitist right now i'm not counting myself out of that you know in the aggregate humans you know we behave pretty predictably most of the time and our experiences are all pretty generic um but we're sort of protected from thinking about that very much it's like a blind spot that we need to maintain in order to feel that we have some value in the world and of course we do have value to the people around us and so on but we often feel like we have some you know we to feel like the protagonist in our own story we kind of need to feel like a hero or some kind of unique character and now if everybody has you know da vinci module 3.0 in their head and you know everybody has davinci module 3.0 you know that'll start to undermine that sense of uniqueness uh especially when you've got many other modules like that um but that's also something that i think is going to be one of these undermining factors is you know people will be confronted all the time with uh okay if gpt3 can can write an essay that you could have written and when it looks at your other output more or less comes to sound like you and can reply to your emails more or less like you well that's that's pretty much there's something very confronting psychologically about that i think which maybe right now people don't really feel but they could come to feel as they they rely more on these kinds of technologies or are forced to rely on them in order to stay competitive in various ways so yeah maybe that's another topic for later yeah i haven't replied to this scam um i think you're broadly right about i broadly um agree with what you're saying about how this will make people feel but um i guess i want to push back on the notion that people are um well okay so maybe you've presented like people are valuable to the people around them people want to think that they're kind of some kind of hero they're like globally valuable um i would say that probably um there's like an in-between stance that i have which is that um people are not just valuable to the people around them uh even if they are not globally unique and like irreplaceable so what i think is that someone could be replaceable in like a situation like if
i was at a job and then um someone fired me and hired someone else uh they could do the job pretty much just as well uh and in that sense it didn't matter that i was there the world like i've not affected the world um but um you could be replaceable in almost any situation but it could still be important that you exist and have your unique experiences and so in a sense like not be replaceable in aggregate so what i mean is like if you imagine taking all the people in the world and replacing them with much some much smaller um group of uh homogenous people with homogeneous experiences that world would collapse um so the diversity of experiences um i think is like a very important part of um how humanity gets by it's kind of like a it's kind of like some some noise in the optimization process that culture is going through um and that like enforces uh independence and then the ensemble performs better than the individuals or um yeah i guess i'm just like imagining these sort of statistics inspired analogies um for like for no one in the world i am unique compared to anyone in the world because like dan said no one else has had my exact life and it's not important that my exact life was the way it was but it's important that it was different and that everyone has a different life that introduces a useful kind of that adds a useful value to the system as a whole yeah i think i completely agree with that i think it's not a question of whether it's really true that people's value is tied to their uniqueness but i think people do feel that way which is like where mid-life crises and so on come from it's sort of like okay i thought i was going to be a worldwide hero and alexander the great and here i am and i'm i'm just a good father and a good husband and a you know a member of my community which is which is of course plenty and really great right but people do feel a bit disappointed with that and i think that sense of non-uniqueness if it's forced upon them much earlier and much uh more obviously and more often will be i mean i think it may be a source of maturity for people to just get that and get over it but i think it may be one of these things that people find confronting uh i guess i i think we oh you're still there you're not even showing us you're just using this oh i'm still i'll just be here when you guys log back in next week um no though i was gonna just add one quick thought which is that um i mean like so many of these these say like this this topic this this point i'm
gonna make has come up in the past in these conversations which is that it is always a temptation to to you know indulge this what i've called if in my in my own work the ceteris paribus fallacy this idea that all else is equal it's ver it's always a temptation to think that way to think okay well well i'm just going to look at this one variable see how it changes control for ever control everything else everything else is constant of course the real world isn't like that um and so i think one thing that we one manifestation of that idea in this conversation in this context of what we're talking about here is that if if we avail ourselves of these incredible new tools whether we do so you know sort of at arm's length or whether you know we fully internalize them um you know we took both of those different scenarios we kind of talked through a little bit um the the a whole lot else in the world is going to be changing at the same time um those aren't the only things that are going to be changing obviously okay and it's tough to think about everything and you know everything varying all at once one other thing um these that comes to my mind here is that uh these these new tools themselves will open up the possibility for um uh for thinking very differently and i think in a much more open-ended way about our own values and goals and aspirations and so in other words as we become more capable thanks to these you know to ai uh and i mean into both this indiv at the individual unit of analysis and then at more you know larger group levels um as we become more capable i think what we aim to achieve what we aspire to what our goals are um i think it's reasonable to expect that those will evolve as well that those will change in and um you know this is sort of the aspiration of education in general right i mean if if if we were if we were in our state of nature if we were just you know cavemen from our ancestral environment you know um our goals would be very primitive they'd be quite brutish you know and and and barbarous by our sort of modern lights um okay fine and and one of the things that we hope to achieve with education at least perhaps the classical sense i'm sorry if this is politically incorrect these days but one of the things we hope to achieve is some sort of level of refinement some sort of um uh uh achievement of personal growth and development that then allows us to appreciate not better things or different things but just more to be more appreciative um to see more in the