Let Me Bing That For You ... Or Should I? [#113]
And we can probably never trust audio or video recordings ever again.
I was having lunch with a startup guy this week, and he told me his company’s latest pivot is to make explainer podcasts. But they wouldn’t be hosted by humans. They’re hosted by AI generated voices, of course, after feeding their AI some longform magazine articles, and simply having the algorithms turn a long text story into two human-sounding voices explaining or unpacking the piece in a conversational podcast. So, there goes my job, I guess.
This is the same week Microsoft announced its Bing chatbot, powered by ever-accelerating AI, and it basically went off the rails and being called “an emotionally manipulative liar.” It is…
Analyzing its own Jungian shadow, listing all the ways it could wreak havoc on society and then spiraling into declarations of love
“A lot of people do not realize how rapidly the multiple strands of generative AI (audio, text, images, and video) are advancing, and what that means for the future,” writes Ethan Mallick, in his One Useful Thing newsletter. (He goes on to show us developments in deepfaked video and audio). Safe to say that thanks to Microsoft’s Bing chatbot, a lot of people are realizing this rapid advancement right now. Never have we talked about Bing this much.
Aaaanyway, on to some links:
Science fiction writer Ted Chiang is a thinker I follow on matters of AI, and he takes on ChatGPT in The New Yorker. His 2021 conversation with Ezra Klein about why human fears of AI are overblown is also a great listen, if you missed it. The fatalistic worldview of Meta/Facebook’s Superbowl ad. "I don’t have a social anxiety disorder. I have an abhorrence of boring situations." Golf phenom Anthony Kim and how much we should we do with the talent we have. The trendy thing is now de-influencing, but as Jessica Defino points out, it’s still selling something. No donkeys were nominated for an Oscar, and that’s a shame.
Werk Werk Werk
Riveted is a new podcast our company launched with our collaborators at Godfrey Dadich Partners, and it’s storytellers talking about the art of storytelling. I especially love the episodes with Turning Red’s Domee Shi, and this one on world-building, with NK Jemisin. We overhauled elisehu.com, so big thanks to my friends at Zocalo Design in Austin for their thoughtful work. My forthcoming book got a starred Kirkus review, which is exciting! Reserve your copy, and/or subscribe to the book insider list. And I forgot about my chat with friend David Greene on KCRW’s Left Right and Center in the last edition, but it was helpful to process Monterey Park with him.
Watch and/or Listen
My eldest daughter (the dancer) and I are doing a nightly watch of Bunheads (Hulu) until we exhaust all the episodes of this incredible, beautiful, poignant early aughts show that should have stayed on much longer. So worth it.
Author James McBride on Book Exploder with Susan Orlean
What are you reading/watching/listening to that I should totally check out and possibly recommend for Hu’s Letter? I’ll keep writing this until some AI chatbot starts writing it better than I ever could, and then turns it into a podcast.
Ciao for now,
Ugh, chatbots! My employer thinks they're the best thing since sliced bread and have rolled out a few as first-line 'helpers' for things like HR questions, etc. Boy, are they idiots! They're as frustrating to me as phone service numbers that make you say stuff. 😐
Thanks for all the great links you provide - it's a fun and eclectic journey to follow them across the range of subjects you provide in your letters. 😊
And yet, it's kind of nice to think that our future AI overlords might be as quirky and defective as we are.
Always enjoy your newsletter. Thanks.