Roundup: OpenAI says some artistic jobs shouldn’t exist

Read to the end for a good overview of failing social media platforms

Roundup: OpenAI says some artistic jobs shouldn’t exist
Mira Murati puts her foot in her mouth again. Screenshot: YouTube/WSJ

The tech companies are at it again. Apple found itself in the crosshairs of artists’ anger last month when it released an ad that showed artistic implements and outputs being crushed to make way for an iPad Pro. It quickly apologized and churned out a different ad meant to show it does actually value artists and their work. But the damage was done.

Now OpenAI is taking it to a whole new level. Since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022, it’s been criticized for developing tools that seem designed to displace writers and visual artists. Regardless of whether they can produce as good of an artistic work as a human, they’re still being sold as though they can and many companies don’t care as long as they can reduce labor costs. Well now the company has made their viewpoint even clearer.

You might remember CTO Mira Murati from a Wall Street Journal interview in March where she was asked if OpenAI’s Sora video generator was trained on YouTube videos and responded with a confused expression before saying she wasn’t sure. Murati seems to have tripped over her feet once again.

In an interview with Darmouth Engineering from earlier this week, Murati said that generative AI is going to make people more creative and will “make our creativity expand.” This is a common line in the pro-generative AI world, such that it’s now central to a campaign by a tech lobby group to ensure training AI models on stolen work is considered fair use. But Murati followed that up by saying, “Some creative jobs maybe will go away, but maybe they shouldn't have been there in the first place if the content that comes out of it is not very high quality.”

It’s a striking admission, but more than that one has to wonder who is judging what content is “not very high quality.” I think many people would quite rightfully observe that a lot of AI-generated visuals are “not very high quality,” yet Murati and AI boosters want us to believe generative AI is the future. Similarly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they can’t see the usefulness of much of the more probing, critical, and less commercial artistic work that happens in film, visual arts, writing, and beyond. But they’re developing the tools doing the displacing.

This gets to a fundamental problem: we’ve ceded so much power and authority to tech people with a very narrow competence and understanding of the world, but have allowed them to believe they actually understand far more about the human experience than they really do. The generative AI moment shows us more clearly than ever that we need to rein in the power of the tech industry before they further erode some of the core pieces of what it means to be human — and art is right at the center of it.

This week in the roundup there are some great stories on Nvidia’s rise, Airbnb’s lax enforcement of its policies against hate groups, whether we’re in an AI bubble, and how cashless economies are opening the door to financial crime. Plus, the usual labor updates and other tech news you might have missed.

Over on Tech Won’t Save Us, I interviewed tante about whether Europe can chart out its own path on tech as things are polarizing between the United States and China. It was a fascinating conversation that also got into how we think about innovation and whether that needs to change.

Have a great week!