Prospect MagazineProspect Magazine

When AI thinks you’re dead

By Ethan Zuckerman

10 May 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Large language models are "optimised for plausibility, not accuracy." That's why the "plausible errors" of these models are so insidious, argues an essayist for Prospect Magazine.

Whenever a new technology is released into the world, one group of people embraces the innovation and argues that it will transform society forever. Think of the enthusiasts who took up crypto, predicting the transformation of business, culture and society as a whole. A second group of people ­recoils in fear: whether they fail to understand the technology or find it actively threatening, they think nothing about the ­innovation can be good news.

A third group interrogates the new technology and discovers ways that it breaks and fails. These critics can seem as if they are missing the wood for the trees. But creatively breaking these new systems is an essential step if we are to ensure that a technology that promises to change everything will change it for the better.

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