By Dr Miguel Ángel Serrano, President of EWC and Human writer.
The author reflects on some developments in the career of Sam Altman, CEO, former CEO and new CEO of Open AI, the company behind Chat GPT.
I am going to ask you, dear reader, to imagine some pictures while reading this text. You will be conveniently noticed.
My goal is to reflect on some ideas about AI and some strange developments on the career of Sam Altman, Founder and CEO of Open AI, the company behind Chat GPT. He declared that the company would cover legal costs of his clients if they face legal actions because of Intellectual Property plaintiffs. I cannot assure that this is related to Mr. Altman being dismissed of his position as CEO of Open AI days after. The board justified Mr. Altman being invited to get out of the company saying that he lied to them, we don’t know about what. No worries: finally, the Board of Open AI was renovated and Mr. Altman hired again.
The European Writers’ Council have been claiming for the allegedly illegal use of copyrighted texts for Generative Artificial Intelligence programs training, as hundreds of associations of artists, authors, or publishers did. Visual artists and photographers, among others, are in the same fight, as the at least unethical use of their creative works is traceable in the mashed products the Generative Artificial Intelligence applications vomit, just as with the copyrighted texts.
NOW IMAGINE: You are developing a whole Foundation model, that requires terabytes and terabytes of information. As you try to offer text with the capacity to resemblance those written by humans, you need to obtain real good texts. Who write those? Writers. But you don’t want to sound like Shakespeare, Plato, or the legal gibberish of legal texts from European Commission or any other public legal texts. You need fresh, modern, great texts, able to connect with the likes and spirit of modern readers. So, you have the idea of going to piracy sites and get a gigantic number of pirated books. Brilliant. The thing is (keep imagining) that if you buy things from a robbery, it is a crime as well. And you know it. And if you rob a robber is also a crime. But you keep doing because… well, if it is on the internet is free. Brilliant and false. And is for the sake of progress and research, as Open AI and others claimed until they were bought and put to commerce.
Why should a company state that they will defend its clients in courts? Probably because they foresee problems.
STOP IMAGINING: There is solid evidence of this. And now there is a plain confession, as I see it. Why should a company state that they will defend its clients in courts? Probably because they foresee problems. Most of big companies are preoccupated, when it comes to possible problems with AI apps, about Intellectual Property related troubles. They should. There are plaintiffs already in Courts in the USA, and probably more will come. So, getting to a soft regulation and a condonation of the enormous damage already caused to cultural sectors is the big hope of AI moguls. Unfortunately, this position (making business based on Codes of Conduct and a tabula rasa new starting point) seems to have support from politicians in EU and US, as we sadly are learning these days. The question here is why a sector is benefited harming another. Cultural sectors, authors, and artists have made a definitive contribution to the evolution of our societies, moral stands and intellectual improvement. AI is only a promise of innovation based on a crooked foundation. It is simply bad behavior monetized. It is following the worst and usual tradition in Tech fields. Beg for pardon, but don’t ask permission. Run and break things, after that we will see.
NOW IMAGINE: You want to go to the oceanic abyss and buy a ride in a commercial submergible. Then you see that the one you choose is remotely driven with some home console control. It is being told that executives at the company didn’t search security certifications because that would hinder innovation. You are about to go deep into the frozen waters but before that, the company selling you an incredibly expensive “ticket”, OceanGate, forces you to sign a contract that includes your renounce to any possible future reclamations in case something goes wrong, and that you are aware of the absence of certifications. And in the contract, the word “death” is profusely present. This is what voyagers of the submergible Titan signed just to find death, instead reaching the sunk Titanic.
STOP IMAGINING: When using Generative AI prompts, it is probable that you are using illegal sources and that you are harming other people rights. You could say that you didn’t know, but that is a little more complicated when you are a big company with a powerful compliance department. So, litigation could come. Politicians have the responsibility to avoid this and protect the weakest part of this unfortunate chain of facts: authors. “Hindering innovation”, as in the case of the submergible, is a repeated mantra these days to try to justify a non-regulation stand when it comes to transparency on how GAI is trained. Some ex-employees of OceanGate gave notice of the breaches of security of the submergible. Does that ring a bell? It is curious to read about the Titan story thinking on GAI developments.
Johann August Sutter became incredibly rich buying land where the actual city of San Francisco is located. Stefan Zweig wrote about it in The discovery of Eldorado. This adventurer became rich with a concession for farming. Then, one of his employees found gold. The word spread and thousands of people went to California in the well-known Gold rush. Any mining rights were just ignored, and people built their houses in the lands of Sutter (not a moral example himself, truth being told). Sutter sued and won, but the crowd revolted and went to Judge’s house with bad intentions. By the time that Zweig wrote the story, San Francisco was built on robbed land, as it was impossible to enforce the sentence, in favor of Sutter rights.
Every single brick of those buildings has a name in it. Some keystones on these monuments of knowledge and human spirit shows the name of giants of literature, science, arts.
NOW IMAGINE: Thousands of people, through the story, build a fantastic patrimony of arts, culture, literature, books, museums. They usually don’t receive big payments for it but are proud of fulfilling their own dreams and contributing to the solace and moral and intellectual enhancement of their fellow readers, museum visitors, students. Every single brick of those buildings has a name in it. Some keystones on these monuments of knowledge and human spirit shows the name of giants of literature, science, arts. The originators. Painters, musicians, scientists, writers. These cities are also commercial venues, full of publishers, booksellers, printing houses. A whole and flourishing cultural sector, with thousands of people employed.
STOP IMAGINING: Now some “Sutters”, big Tech moguls, want to do the exact opposite thing and own our San Francisco for them. And after that, sell back it to the rest of us. They want to privatize human knowledge and make huge profits on our own richness. It is time to say enough is enough.
NOW IMAGINE: You support Human culture and spread this position. You stand for our common future, for truth, for artists, writers, readers: for yourself and your kids. And, as you, millions of people say stop to this outrageous and dangerous way of doing business without any sincere risk assessment.
STOP IMAGINING: Raise your voice. We are at that submergible.