Cyberpunk legend Bruce Sterling tackles the rise of artificial intelligence

Bruce Sterling is a cyberpunk fiction and nonfiction pioneer who wrote such classics as Schismatrix, The Difference Engine, The Hacker Crackdown, and was a frequent contributor to Wired, Mondo 2000, and, yep, the bOING bOING print 'zine. Bruce has a razor-sharp wit and is a master at popping hype balloons surrounding emerging technologies. It was only a matter of time before he tackled the rise of AI.

As fellow cyberpunk Rudy Rucker tweeted, "Bruce uses his trademark cyberpunk move: (a) Explain an ultramodern tech development. (b) *Sneer* at it."

From Bruce's article in Newsweek:

Tech manias are pretty common now, because they're easily spread through social media. Even the most farfetched NFT South Sea Bubble can pay off, and get market traction, if the rumor-boosters cash out early enough. Today's AI craze is like other online crazes, with the important difference that the people building it are also on social media.

It's not just the suckers on Facebook and Twitter, it's the construction technicians feverishly busy on GitHub and Discord, where coders socially share their software and their business plans. AI techniques and platforms—which might have been carefully guarded Big Tech secrets—have been boldly thrown open as "open-source," with the hope of faster tech development. So there's a Mardi Gras parading toward that heat and light, and those AIs are being built by mobs of volunteers at fantastic speed.

It's a wonderful spectacle to watch, especially if you're not morally and legally responsible for the outcome. Open Source is quite like Mardi Gras in that way, because if the whole town turns out, and if everybody's building it, and also everybody's using it, you're just another boisterous drunk guy in the huge happy crowd.