[Max Woolf] has been working in the AI space since 2015, and among other work has created numerous useful open-source tools. He also recently wrote a thoughtful blog post that attempts to put into words his feelings on the state of things in the wake of experiencing a bit of an AI backlash-related burnout. Essentially, people effortlessly creating vast amounts of bad AI content has caused a bigger problem than we may realize.
How so? Well, Sturgeon’s law (summarized as “ninety percent of everything is crud”) applies to AI as much as it does to anything else. Theodore Sturgeon was a science fiction author and critic (and writer of multiple Star Trek episodes) who observed in the 1950s that while Science Fiction — the hot new popular thing at the time — was often derided by critics as being little more than low quality pap, so was everything else. It was true that most Science Fiction was garbage. But most work in other fields was of similarly low quality, and thus Science Fiction was really no different. It’s all trash, except for the parts one likes. Just like anything else.
What makes this observation particularly applicable to the current AI landscape is that, according to [Max], the incredible ease of use makes AI’s “ninety percent crud” very large indeed, and the attached backlash is similarly big. The remaining ten percent of AI that is absolutely fantastic and full of possibilities? It’s practically invisible due to how quickly the industry is moving, the speed with which the big players are vying to control it, and how unfashionable it has become to admit one is using AI tools at all.
[Max] knows the scene better than most. One of his projects is simpleaichat, a tool aimed not just at enabling people to integrate AI into projects easier, but piercing the hype around AI to more easily reveal just how these tools actually work. Sadly, a general AI backlash has made developing these tools feel rather less rewarding than it once did.