The Internet’s Brutal Downsides

In the past 30 years we have … come to understand the internet’s and high tech’s steep and brutal downsides—political polarization for profit, the knowing encouragement of internet addiction, the destruction of childhood, a nation that has grown shallower and less able to think

Peggy Noonan, in Artificial Intelligence in the Garden of Eden []

Credit to Richard Geib, who quoted this in his recent post Peggy Noonan and Technology Tribalism and “Troll Nation” – Very Online and Very Angry [].

Both articles are worth a read; the state of American Society and the dangers of AI and unconstrained Silicon Valley are worth discussing. But… I don’t know. I was struck by a certain feeling of pessimism in both.

Noonan’s opinion piece,which was published in the Wall Street Journal [], comes across as “I always knew it was bad”. Hind sight is 20/20, and maybe she has written about this before, I’m not familiar with her writing, but she spends a lot of time on her allegory and healthy dose of fear mongering but no solutions. There is a lot of fear over the rapid rise of AI —AI is coming for our jobs, AI is going to destroy education, AI is going to get our of hand and end the world a la Terminator— so what? Noonan offers nothing. And telling us that the egos of Silicon Valley are out of control, megalomaniacs is like saying water is wet. I expect people published in news papers to offer some solutions to problems. Not just spread existential dread and stoke anger. Fox and CNN do enough of that.

Geib’s blog post is a bit too much grumpy dad, complaining about the state of the world (kids are smoking pot and warning PJs all day!). He also explains his plan to run away from all the polarization and decay to a nice retirement somewhere far away while the world burns itself down if it wants to.