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TOP OF MIND

I was invited to publish articles on Medium.com when it started in 2012. I sent them articles on a regular basis — until last week. I had a “wait, wut” moment. Was Medium allowing chatbots like ChatGBT to ingest my work? Was my writing being used for training fodder without compensation, credit, or consent?

I pressed pause on submitting anything new to Medium, and wrote to Tony Stubblebine, Medium’s CEO, to ask if the platform was doing anything to protect the work of human writers. His response was good, and it was also bad.

“Allow? No. Be able to stop? Maybe.” —Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Medium.com

He elaborated in an article he published on Medium.

He said that Medium won’t be collaborating with AI companies, and therefore the platform will be a safe haven for human writers, for now. In the future, however, he was open to having OpenAI’s bots crawl the site to gobble up human creativity to feed the furnace of capitalism. (He didn’t say that exactly; but his meaning was close.)

Stubblebine wants to form a coalition with other platforms to address the issues of human writers granting consent to AI to ingest their work.

This is a thorny issue, because once you release the bots, they’re hard to stop. Also, you can lie about what your bots are doing, and later claim it was a mistake to turn them loose.

I won’t get technical here, but there is a file that you can put on your site (and which Medium, for now, has put on theirs) that politely asks the bots to stay away. It’s called a robots.txt file. I have such a file on all my sites now, but it’s a request, not a rule; it doesn’t mean that the robots pay attention and stay away. OpenAI, for the moment, says they are honoring the instructions of robots.txt files. Then again, when billions of dollars on are the line, CEOs of AI companies might be tempted to lie about releasing the bots. They’ve already ingested lots of material, anyway.

Sarah Silverman, the NYT and CNN, and ABC are suing OpenAI for scraping their content and dumping it into the learning model. This is an unfolding story. I’ll stay on it.

FAKE OUT LOL

If you missed the legendary rock band KISS at Madison Square Garden last December, not to worry. They will continue touring until the sun explodes. Actually, that’s not quite right. It would be better to say that the sun will not explode when it reaches the end of its life, but KISS will continue touring long after the members of the band are dead.

Let me explain.

About five billion years from now, the sun will run out of hydrogen fuel at its core, expand and cool, and become a giant red star. Well before that time, KISS plans to have digital versions of themselves playing concerts. Their avatars were created by Industrial Light & Magic and Pophouse Entertainment, which has already teamed up to create holograms of the ABBA band members. Fans are paying $105 per ticket to watch ABBA holograms perform. So, apparently, it’s all good.

The band’s The End of the Road World Tour was already a massive success, grossing nearly $200 million. If the digital clone thing works out for them, it will bring new meaning to the concept of passive income. Their avatars could perform in multiple cities at once.

DISCLAIMER

Typographical errors, poor metaphors, broken grammar, and strained examples are not the responsibility of the author because the proofreader is taking the week off.

REFERENCES

Default No to AI Training on Your Stories

joining Reuters, New York Times, CNN

KISS avatar encore

Members of KISS say goodbye at final concert – but their digital avatars will keep touring

Will the Sun Ever Stop Shining?

How and When Will the Sun Die?

ABBA Avatars Generate Real Millions

KISS End of the Road Your May Gross $200 Million

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