What Generative AI Reveals About the Limits of Technological Innovation

Dr. Joe Bak-Coleman is an associate research scientist at the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at Columbia University and an RSM assembly fellow at the Berkman Klein Center’s Institute for Rebooting Social Media. March 1940 meeting of scientists developing the atomic bomb in the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, California: Ernest O. Lawrence, Arthur H. Compton, Vannevar Bush, James B. Conant, Karl T. Compton, and Alfred L. Loomis. Wikimedia Over the past month, generative AI has ignited a flurry of discussion about the implications of software that can generate everything from photorealistic images to academic papers and functioning code. During that time period, mass adoption has begun in earnest, with generative AI integrated into everything from Photoshop and search engines to software development tools. Microsoft’s Bing has integrated a large language model (LLM) into its search feature, complete with hallucinations of basic fact, oddly manipulative expressions of love, and the occasional “Heil Hitler.” Google’s Bard has fared similarly– getting textbook facts about planetary discovery wrong in its demo. A viral image of the pope in “immaculate drip” created by Midjourney even befuddled experts and celebrities alike who, embracing their inner Fox Mulder, just wanted to believe. Even in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse and slowdown in the tech industry, the funding, adoption, and embrace of these technologies appears to have occurred before their human counterparts could generate– much less agree on– a complete list of things to be concerned about. Academics have raised the alarm about…What Generative AI Reveals About the Limits of Technological Innovation