You cannot outrun progress

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You cannot outrun progress

Over the past 50 years I have learned an incredible amount about engineering, running a business and building great audio equipment. I think of it like a journey.

How did I learn all of this? Through many sources including books, mentors, friends, competitors, customers, mistakes, and observations. All of it gleaned by the information available at the time.

Which brings me to a rather absurd juncture concerning the newest technology, Artificial Intelligence or, AI for short.

I am not the first to point out that with every new technology (or product) there will always be a myriad of opinions ranging from adoption to fear mongering. I am recalling the introduction of digital audio—some of us jumped in feet first while others ran from the room screaming.

I observe with detached wonder the artists, musicians, writers, coders, and creatives raising their pitchforks over the spectre of AI taking their jobs. I get it. The fear is not without basis, but part of me wants to stand up and shout out loud, "you're wrong!"

What's wrong? Their argument that they are owed because AI's were trained using their images and creations without their permission.

In order to build an AI bot there is an extraordinary amount of training that goes into it. These bots have basically read every novel, viewed every photo and painting, listened to every musical piece, and Lord knows what else. Basically, they have been fed the sum of all human knowledge.

I am guessing a microscopic tidbit of my knowledge and writing contributed to their base as well. And, I did not give my permission for them to take my ideas and then use them to their advantage.

The horror!

Now we're at the heart of this absurdity. Every human on the planet learns from everything and everyone's knowledge and experience. It's how it works. No one's charging for this and no one is owed anything. If I listened to a Lennon and McCartney tune and get inspired to write something in the same vein, do I owe them anything other than a nod?

I think not. Not any more than when I ask an AI bot to render an original poem for me, or an image, a circuit, or a code snippet. It generated something new based on its cumulative knowledge. In the same way we wouldn't think of demanding payment from the Beatles or Bruce Springsteen for inspiring us to create new music, or imagining a new invention after reading a Wikipedia page or watching an inspiring movie, why does it make sense for a creative or an educator to demand some sort of restrictions be placed on the output of an AI bot trained in some small way by their world contribution?

The thing is, we can jump up and down all day long about how unfair the world is—and sometimes it's justified. But I think this misses the point.

If I learned how to write from reading a borrowed book of John Steinbeck, I don't think it follows that I owe John's heirs anything other than a nod.

You can't outrun progress. 

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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