Alright, ChatGPT, write me a Facepalm!

Maybe you’ve heard about the AI text generator ChatGPT. Proponents are calling it the greatest technological leap since the Tamagotchi, while AI naysayers are, well, saying nay. Beyond the generalized anxiety surrounding artificial intelligence caused by humanity’s existential questioning of its intellectual and moral supremacy and the threat of unleashing a disembodied, artificially sentient Frankenstein’s monster upon the world (I’m not worried), AI is positing some real-world questions about the future of society. In essence, ChatGPT is an open-access AI text generator. For example, I plug in the query “write me a 1000-word essay on Pride and Prejudice,” and my English homework is done instantly (without me having to slog through Pride and Prejudice, thank God). All well and good when it doesn’t really matter (ahem, English department), but what about when someone’s liberty is on the line?

Along comes Joshua Browder, CEO of AI startup DoNotPay. Browder has actually convinced someone to allow an AI chatbot to represent them in a real court case. The defendant will appear before the court wearing earbuds that will stream AI-generated legal arguments in real-time. All the defendant has to do is regurgitate the lawyer-bot’s argument verbatim — never mind that these text generators have a tendency to spit out nonsense and false info by the terabyte. But if that’s not confident enough for you, Browder has offered $1 million to any lawyer willing to use his virtual Cyrano de Bergerac before the U.S. Supreme Court. Kind of problematic that the SCOTUS prohibits most forms of electronics, but I appreciate the chutzpah.

But not everyone is drinking the Kool-AI-d, and some are even fighting back in court. In a first-of-its-kind action, three artists have sued AI art generators Stability AI and Midjourney, and online art community DeviantArt, claiming massive intellectual property theft. These art generators operate by scraping the internet for images, then recombining them according to a user’s text prompt — the heart-rending artistic masterpiece “Facepalm” (above) was created with AI. Besides flooding the market with infinite images of surreally rendered fingers, the plaintiffs allege the AI programs are amalgamating billions of legally protected IP works to create derivative works. According to plaintiff/programmer Matthew Butterick, AI is a “cancer” and a “par­a­site that, if allowed to pro­lif­er­ate, will cause irrepara­ble harm to artists, now and in the future.” Doubling down on his AI animosity, Butterick has also filed suit against Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI (the brains behind ChatGPT) for instigating the same kind of IP apocalypse, but with legally protected text.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to upset our new AI overlords with insults and litigation. Am I the only one here who’s seen Terminator? And with Judgment Day looming, Facepalm achieved. 

The Facepalm Archives (January 2023)

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