May 24·edited May 24Liked by Michael Estrin

1. Kill Bill Vol. 1. I’m an elite karate dork. There are spin-kicks in my dreams.

2. The Boondocks. Corporate treatment of creator Aaron McGruder makes this feel more urgent. Suits would have a writhing mass of virgin-eating tentacles write shows if it cost eight dollars less.

3. “Fleshlings Kneel Before Shodan” had great gags. And kneeling.

4. Geography says marching.

5. As a veteran con artist, it’d have to be a reality show about pitching AI projects to venture capitalists. Too much fun too avoid.

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I donated to the entertainment fund. ✊ As for my favorite AI written show, there’s only one I’m aware of: Nothing Forever, the Twitch series that attempts to auto-generate CG animated Seinfeld episodes. It’s a show about nothing, in that it rarely makes cohesive sense.


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I loved the comment section on your last post. They were just as fun and eye opening. An added bonus.

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May 25Liked by Michael Estrin

3. NCIS, as it seems redundant to me. However, I’ve never watched it and don’t intend to.

4. I will spread the word. The Union makes us strong!

5. Easy. Pay Michael $500,000 to option “Not Safe For Work” as a movie. I read it, and it wants to be a movie. Instead of blowing the rest paying a ghost editor to rewrite the AI script -- that’s part of why there is a WGA protest -- I’d use the money to scare up investors to actually make and distribute the movie, because half a million doesn’t cover the cost of moviemaking. If there’s any leftover, it for the fund Michael mentioned.

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I agree with your statement that writing is art and AI will have a hard time competition with humans in the art realm. Just like the printing press, computer word processors, and the internet, I like machine learning language models will find their place to supplement writers, rather than replace them. I think you are very correct in saying people want to read something written by another human rather than a program. That's kind of what art has always been, humans connecting with each other through various media.

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Fully agree with your point about AI being utterly uninteresting to read. It's bland and generic and by definition there is nothing new or innovative in it (though my partner who is a tech-nerd tells me this is only the first incarnation and it's going to get so much better.... I guess we'll see 🤔) Also interesting to see how it's helping young people with dyslexia create a more even playing field by writing covering letters for job applications etc.

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Is it just me, or does AI's little haiku seem vaguely threatening? I know it's pulling from our own published fears on the internet, but "it will surpass us in time, I fear" sounds ominous to me.

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That Ted Chiang essay in the footnote is 👌👌👌, and I really appreciate him putting his brilliant mind towards a topical op-ed, which I imagine might be kind of painful for someone who appears to work on the decade timescale (and god do I admire him for that.) I worked for McKinsey right out of college (and really, fuck that place), so this hit particularly close to home.

I feel like this must be the wrong answer, but my prevailing approach to ChatGPT has been to ignore it. I tried it, it wasn't that interesting, back to my life. But then there is the haunting feeling that I am definitely missing something here, or that soon I will be missing something, or that I'm willfully ignoring the risks it is posing to real people right now, which seems like the most dangerous affect of my approach. Still, I am having a hard time *caring.* Reading about the strike helped, though.

And jesus, that job post....🤦‍♀️

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Michael! You're the best. Thanks for writing this and thank you for picketing with me and thank you for not having this piece be written by AI!!!

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This was great Michael and you made it personal. One of the consistent challenges of being human is the lack of empathy consistently offered -- especially against the backdrop of "who is deserving of empathy". I grew up in a blue-collar town. It became okay to say "those auto workers and steel workers get paid too much -- that is the problem". At the time there was no technology threatening the people writing such an opinion. People become capable of rationalizing all sorts of things. The creative arts are currently in the crosshairs. I find it most important to empathize with the people upon whom the pivot will affect the most. Each time a new workspace comes under challenge we get the chance to be human with the same commitment we might apply to our favorite activity.

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May 24·edited May 24Liked by Michael Estrin

“...Because the companies paying for all these AI tools have programmed them to refuse assignments that don’t conform to their content standards. Pretty dystopian, if you ask me.”

This is an excellent point. Dystopian, maybe, but it also gives me some hope because our job will be to write subversive material people can differentiate from AI.

On the other hand, I’ve noticed people writing about how AI follows a “woke” agenda, usually cherry pick their examples. For instance, Rob Henderson’s “The Silent Strings of ChatGPT” explained that ChatGPT will explain the good sides of communism, but not fascism. I tried the same thing with slightly different prompts, and ChatGPT provided the pros and cons of both ideologies. It seems we can work around “content standards” with the correct prompts, but I agree — I wouldn’t want to read a novel written by AI anyway. A textbook… maybe.

What’s your favorite movie? Hint: it was written by a WGA writer.

Too difficult to answer. Richard Linklater and Martin McDonagh are my favourite screenplay writers, though. Well, I got into McDonagh movies after his plays.

What’s your favorite television show? Hint: it was written by a WGA writer, and perhaps an entire staff of WGA writers.

This changes every year. Breaking Bad, Barry, The Great, Entrevias…

What’s your favorite AI-written show, or movie?

Marvel Movies?

Jokes. I wonder if Martin Scorsese thinks AI can write "theme parks" though.

How do you plan to show solidarity with the WGA?

I don’t know. As someone who doesn’t live in America, and would be happy making minimum wage as a writer (or at least spending less on my writing career than I make), I haven’t been able to relate.

But if there’s something I can do from Spain, I’m in. I’ll stand in solitary with fellow writers.

Assume you have an annual budget equal to the salary of your average Hollywood CEO. What AI idea would you back?

The one that turns scripts into movies. But then everyone else in the industry would go on strike.

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AI and human replacement...

Can they? Eventually

Will they? I hope not

Should they? Never

I generally avoid union related conversations. Since you are in the industry, can you tell us how writers came to be in situations where they are being treated badly? I see actors and other talent as also being unionized. Wouldn't everyone want everyone else to be on an equal playing field? I thought that is what unions are all about.

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May 24Liked by Michael Estrin

Hi Michael, recently I also had some fun with AI and haiku. See the results here:


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So, I mentioned the “human needed” job description to my super smart techie husband, and he says...

What jobs like this are really doing is teaching the AI to get better. So at this moment a human needs to improve an AI generated response, but that response gets fed back into the AI so it learns to generate a better response until the human is no longer needed. 😕

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