AI is not like you and me

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Aristotle, who had a few things to say about human nature, once declared, "The greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor," but academics studying the personification of tech have long observed that metaphor can just as easily command us. Metaphors shape how we think about a new technology, how we feel about it, what we expect of it, and ultimately how we use it.

I love metaphors. I gotta reflect on this idea a bit more.

There is something kind of pathological going on here. One of the most exciting advances in computer science ever achieved, with so many promising uses, and we can't think beyond the most obvious, least useful application? What, because we want to see ourselves in this technology?

Meanwhile, we are under-investing in more precise, high-value applications of LLMs that treat generative A.I. models not as people but as tools. A powerful wrench to create sense out of unstructured prose. The glue of an application handling messy, real-word data. Or a drafting table for creative brainstorming, where a little randomness is an asset not a liability. If there's a metaphor to be found in today's AI, you're most likely to find it on a workbench.

Bingo! AI is a tool, not a person.

The other day, I made a joke on LinkedIn about the easiest way for me to spot a social media post that was written with generative AI: the phrase “Exciting News!” alongside one of these emojis: 🚀, 🎉, or 🚨.

It’s not that everyone who uses those things certainly used ChatGPT.

It’s more like how I would imagine a talented woodworker would be able to spot a rookie mistake in a novice’s first attempt at a chair.

And here I go, using a metaphor again!

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