Jan 13·edited Jan 13Liked by Jon Stokes

Thanks for posting this, it's a nice inside view, based on a model of how technology may change, of what to expect.

But I don't think the financial markets agree with you. If there'll be a very near-term step change in the economy's productive capacity, to a higher growth rate regime, and it's foreseeable, we should see signs of it now. Expecting we'll all be much richer very soon should reduce savings rates (why save if we'll all be rich soon?), which should push up interest rates.

The T-bond market shows no signs of that. So, y'know, are you short Treasurys? :) There's money on the table.

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I already see "this must be machine generated" used by normies to dismiss someone who writes redundant opinions.

It will become a lot easier to dismiss the long tail of human creation, which is most of it, as worthless.

My trained GPT-2 generates Hungarian poems; when it does so brilliantly, it's bad for Hungarian poets. But poetry hasn't been a meritocratic field for a long time. It had state funded gatekeepers, fashions, favours, snobbery. Since the mid-2000s, Web 2.0, the internet allowed everyone to publish poems, and those who did so, were and are dismissed by the gatekeepers as common trash. Now there's a chance that the masses will do the same to the privileged few by assuming ML behind poetry.

ML is a force of corrective dismissal that should make arts more honest.

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"ML models will produce novel insights that specialists agree are interesting and useful, and they will do this very soon"

This is backwards. Insights will be determined to be novel, and interesting, and useful because they were ML produced.

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Great post. When it comes to the impact, I guess it depends on how much of an employees actual time spent working is spent directly on those tasks?

For example, a human editor presumably spends a lot of time building relationships with colleagues (especially senior colleagues), understanding the firm's strategy, deciding what topics should be written about, in what length, style, overall message and linkages to other topics etc, and all the admin associated with getting the final draft actually published and disseminated correctly, and responding to feedback etc.

It feels like none of this will be automated away (although the process will change to one focused on prompting and editing), and so the risk of automation is directly linked to the proportion of time spent doing actual technical work. If this is the case, the managerial class of "bullshit" jobs is mostly safe, while it's the more junior workhorses who face the biggest deflationary impacts.

The impact on economy wide productivity and thus broader inflation, impact on financial markets etc will depend on what share of economic output consists of actual technical work, which cultural pessimists might reckon to be relatively low in our service-driven, capital-light economy.

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Jan 17·edited Jan 17

"Typesetting is still a profession, and at some specialty presses, old-school typesetting with physical type is still being done."

Who is doing this?? From what I've seen, books from the 50s-70s aren't of great quality, and my impression is that the manual typesetting is to blame for some of it. Letters being slightly out of line; consistent speckles near certain symbols that seem to come from the type; straight-up typos (adding to the ones that the authors introduced); and those second editions that are photocopies(?) of the first editions with some paragraphs replaced in a slightly different font. Who would want to go back there?

An artisanal publisher should IMHO figure out the best of what the modern process can provide and do that. The binding, now that's what they did better in the olden days!

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