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Quick Take: Bring on the unpredictable

The world is rapidly getting inundated with automated content. While AI may be able to replicate human behaviour, can it replace us?

The world is rapidly getting inundated with automated content: we’re seeing faceless YouTube videos grow, TV channels are deploying AI anchors. Some services can ingest hours of someone’s audio and generate new speech with their voice and intonation. Others allow you to get your entire body mapped to create a lifelike digital replica. The world of deepfakes is here.

But the problem here is predictability and lack of personality. What often interests us about other humans is not the predictable part of their behavior, but what surprises us about them: what will they say, ask, or do? Some amount of predictability is important for comfort, but what really hooks us is the unpredictable.

The AI-generated voices may no longer be robotic, and the facial movements might now be in sync with the audio. But I’d like to believe that there are some things in a human being that are uniquely human—characteristics that inspire intrigue and trust at the same time.

So in a world of people playing it safe with AI-generated content, with mass generation of how-to videos made from scraping Reddit and Wikipedia, I think there’s going to be some comfort we find in personalities because they are both predictable and unpredictable, in both predictable and unpredictable ways.

There is, of course, talk of Artificial General Intelligence that can replicate this human behavior. However, I’d like to believe that it can’t, for example, replace me. I suppose you’d like to believe that too.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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