Finding Direction

I’ve started some work on a short guidebook exploring Generative AI. I spent all day on it today, and can confidently say that it’s both muddled and confused. In some areas, it’s way to deep, whilst in others it’s as shallow as the breeze. And there are probably yet other aspects that have fallen beyond my imagination.

Fragments make sense: fragments i am pleased with. But it does not yet have a voice, a breadth, or an appropriate depth.

It’s made me think about how we seek to add value in our work: in this case it is clear to me that this is neither a technical book, nor a definitive one. Rather it’s a field guide, or sketch. And to succeed it will need to find it’s voice, it’s stance, and it’s contribution.

For voice, i feel playful: i have been writing of the Engines – tools created by us and yet overtaking us. The Art Engines, the Story Engines, the engines of knowledge and reason. Much as the engines of the Industrial Revolution transformed our mechanisms of productivity and effect, so too will the new engines of intelligence transform us, but possibly beyond the physical and into the very essence of our humanity.

They may make us nothing but ordinary, or effect an extraordinary transformation. And that is partly what i wish to explore.

Stance is about the pitch and level of the writing: currently it’s all over the place. Neither helpfully simple, nor usefully detailed. I have a pretty good idea where i want it to be, but i think i have to get stuff out of my head first of all. Clear the space for the useful thinking!

And contribution: well i’m clear that there is not particular use in simply aggregating what is already known, or shared elsewhere. There is a great deal of noise around Generative AI, mixed in with a healthy dose of hyperbole and doubt. And i don’t want to add to it.

Instead, if this work actually takes shape, i think it is ok to be playful, speculative, sometimes confused, often unsure, and connective – and that last piece is important. The ‘what if’ and ‘so what’ of it all.

It’s ok to have a view, an idea, an opinion, that is wrong. Indeed, it’s ok to get lost in new ideas, without feeling the need to generate ‘an’ answer, or particular clarity. But you do need to be deliberate about taking steps, and self aware enough to recognise that not every idea is a good one.

The jury is out on that at the moment: i will give this work three weeks to take initial shape, and then reassess.

Whilst i’ve published a lot of books, i have a more valuable collection of unpublished ones: some were simply my internal thinking, externalised badly, some were simply beyond me to complete, and some are nascent, biding their time. If this one sees the light, then it will do so fast, and with simplicity. So i will have to see if i can find that perfect light.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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