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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

Generative Inbreeding: AI's Threat to Human Culture

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Ever heard of inbreeding in the context of artificial intelligence (AI)?

Well, buckle up, because this is a ride into the future of AI that might just ruffle your feathers!

Inbreeding, in the biological sense, refers to the issues that arise when members of a population with too similar genetics reproduce, leading to offspring with significant health problems and other deformities. This is due to the amplification of recessive genes. But what if I told you that a similar problem exists in the world of generative AI?

Louis Rosenberg, a renowned technologist in the fields of VR, AR, and AI, recently shed light on this emerging issue, which he calls "Generative Inbreeding". The term refers to the potential threat to the long-term effectiveness of AI systems and the diversity of human culture.

First-generation large language models (LLMs) and other gen AI systems were trained on a relatively clean "gene pool" of human artefacts. However, as the internet gets flooded with AI-generated artefacts, new AI systems risk training on datasets that include large quantities of AI-created content. This is not direct human culture, but emulated human culture with varying levels of distortion, thereby corrupting the "gene pool" through inbreeding.

Generative inbreeding could lead to the degradation of gen AI systems, reducing their ability to accurately represent human language, culture, and artefacts. Moreover, it could introduce progressively larger "deformities" into our collective artefacts until our culture is influenced more by AI systems than human creators.

Potential solutions to inbreeding include the use of AI systems designed to distinguish generative content from human content and watermarking generative artefacts. However, these solutions have their limitations and the effectiveness remains to be seen.

The most concerning aspect of generative inbreeding is its potential to stifle human culture. Current AI systems, trained to emulate the style and content of the past, bring no personal inspiration to anything they produce.

Unless we address these issues with both technical and policy protections, we could soon find ourselves in a world where our culture is influenced more by generative AI systems than actual human creators. So, let's keep our AI friends close, but our human culture closer!

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