Arthur C. Clarke once remarked, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That ambient sense of magic has been missing from the past decade of internet history. The advances have slowed. Each new tablet and smartphone is only a modest improvement over its predecessor. The expected revolutions—the metaverse, blockchain, self-driving cars—have plodded along, always with promises that the real transformation is just a few years away.
The one exception this year has been in the field of generative AI. After years of seemingly false promises, AI got startlingly good in 2022. It began with the AI image generators DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion. Overnight, people started sharing AI artwork they had generated for free by simply typing a prompt into a text box. Some of it was weird, some was trite, and some was shockingly good. All of it was unmistakably new terrain.
This is an op-ed authored by IDDP faculy affiliate Dave Karpf. The full op-ed can be found in The Atlantic.