According to The New York Times, AI researchers have a meme that helps them understand AI systems, and it’s a bit unsettling.
The meme, per the NYT, is of something called “the Shoggoth,” a monster of Cthulhian lore. First brought to life by the American sci-fi and horror author HP Lovecraft in his 1936 novella “At the Mountains of Madness,” the Shoggoth are horrifying, blobby, Octopodidae-like beings equipped with razor-sharp teeth.
In the world of AI memes, the Shoggoth is depicted with a smiley face sticker on its face, almost like a mask. This suggests that there is a hidden and unpredictable monster lurking behind the AI systems. An AI executive mentioned to the NYT that this meme is very important in the field of AI.
“It’s the most important meme in AI,” one AI exec told the NYT when pressed about a bizarre-looking sticker depicting the smiley-faced monster on his laptop.
The meme was first created by a Twitter user named @TetraspaceWest. They explained to the NYT that the Shoggoth represents something that thinks differently from humans. It doesn’t mean that it’s thinking something evil or that it’s conscious. It’s just different, and that’s what makes it unpredictable and risky.
“I was also thinking about how Lovecraft’s most powerful entities are dangerous,” the meme inventor added, “not because they don’t like humans, but because they’re indifferent and their priorities are totally alien to us and don’t involve humans, which is what I think will be true about possible future powerful AI.”
Some people in the AI field have modified the meme to include the acronym “RLHF,” which stands for reinforcement learning from human feedback. This helps differentiate it from unsupervised learning, which is seen as a wild and unchecked form of AI.
It’s fascinating to note that the people who build these unpredictable AI programs are the ones sharing this meme. They are the ones who put smiley face stickers on top of the AI systems, mimicking human behavior.
So, this meme serves as a reminder of the mysterious and potentially dangerous nature of AI, and it’s intriguing that those involved in its development are the ones embracing and circulating it.