The new digital divide: the generatively rich and the generatively poor?

What will premium models of generative AI mean for social inequalities? I’ve been assuming that the baseline technology will become ubiquitous because it’s a vector through which tech giants will fight for consumers amidst an unprecedented downturn. But this short aside in a thoughtful piece on WonkHE makes me wonder if this could be the foundation for a fundamental asymmetry between the generatively poor (reliant on mass market tools) and the generatively rich (who can access subscription tools):

Capabilities and terms of use could change at any point at the whim of owners and operators. For example, ChatGPT is a trained language model owned and operated by some of the biggest tech investors in the world: Peter Thiel, Sam Altman, and Elon Musk to name a few. There is already a premium model (faster responses, more reliable access) and it is not unreasonable to suppose that paid for AI will outstrip the current free and freemium models.

If we see this in terms of a digital divide, there are second order divides (the skills/capacities to productively use the technology) and third order divides (the social outgrowths of these inequalities) likely to follow from this. This suggests an ethical responsibility to address the second order divides preemptively by supporting students in develop the capacity to work constructively with generative AI. The older idea of the big data divide seems relevant here as well.

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