I found this piece by Rob Horning incredibly thought-provoking about how we conceive of the relationship between generative AI and capitalism. In contrast to the weary passivity involved in socio-cultural diagnoses of late capitalism (an argument by Rachel Connolly in this brilliant essay) Horning reminds us that this innovation is better understand in terms of the concentration of capital:
AI’s apparent reference to a technology is really more of a reference to scale; generative models are not based on new innovations for “displacing human beings” so much as massively capitalized firms now having access to enough data and computing power to execute them.https://robhorning.substack.com/p/doom-loopism
He suggests that the cultural doom loop which many feel generative AI will lock us into could “potentially expose … circulatory vulnerabilities and require that they be addressed” i.e. “It will heighten the contradictions in our current media environment, reveal the incompatibilities between for-profit media companies and the ideals of free speech and open dialogue and so forth”. The rapid disintegration of web 2.0 as a cultural and civic promise means this is playing out an extremely interesting time.
I share Horning’s concern that claims about cultural disintegration are overstated but I don’t think this means we should dismiss them entirely. I’d suggest these processes constitutes the coordinates within which the circulatory politics he points to are likely to play themselves out; in the same way that the hyperactive hybridity of post-Q reactionary politics is increasingly shifting the plate tectonics of extra-parliamentary politics.