Capitalism and ChatGPT (and an issue with technology in general)


“We are making more and more consequential decisions with worse and worse sensemaking to inform those decisions.”

Daniel Schmachtenberger


all ideas can be weaponized


Let me begin by saying I am a ‘capitalist’ and believe capitalism this the best system to encourage innovation, progress and economic growth (I could also argue intellectual growth but that’s for another day). But that doesn’t mean that people do not use capitalism in ways that aren’t particularly to the benefit of society and civilization.

Which leads me to ChatGPT.

I, personally, believe ChatGPT, from a grander perspective, would assist in solving one of society’s larger existential issues – a lack of shared sensemaking. What I mean by that is society is struggling to agree on some basic fundamental understanding and therefore we cannot seem to have a foundational “sense” of things. So, one of the larger benefits I could see from ChatGPT would be that if someone asked the exact same question in Tbilisi and Boise and Lyon and Caracas and, well, you get it, anywhere, Chatgpt would offer the same response. That’s on a macro level. And then even on a micro/macro level (say just the United States) if anyone in any state in any town or county asked the exact same question, they would receive the same response. It becomes a great leveler of a combination of knowledge and articulation of that knowledge. It is race agnostic, political affiliation indifferent and, in general, doesn’t care about your own bias, just in delivering a fair response to the question you give it. And, yeah, the responses are shaped by whatever embedded coding parameters the software has, but, generally speaking, it is crafted to offer the best ‘agnostic’ response possible. Simplistically, this would assist in creating better societal sensemaking which makes decision making a bit more responsible as well as increases the level of effective citizen involvement on issues.

Which leads me to capitalism.

Every major technology platform is developing their version of ChatGPT. But it just got a bit worse. Elon Musk just announced he is developing an “anti-woke” version which “would have fewer restrictions on divisive subjects compared to ChatGPT and a related chatbot Microsoft recently launched.” What this means is that ChatGPTs of the world are no longer framed by truth or ‘accountable sharing of knowledge,’ but rather by ideology. While it would be easy for me to point out how whack this is, its easier for me to remind everyone of the Long Tail Theory. Reality is there is quite a bit of money to be had by purposefully fragmenting a market and ‘owning a niche’ and monetizing it. That is capitalism, “free market,” post-worldwide web. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is actually how business fueled culture wars. They like it so they can develop products and services from which they can profit from their particular place on the long tail. It can actually be quite lucrative, but not healthy for society and civilization. Basically, technology has deliberately crafted a content-delivery world which conforms to your beliefs and views – and makes money from that. This is as bad as it sounds. This is a world in which people may already arc toward fragmentation/tribal thinking and then someone actually amplifies that thinking, purposefully, to not only increase the tribes, but increases the silo walls. You no longer see alternative views but even if you do, they will get drowned out in one Chatgpt/AI drip after another. If you care about social cohesiveness, this should be frightening. If you care about business being ‘in and of society,’ this is annoying.

Which leads me to technology has, once again, missed an opportunity, because of profit seeking, to make the world better.

I’ve already pointed out the positive sensemaking benefits of if this chat AI if it had been done right and the negative consequences of the fragmentation when done wrong, so let me end with how technology almost seems to ignore its role in society and thinks of itself as a normal everyday product someone could pluck off the grocery shelf.

They almost embrace ignoring the fact they shape us, our minds, attitudes and even behaviors, and go forth missing opportunity after opportunity to make the world better.

They consistently ignore the problems they create and consistently suggest they are only offering a product and people make the choices.

They consistently absolve themselves of any responsibility and accountability (sounds almost like the tobacco companies in the wayback machine).

They consistently ignore the fact they are normalizing some attitudes, which normalizes some bad behavior, which only leads to, well, more of all of that.

They consistently ignore all of what I just said by falling back on ‘free market capitalism 101’, i.e., we are simply a product in a competitive market and the consumers will inevitably choose what is ‘right.

I end with that thought because it is intellectually lazy to suggest this is all about profits, fundamentally it is a lack of accountability, and responsibility, tied to an incredibly flawed perspective with regard to what a ‘free market’ is. Freedom, in any form, even in business offerings, comes with responsibility. Ponder.

Written by Bruce