Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

‘They ban products, don’t they?’

“Critics keep talking as if it’s useless, but it isn’t. It’s cheap and even though it has some flaws, is extraordinarily effective at some of its use cases.”

“So, what? Are we supposed to accept all the downsides of LLMs just because it’s occasionally useful?”

“LLMs? No I’m talking about asbestos.”

Tech punditry keeps harping on the notion that nobody has ever successfully banned “scientific progress”, but LLMs and generative models are not “progress”. They’re products and we ban those all the time. It’s messy and complicated, but genuinely harmful products tend to get progressively limited over time until they’re banned outright for many sectors.

If a product does vastly more harm than good, we actually ban them. Even the dysfunctional capitalist societies that we are. The “nobody ever bans this shit” defence is thin because we actually do ban this shit all the time. It takes a while for the evidence to come in, but we do get there in the end.

It takes time but it absolutely does happen.

Pretending we don’t live in a society that bans products for societal harm doesn’t serve anybody.

You can argue that it takes too long. You can debate how effective it is as a strategy. You can argue debate specific policy details such as the when, where, and how of the EU’s Precautionary Principle. That’s just normal and healthy debate.

But the tech industry’s current strategy of claiming outright that it doesn’t ever happen and that you can’t ban “progress” is just absolutely false. And when somebody is outright lying to you with a straight face, that absolves you of any obligation to debate them.

They are not here in good faith.

You can also find me on Mastodon and Bluesky