The Generalist - Endless Media

ChatGPT is the latest step towards a world of infinite, customizable content, all generated by artificial intelligence.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Friends,

The internet changed this week. The internet changes every week, every day, every second, of course, but you rarely feel it.

If you’ve tried OpenAI’s latest release, ChatGPT, you felt it. Leveraging a new GPT-3.5 model, ChatGPT is an extraordinarily powerful, genuinely dazzling piece of technology. It can compose a sonnet, tell you a story, debug a piece of code, summarize a topic, write a script, and reliably, repeatedly blow your mind.

It represents the latest chapter in AI’s radical reimagining of media that will change how it’s created, consumed, and commercialized. I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few years, at an increasing rate.

Today’s piece explores the shifts that have already occurred and those that are yet to come. In particular, we’ll discuss what happens when media becomes truly, infinitely endless.


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Endless Media

Actionable insights

If you only have a few minutes to spare, here's what investors, operators, and founders should know about endless media.

  • AI is an increasingly capable creator of media. ChatGPT is the latest manifestation of artificial intelligence’s mind-boggling abilities. Models can write essays, pen poems, spawn images, and generate videos.
  • We may be entering an age of “endless media.” AI is not only a capable creator but an instantaneous, economical one. Over time, it may match or surpass human abilities across mediums, leading to a world in which creating a film, comic, or novel can be done on demand, ad infinitum.
  • Endless media could reinforce the value of existing IP. Franchises dominate our culture, especially in film and television. However, big franchises must often spend big bucks to bring their latest installment to life. AI could provide cost and time-savings that unlock a step change in value. But while it may prove a benefit to IP holders, it also threatens them, making it easier for everyone to create quality media.
  • Artists, writers, and other creatives will need to adapt. Some creatives will see huge efficiency gains; many others will become obsolete. As AI improves, the demand for human artistic work may disappear or greatly diminish.
  • Shared cultural references may disappear. Despite social media’s balkanization of attention, there are still shared cultural touchpoints. Once media can be generated on demand with infinitely customizable options, will this be lost? Watercooler moments may be few and far between.

***

Among trivial agonies, few are as painful as finishing a good book. It is a strange heartbreak, simultaneously too big and too small. You are losing an entire world of characters, struggle, and meaning – but one that is entirely invented, holding no real purchase over your life.

A story can be made or ruined by its ending, a fact any author or filmmaker knows. Hemingway wrote forty-seven versions of A Farewell to Arms to “get the words right,” while Kubrick fussed with the closing of The Shining until the very last moment before ordering the destruction of remaining takes so that no interloper could rearrange his composition.

Allow me to adopt my best infomercial voice to ask: What if there was another way? What if the stories you know and love didn’t have to end at all? What if you could keep reading your favorite book or watching your favorite movie forever?

Like most infomercials, the implied product sounds too fantastic to be real – as if Borges wrote copy for Billy Mays. For the sum of human history, that has been true. It may not remain that way for much longer.

The rapid maturation of generative artificial intelligence has not so much “disrupted” media creation – as if it were an irritating bumblebee knocking against a glass pane – as unseamed it. Instantly and cheaply, it is possible to produce stunning imagery and competent writing with AI algorithms. Like the precocious child it is, it seems inevitable that existing models will improve and new skills will be added until the creation of a new Hemingway novel or Hitchcock film is no trickier than spawning an image with Midjourney or short story with ChatGPT, OpenAI’s newest creation.

What will this mean for content production? How will it change how we consume it? Who stands to win and lose? And in an age of endless media, what will narratives mean to us?

Going endless

First, a little more definition. What do we mean when we say “endless media?”

Fundamentally, we’re talking about a shift in how media is made and consumed. Rather than being created episodically, AI will enable it to be generated on demand. If you want J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin to write another book, you must wait for them to do it. Depending on how interested they are in writing, that might take a while. Years. Decades.

The same is true of TV shows, albums, games, and every other form of media. The creative process depends on human capital, which requires time.

By contrast, AI doesn’t have human limitations. It can process and generate information at much faster speeds. While it’s not capable of making a prestige HBO drama yet, we’ve already seen it is capable of writing blog posts or conjuring images much faster than a human can. A single DALLE-2 picture might take weeks or months for a person to produce but is spawned by the model in a couple of seconds.

Once media can be generated instantly, it will change how we consume it since our desires will no longer be bounded by content availability. If you want to read another Lord of the Rings book, Murakami short story, or Red Dead Redemption-style game, you don’t need to wait for their creators' effort (or resurrection). You’ll simply navigate to one platform or another and produce a new piece.


In a meme

​​​​​​​​For the pictorially inclined, here's the piece — all 3,300 words — in a single meme.


Puzzler

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The answer? A chain. There you have it!

Sending you positive vibes for a fantastic week, and see you soon.

Mario

___

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