Renaissance Internet

Where do we go from the current state of the internet that’s full of AI and bots?

A night photo of a sphere made up of rectangular monitors with screens and silhouettes of people in the background.
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash
re·​nais·​sance ˈre-nə-ˌsän(t)s  -ˌzän(t)s -ˌsäⁿs,-ˌzäⁿs;ˌre-nə-ˈsän(t)s -ˈzän(t)s,-ˈsäⁿs,-ˈzäⁿs, chiefly British  ri-ˈnā-sᵊn(t)s
often attributive

1. capitalized
a: the transitional movement in Europe between medieval and modern times beginning in the 14th century in Italy, lasting into the 17th century, and marked by a humanistic revival of classical influence expressed in a flowering of the arts and literature and by the beginnings of modern science
b: the period of the Renaissancec: the neoclassical style of architecture prevailing during the Renaissance
2. often capitalized: a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity
3: rebirth, revival

The word’s etymology comes from latin. Re– prefix, meaning “again”, and nasci, latin for to be born. Other English words that come from the same root are nascent, innate, nation, nature, prenatal, antenatal, postnatal.

On Monday morning I stumbled across these two articles. The latter is linked from the former:

Manifesto for a Humane Web
Manifesto for a Humane Web
We need to build a better web. A web by and for humans.

Same morning I saw a link on Discord to this tool:

Experience a calmer, more human Internet

I randomly searched for more articles I’ve read in the recent past, and found this site instead:

And because I know that Twitter is now mostly bots, I searched for an article talking about that, and I found this one:

A ‘great flood’ of AI noise is coming for the internet and it’s swallowing Twitter first
The internet is filling up with machine-generated “zombie content” designed to game algorithms and scam humans. Experts call it the “great AI flood”.
The internet is filling up with "zombie content" designed to game algorithms and scam humans.

It's becoming a place where bots talk to bots, and search engines crawl a lonely expanse of pages written by artificial intelligence (AI).

Junk websites clog up Google search results. Amazon is awash with nonsense e-books. YouTube has a spam problem.

And this is just a trickle in advance of what's been called the "great AI flood".

Human(e) internet

This is where the pushback is coming from. We, as humans, want to read content written by humans. Typos included. We want to see art made by humans. Images created in Photoshop / Procreate / whatever you use. Music done in Garageband or just recording samples and mixing them manually.

Is creating “art” using AI really art?

Is this art?

AI image of bees returning to a hive with flowers on it in charcoal style.
Image created using a prompt in bing using DALL-E 3.

The prompt for that was “draw a bee returning from the flowers to its hive in charcoal.” It took DALL-E maybe a minute to churn that out. Am I now an artist? Of course not, it’s insulting to people who pick up a pencil to actually draw that. My involvement is coming up with the prompt and clicking a few buttons here and there.

I also wasted a whole lot of electricity and water because I asked an image generator to do the work for me. This is not a case of the industrial revolution when they introduced the mechanical looms.

Speaking of wasting resources, here’s another recent article involving Microsoft. My bee image above contributed to it:

Microsoft’s water consumption jumps 34 percent amid AI boom
Thirsty work for OpenAI's data center provider

Where to?

There seems to be a growing group of people who are rejecting the AI slop everywhere. Can it be used as a tool to help us with some workloads? Yes. Is it being used primarily for those reasons? Absolutely not.

I am a huge advocate for returning to a more human internet and to involve as little bot and AI tools as possible. Let’s create a good ol’ fashioned webring of no-AI luddite websites!

They protested against manufacturers who used machines in "a fraudulent and deceitful manner" to replace the skilled labour of workers and drive down wages by producing inferior goods.

That’s from the Wikipedia page for Luddites. Luddites did their thing in the 19th century. The Renaissance happened in the 15th–16th centuries.

Mayhaps in the 21st century these two will collapse / collide. One can only hope.