back to article AI may finally cure us of our data fetish

The rise of large language models (LLMs) built on huge stores of data and driven by artificial intelligence may seem frightening. Paradoxically, it may be the best thing in decades for the progress of human intelligence. To understand why, consider that the paperless office revolution took a leisurely four decades to become …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    "comply with a documentation requirement imposed by his organization's bureaucracy"

    Brilliant! Have to test it with our QA document requirements...

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: "comply with a documentation requirement imposed by his organization's bureaucracy"

      Many years ago, I helped write the documentation for (IIRC) an ISO9000 application which required that we document all of our processes in particular ways.

      When I say "I helped", it appears I actually did almost all of the work. I say almost all, because there were some really odd bits where I had no idea if we had a procedure at all, and if we did then I had no idea what it was. I therefore did the usual ***placeholder; no idea what the procedure is on this so somebody who knows needs to fill it out. ***

      I noted this quite clearly when handing the documentation over, and demonstrated how to find the place holders (ctrl-f + **placeholder). I then considered my part done, and the manual went through at least three different layers of approval by management and an several day long inspection by an external accreditation. When they were published, I was curious as to what the procedure was on some of the more obscure areas, so I pulled up those areas of the manual to have a look.

      The procedure was officially agreed to be:-

      ***placeholder; no idea what the procedure is on this so somebody who knows needs to fill it out. ***

      I maintain that i'm the only person to ever fully read our procedures manual.

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: "comply with a documentation requirement imposed by his organization's bureaucracy"

        > I maintain that i'm the only person to ever fully read our procedures manual.

        The procedure manuals were never meant to be read.

        The procedure manuals were only ever meant (a) to show to the ISO900[x] assessors, and (b) to justify to manglement the notion that any employee (strangely not including themselves) could be replaced by a monkey that could read the procedure manual. I was tempted to add "and understand" to that last sentence, but I doubt that it ever occurred to any unit of manglement ever infected with this curse.

        -A.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "comply with a documentation requirement imposed by his organization's bureaucracy"

          > could be replaced by a monkey that could read the procedure manual. I was tempted to add "and understand" to that last sentence, but I doubt that it ever occurred to any unit of manglement ever infected with this curse.

          I was once somewhere that published a job notice requiring "able to read and write" under skills. Even now I'm not sure if it was an unintended accident or something necessary as a consequence of an unintended accident (administrative or otherwise) earlier on...

          ["I'll get my coat" icon unavailable ... which I would like to have captioned "live action reaction shot"]

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Headmaster

    We could be piping every request for documentation into Large Language Models

    Or we could be asking what is the point of the documentation request instead.

    If a majority of the required documentation is boilerplate, it's (a) unnecessary due to commonality and (b) a classic case of bureaucracy in action.

  3. Szymon Kosecki

    Prosthetic imagination

    I thing the bigger threat from those ML models come from what I think will be negative effect on our ability to imagine things and creativity. It is an imagination crutch or for most a full prosthetics and humans generally loose what they dont use regularly.

    1. snowpages
      Headmaster

      Re: Prosthetic imagination

      Like the ability to choose between loose and lose?? :)

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Prosthetic imagination

      I'm - not too stressed about losing the skill to pad two sentences of meaningful content out to fill a 20-page document. I mean - imagination, sure, but what a drag. GPT is welcome to that job as far as I'm concerned.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Prosthetic imagination

        Me neither. The problem is the "need" to disguise the content in boilerplate. It's bad enough when the boilerplate is just formatting templates

        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/208575160_The_Cognitive_Style_of_PowerPoint

        ... I suspect it is going to be even worse when the boilerplate includes reams of unchecked, low S/N text.

  4. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Preferences

    "prefers not to identify with a particular gender?"

    Perhaps these forms should ask whether one is XX or XY.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Preferences

      > Perhaps these forms should ask whether one is XX or XY.

      What would eg. XXY people put?

      But in any case, we can't really know what question they should ask, without first understanding why they're asking it. What difference does it make to a country what organs a visitor has between their legs, or how they prefer to present themselves?

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Preferences

        "What difference does it make to a country what organs a visitor has between their legs"

        Lots of reasons

        e.g. If security are doing a body cavity search then it helps to have appropriate sex security staff doing it.

        Certain countries / "kingdoms" (e.g. waves at Saudis) I would never dream of visiting*, that don't even treat women as "second class citizens" - far worse than that. I think they would be quite keen to know someone's actual sex rather than proclaimed gender identity.

        * Would not affect me directly as I'm not female, but there's a large amount of countries I refuse to visit for various ethical reasons (as a bonus restricted travel options so massively reduces my carbon footprint, downside I will miss a lot of things I would love to see e.g. the amazing antiquities in Turkey)

        1. withQuietEyes

          Re: Preferences

          In general, the letter on your passport/driver's license is meant to serve as identifying information - like your eye color, or your height. In which case, preferred gender identity is exactly what you'd want on your ID.

          > If security are doing a body cavity search

          yep! trans people would also prefer to have searches performed by people of the appropriate gender. Which won't happen if their IDs have their birth sex on them instead of their gender.

          1. dwodmots

            Re: Preferences

            No matter what you think of TSA employees, no woman should be forced to touch a man in a dress between the legs.

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Preferences

        > What would eg. XXY people put?

        I think you just answered your own question.

        -A.

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Preferences

      Karyotype isn't gender.

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Preferences

        Well no. Gender is a grammatical notion.

        Is it sex?

        -A.

  5. Binraider Silver badge

    While nobody has the time to read and process every single output produced; a search algorithm (I refuse to call it AI) could potentially be trained to look for trends in the mounds of rubbish we collect.

    I agree with the standpoint entirely of if you're not using it, stop collecting it. But having gone to the expense of doing so, perhaps one should at least go and look at what you've generated.

  6. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Bot for the sake of bot?

    "ChatGPT provided everything he needed – saving hours of time writing out all that compliance boilerplate, leaving him to focus on the specifics"

    Considering that ISO standards are extremely formal and -- well -- standardised, creating the boilerplate is merely a process of reading the damned standard clause by clause and providing a slot for the relevant "specific information". Quite a lot of this can be almost 'copy and paste'. I've done this by hand for several ISO standards and it wasn't exactly arduous. Why one would need a bot to do it, apart from (as in all fairness stated) saving some time, seems uncertain. Nevertheless, you still have to check the boiler plate so generated for conformity, and that could take almost as long as generating it manually.

    When the bot can generate the 'specifics' reliably, that will be really something.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Bot for the sake of bot?

      When I used to have to do this the last time was to build a network switch template against a known standard.

      I copied the contents into a table, and then worked through my standard document referencing the relevant parts of the standard. Took me a day or so but at the end the auditors were happy with it.

      There is no point in rewriting the standard and changing a couple of words.

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Bot for the sake of bot?

        > There is no point in rewriting the standard and changing a couple of words.

        Depends on the objective.

        > at the end the auditors were happy with it.

        Would they have been happy with rewriting the standard and changing a couple of words?

        -A.

  7. vapoureal

    ISO Crap

    I'm a sad git who has actually written a whole ISO9001 process manual for a software company and managed certification and umpteen 'quality' audits...

    Anyway, I've been following the trials of DoNotPay which el Reg reported on a few days ago. It's fascinating stuff - they use AI to fight bureaucracy (not just legal stuff). There's definitely a future there.

    1. spireite Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: ISO Crap

      ISO9001 - The ability to create a fake external view of quality to your customer, while not actually coming remotely close to providing any assurance of it.

      As I remember, it was an audit to say that you followed your own internal processes. What it never did was actually say that your process was good to start with.

      Cue a mad month prior to 'inspection' to reverse engineer stuff to create supporting documents. A previous employer needed it because it was a prerequisite to win/maintain a contract with a big gorilla in the aviation industry. It was very much a case of spending 'peanuts' on it to gain a large 6-figure contract and 'kudos' - nothing more....

      Absolute waste of staff time, that would have been spent on more productive things.

      1. LessWileyCoyote

        Re: ISO Crap

        I remember being involved in preparations for an audit against a quality standard (not ISO), where it was impressed on us that it was absolutely essential that we couldn't find the keys to certain cupboards for the duration of the audit.

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: ISO Crap

        Your recollection is correct.

        BS5750*, subsequently ISO 900[0|1] required just two things:

        1) Document what you do.

        2) Do whatever you just documented slavishly until the end of time.

        It had nothing at all to do with what most people consider to be quality. It simply mandated making crap with perfect reproducibility. Some manglers still seem to think that this is what quality means.

        I speak of it in the past tense because no one has suggested over the past few years that my team should urgently get accreditation. Maybe it still exists.

        I have, though, been contacted by random American overlords about ISO 27001. I have to say that it looks like more of the same shit.

        -A.

        * Odd that no one had ever heard of this "standard", which was formulated during WWII, until after the BSI had been privatised and was casting about for something -- anything -- that could earn it money.

      3. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: ISO Crap

        In my experience, ISO9000 never found a single program bug. If the program had been signed off in accordance with ISO9000 procedures, it was therefore good to go.

  8. CatWithChainsaw
    Mushroom

    Don't worry, it won't.

    But at least we get dinner and a show when these models eat their own outputs.

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