In a blog post published earlier today, Discord—a communications platform, and nothing more—announced plans to introduce what they call “AI” (but which should more accurately be called “machine learning”) to the service’s moderation, support and chat.
The post, called DISCORD IS YOUR PLACE FOR AI WITH FRIENDS, is full of cheery imagery and promises about how “AI” is going to make everything easier for anyone using Discord, whether they’re chatting with friends or trying to moderate a group.
Why is Discord becoming the home for AI? Simple: on Discord you can enjoy AI with friends. Rather than just going solo with an app, you and your friends can see what sorts of exciting, wild and sometimes silly results come from prompts like “robo-hamster caught in cardboard box, renaissance painting.”
No thank you! AI-generated imagery is, as we’ve discussed frequently, built on the bones of uncredited and uncompensated human art, and plans to implement a sort of ChatGPT functionality—which is rife with serious factual errors—to Discord conversations seems premature at best.
The contrast between Discord’s optimistic presentation and reaction to the news itself couldn’t be starker. Replies under the announcement Tweet are almost universally negative, with users quickly realising that handing the keys to so many features over to machine learning is a threat to the privacy, accuracy and legitimacy of communications on the platform.
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“Will there be an opt out button for server owners who don’t wish to have their server become training material for machine learning?”, asks one user, while most others are simply as many variations of a “nah” image meme as you can find on the internet in 2023.
“Ah yes, ‘sharing AI experiences,’ precisely what I’m on Discord for, my mistake for thinking I was there to spend time with my friends, network, and meet new people”, says another.
They even manage to fuck up the one good announcement among it all, with news of a “shared whiteboard” feature—something people have wanted forever—spoiled by the fact it will come saddled with “an AI-powered text-to-image generator you can iterate and experiment with together”.
Companies, I promise you, you don’t need to do this. I know you are compelled to through the irresistible forces of capitalist inertia, the need to make everything grow all the time, but like, this is a chat program. It doesn’t need any of this crap in it. We’re literally only using Discord for one thing: to talk to people.