I discuss how AI (Artificial Intelligence) poses a clear and present danger to the way the Internet has worked for decades. The implications are profound and disturbing.
This may be related to the transit of Pluto in Aquarius (2023-2044). Pluto, death and rebirth, and power. Aquarius – or the 11th house – signifying society, broader social aims and causes, technology and dramatic or radical technological developments.
This episode was published on February 1, 2024 at 4:34pm EST.
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Greetings all, welcome to Aquarian Diary.
I’m your host, John Irving.
It is February 1st, 2024.
I have a bit of a throat cold thing going on, so I apologize for that. There’s a lot of weird things going around right now.
What I want to talk about today is really heartbreaking for me personally.
Just to give a bit of background, back in the late 90’s, I co-founded a technology company that was effectively a social media platform geared towards K-12 education, which is kindergarten through grade 12. So elementary, middle, high school.
This was when Pluto was in Sagittarius, and I’m a Sag, so you can see the connections to education. And in fact, what I’m doing here right now is educational, very 9th house kind of stuff.
And I loved that. It was fantastic. It was very early.
I actually got online before the Internet. I bought my first computer in 1986. This was very early days of personal computing.
And then bulletin boards came along where you dialed in with a modem and you could connect to a local community, and I was involved in that.
And then the Internet came along and supplanted bulletin boards.
And then, like I said, in the 1990’s, I started a tech company, which operationally was headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. And Ottawa was a high-tech center. There was a lot of high-tech companies based there. And that was a fantastic experience.
And then the dot-com crash happened, and that took out 90%, nine-zero percent of the tech companies in Ottawa.
Our company survived, but it was brutal. To get through that was just unbelievable, and it practically killed me.
But the company never fully recovered from that, because for years after the dot-com crash, it was extremely hard to get any kind of investment or support to keep your company going.
Now, of course, we all know that the Internet went on to become huge, like Google, Facebook, all of these companies became enormous. We now have YouTube, and so on.
So the long-term vision from the 1990’s was right. It just took longer to play out than people realized it was going to.
And that brings me to today, which, like I said, is heartbreaking for me.
Now, there’s a lot of things about the Internet currently that have really bothered me, and I have wanted to talk about this for a long time.
Primarily it has to do with how all of the major tech companies have consolidated so much power and influence that they basically are controlling the Internet. And I always thought that was a bad thing.
I had one of the first [of] 1,100 websites on the Internet, and I kind of longed for those days where people could create things, put them up, and stuff would happen.
You didn’t need to rely on any platforms to do this. You didn’t need Substack. You didn’t need Patreon. You didn’t need YouTube or Spotify. You didn’t need Shopify. No third parties. Anybody could create a website independently.
Now Google doesn’t work as well as it used to. It’s littered with all kinds of junk.
It’s very hard for people to find new websites or to connect with people independently.
You have to have almost a computer science degree to code websites now. It’s gotten extremely complicated. That’s a huge barrier for entry for a lot of people. If people can’t find your content, you don’t exist.
And these huge companies have basically bought up all these smaller players and consolidated that technology, the rights to that technology, and so forth.
So I’ve been battling that myself. In fact, there’s a huge thing going on now where a lot of people on YouTube, for example, are leaving the platform or they’re reducing their content creation, because YouTube has made pretty dramatic changes to the way the system works. And they can just do that arbitrarily at any time with no justification to the creators.
And so content creators these days are having huge issues with all of the changes that are occurring that they have no control over. It’s like they don’t really control their own destiny.
This is what happens when too much power gets concentrated in the hands of a few players. It’s bad.
Again, I long for the days of the Internet when it was much more simple and it was a much more level playing field. But those days are gone.
But the really heartbreaking part of all this right now is something else that I have been wanting to talk about for a long time, which is artificial intelligence. I did mention this in a discussion I had with Irish Granny Tarot back in December.
But it’s this.
The way these AI models work is they basically go out and they scoop up everything that’s on the Internet. They take all of this content, all of this information, all of this data. They conglomerate it and they will regurgitate it.
And when people use artificial intelligence to create things, the models will actually go through all this data they’ve compiled and regurgitate information to the user. The problem with this is that the people who created the content don’t get any credit for it.
So right now if you go onto Google and you search for something, you will get a list of links that you will click on and go to the source and read that information. With the new AI search engines, you completely bypass that.
Why is this such a dramatic problem?
It’s because the content creators don’t get any credit for the content they produced that the AI engines are using to feed people information.
So it used to be that people would search for something on Google, they would click on a link, they would go to your website where you would present the information. So Google is like a middleman.
And the content creators could generate money from advertising or from subscriptions or some other way of monetizing their content. But with AI that’s gone. It’s like the content creators don’t even exist.
So it’s kind of like a parasitic relationship where the AI engines are gobbling up everything on the Internet and then feeding it back to people on demand.
If content creators aren’t going to get any credit for their work and all the time they put into creating it – and I know because like for example I have a website that I have put countless hours into creating, not to mention the content and the transcripts of them – and basically what I’m doing is I’m feeding these AI engines without getting any credit for it whatsoever.
In fact it’s so bad now that these AI models can take a YouTube video, extract all the information from it, produce a concise summary, and provide people with that information without them even having to watch the video.
So there is no longer any incentive for people to create content. And if you take into account everything from the press, the media, blogs on all kinds of different topics and subjects, all kinds of platforms that host content and information, billions and billions of documents and pages and content that are now effectively completely redundant. They are not redundant for the models, but they are redundant in the sense that there is no more incentive for people to create this content.
And that is what made the Internet so incredible and so amazing, and for me personally, gave me so much joy, entertainment, and education for decades.
So we now are on the cusp of a crisis because why would anybody create content if it can just be sucked up or vacuumed up by some AI search engine such that no one will ever go look at your content directly?
Now you could be thinking that “Well you could paywall this, you know, you could charge people for access to information.” But one of the things that made the Internet great was that you could access free information 24/7 and you could stumble upon things that you never knew existed. You could find communities, you could educate yourself, you could entertain yourself, you could learn and learn and learn, which is what I did for many, many years, and why I love the Internet.
I can go and read the news in Israel or Tokyo or Germany or Italy or Australia or wherever, whenever I want. But there will be no more incentive for people to publish content, unless they have a paywall, and there’s only a small percentage of people that are willing to subscribe to get content or to pay for it.
Not only that, but most people in the world can’t afford these kinds of things, they don’t even have credit cards.
So how will these content creators survive? I just don’t see how it’s possible.
Obviously there’s already been huge layoffs in the media. Places like the LA Times have laid off huge amounts of staff. The Washington Post not too long ago laid off a lot of staff.
This should be very, very concerning to us because the fourth estate, the media, journalism, is a critical component of democracy and keeping power in check.
But if they can’t survive, and even if independent content creators can’t make a living creating content, then this represents a huge problem for humanity, as far as I’m concerned. It’s terrible.
It’s possible that this will get resolved somehow in a way that is equitable and beneficial, but at this point in time I don’t see how that happens.
Like I said, it’s just not realistic to expect that all of these publishers and content creators can survive without being able to monetize their content somehow.
And we’re talking about probably millions of people, whether they’re writers, programmers, website creators, graphic designers, film and video producers and creators, or whatever. Millions of jobs. Good creative people. Intelligent inspired people, in many cases.
So like I said, I find this turn of events heartbreaking because to me it’s a major blow to what began in the 1980s and 1990s.
I’ve talked a lot about Pluto transiting Aquarius on my channel. I first published on that topic two years ago, way before most people were talking about this.
Very fundamentally, the 11th house or Aquarius is society at large, technology. Pluto is death and rebirth.
And I see this collapse of these ways of us connecting socially as a global community to be devastating.
Like I said, these AI search engines are parasitic.
There are efforts to try and control this, but I don’t see how they will succeed practically. Because you could set up a search engine in Hungary or Croatia or South Africa or China. How do you apply laws to prevent this from happening around the world?
I personally have made friends as a result of the Internet that I have had for decades. People of like mind, like outlook, like perspective, and so on. People that I would not have met casually in my own local environment because there just weren’t a lot of people who had similar views or interests.
But you can or used to be able to connect with them through social media platforms. Now social media platforms, as I said, have degraded enormously in recent years, but that potential is still there, or at least it was.
So in summary, I think AI represents the death of the Internet as we know it, which, like I said, for me is very sad.
I have to say also that I had a dream about a year ago which alluded to this, but it didn’t make sense to me until now. I had that dream on February 28th of 2023.
And without telling you the dream, my take on it was that the Internet was kind of like barren or just like dead vines, dry, like there was no life in it anymore.
And I took it personally because, like I said, I’ve had such a close and important relationship with the Internet for decades, but it’s only now that I understand what that dream actually represented. Very sad for me.
To give myself as an example, I could create a whole episode on a topic about astrology and then my content could be sucked up by one of these AI search engines and presented to millions of people who would never actually see me as being the source of that.
They’re benefiting. I’m getting nothing out of it.
There’s very little incentive for me to do that as a volunteer effort so that some Silicon Valley financed company can basically profit off my content without even attributing it to me. They might have a tiny little link to me there, but who’s going to read it because they don’t need to. The AI will summarize all of my content and feed it to other people. Gawd…
Another point I want to raise is that right now there’s a huge backlash going on from governments towards social media companies and search engines and the like.
Now my gut instinct on this is that it’s not what it seems.
A lot of people have a lot of valid concerns about disinformation, foreign covert electoral interference, which let’s face it, the US has been doing for generations. Stuff that’s inappropriate for children and the like. Fair enough, we should do something about that. However, I do not trust the government to regulate the Internet.
And this is happening here in Canada and I think it’s going to be happening in the States.
The reason we should be concerned is, is that these politicians are heavily influenced by lobby groups and special interests who have hidden agendas. They want to control the flow of information.
And what we’ll see is that buried in a lot of this legislation will be loopholes and unintended consequences that we can’t foresee yet.
And let’s face it, most of these politicians know absolutely nothing about how the Internet actually works. They tend to be very, very poorly informed.
This has been playing out in Canada, where we have members of Parliament and Senators who are typically old and they don’t really understand how things work. So they misinterpret things and they approach it in completely the wrong way. In counterproductive ways.
Once you give control over this to the Government, watch out. Even if they’re well-intentioned, they don’t know what they’re doing. So we should be very careful.
I also think that the right wing wants to be able to control the flow of information for very obvious reasons.
And they will use social hot button issues to allow this to happen. And then the next thing you know, when you have a Republican president, they will go after left-leaning media. They will go after the left, or people who are critical of their policies or policy agendas.
It is an extremely slippery slope and we should be extremely concerned about this.
So if you think that shutting down or controlling the Internet is a good idea, you are probably sorely mistaken. And this is not where we want to go.
There have been some utterly ridiculous policies put forward here in Canada, that have fairly broad public support, because the public doesn’t really understand all this technical stuff or the implications of it either.
But I can see the dangers in it. We have to be extremely careful with this.
And I have raised this before in talking about Pluto and Aquarius, which is power abusing the flow of technology and information to the public.
Yes, nobody likes disinformation, especially me. I’ve talked a lot about that here.
We can’t be naive. When you grant extraordinary powers, you have to think what happens when the bad guys get their hands on it. What do they do? How do they abuse it?
We have to think this through very carefully. And I wouldn’t take anything that the right wing says at face value. If they are endorsing it, it probably benefits the plutocrats more than it does us. And that is to control or limit the flow of information. The implications should be terrifying.
So I thought I would share that with you because I’ve been seeing this coming for quite a long time. Talking about AI and the consolidation of power within the tech sector has been on my list of things to talk about for at least a year and a half. But I didn’t really have a context for it before. And now I do.
So I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out.
The most important thing about doing things like what I’m doing right now is the opportunity or ability to connect with other people of like mind.
But how will that happen in the future? Facebook sucks. How are we going to be connected socially?
And that has huge implications politically as well. There are social movements, social justice movements, causes, things like environmental issues and so forth.
How are we going to collaborate and connect, coordinate, organize, strategize? How will that occur in the future? I don’t know.
Twitter is gone. These tech billionaires have so much money they can just buy up any technology or any platform, and if they’re in a bad mood they can just destroy it and nobody can do anything about it.
Now Pluto just re-entered Aquarius on January 20th, less than two weeks ago. So this could be one of the darker expressions of Pluto in Aquarius, is how we are going to deal with this new world of technology and the concentration of power, the monopolies, the plutocrats. The oligarchs who are undermining our means of communicating, collaborating and organizing and becoming active.
The only way around this that I can see would be some kind of open source technology that cannot be bought, influenced or purchased, no matter how much money somebody has. But I have yet to see that happen.
There’s too much money at stake. It’s kind of like if somebody came up with a way to generate your own power independently and cleanly. There’s a huge incentive for the status quo players to block or limit that from becoming readily available because it would destroy their business.
So I don’t know what the answer is, but I thought I’d put that out there. Because I do understand all of these implications in ways that maybe some people don’t, because I’ve been using communications and Internet technology since the mid-1980s.
I have been working hard on my website to add quite a few episode transcripts there.
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We’re probably going to need to find ways to stay connected, and I’ve talked about that before too, a long time ago.
Please check the episode description as I always put links in there that I think are related or important.
Again, for more detail, check the episode description for other episodes or articles that are related or that I mentioned.
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Thank you very much.
Take care, all the best, and I’ll talk to you again soon.
Pluto in Aquarius – Dawn of Global Consciousness
Algospeak and Platphobia
The Great Infant Rebellion
Stop Enabling Nihilistic Culture Warriors
Pluto at 29° Capricorn – A Karmic Reckoning
Pluto at 29° Capricorn – Will brute force stop progress?
Pluto Transit Capricorn – Lessons for Humanity
Uranus square Pluto and Far-Right Extremism: 1930’s and 2010’s
The Astrology of Mass Delusion: 2011-2026
The Dramatic Astrology of 2028
The Stunning Transit of Neptune in Aries: 2025-2039
USA Pluto Return 2022 – Civil War or Transformation?
Other episodes of mine featuring Pluto
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