On writing and thinking

My forthcoming paper On trusting chatbots is centrally about the challenge of believing claims that appear in LLM output. I am sceptical about the prospects of AI-generated summaries of facts, but I also throw a bit of shade on the suggestion that AI should be used for brainstorming and conjuring up early drafts. Sifting through bullshit is not like editing in the usual sense, I suggest.

Nevertheless, I know people who advocate using chatbots for early drafts of formulaic things like work e-mails and formal proposals. That’s fine, I suppose, but only for the sorts of things where one might just as well find some boilerplate example on-line and use that as a starting place. For anything more original, there’s a real danger in letting a chatbot guide early writing.

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Two drafts about music

I’ve posted two draft papers,written with different collaborators, addressing different issues in the philosophy of music.

  • Tell Me Why This Isn’t a Cover: A paper with Cristyn Magnus, Christy Mag Uidhir, and Ron McClamrock, using lessons from the philosophy of cover songs to think about Taylor Swift’s project of rerecording her earlier work.
  • Music genres as historical individuals: A paper with Evan Malone and Brandon Polite, arguing that genres are historical individuals in a sense. That qualifier “in a sense” is carrying a lot of weight.


My paper Generative AI and photographic transparency now has a DOI and is on-line, occupying that liminal space of published but not quite which is characteristic of contemporary scholarship. The publisher has given me a link to the published version, but it won’t let you download or print it. (As always, you can grab the preprint from my website.)

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Hot takes on new things

Like pretty much everybody else, I’ve been thinking about chatbots and generative AI. Unlike other things I write about, like scurvy, this is a hot topic. It’s hard to keep up using my usual strategy of rambling here on the blog, ruminating, and letting ideas simmer. Nevertheless, there are these two papers:

Some days I have no idea how to do this job

Reviewer #1 calls it “well-written, well-researched, clear and compelling.” They say it’s “good to go.” Reviewer #2 says that the “ideas are evasive and not well developed.” The verdict is Revise&Resubmit— that is, rejection with encouragement to resubmit with “major revisions.”

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It took me years to write it

Fifteen years ago, I conducted a small study testing the error-correction tendency of Wikipedia. Not only is Wikipedia different now than it was then, the community that maintains it is different. Despite the crudity of that study’s methods, it is natural to wonder what the result would be now. So I repeated the earlier study and found surprisingly similar results.

That’s the abstract for a short paper of mine that was published today at First Monday. It is a follow-up to my earlier work on the epistemology of Wikipedia.

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