My good friend Barry Taylor put me onto a site that a friend of his has created around the works of Brian Eno.

The ‘Eno Bot’ is a (Not Very) Large Language Model – an AI trained on the accumulation of Eno’s writings, and coded into a chat interface.

What’s interesting about this being an Eno-based project in particular is that it very much nods to his Oblique Strategies deck, aimed at provoking new directions in creativity.

This use-case for AI – as a prompt towards greater creativity – is very much in line with the ‘narrow path’ presented by Professor Daron Acemoglu at the lecture in Oxford I went to last week.

In Acemoglu’s view, we are getting AI deployment wrong. It is tending to be used in ‘over-automation’ – replacing human labour, rather than augmenting it. His research shows – over hundreds of years – that this leans towards greater inequality, with only poor gains in productivity.

Instead, AI should be helping with:

  • Better decision-making
  • Problem identification
  • Information retrieval / filtering / curation

When it does this, we see better jobs, better engagement, more shared prosperity and more creativity. But to get to that point people actually need to be taught how to use AI. Ask yourself: have you received careful training in your workplace about how to get the best out of Generative AI? Very, very few people have done, which means that this extraordinarily powerful set of tools is just being left around for people to use or not, in ways that might be good, or might be terrible.

This has to be put right, but doing so will require proper investments in time and training… and we currently have a fiscal environment in the UK (and the US, I believe) that makes it tax-efficient to invest in machines, but with no parallel incentive to invest in people. That has to change.

But, to return to Eno, this is also a design problem. How to we take new technologies and shape them towards better use? That is what designers do, and that is why I’m excited to have been invited to Goldsmiths – one of the UK’s leading creative arts universities – to speak to their MA Design students this Thursday.

In a strange circle coming round, this is where my dear friend Nic Hughes used to lecture, and a design studio for MA students was named after him in a very moving ceremony years ago.

It’ll be good to be back.


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