Experts Have a Dark Joke About How AI Is Secretly a Horrifying Monster With a Friendly Mask

The Shoggoth AI researchers have a particularly telling — and frankly, somewhat disturbing — meme for understanding AI systems, according to new reporting from The New York Times. And, well, if you were having AI anxiety already, you might want to stop reading. The meme, per the NYT, is of something called “the Shoggoth,” a monster of Cthulhian lore. First brought to life by the American sci-fi and horror author HP Lovecraft in his 1936 novella “At the Mountains of Madness,” the Shoggoth are horrifying, blobby, Octopodidae-like beings equipped with razor-sharp teeth. In the modern world of AI memes, the Shoggoth are depicted as such, albeit with one addition: a grinning smiley face sticker, pasted over the monster’s hideous face like a mask — as if to say that behind surface-level guardrails lurks an otherwordly, unpredictable monster. “It’s the most important meme in AI,” one AI exec told the NYT when pressed about a bizarre-looking sticker depicting the smiley-faced monster on his laptop. “The Shoggoth is a potent metaphor that encapsulates one of the most bizarre facts about the #AI world … [The people working on the technology] aren’t totally sure if A.I. is going to be net-good or net-bad for the world.” — David Weiner (@TikiAmbassador) May 31, 2023 Mask On, Mask Off The meme was reportedly first created by a Twitter user by the handle @TetraspaceWest, who told the NYT that the Shoggoth “represents something that thinks in a way that humans don’t understand and that’s totally different…Experts Have a Dark Joke About How AI Is Secretly a Horrifying Monster With a Friendly Mask

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