Monday, November 20, 2023

A Girardian interpretation of the Altman affair, it's on my to-do list

Tyler Cowen posted the following tweet over at Marginal Revolution under the title "Solving for the Equilibrium":

I posted this comment:

Earlier in the week Scott Alexander had posted a skeptical review of a Girard book and I commented that, though I'm a Girard skeptic, albeit a somewhat interested one, Tyler regarded him as one of the great 20th century thinkers. In the course of introducing today's Open Thread, Alexander notes: "I would love to know more about Tyler’s interpretation of Girard and the single-victim process. Maybe in the context of recent events?" While we've got lots of recent to choose from – I'm thinking of the Israel/Palestine mess (ancient Israel, after all, is central to Girard's thinking on this matter) – I suspect the single-victim prompt points to the OpenAI upheaval.

Indeed, my interpretive Spidey sense suggests that a Girardian reading might be illuminating. I'd start with the idea that Sam Altman is the sacrificial victim. His position as leader of OpenAI is a natural focal point for mimetic dynamics. In this case those dynamics ripple far and wide. One might wish, for example, to include the fairy extensive commentary on Altman over at LessWrong, and not just recently. What about Sutskever's role? Just how this inquiry would play out, I do not know. No way to tell about these things until you actually do the work.

From the new interim CEO at OpenAI:

From Ilya Sutskever:

OpenAI employees revolt:

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