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Sam Altman is a Snake Oil Salesman

Among Other Things

By Dr. Randy KaplanPublished 23 days ago 3 min read
he illustration was created by the author with the help of MidJourney. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Do not copy, duplicate, or distribute.

Snake Oil

There he is. He is traveling the world to tell leaders of the state about his brand of snake oil.

Do you know what Snake Oil is? Have you ever heard of Snake Oil? You have to go back to the days when salespeople traveled around in a wooden "home on wheels" where she (I don't know of many old-time female snake oil salesmen, but I am sure there were some) lived and sold their "snake oil." If you watch some fictional accounts of snake oil, you will notice skepticism when a snake oil salesman comes into a town to sell snake oil. People don't necessarily believe what he is saying. What would he be saying?

In case you haven't heard of the term "snake oil," it was a kind of cure-all for all human ailments. If you have back pain, snake oil will help you. For an insect-born disease, take some snake oil, which will eliminate that disease. In other words, a snake oil salesman was a man or woman who was very good at selling lies. The problem was that it was by sheer luck that snake oil would ever work, and typically, it made a person sicker than they were and even killed them. Of course, if the snake oil didn't do anything and they had a terminal disease, it wasn't the salesman that killed the individual but rather the lies of the snake oil salesman.

Now, back to Altman. Sam Altman is doing just that with Artificial Intelligence today - selling it for the be-all and end-all for all our problems.

Sickness, AI will cure it all.

Poverty: AI will solve the world's poverty problem.

Solving the machine intelligence problem, Sam Altman's Generative AI will do just that because out of the ashes of Generative AI will come AGI (Artificial General Intelligence).

I could go on with this ridiculous list of claims. Did you know that Sam Altman fits the role of a snake oil salesman?

Snake Oil describes what is essentially "deceptive marketing" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil). "A snake oil salesman describes someone who sells, promotes, or is a general proponent of some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy or solution." The item that the snake oil salesperson is selling can be anything. It can include inventions, self-driving automobiles (think Elon Musk), today's pharmaceuticals, and even computer software. In fact, given the public's understanding of computers (very limited and immature - I can't find anything to confirm this. This observation is from my experience while owning a computer repair company), they could be told anything and then would probably believe it.


"To add to the irony even further, Stanley wrote a book about his experiences as a cowboy-turned-snake-oil-salesman titled The Life and Adventures of the American Cowboy: Life in the Far West. In the book, Stanley cautions people against selling fake versions of his fake snake oil." (The Quota,https://www.thequota.co/articles/the-story-of-clark-stanley-the-original-snake-oil-salesman)

Stanley's Cautioning People is ironic. The snake oil salesman cautioned people against selling fake snake oil. The truth was that Stanley's snake oil was fake.

Now, lest I not tell the complete truth, an article in the Scientific American illuminated that Snake Oil was of value to people. (see "Snake Oil Salesmen Were on to Something" (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/snake-oil-salesmen-knew-something/).

Reading this story in Scientific American strikes me that in most unbelievable claims there is a thread of ever evidence that there is truth to the allegations, namely that snake oil has positive health benefits. It is not any snake oil, though, and the generalizations made by Mr. Altman are more like the claims made by the original snake oil salesman. And the reasons for these original snake oil salesman to tell their lies, well, money. Could there be a relationship between the lies of the original snake oil salesman and what Mr. Altman would have us all believe about generative AI? This idea may be something worth considering.

Note: This is meant to be funny.

Disclosure: This story was NOT created by any AI-based writer.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I certainly appreciate your time and attention.

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About the Creator

Dr. Randy Kaplan

Welcome to my Vocal page and storicles that are published here. I write about tech, the human condition, and anything else that interests me.

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