Yury Molodtsov

COO and Partner @ MA Family, where we run communications for tech startups and VC firms.

About Me
Twitter ↗
Mastodon ↗

Why AI Doomerism is Flawed and Misguided

The Internet favors simple opinions, meaning we’re stuck between AI dommers and e/acc people. And yet the most urgent and interesting questions relate not to its potential capacity to kill us all, but rather mundane things.

November 23, 2023

Most politicians are populists, which is the natural result of the basic rule of communications: the larger your audience is, the simpler your message should be. And with politicians specifically, there’s a straightforward line from the size of their following to their actual power.

Politicians are incentivized to find a slogan that resonates with people and run with it regardless of their personal opinion on the matter. As an off-topic, I doubt certain US Republicans have a significant issue with LGBT themselves, but they adopt the message that works for people who can vote them in (or out), however cynical this might sound.

The same is happening to AI. And it’s accelerated by AI becoming a major trend covered by practically every media publication. Not only most have dedicated AI writers, but there are entire outlets (e.g. VentureBeat) that have largely shifted their focus to AI.

And sometimes, they’re just broadcasting the opinion of crazy people like Elizier Yudkowskiy, who isn’t an expert in any modern area of AI. He’s a self-proclaimed expert on “AI safety”, which seemingly means regurgitating ideas from sci-fi novels with specific outlooks to convince everyone we’re doomed. Balanced opinions are complicated, and slogans are easy, which is why both doomers and proponents of AI (i.e. “e/acc” movement) dominate the discourse even though all practical discussions are somewhere around the middle (and should be happening in a completely different plane).

Whether Biden or Sunak actually believe AI is dangerous is irrelevant (although Biden might have indeed been spooked by an underperforming action movie). If politicians think doing something publicly will help them score, they’d do this. OpenAI, Anthropic, Google, and all others will be the first to tell you they support strict regulation of AI precisely because this will help cement their hard-earned position at the forefront of the industry.

There are copyright and safety questions, but all practical concerns fall into a completely different bucket than what pundits say. Generative models won’t drop a nuke on Los Angeles (“The Creator” is a great movie, though), nor would they automate everyone’s job. But they raise the same old problem of algorithm-based decision-making and pose a new problem that doesn’t map well on our current copyright laws (both in the letter and the spirit).


Algorithms have been used to make decisions affecting people’s lives for decades. Sometimes, they’re basic; sometimes, they’re pretty advanced. Credit scores, mortgage assessments, and background checks aren’t manual but run by algorithms.

The actual problem worth discussing is the potential of inherent bias AI might ingest from the training data and negatively affect someone’s life while obfuscating the process.

Old OCR algorithms used to recognize printed texts were highly complicated and cumbersome and relied on computer vision and advanced math. We use AI to solve specific complex problems differently and abstract away the solution when it’s too complicated to build. We use data to train more-or-less generic networks and then run primitive arithmetical operations many times, ultimately providing good results we wouldn’t achieve through classic algorithms.

Because of this, most modern AI networks are essentially black boxes. You know the input and the output, but you don’t see how the decision was made, and it’s challenging to dissect the model while it’s “thinking” to understand why.

So, if a financial institution uses AI for credit checks and fraud assessments, one could imagine a scenario where flawed training data would lead it to discriminate by race or other parameters. And since it’s a black box, only long-term statistical observations would allow us to see the problem, though most likely, the people in charge would claim the discrepancies are accidental.

This problem is more tedious but is way more accurate. AI won’t do it because it’s terrible. It’s emotionless and doesn’t have a goal. This is a popular trope in sci-fi, but I don’t believe Artificial General Intelligence could be a cold, emotionless beast. Emotions give purpose, which is why ChatGPT doesn’t think anything until you tell it to. It’s simply not there yet. What we have now is way more basic.


Neither large language models nor image generative networks fit well into our copyright frameworks. The line between plagiarism and inspiration was always blurry. All human artists, including writers and painters, learn by observing the works that came before them and then produce something of their own.

Vanilla Ice used a guitar riff originally composed by Queen and David Bowie. He then claimed he added a beat between the notes and that the original melody was different from his. It was ultimately decided that this was not the case. Ultimately, he had to pay up, but only because it was too transparent. Musicians get inspired by others’ music all the time.

Generative networks aren’t too different from humans in this regard. But since this is machine intelligence, they can do this much better, at scale, and then provide everyone with a quick and easy way to create pieces that might copy someone’s material too directly.

Writers like George R.R. Martin claim that OpenAI’s GPT4 was trained on their material, which could very well be correct. Before, we had a simple delineation. A writer consumes existing material and hopefully uses it to write their own Song of Ice and Fire. Nobody just starts writing one day without reading a single word imagined by others.

If you use others’ material too directly, we call it fan fiction and mainly don’t pursue it as long as you aren’t trying to sell it. Then it’s illegal.

But the ultimate use case of GPT4 is not someone using it to retell some author’s book but to write new stories under a user’s command. Yet the reason it’s capable of doing so is all the writing that was consumed during the training stage. So, does it break the copyright?

Generative networks are stuck between humans and plain computers, and until we develop new frameworks and the common law system in the US and the UK create precedents, nobody is sure what to do.


Now, the emergence of generative networks might have already affected the job market globally. As usually happens with technology, the biggest threat is to the low-level contractors, such as people who accept $5 orders on Upwork since they’re based in a cheaper (and poorer) country.

The scandal around the intro to Marvel’s Secret Invasion is a perfect illustration. The VFX people working on it used purposefully poorly-made AI-generated images due to their Uncanny Value quality relevant to the story. Half of the Internet reacted as if the producers fired everyone and went to write the prompts themselves (and manually did all the VFX on top to make the animation, I guess).

In fact, actual commercial writers, designers, and other content creators were the first to start using tools like Stable Diffusion and MidJourney in their work. A game development company I know uses these tools to accelerate its image pipeline. This specifically helps designers spend less time on mundane things. For them, AI hasn’t replaced a single worker; it simply allows people to produce more content and, most importantly, elevate the floor of the overall quality.

Sometimes, it simply acts as a reference. I’ve heard a music artist explaining that he can now use MidJourney to explain what he wants for title art from his designer. And I myself use it to produce covers for my Spotify mixtapes. Again, technology always raises the floor, and MidJourney, along with other tools, allows people who can’t draw anything to turn their fantasies into reality (well, a real image).

You probably do need to think about AI when making life-long choices. My aunt recently told me her friend’s daughter had just enrolled in a university as a translator. Google Translate was shit ten years ago, got pretty good after this, and then was blown by GPT4. Does this mean we will not need translators soon? No, but there surely will be fewer jobs, and they will primarily focus on high-value tasks, such as adaptations of movies, popular books, etc. Ultimately, this means fewer translators and less money for them.

What happens when AI goes upmarket and captures way more? We’ll probably have to deal with this than by finding a balance. On the one hand, if we don’t automate things, the economy won’t grow, and everyone who is poor stays poor. On the other, as a society, we sometimes make decisions that might be suboptimal for the greater good. We’ll see what happens here, but even if one country severely regulates AI out of existence, others might embrace it.

Technology has replaced thousands of professions, all while creating new ones. We no longer have human “calculators” or telephone operators. Caution and the desire to preserve the living standards for some people is welcome, but imagine if we used the same approach a hundred years ago. We’d probably still have actual humans running elevators.

Comment on Twitter

Subscribe to my blog and get new posts delivered right to your inbox!


November 7, 2023
My Default Apps

Here's the list of apps and services I like and use daily.

November 3, 2023
Communicating with Numbers

If you can find a figure that makes your business more appealing than competitors, you should run with it.

November 1, 2023
Does Blogging Even Work?

Blogging is still the most reliable way of broadcasting your thoughts without being at the whims of someone’s algorithm.

October 24, 2023
Why Superhuman Is Worth $30

I pay $30 a month for my email client. And I think it’s worth it because it’s excellent and there aren’t many alternatives, unfortunately.

October 8, 2023
Uber is Good, Actually

A conventional taxi is similar to a tourist-trap restaurant that you will never visit again. Uber leverages technology to become an arbiter between you and the collective of drivers so they can provide a better service.

September 9, 2023
Basecamp is a Contrarian Marketing Operation

Basecamp is well-known not because of its product but because its founders heavily leverage marketing and communications, eventually turning into contrarian marketing machines producing edgy posts and starting crusades just to get everyone’s attention.

August 29, 2023
Web Apps Are Better Than No Apps

There’s a certain community in tech that’s very vocal about their preference toward native apps. I share that sentiment, yet sometimes people take this idea too religiously. Unfortunately, the actual choice is about having an app or not, and I'd rather take something over nothing.

August 19, 2023
Sorry, But Google Meet Is Better Than Zoom

It seems that we're finally getting out of this weird period of collective gaslighting where people tried to convince everyone Zoom was the best conference app out there.

August 15, 2023
Finalist: A Simpler To-do App

Finalist is built for people who liked keeping all their tasks in Apple Notes but wanted it just a bit more structured.

August 12, 2023
Omnivore Review: An Underrated Read-Later App

I sometimes see people using Pocket, Instapaper, or Safari’s Reading List even though all of them have been practically abandoned and the first two definitely don’t deserve a subscription. I reviewed Readwise Reader and Matter earlier, but they only work properly if you pay. It’s not for everyone, so I wanted to tell you about Omnivore, a rapidly-developed read-later app.

July 25, 2023
What Is Elon Musk

I’m a bit tired of how people let their existing opinion on Elon paint their entire image of him yet I myself struggle to define his actions.

July 20, 2023
I Wish Bear Hadn’t Wasted Years

Bear emerged as the flagship notes app, but then lost its lead because of technical debt. I doubt their latest update makes them competitive right now.

July 15, 2023
You Can Compete By Being Competent

Perfect your execution. This is the part you fully control. It won’t save you when the results aren’t there, but it can help sustain the relationship while you wait for them.

July 12, 2023
How To Recognize Grifters

Serious people list facts. Grifters list tags that can elevate their social status.

July 11, 2023
Facebook Went Meta, But Google Isn’t Alphabet

Google called itself Alphabet for corporate reporting purposes, Facebook rebranded to Meta because their business had changed.

July 7, 2023
Why Privacy Is Overrated

I’m not against privacy, and I understand why people might not want someone to track web pages or apps they use. But it’s important to remember that there’s a trade-off and be prepared for the outcome.

July 5, 2023
The PR Flywheel: What It Can And Can’t Do For Your Business

People often think that PR and communications alone can help them achieve their goals and end up surprised when it doesn’t move the needle as much as they wanted. In fact, it’s a bit more complicated. PR is only a part of the virtuous circle.

June 20, 2023
You Can't Work On An iPad

Modern iPads are marvelous machines. But their software is too limited and unrealiable for them to replace your computer despite over a decade of innovation.

May 18, 2023
Why Algorithmic Feeds Can Be Good

People like to say they prefer chronological feeds to algorithmic ones. The actual problem is we rarely see good algorithms built to help us and not drive engagement. But I’d love to see a social network giving me tools to catch up on the people I care about.

May 1, 2023
Why Micropayments Don’t Work And People Hate Paywalls

Customers want micropayments but they're a bad option for news organizations. What they should do instead is provide us with better paywalls.

April 24, 2023
Touch the Glass: Finding a Better Home for Your Photos

The painful journey of photographers looking to find the best avenue to post their photos online and the lock-in exacerbated by subscriptions.

April 20, 2023
How to Use Virtual Backgrounds for Meetings in a Non-Cringe Way

Virtual backgrounds might look goofy but if you use them right you can definitely improve your picture without spending $5000 on a DSLR and a shelf full of books to be your background.

March 26, 2023
Raindrop Review: Better Bookmarks For Twitter And YouTube

Twitter, YouTube, and many other services have built-in bookmarks and playlists encouraging you to save content for later. I encourage you to try using a third-party service instead of them. Raindrop is a great alternative.

March 25, 2023
How to Read Newsletters In An App

Your email app isn't the best way to read newsletters. Especially if you're subscribed to dozens of them. Try a separate app for this.

March 23, 2023
Some Controversial Things I Believe

Just a few things I believe that a lot of people seemingly find controversial.

February 19, 2023
How to Start Your Blog in 2023

Running your own blog helps you keep an online journal of your life and thoughts that doesn't depend on unreliable tech platforms like Facebook or Twitter. But this process is still needlessly complicated and certainly not user-friendly for regular people.

January 17, 2023
A Better Way to Keep Organize Your Tasks

Sharing my approach to categorizing tasks inside your task manager so you will not forget anything and will understand what you have to work on at any moment.

January 7, 2023
How to Run A Remote Team

I’ve been working remotely for 8+ years and now running a team distributed at least across 5 countries. It’s challenging but it’s also very likely the best work environment that can help you attract talented people no matter where they live.

January 6, 2023
The PARA Method To Organize Your Work And Life

The PARA method is the most universal productivity technic. It’s very flexible and can be recreated in any app, whether it’s Notion, Workflowy, Apple Notes, Things 3, Roam Research, Evernote, or Todoist.

December 20, 2022
How to Work Remotely and Stay Sane

I’ve been working remotely for nine years now. I wouldn’t say it’s everyone’s future. There are pros and cons. For me personally, the advantages far outweigh the problems. If you ended up in a remote work arrangement, you might find these tips helpful.

December 14, 2022
Switch to a Modern Read-Later App Already

Read–later apps are simultaneously popular and outdated. A lot of people use them. They’re now embedded right in our browsers and there's a couple of age-old names, but if you’re still using any of these options you should reconsider.

August 2, 2022
How Would Anti-Instagram Look Like?

Reading all those discussions about the updates to Instagram and how people are becoming disillusioned with the app, I began thinking: what would an ideal anti-Instagram service look like?

July 30, 2022
Crypto Preachers vs Crypto Skeptics

Social networks incentivize people to take on radical positions as that brings engagement and followers. Yet in most areas, a reasonable centrist take is usually the right one (there are exceptions of course). Crypto is certainly one of the most divisive topics both on Twitter and in real life.

June 6, 2022
How to Get Media to Cover Your Fundraising

Five years ago announcing your funding round was quite a reliable option to get coverage in the press but it all changed. We ran dozens of announcements in recent months, so I wanted to give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to secure placements for your fundraising in the media.

June 4, 2022
Workflowy is the Platform to Build Your Ideal Notes System

Time and time again, I'm getting back to WorkFlowy as my primary system for notes and knowledge storage. It is truly a bicycle for the mind that helps you structure your thoughts while providing unparalleled flexibility.

May 28, 2022
Your Inner Voice and the Value of Silence

Recently I've been feeling that constantly putting on AirPods and pumping spoken words into my ears might be too much. There's nothing wrong with being bored and enjoying the silence for a bit. But most importantly, it feels like both music and podcasts tune out your inner voice, that intra-cranial conversation people have which generates ideas and inspiration.

May 23, 2022
The Updated Guide to Workflowy

I've updated my guide to Workflowy, the king of outliners, which I wrote almost two years ago. Since then, Workflowy has added many great features, including rich media support and backlinks, so the previous iteration felt incomplete.

May 19, 2022
All the Ways to Keep Tasks

There are so many task managers because people have drastically different views on how to keep their tasks. I went over all primary ways that I've seen.

January 12, 2022
Why I Dropped Apple Watch for a Mechanical Watch

I’ve always been into watches and for the last 5 years, since Series 2, I’ve been almost exclusively wearing an Apple Watch. Recently I pulled a trigger on a mechanical timepiece I wanted a long time ago and have been enjoying it since.

March 16, 2021
Mailbrew Review: Get Personalized Email Digests of News and Content

Mailbrew is the only app that allows you to receive news and content from the web in the form of regular digests. The idea behind it is to avoid the anxiety and guilt caused by endless feeds in social apps by doing bulk delivery of content at a pre-defined time throughout the day.

March 3, 2021
Why You've Dropped Your Todo List

I’ve always been one of the people who religiously lives by their task manager – I can’t survive without one. That’s why I’m always surprised when I talk to people who actually get by. For some, task managers only cause anxiety and end up abandoned and forgotten. What if I told you that you were just using it wrong?

February 19, 2021
Feedbin Review: One App to Consume All News

It’s one thing to read a lot of content, it’s another to spend hours jumping between apps trying to get a dopamine hit and then getting caught in them. Feedbin is the best RSS service which collects RSS feeds, email newsletters, Twitter feeds, and YouTube videos.

February 8, 2021
Why Apple Has to Allow Sideloading

I think the lack of sideloading has been a tremendous advantage for iOS and Apple’s ecosystem. I also think Apple should give it already.

December 13, 2020
Browsers Are Outdated And Somebody Has To Do Something

Our browsers are astoundingly outdated and their developers seem to be oblivious to that. We went from basic HTML pages sprinkled with a little bit of Javascript to running full-scale applications like Figma or Descript yet browsers have practically the same UI as they had ten years ago.

December 8, 2020
A Controversial Opinion: Online Ads Are Good

One of my most controversial opinions is that online ads are actually great for the society and the public narrative shifting to paid subscription software, services and content might prevent a lot of people from accessing them in the first place.

October 15, 2020
There Is An Empty Space In Team Productivity

At all of my jobs we used different tools for project management: from Asana to Notion and Todoist Business. I've also looked at Monday, Trello, Flow, Taskade, and others. Still, none of them can match a personal task manager.

October 1, 2020
How to Write Helpful Investor Updates

I've seen hundreds of investor updates and wanted to share the things I learned from them and how you can write a good one.

September 19, 2020
A Comparative Review of iOS Browsers

I compared all third-party iOS browsers to check if they're ready to be used as default ones. Only if you really want to.

September 13, 2020
There's No Such Thing As Crisis PR

Just like a lot of other areas, external communications shouldn't exist on their own. PR is a part of the overall company's strategy and vision. The only way to be properly heard is to be authentic.

August 16, 2020
The PARA Method in Workflowy

PARA is a universal productivity methodology that can be implemented in any app or service. It helps you categorize your notes, thoughts, documents, and files.

July 19, 2020
Google and the Paradigm Shift

The product that will dethrone Google Search won't be a search engine. Instead of links, it will simply provide you with answers.

July 16, 2020
The Ultimate Guide to Workflowy

Workflowy is the ultimate productivity app that closely mimicks the way I want to work. It might be overwhelming at first, so I wrote a guide that covers all the basics.

July 11, 2020
The Evolution of Outliners

Outliners are apps which force you to write in hierarhical bullet points, helping you to structure your thoughts They are are a very curious category of software products that have been mostly used by a small number of geeks but recently captured more attention with the launch of Roam Research.

May 18, 2020
Superhuman and Premium Software

Superhuman with its premium pricing of $30 per month expands the Overton windows for apps pricing and has already enabled higher (and more sustainable prices) for new companies.

May 10, 2020
The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling is an art that is applied in any area by people working in all kinds of professions. You need to understand it in order sell your products, your ideas, and your own time.

January 12, 2020
How to Work With Reporters and Get Publications in Media

Even if you don't have resources for hiring a team or even a single person to handle your public relations that doesn't mean your announcement doesn't deserve to be on TechCrunch.

June 10, 2019
What Are The Chances They Will Replace You As The CEO?

I looked at the list of US-based tech unicorns and tried to find the ones who replaced the founding CEO with an external hire.