An illustration of two large, stylized cats in the foreground overlooking a dense, futuristic cityscape bathed in shades of red and blue.

This is an interesting post by Ian Betteridge, mainly because of the point he makes at the end about disinformation leading to a retreat behind paywalls. I think it’s inevitable that any open/social space without a governance model that specifically focuses on high-quality moderation (rather than increasing ‘shareholder value’) will have problems.

The answer is retreating to people we know and trust, but this doesn’t have to be in dark forests. We can use decentralised moderation models such as Bluesky and others are developing. My main concern is that we reach peak disinformation during an important election year before these mitigating technologies come to fruition.

“Grey goo” was a concept which emerged when nanotechnology was the hot new thing. First put forward by Eric Drexler in his 1986 book The Engines of Creation, this is the idea that self-replicating nanobots could go out of control and consume all the resources on Earth, turning everything into a grey mass of nanomachines.

Few people worry about a nanotech apocalypse now, but arguably we should be worried about AI having a very similar effect on the internet.


It is obvious that anywhere content can be created will ultimately be flooded with AI-generated words and pictures. And the pace of this could accelerate over the coming years, as the tools to use LLMs programmatically become more complex.


This is the AI Grey Goo scenario: an internet choked with low-quality content, which never improves, where it is almost impossible to locate public reliable sources for information because the tools we have been able to rely on in the past – Google, social media – can never keep up with the scale of new content being created. Where the volume of content created overwhelms human or algorithmic abilities to sift through it quickly and find high-quality stuff.


With reliable information locked behind paywalls, anyone unwilling or unable to pay will be faced with picking through a rubbish heap of disinformation, scams, and low-quality nonsense.

In 2022, talking about the retreat behind paywalls, Jeff Jarvis asked “when disinformation is free, how can we restrict quality information to the privileged who choose to afford it?” If the AI-driven information grey goo scenario comes to pass, things would be much, much worse.

Source: [Ian Betteridge](…