The LK-99 Superconductor Buzz Has Exposed the Trap of the Generative AI Revolution
It took a potentially greater tech discovery to evidence the absurdity of AI hype
The Algorithmic Bridge community is best described as a group of AI enthusiasts. But I’d bet we all share another trait: we are deeply interested in and attracted to world-shaking techno-scientific breakthroughs. For the past two weeks, the LK-99, a material candidate to be a room-temperature superconductor (RTSC), has captured the attention of people like us. That topic is interesting in and of itself, but before I mislead you, let me clarify that today’s post is, as always, primarily and fundamentally about AI.
I found the buzz around RTSC uniquely valuable to illustrate how AI plays tricks in our minds—not the systems but the concept. Until now, I didn’t have a clear contemporary example to get the point across but the circumstances have changed: even if the LK-99 ends up being nothing, it’s a contender to lead the global conversation on which new tech will disrupt the world the fastest. As such, it can provide insights about generative AI unavailable otherwise.
I don’t think anyone expected generative AI to face a competitor for the title of “most revolutionary technology of the century” so soon (or never). The LK-99 and its hypothetical RTSC properties—whether real or not—give us a serendipitously unique opportunity to see what is and isn’t reasonable in the discourse around the supposedly inevitable AI revolution. The reason isn’t just RTSC’s superior “disruption potential” (I’ll explain soon why I believe this is the case) but, apparently in contradiction with that, our much more measured reactions to it.
It took a possibly greater tech discovery to evidence that we're collectively living inside the febrile dream that is the generative AI hype bubble. As an AI lover, I don't mean it to disregard the ability of ChatGPT and the like, which is undeniable, but to underscore how people’s response to AI progress—and the predictions that stem from that response—are disproportionate.