What You Can Do as a Web Builder on Earth Day

“This is Fine” meme of a room on fire, but the earth is at the burning table with coffee.

One easy thing you can do for the earth is not use “AI” tools.

Consider this as a programmer, web developer, web designer, copywriter, webmaster, etc. The tools include anything branded as generative AI, LLMs, computer vision tools, Copilot, ChatGPT, Bard, Grok, Dall-e, Midjourney, and so on.

If you are also a user who needs to use one of these tools to generate an image description or simplify the reading level of content because the author has created a disabling experience, I am not including you in this broad sweep.

I think Molly White summarizes the current utility of these tools quite well:

[…] they are handy in the same way that it might occasionally be useful to delegate some tasks to an inexperienced and sometimes sloppy intern.

As a bonus, interns are powered by sandwiches. Versus pouring gasoline (almost literally) into the fire consuming our home.

There are plenty of articles demonstrating how ineffective these “tools” are for production-ready code. We know they encode biases into the output. We giggle at people who twist chatbots into giving them deals and screwing over their corporate masters.

But we generally ignore how much damage each of these requests is doing to our planet, our environment, and our future generations. Here is a very brief list of references:

Other things you can do daily that are not explicitly about fake-AI:

Oh yeah, get off the blockchain too. I don’t know a competent, responsible human who is all-in on them, so I doubt I need to make that case to you, dear reader.

While I have your attention, can someone please make that Earth Day site slightly less inaccessible? Wow.

The opening image is my own redrawing of the memed “This is fine” panel from Gunshow by KC Green. The image of the earth is a composite from NASA. In this scene the rest of the planet, particularly the global south, is taking the brunt of the fire while North America is so far unscathed.

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