We are well aware that Artificial Intelligence or AI is likely to be a major issue of the hobby's going forward in the information sector and will undoubtedly be impacted, both positively and negatively. It has already started, the New York Times newspaper has just recently sued Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement, with likely more lawsuits to follow but how will this affect the hobby?
Will the false material currently being plagiarised from multiple websites be accepted as true gospel in opposition to the casual, factually accurate opposing viewpoint? That, in turn, would sound more like a popularity contest than a categorical assertion of reality. It would appear that some auction websites and the likes far too frequently lead buyers down the proverbial garden path with charming tales of hobby lore to result in a record sale, albeit sometimes lore is all we have but often devoid of the true facts.
A case in point is the recently completed 7.2-million-dollar REA auction of the Babe Ruth "rookie" card, as this card had never really been referred to as a rookie in previous sales and clearly is not. This was reinforced by venerated hobby Rookie Card Specialist; Victor Romans among many other seasoned hobbyists agreeing, although many apparently don't want to fight the narrative publicly. However, going forward, AI may sadly result in how we see the facts, according to rumor, here say and popular belief.
Now, without going into the SGC grade of the Ruth, let me share a personal anecdote. I glanced over SGC's pop report and saw many documented card sets with date of issue errors on their website. My second self-published Vintage Hockey Collectors Guide from 2006 has the majority of these corrected. Looking back a few years, I had a phone chat with SGC. I suggested they acquire one of my 2015 VHC hockey guides, saying, "You have quite a few errors on your dating of cards you've graded (and I'm just talking hockey here)", and believe it would help SGC greatly, to which they replied, "We have enough guides.". Ok then, nuff said.
Actually no, not quite enough said: A year ago, I even went so far as to message Peter Steinberg of SGC and Nat Turner of PSA on Instagram regarding two similar but separate hockey card sets from the 1920s that had the years erroneously reversed. To make matters worse, both sets skew the rare short prints in each set. Nat Turner responded back to me in a timely manner, less than a day and directed me to have it fixed by contacting their office which he spearheaded. Peter of SGC, never responded and I am surprised that SGC is so resistant to help getting things right. PSA still has a bit of work to do too but they have been very proactive in the past few years. I am not picking on any one grading company, this is just from personal experience and they all lack having a historian on their payroll and or retained to ensure proper review and documentation.
With AI, it will be challenging to make changes in the hobby; the question is, where do we go from there? And what kind of copyright will be upheld? Will AI be able to bypass paywalls, and if so, what kind of ownership would they have over this valuable data? What restrictions will be placed on AI? Will the more comprehensive and in-depth information that is available, such as the vintage hockey and CFL football cards, collectibles and memorabilia on Bobby Burrell and Andy Malycky's new website and app "Needuum" be compromised by a simple OpenAI or ChatGBT search result, jeopardizing their life's work?
Would AI be the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Geoff Wilson's Market Movers or will Card Hedge, CollX, Ludex and any other hobby-related company fall prey to the peril of AI? Will writers succumb to the capricious nature that AI will wield upon them. Only time will tell.
Although the consequences of AI are not so bleak, many people, like your writer, feel that artificial intelligence is gold since it will provide the hobby historians with more detailed information with the ability to search the often-overlooked nooks and crannies of the internet for missing nuggets of knowledge. But regardless of your hobby clout, AI is unable to honor or revere the opinions of a single expert; only humans are capable of doing so, which is a shortcoming in the hierarchy of public opinion likely used by AI.
Technology is here to stay, and even though I embrace it, I can't hand over the wheel to anything else without feeling uneasy. This is due to the fact that with AI driving makes it difficult to provide a smooth and accident-free journey; it lacks the independent judgment to decide to avoid the dark and murky trail that lies at the fork in the road.