💵 Paying for computer cycles likes it’s 1969

It’s interesting to see all these AI servers popping up all over the web. Some are language models, while others are specifically for image generation. What’s also interesting is how these system harken back to the mainframe days where you need to pay to use the cycles.

Want a more comprehensive answer? Pay for credits or buy a subscription.

Want an image larger than a postage stamp?

Want to use something other than the craptacular demo render model for an image?

Want to move your request up in the queue?

I can understand these. There is a fair bit of computing power at play for generating AI images. It’s just funny how this model is a mirror of the early days of computing. You may have stacks of CPUs, GPUs, and Ram, but no work is done on your machine.

Regardless of your computer power, when you want to do something with AI, especially images, it’s nothing but a dumb terminal running a browser. You send your request to the mainframe back end, it’s gets added to the queue, and depending on how much you’ve paid, the request is processed, eventually.

You make adjustments and send your instructions again. And again. And again. Based on how much you’ve paid, your request is processed.

It makes me think of the punchcard days. You waited in line, handed off your request, got a result, made changes, repeated the cycles.

When things went “digital” you had to pay for computer cycles. If you wanted to speed up your job, you had to pay. If you wanted dedicated time, you had to pay.

If you needed to save money, you could run jobs at off hours. Computers were so expensive, and so rare, the idea of them sitting idle, with nothing to do, regardless of the time was unheard of.

I think the AI image generation is pretty cool. I’ve seen some really wild pieces of art. Lots of flying cities, lots of artificial intelligence as art, lots of unusual landscapes. Of course, if you want an image larger than 512 pixels, you need to hand over some coins. If you want your image today, using X render engine, taking into account more than 5 keywords, you need to deposit coins into the slot.

They say things run in cycles, and here we are with ridiculously powerful machines sitting on a desk, but if you want to make an image of an anime robot, or some surrealistic representation of AI in the sky, you need to hand it off to another machine, pay your credits, and wait your turn.

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