Here is the irony of technology. The more we can unite humanity, the more we can create chaos. And not only do we prove this axiom every day, but we’ve done so with every invention and discovery we’ve ever made — from stone tools through social media.
We are now continuing the same journey – or at least it seems so – with artificial intelligence.
The blind or reckless advancement of technology without integrating it into a greater purpose is merely providing us with a more efficient and rapid way to create more chaos and, in the process, turn back. And that inconsistency should be all we need to explain why, when the term “artificial intelligence” is uttered, the most common reaction is that it’s scary. For most of us, it evokes the same ominous feeling as the ongoing two-note ostinato theme at the beginning of Jaws. We know it’s out there, we don’t know much about it, but we’re fearlessly scared, because we have no idea, really, how big this thing is or what it can do.
What most of us fear is that AI is being run by forces — business, technology, and ruthless — often nefarious — political forces that move with little regard for moral and human responsibilities, as long as they can stay ahead of the curve in product development and use, and yet -Maintaining an unimpeded flow of investment capital. This, says the resulting fear, will lead to job losses, the depersonalization of health care, disruption to the global food supply, acute terrorism, and a host of other phenomena beyond our control. unless…
Unless we adopt a less technical and more human view of the inevitable continued evolution of AI. To this end, I sought a two worlds perspective in the humanities.
“I’m not worried about choppy starting,” says Dr. Lindsey Cormack, PhD. and professor of political science at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, who is anticipating the release of her new book, How to bring up a citizen, and why it is up to you to do so, later this year. Artificial intelligence cannot approach all parts of human life. It cannot replace human interaction. He doesn’t know what it means to be human with other humans.”
What artificial intelligence cannot do
And this seems to be the generally accepted tipping point that AI will never reach, at least in the view of the vast majority of thinkers. Traits and behaviors like empathy, sympathy, regret, joy, hope, optimism, pride, authenticity, intuition, and even humor are hallmarks of human life—and, ultimately, more exciting than technical might, especially when you consider that AI isn’t intelligence at all.
“It’s amazing,” notes Dr. Nick Beard, PhD. and Professor of Philosophy at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, “How can a seemingly stupid system produce seemingly intelligent products.” Artificial intelligence does not think. It starts with a single word and then, using massive amounts of data that would take a billion people a billion years to sort through, predicts what the next word should be—and then the next and the next and the next—in increments of a billionth of a second. And there you get his answer.
No wonder it’s scary — until you take comfort in the fact that, at least for the foreseeable future, there are things we as humans can do that AI can’t. For example, you asked AI to make up an original joke about cats, not one you’ve heard before or just found. (For the record, my wife and I are cat lovers, and we’ve owned several cats for 45 years.) A joke I heard 33 years ago, when I got my first computer, immediately came back to me: “Why did the cat sit at the computer?” “To monitor the mouse.” (Well, it wasn’t funny at the time either.)
But not only was it funny, it wasn’t original – which I asked for – and therefore, deceptive. The AI does that, and it’s called hallucinating. At the same time, the phenomenon prompts an AI warning and sage advice from both Byrd and Cormac.
warning? Be careful and discerning. Advice? According to Bird, “It’s going to be very important for AI to be assistants to the people doing this work.” He continued, “For its ability to serve us as thinkers, as people who have intuition but also have the ability to correct a faulty intuition, AI is promising.”
And in keeping with that, says Cormack, in advice directed directly at jobs and professions, which is why everyone is so intimidated in the first place, “AI should be used for tasks that don’t take long, removing human drudgery through efficiency.” Therefore, she adds, “people who are good at asking AI questions, who discover query systems and develop comprehensive AI skills, will find AI to their advantage.”
These wise words of wisdom remind us not only of our abilities to invent things, but also of our responsibility to use them wisely. History is a story of decisions, and with every invention or discovery we humans–and our human ancestors before us–put on the board, we simultaneously explore the constructive and destructive ways to use them.
Once again, we’re at such an inflection point, this time with a civilization-altering shift bigger and more impactful than anything else we’ve ever done. So, if we think about the consequences of our decisions before we make them, we will make better decisions.
But then, we already know that. We just have to do it.
Let us remember that we are punished not for our mistakes but for our mistakes.
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