Lesson 12: AI Now

My son and I wrote about artificial intelligence about 30 years ago. At that time, scholars discussed its effects on society. Some felt we were entering a transhuman stage in evolution. Our group was more concerned about warning that too much reliance on AI would lead to significant losses, especially in the arts and ethics. There was a general consensus that there would be tremendous growth in the technology that some thought demanded control and others freedom.

That kind of discussion went quiet for three decades. AI developed in medicine, the military, government, and especially business with little scrutiny. Then, in the last three years, GPT became available to the general public.

Now, leaders in the field have publicly expressed qualms about what will happen over the next few years. Reluctant or unable to express exactly what they fear, these AI leaders typically say something vague about losing hold of truth and the loss of middle-class jobs.

We are witnessing the reigniting of the ethical discussion primarily because we are shedding light on what is happening. We find that failure to apply control has allowed some questionable activity.

Artificial intelligence depends upon tremendous algorithms processing vast amounts of data; the techniques used to acquire this data have shattered cultural understandings about privacy and intellectual property. The government or businesses often monitor us without our awareness or permission. Businesses can know our whereabouts, and the government can track us if needed by facial recognition.

What seems acceptable when used by trusted organizations is oppressive and even abusive when used by others to manipulate and control. I hesitate to use the term bad guys because those of us who possess power and wealth in this society have been separated more and more from the weak and poor through the benefits of artificial intelligence.

Again, artificial intelligence uses machines to bring well-defined solutions to well-defined problems. It depends upon efficient technique rather than ethical principles. Every effort to get bias out and ethics in has been a failure. AI depends upon a statistical ethics derived from algorithms using data from the present and past. In other words, bias is always included, and every effort to remove it has failed.

In this situation, what is left of traditional moralities and religions has become a personal matter with little societal influence. Next week, I will examine the role of culture.

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  1. Ira says:

    At this time the college professors are the ones in trouble. They are going to need to teach. Newspapers are gong to need to get new “journalists” and stop hiring philosophers. After you figure out what “artificial” is you can move on to creativity. I watched 60 minutes the other night. Father of AI? I need a break.


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