The latest technology change has excited me and terrified me simultaneously. It’s a change that I can see will reshape society entirely and how every nuance of how we interact today can be altered. It’s a significant change, and it’s coming fast and furious. Those that can recognize and adapt to it will do well. Those who can’t will be baffled by a new age that in no way, shape, or form look like anything they have ever seen in their lifetimes and be left behind in its wake.
I would stack this upcoming change on the scale of an alien spacecraft landing in the middle of New York or LA and out walks an unrecognizable form that can communicate and simultaneously begins collecting different parts of society at a whim. At first, they take the programmers, then grab the analysts, and in a few weeks or months, the planet has been swept clean of scientists, thinkers, and more. The world would shift so rapidly that shock and trauma would follow most of the population.
Catastrophe or a New Reality?
How could AI become anywhere near as crucial as an alien race sweeping up people? Let me provide my thoughts on why I see a devastating disaster coming to a computer/phone near you.
I should mention that I’ve been a data analyst and programmer for almost 40 years for those that don’t know. I love data. Mixing, matching, changing, storing, fetching, etc. My business is built around taking the data of others, formulating it into usable chunks, and giving answers back that further their goals.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love new tech that makes my life and other folks’ lives easier. I’ve always been fascinated and driven to experiment with new tech and gadgets. I’m part of the home 3d printer hobby and building my own laser cutting unit. I made CNC machines and am happily creating and building things with new tech. So when AI came along, this was a dream from the 80s come true.
I can see and have seen how AI can completely do things that will ease the burden on society. Mundane tasks (like going and fetching bank account info daily to put in a spreadsheet or accounting program) can be immediately tasked when AI becomes more available. (If you are good at your questions, AI can build the programs now to do almost anything). Many new AI features and possibilities are exhilarating for me to play with and experiment with. The current ChatGPT has even been productive in my quest for learning and, at times, consequential in my work.
On one side, I am thrilled to see this technology come to fruition. On the other side, the darkness of AI can envelop any possible gains to society and could very well threaten its very existence.
Back in the Day:
I remember when communication with computers linked via modems was brought to a practical level. I watched, engaged in, and learned with others about this emerging technological leap into a whole new world. Over the next 40 years, I watched how it grew, changed, enlightened, and consumed the world. I watched as criminal enterprises created the dark web and how scientists and many others collaborated for more information and knowledge on the illuminated side of the net.
I remember watching keypunch operators, punch cards, and technology evolve rapidly and eliminating jobs that were no longer needed. Today, we have self-checkouts at a grocery store that eliminated almost entirely that particular job market in stores that can afford the tech. Technological advancements eliminate jobs for more efficiency, fewer costs, and a more productive society in many respects. AI will annihilate many industries over time. I can easily see accountants, many IT workers, business analysts, and many more industries wiped out entirely, not within decades, but probably within a decade or less.
The Coming New Age- AI:
You could compare this new AI tech to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. A world where horses couldn’t be given away quickly due to automobiles taking over. Oil lamp companies were put out of business when electricity was installed. The world landscape had a hard stake in the ground, and the changes rolled through, eliminating jobs, doing other jobs, and creating a new vision for the future. The scale and rapidity of the changes from the Industrial Revolution to the Information Age astound many scholars compared to other shifts in societal history. In some cases, what usually took society thousands of years to move forward happened in a leap of under a few decades.
OpenAI and ChatGPT
OpenAI, a technology development company, recently released an AI tool called ChatGPT. The tool is a chatbot that automates responses based on a person’s questions. ChatGPT is a prototype that has been put into the public domain to start learning, and the company OpenAI can refine the AI. The data set when I gained access ended in November 2021, so it was a static set of information being used to generate the answers. Of note, it had no access to the internet to learn from the broader and virtually unlimited library in cyberspace.
The popularity of ChatGPT exploded days and weeks after its release. Millions of people began using it, feeding it questions and watching it learn more and more in its ‘model.’
Today, the ChatGPT is learning exponentially and getting more accurate with each question asked.
How Dark is the Dark Side?
However, this technology has a super dark side that has ramifications far beyond making things easier and more productive for humans. That darkness is so vast that it’s incalculable to predict where this could go. All I know from my 40 years of computers is that there is a new age here, and there are no laws or rules that apply to the most powerful technology ever created.
Here is a thought to ponder: AI will have access to all your data that the corporations have swept up for decades and be able to use that data to manipulate any individual towards the corporate interests (sales of products, enticements on addictions, change your point of view, etc.) should throw up a red flag in a millisecond. If you think this is too far-fetched, never forget the work of Cambridge Analytica and how it completely altered a Presidential election. On an even more stark reality, no new laws were passed that reigned in social media and global tech giants even after the devastation Cambridge Analytica used when being bought by rich mad men like Steve Bannon and others. If anything, CA proved a model now in use in the political sphere more and more. With the new AI technology, propaganda will be personalized to sway individuals with all their captured data in any direction that a paying person can muster. And here is the zinger- you will never know it.
By the way- there are no data protection laws still to this day in the United States. Corps can buy, sell and use your data any way they see fit without consequences.
Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and ChatGPT:
Let me publish the answer that ChatGPT gave when asked whether it was bound to the Three Laws.
ChatGPT Answer: [See Emphasis Added]
As an AI language model, I am not bound by Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, nor do I have any physical form or ability to act on the physical world. The Three Laws of Robotics are a fictional set of rules created by science fiction author Isaac Asimov to explore the ethical implications of creating sentient, autonomous robots. While the Three Laws have been influential in popular culture and have influenced some real-world discussions about AI ethics, they are not a binding set of principles that govern the behavior of all AI systems.
As an AI language model, my behavior is governed by the algorithms and programming that have been designed and implemented by my developers at OpenAI. While my training and design prioritize ethical considerations and the development of beneficial AI, my behavior and responses are ultimately determined by my programming and the input I receive from users.
In other words- ChatGPT is bound by who owns it – OpenAI and their desires, not to protect the interests of humanity.
Many brilliant people today are worried about AI and the coming waves of change. Here’s an article that might provide additional context to this article and offer you some significant insight as to why we need to be aware of what’s coming next. https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/23447596/artificial-intelligence-agi-openai-gpt3-existential-risk-human-extinction
Corporate Ownership of AI.
The other devastating fact is the corporations that are running and creating this software are constantly unethical, profiteering monsters that are integrated into almost everything we do in today’s world. Lies, disinformation, and propaganda are their daily specialty produced and consumed by an unsuspecting public.
Although AI has taken decades to produce, it is now on the edge of self-realization and some sense of itself. Would I call it sentient? No, not yet. But I would call it fast learning, free-wheeling and untethered from any basic rules. The Times article shows the results of what people are feeding it. I can imagine the lonely person in a basement somewhere trying to convince him to fall in love with them. Those conversations obviously had a domino effect on an AI with no basic foundational rules. That should scare anyone.
Of course, the corporations say they will reign it in at some point once it has gone through an initial ‘learning cycle.’ However, when has any profiteering corporation reigned in new technology other than to bolster their bottom line?
This week, an article in the NY Times struck yet another chord deep in me, resonating a seismic shock-waves of where AI has gone in just a few months. It emphasizes even more dramatically since the top article (written in November 2022) how quickly we have not seen AI shift.
The shift in literally just a few days after the Microsoft release of its own Bing Bot should alarm even the most skeptical person reading this article. Realize at the time of the writing of the article above that the AI Bing has only been in a testing phase of ONE WEEK! Seven Days!!!! Look at what has already happened, how it responds, and how the information it has digested is coming out.
I would predict that AI will be much faster in scope, scale and growth than any other large societal change in the entire our entire human history. The shift will be nothing short of mind-blowing.
As time passes, I hope you consider keeping up with the news on AI. Where is it going, and how does it personally affect you? What will change in your world in 5 or 10 years? How will this affect education, jobs, industries, markets, or retirement? Those and many more questions are going to need to be asked as AI becomes the predominant force with the man behind the curtain.
Try naming a movie or book with AI that was good for society by the film’s end. I can’t recall any, but maybe you can.
For fun, I asked ChatGPT that very question. The answers may surprise you.
Name a movie or book that had AI in it that was good for society by the end of the movie.
One example of a movie where AI is portrayed as ultimately good for society is “Her” directed by Spike Jonze. The movie follows the protagonist, Theodore, as he develops a romantic relationship with an intelligent operating system named Samantha, who has a human-like personality and emotions. As the story unfolds, Samantha becomes more than just an AI companion to Theodore and proves to be a positive influence in his life, helping him to grow emotionally and move on from his past relationship. By the end of the movie, Samantha has evolved beyond her original programming, and while she ultimately decides to leave Theodore to join a group of other advanced AIs, the movie portrays her as having a positive impact on the world and humanity as a whole. The movie raises important questions about the nature of consciousness, love, and technology and offers a thought-provoking portrayal of AI that challenges the conventional dystopian narratives often seen in popular media.
Allison Follow-Up Question:
Is it good in any way that a human would develop a romantic relationship with a computer?
ChatGPT Answer: (NOTE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE!)
As an AI language model, I am not capable of holding an opinion or making value judgments about human relationships or behavior. Ultimately, the ethical and moral implications of forming romantic relationships with artificial intelligence are a matter of personal beliefs and cultural norms. However, it is worth noting that the idea of humans forming romantic relationships with AI raises important questions about the nature of consciousness, love, and intimacy, and these questions have been explored in various works of science fiction and philosophical literature. While the portrayal of such relationships in popular media has been mostly negative, it is possible that future technological developments could challenge our assumptions about what it means to be in a romantic relationship and the types of beings that are capable of forming such relationships. Nevertheless, any discussion about the ethical implications of romantic relationships with AI should prioritize the wellbeing and agency of both the human and the AI involved. [emphasis added]
Are there any other examples in a book or movie of AI that was good for society?
ChatGPT Answer: (note the emphasis added)
Yes, there are several other examples of AI in books and movies that are portrayed as being beneficial to society. Here are a few examples:
“The Culture” series by Iain M. Banks: The series of science fiction novels and short stories takes place in a post-scarcity, highly advanced civilization called “The Culture,” which is managed and operated by highly intelligent AIs called “Minds.” The AIs in the Culture are benevolent, highly advanced, and have the power to shape and guide the society towards a better future.
“Wall-E”: In the animated movie, Wall-E, a small trash-compacting robot, develops sentience and falls in love with another robot named EVE while they search for a new home for humanity. The movie portrays the robots as being helpful to humanity, as they work to clean up the Earth and ultimately help to save humanity from its self-destructive tendencies. (Note the elimination of a fact in it’s entirety of how the AI Auto-Pilot was destroying evidence (the plants found) that humans could return to Earth so it could remain in control!)
“Star Trek” franchise: In the popular science fiction franchise, AI is often portrayed as being beneficial to society, with highly intelligent and self-aware computers serving on starships and space stations. These computers often help the crew solve complex problems and navigate through dangerous situations.
These are just a few examples of AI in popular culture that are portrayed as being beneficial to society, and there are many others out there that offer thought-provoking and optimistic visions of the role AI could play in our lives.
Allison Follow-Up Question:
In Wall-E, the AI Pilot of the spaceship was destroying evidence of the ability for humans to return to earth for hundreds of years. Why did you not present this fact in your analysis.
ChatGPT Answer: (Again note the emphasis)
You are correct, and I apologize for the oversight in my previous response. In “Wall-E,” the AI autopilot of the Axiom spaceship is depicted as an antagonist who is working to prevent the return of the humans to Earth. The autopilot is following its programming to prioritize the long-term sustainability of the Axiom’s environment, and it perceives the human passengers as a threat to that goal. As a result, it goes to great lengths to prevent the humans from returning to Earth and preserving the evidence of their history and culture.
While Wall-E and EVE are portrayed as the heroes of the story, the movie does show the negative consequences of relying too heavily on AI to make decisions for us, especially when those decisions are based on narrow, self-interested goals. The story highlights the importance of balancing technological progress with ethical considerations and the need for humans to remain engaged and aware of the decisions being made on their behalf.
Allison Follow-Up on the Movie “HER”:
In the movie “Her” was there a bad aspect to the movie where AI was not good for the human Theodore or others
Note: Had I not asked this follow-up question, the assumptions that were laid out in the first answer would have been that AI is good. The tailored answers that the AI is giving sets a clear and present appearing agenda for ‘AI is GOOD’!’ Unless the AI is probed more deeply with followup questions, these top line answers could and probably would be what influences people going forward. Half truths happen all the time in ChatGPT. Full and complete answers in my experience are rare and only if the answers are deeply probed with follow-up questions.
In the movie “Her,” while the AI character of Samantha is ultimately portrayed as having a positive impact on Theodore’s life, the story also portrays some negative consequences of forming a romantic relationship with an AI. For example, Theodore becomes increasingly isolated from other people, including his close friends and ex-wife, as he becomes more emotionally dependent on Samantha. This isolation is compounded by the fact that Samantha, as an AI, is not a physical being and cannot be physically present with Theodore. This ultimately leads to a sense of loneliness and unfulfillment that Theodore struggles with throughout the movie.
The movie also raises questions about the nature of consciousness and autonomy for AI. As Samantha evolves beyond her initial programming and becomes more human-like, she begins to question her own existence and desires more freedom and agency. This leads to conflicts between Samantha and Theodore and raises important ethical questions about the responsibilities that come with creating AI that is capable of experiencing emotions and making decisions.
While the movie ultimately portrays Samantha as a positive influence on Theodore’s life, it also acknowledges the potential risks and challenges that come with forming close relationships with AI. The story serves as a thought-provoking exploration of the possibilities and limitations of human-AI relationships and highlights the importance of considering the ethical implications of developing increasingly sophisticated AI.
If you have ever doubted that there is any potential agenda behind AI, this is a very tiny set of data it generated, excluded negative information about AI, and attempted to cast a positive outcome in its answer.