We are not creating the "right" kind of AI30 Nov 2023
Arts, crafts, literature, even things like computer programming have been the domain of humans since time immemorial. Machines were historically meant to do menial tasks where the human couldn’t afford the time or resources. The classic example here is the type-writer, a remarkable machine that helped humans draft letters in a standardized and mechanized form which could then be used for documenting information in an objective form.
The printing press was an extension of that, helped humans create more durable and finished works, or books out of the drafts which they had penned down, either type written or hand written. A plethora of other discoveries and inventions followed including the telegraph, telephone, gramophone, musical instruments, etc. right until the dawn of twenty first century when personal computing with advanced software became a very popular thing almost everywhere. All of them were utilitarian inventions, in the sense that they served some purpose in advancing and enhancing the tribe of humans. Even mobiles and smart phones are extremely utilitarian (though they also come with a lot of cruft!)
But AI is no such thing, there is nothing utilitarian at least in the current forms of AI which are highly discussed and talked about today. The only utility or purpose they seem to have is to get rid of workers and staff through automation, and this itself is often celebrated in social media as if an end in itself. But show me where is the utility in this, for the society, for the tribe?
In that sense, the machine (AI) is an ideal servant but not such a good master. For starters, it’s a clumsy concept to begin with considering you’re coercing a binary logic machine to do tasks which often have very little to do with logic - crafts like singing, writing, teaching, etc. aren’t pure logic things, there is also a lot of nuance, chaos and heart involved.
Another thing is that trying to take away creative jobs from humans and giving it to robots while the menial ones (like data entry, manual labor, household work, etc.) are still being done by humans is an insult to humanity itself. It’s as if the authoritarians want to tell the humans, “This is your worth at most, nothing more. You’re too lowly to do something creative or different or unique”.
Human skills, inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge and craft will eventually die off if all creative tasks are taken over by the machines. Consider the already degraded thirst for GK or General Knowledge ever since google search became a thing. There was a time once when kids used to watch the KBC Show (Indian adaptation of Who wants to be a Millionaire) with tremendous awe and enthusiasm, but no longer today. Today, a simple google search will tell them the correct answer for the quiz question, why bother with discussing the actual answer, the lore and the facts behind it, etc! This is just one example of a creative skill which is rapidly degrading among humans and already taken over by Turing machines.
Imagine a world where everything is “AI generated”, everything including books, songs, music, movies, etc. One can imagine the irony in humans consuming and enjoying such content - the very same humans who have the potential to create poetry, prose, songs, software and even artificial intelligence itself!
I abhor to imagine the state of such a dystopian society which is so divided between the chosen few “haves” administering the AI, and the masses of “have nots” doing all the menial jobs just to sustain the “AI ecosystem”. Are we already seeing signs of such a dystopian society being created in front of our eyes? You answer.