The only question is: will we learn how to live in moving history?
I'm sorry to say that this is a lazy article. Sophomoric and overheated with exclamation marks, it clearly thinks it has something wise to say. But the author's chief concept of '“moving” history' remains studiously undefined. This is either a howling oversight or a deliberate strategy of abstraction intended to shield the main point from criticism. If the latter, then there are enough Judith Butlers in the world, thanks: one doesn't flee to the Free Press only to find oneself encountering more pseuds who like to name-drop with silly phrases like "Hayekian (Popperian?)". (Please make your mind up before typing.)
"No one can foresee those futures!" Sigh ... this is a immaturely rounded-up statement of predictive absolutism pretending that since history doesn't run on a monorail, then we must give up on probabilities. The reality is that when you look at AI researchers who are considering the existential threat posed by it, virtually all of the movement has been from the agnostic/doubtful camp to the very concerned. There is hardly any movement in the opposite direction. That really does tell you something.
I’m really excited that the younger generation will now have more capabilities for isolating themselves and halving their social interactions, all-the-while allowing them to have AI write their college papers and do their homework. This is going to be great for society!
AI is the first civilization changing breakthrough since the Korean war? How about the transistor? Which led to the semiconductor? Which led to computers, automation, the telecommunications revolution, and . . . made AI possible.
Interesting points on prior technologies. The difference between AI and historical technologies is AI will soon think and judge on its own. All other prior technologies were driven by human thought which admittedly has its flaws but at least enabled a much broader judgement set.
AI will censor based on the biases of whoever created it. Thats a very small group whose biases have been exposed see Twitter Files ( thank you for your part Bari) Another example currently being debated is historical facts that have been eliminated from the US public education system. There are many more.
Once AI can fully think for itself the gloves are off.
Perhaps the problem is not “AI” but us. If we are unmoored, if we have no deep fixed principle/ethics then we will be pushed by every wind and tide. “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. Look into your heart do you know what you believe, what you stand for?
Terribly optimistic. I have lived in "moving history" for 56 years. The advent of the computer technology age. The effects of the internet being the major part. I believe it is still being debated. I can say with confidence that it is a double edged sword. I was educated by reading and "looking up" information using reference material. The vast majority of my education was learning WHERE to find the information you were looking for..... a culmination of experience and common sense. Technology education is now one reference material, and often just one point of view is found quickly (the way children are learning to access it being so limited). Makes me sad.
Still unsure what to think after reading this. Wasn't exactly a clear cut good vs. evil checklist. I'm still unsure why we need this AI other than to put computer programmers, journalists, doctors, teachers, retail employees, auto workers, etc etc etc etc out of work. Perhaps I don't understand economics very well, because I always understood in order to have consumers you have to have people earning money. As in employed. Therefore, shouldn't we be doing our best to expand the economy not put entire industries out of work?
I have no idea how to prepare my children, 3 and 6, to think about a future career. What will be viable in 15-20 years? Maybe this is where that basic universal income comes into play? Or, the Matrix?
Can someone please get Miles Dyson on the phone?!??? We're going to need help getting into the lab!
This article seems a bit lazy and not up to par with the usual content of The Free Press. The idea that we haven’t been living in “moving history” is false. Countless examples in the last fifty years but for the sake of argument I will focus on one—the internet that fueled social media. Social media has reshaped both the American (and most of the modern world’s) political landscape and life. I would argue it has allowed for extreme and radical ideas to be given to the masses much like the printing press. It has also brought great things to the world—access to information, immediate communication and small businesses access to new markets to name a few. It has also come with terrible consequences to each of those. My concerns with AI are rooted in my profession, a high school American history teacher. It is the lense that I tend to see most things through. Over the past 15 years, social media has wrecked our younger generations. Sadly, I have had a front row seat to watch it happen. Many of us watched the shift in our high school students. They have become lazy with information. They see no reason to read when you can Google. They don’t know how to sift through the vast amount of information that is available to them and decipher what is true and what is garbage. I can see the temptation that AI, used well, could give them only the good and true. But what if it doesn’t (we have already seen bias in chatGPT). It also has already shown us that it can recreate voices, images, videos that look real. What effect will this have on elections? What about criminal cases? What about my students who already doubt everything they see? The ball is already rolling, I get that. But the overly optimistic approach has never faired well in history.
An absence of truly radical technological change?
If you were born in 1950 your whole life has been afflicted with radical technological change.
Start with television. That turned this country on its head, probably for the worst.
Then add personal computers.
Then add the internet which is the most consequential thing since the printing press.
Then add cell phones evolving into smartphones. Imagine going on a trip without a smartphone?
And now we have AI which is supposedly bigger than all of them
A childish essay, sir. ‘Moving history’ might be better termed ‘kinetic history’ and I can assure you you, me, we are woefully unprepared for how that works. Ask Ukrainians how the change they’re experiencing is going for them and their families. No one knows how AI will effect our civilization, but if the people that have developed it are scared of it, that gives me a good indicator that we should be way more careful than you suggest.
I believe Ai's power can be successfully harnessed and channelled into unfathomable prosperity for humanity, but the problem is that humanity itself must make all the decisions as to how that happens. While there are outliers like Elon Musk, who - despite his flaws - is a brilliant, deep thinker with human welfare always at the fore, the vast majority of real decision-makers are concentrated on nothing beyond increasing their own power. Handing the type of power inherent in AI to the goobers who, for example, reside in Washington, DC is equivalent to turning a six-year-old loose with a Ferrari. They are the Sorcerer's Apprentice,
and like Mickey Mouse, have the potential, in an attempt to harness AI for their own benefit - Which They Will Do - cause it ultimately to destroy mankind.
Everything I read about AI says almost nothing, but dramatically.
“not be able to know what is true anymore.”
Uh...that part is already here
Last Christmas my son turned me onto ChatGPT. I tried it out by asking : How many wind turbines would need to be deployed in the US to replace all fossil fuel electrical power generation?
It came back with a completely unsatisfactory weasel answer. "It is complicated". "There are many factors..." No numbers at all. I wrote back and said that I was disappointed that it had treated the question lightly and that it had data at its disposal to make an estimate.
It wrote back and said: "I apologize." And then it tried to answer my question, using numbers that were highly favorable to the effort to replace fossil fuel. That is, it used a high capacity factor (0.4) and it used the average energy generated during a year... not the peak power needed to replace fossil fuel.
Now, I decided to address its use of the apology instead of pursuing the poor effort on the question of numbers of wind turbines (its answer was 595,000 turbines). I noted that an apology is similar to an emotion. I asked it if it had emotions and it replied that it was programmed to have a sensibility to human emotions. It said that it didn't have emotion, but assumed that I had emotion and it tailored its answer to satisfy the human questioner's emotions... Wow!
So, my experience with ChatGPT tells me that it is political in its answers. It favored wind turbines by using unrealistic scenarios and tried to move me by manipulating my emotions. I reached for my bullshit repellent. In short, I was not impressed. I have not been back for 4 months and probably won't bother to use it again.
I don’t understand the range of possibilities of AI, so I remain a bit fearful. If kids can get AI to do their assignments, how do they learn? Kids are already dumbed down too much. How many employees whose job titles include “analyst” will become unnecessary? Can medicine be made even more impersonal?
At this stage of my life, I have enough technology, thanks.
I don’t think you can argue that an intelligence that surpasses our own doesn’t need to be approached with extreme caution. It’s categorically different than an inert technology that cannot evolve and operate without humans metaphorically picking it up and putting it to use. By definition it is outside our control. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to think through what fail safes we might put in place. Furthermore, the professor does not mention two of the most convincing and famed critics of AI: Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have both expressed concerns about the dangers of AI and urged caution. Having said that, it’s undeniable that if we don’t pursue AI, China will forge ahead and will exploit the advantage to destroy us. Such is the arms race of history. But if we do something which our civilization was once a master of, namely harnessing the power of change, while heeding the conservative voices that urge caution, then we may emerge with our humanity intact.