The hip world – or “woke and they love it world” – is all abuzz. After introducing their three-letter Marxist novelties, CRT (Critical Race Theory, or racism in schools), ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance, to kill profits), and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, to block diverse ideas, replace individuals with groups, exclude traditionalists), they are buzzing with “AI,” or “Artificial Intelligence.” Consider the reality beyond the hype.
AI is the use of computers, data sets, and machine learning (feedback loops where robots or “bots” learn from actions and reactions) to “solve problems.” As AI gets more sophisticated, it is producing a “human-like” ability to mirror our personal responses, writing, and reactions.
Forward-thinkers are ecstatic or terrified, sometimes both. For purposes of changing society, many think “human-like bots” will replace people at work, and perhaps in other ways. More, they think humanity could become captured by, dependent on, even subservient to AI “bots.”
Thus you have innovative computer programmers, entrepreneurs, AI wizards, and those who are continuing to perfect this “do it better than people” technology – humanoid bots – very excited.
Already technologies like “ChatGPT” – Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer – which can respond like a human, write term papers, answer legal questions, and give you the feeling you are talking to a person – are all the rage on social media and in the blogosphere.
Officially, AI like ChatGPT is “trained” to interact “conversationally,” manage dialogue and follow-up questions, admit mistakes, challenge assumptions, and figure out appropriate from not. As a “chatbot,” or computer programmed for simulating human conversation, it is getting good.
For reasons from curiosity and convenience to the controversial, this AI platform has grown fast, drawing 100 million users in 60 days. The real question is what does it mean, and where will AI go – is that a good or bad place?
Second, “dialogue” can generate a medical, legal, scientific, business, academic, social, or psychological response, create dependence, offer the false perception that a human is involved. This comes with its own set of concerns, especially for the digitally undiscerning.
Third, higher level concerns are that AI technology might replace humans in the workplace, even graduate to becoming “Hal 9000” in the movie “2001 a Space Odyssey,” or the self-imputing, all-assuming, God-like character described by Frank Herbert in “Destination Void.”
In truth, while bad people can encourage good people – especially young people – to do the wrong things through use of AI, indoctrinating them directly and indirectly, causing them to abandon work, stop thinking, writing, and prioritizing humanity, the reality is far from this.
While a malign federal government could misguide, mislead, misinform, disinform, cancel, and persecute citizens through AI technology, the likelihood is that humans will always prefer humans to machines, even the best “bots” – and ways of assuring we know humans are humans will also improve.
Put differently, how do you feel when a recording tells you to “have a good day.” Does it spike your endorphins, serotonin, or adrenal output, give you a warm and cozy human-to-human feeling? Or do you say, “yeah, thanks.” We seldom feel emotional ties to a non-feeling “bot.”
Similarly, originality, creativity, and non-programmable emotions, let alone notions like faith, inspiration, kindness and caring for their own sake, self-sacrifice and generosity for higher purposes, personal sympathy, empathy, and love, ideas about salvation and justice elude “bots.”
Machines – at their best – have no soul, no programmable concern for a soul. They are exceptional at parroting life but cannot bring either themselves or anything else – not even a parrot – to life. They have no living, breathing, mortal presence, just the ability to mock life.
God alone creates life. “Bots” can mimic, but living eludes programming. “To err is human and to forgive is divine,” to feel and forgive from heart in a way that means something, will always require being entirely human.
In all this, there is comfort, since “have a good day” means far more coming from any human than it can ever mean coming from a sentient, sensible “bot,” or any pretender to humanity.
Give me a human smile, hug, tear, trouble, fear, folly, hope, wish, yelp, or chance to help any day – over the smoothest, most confident “bot” trying to be what it is not. Yes, monitor AI and all the novelties it delivers, watch the job market, and do plan – but only humans are human. And hey, they come – we come – with our own liabilities, right?
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman2 for AMAC.