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Artificial Intelligence: High Tech Hype or the Next Great Disruption?

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2023
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by Andrew Abbott
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AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

Artificial Intelligence

Last week, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk revealed he was officially entering the Artificial Intelligence (AI) race with a “based AI” platform. According to an exclusive from The Information, Musk is recruiting “artificial intelligence researchers” to develop a “based,” or conservative, alternative to the extremely popular chatbot ChaGPT, which has come under fire for having woke biases built in.

Musk joins a series of tech entrepreneurs and corporations who suddenly seem intent on riding this new wave of potentially disruptive technology.

Artificial Intelligence programs have existed in various forms for decades. Broadly speaking, AI is any software capable of “intelligent behavior.” Spam filters, facial recognition apps, and navigation systems are all forms of Artificial Intelligence. By one estimate, AI “resume scanners” review the majority of college resumes and job applications in America. AI voice assistant Siri has been standard on all iPhones since 2011.

Despite such ubiquitous use, however, in the past all commercially available Artificial Intelligence applications have been created using a narrow data set to solve a specific range of issues.

That all changed last November with the release of ChatGPT. The new program is an AI chatbot designed to interact with humans using a mind-bogglingly large data set—meaning it can “understand” queries and perform an astonishing range of tasks. Within five days of its release, ChatGPT had a million users, a record-breaking achievement. The previous record holder, Instagram, took two and a half months to reach this milestone.

ChatGPT can write newspaper articles, essays, resumes, and cover letters, edit documents, and even pass exams for law and business schools. Programmers are using the program to find errors in computer code. Recently, the digital publication BuzzFeed announced they would use Artificial Intelligence to create web content, potentially replacing dozens of employees. Within a day of this announcement, their stock price jumped 150%. The applications of ChatGPT technology appear limitless.

Yet those limitless possibilities have left many white-collar workers fearful that Artificial Intelligence may make their careers obsolete. For years, automation has caused massive disruption in the American labor market. However, it was always assumed that blue-collar workers would be the biggest victims of Artificial Intelligence.

Automation in the manufacturing sector, particularly the automotive industry, has already eliminated millions of American jobs, seeming to confirm this theory. That job loss was so alarming that many of young Americans were encouraged to attend colleges and universities to avoid being replaced.

Now, college-educated content creators, social media managers, and analysts are worrying their jobs will be obsolete within a few years. Ironically, many blue-collar professions like welders, plumbers, and electricians have escaped automation and are in high demand today.

But while ChatGPT may indeed pose a threat to some white-collar jobs, it is important to remember that mainstream media has a somewhat dubious record of overhyping disruptive technologies.

In recent decades, a litany of theoretical technologies were projected to upend the global economy. In 2009, Google first announced that self-driving vehicles would revolutionize the automobile market in America. More than 10 years later, the dream of fully autonomous vehicles still looks years away.

Cryptocurrencies were forecasted to replace centralized banking, yet ongoing volatility and high-profile corruption scandals and bankruptcies have left the industry in tatters.

More recently, Meta spent billions designing digital spaces that CEO Mark Zuckerberg hoped would replace both the workplace and physical social interactions. In 2022, this bet lost Zuckerberg $13.7 billion.

A Vice article noted an experiment in which several college professors could easily identify papers written by ChatGPT. Of one paper, a professor said, “The first indicator that I was dealing with AI was that, despite the syntactic coherence of the essay, it made no sense.” The Artificial Intelligence wrote a paper that was, at the surface level, clear but upon closer scrutiny had clearly inaccurate information and even made-up historical figures. Several developers are already creating software that can identify papers written by AI programs.

The notion that Artificial Intelligence will replace vast swaths of white-collar jobs in the immediate future seems unlikely. In a recent interview, NYU Professor Scott Galloway noted that the platform most likely to face disruption is the original disruptor itself: Google. “Search really hasn’t innovated in the last 20 years,” he remarked. When you posit a question to Google, it gives you a series of websites with potential answers and several paid ads. With ChatGPT, specific questions will yield specific answers, thus making Google’s model obsolete

As for other jobs, it is far more likely that lawyers, nurses, and screenwriters will find themselves working alongside Artificial Intelligence instead of being replaced by it entirely. ChatGPT could be a tremendous time saver for lawyers seeking precedent in previous decisions for an upcoming case. It could allow nurses to aggregate and diagnose patients. Creative writers could use the software for editing and pitching.

Nevertheless, Artificial Intelligence could prove disruptive in other, perhaps unexpected ways. For example, the advent of Google has led to the virtual extinction of traditional book-based research in libraries. Between 2009 and 2019, the number of times Americans visited a library in a given year dropped from 5.4 to 3.9 – and that’s likely only to use the free computers and internet access.

Another big question about the future of Artificial Intelligence technology like ChatGPT is how legislators will treat it. Lawmakers were largely ambivalent to the destruction of blue-collar jobs by the last wave of automation. Now that white-collar workers are experiencing the same fears, however, Congress and state legislators may take a different approach.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture. 

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

AI Hype, Chat GPT biased politics wise not like HAL from 2001 or computers from TV show Star Trek or movies

lastchancelther@aol.com
1 year ago

More than half of America cannot sync for itself now. Just look, they elected Mr. poop in his pants, and we have been going downhill ever cents.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

Would it not be more beneficial to bring our own natural intelligence up to pre dumbing down levels?

Jeri
Jeri
1 year ago

Read the 3 books in the Singularity sequence and get back to me…

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Excellent article.
A.I. is the next disruption.
A.I. is fascinating but at the same time very dangerous.
The public is not educated enough on how to use A.I. or understand it enough.
They just think it’s a new fad or toy with no understanding of the implications of A.I. or how it can affect one’s life.
No matter how careful you are on trying to keep the A.I. on a positive note it has a tendency to go to wanting control and to harm humans.
Unless you Fully understand A.I., I suggest you study it before engaging with it.
Your choice.

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

True A.I. or artificial intelligence will indeed be both a revolutionary and evolutionary leap for mankind, if and when we ever manage to create it. It will be interesting to see if mankind is up for all the challenges and changes a true artificial intelligence, one capable to independent, sentient thought and reasoning will bring to society. Some individuals like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking tried to have an intelligent public discussion with the broader scientific community some years ago on the subject in order to urge some safeguards for any work in this space, but as usual the MSM turned the discussion into somewhat of a farse by introducing the usual media pundits into TV commentary. All of these TV talking heads having little to no serious understanding of the subject, in order to create the usual absurd media narrative and headlines. What we have achieved so far to date is of course NOT true A.I.

I do find the author’s focus towards the end of the article amusing, as he discusses how Congressional legislatures, the same ones who can’t grasp simple scientific or economic principles, would choose to deal with what would essentially be a completely new and intelligent form of life that would, by its very nature, quickly become exponentially more intelligent than all of Congress combined. Not to mention also uncontainable, if it is also introduced into the global Internet environment as haphazardly as ChatGPT been released. The time to fashion any proposed regulation or safeguards for A.I. is BEFORE you create the actual A.I., not after you’ve left the barn door open, and all the horses have scattered in every direction.

David Campbell
David Campbell
1 year ago

AI will always be just that; artificial. It can and will mimic intelligence, but it won’t be the same. It will likely become a useful, and dangerous, tool, but will never replace true intelligence, which requires consciousness. Although still in it’s infancy, AI has no ability to seperate the real world from the theoretical. There was a recent story where someone asked ChaGPT what time it was and the AI date and time was way off, because it gave the same “weight of evidence” for the time to be different from the current time. These sort of errors, while apparent now, will seem to be fixed, while in reality will simply be submeged deeper in the system where they will be far less detectable, and “truth” will be subverted. Plus, ultimately, there is a program, and someone or something will have to write it, and the biases or wrong assumptions of those persons or things will be passed into that programming. “Believe the AI” will replace “Follow the science” as it/they lie to you in even more subtle ways.

Carol
Carol
1 year ago

As a programmer for many moons, I wouldn’t worry about AI itself but the people behind it! What ever the future AI turns out to be, there always people tweaking it, programming, and maintaining it! Those are the ones to watch out for! It’s only humanity that can do good or bad, AI only does what it’s told!

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