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Artificial Intelligence – Where Does It Lead?

Posted on Friday, March 1, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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13 Comments
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the process of getting machines – what we call “computers,” may later call “flawless sapiens” – to make decisions as if equipped with human senses, neural nets, and instinctive powers, as if human. AI would probably even like to chop the wood for my fireplace. Where does AI lead?

This stuff is the rage, folks diving into the deep end without checking for water. That is wrong. But so is deliberate ignorance, trying to imagine AI away.

Misinformation often outpaces knowledge. Some say AI means we are making ourselves extinct; others predict we will live forever, remake mankind, and re-tilt Earth.

Some say this perpetually self-teaching, information-sucking tool is wonderful, others a curse. That debate turns on how we use it and whether we can control it.

This last bit is a public preoccupation – for educators, lawyers, doctors, politicians, warfighters, and those wishing to deter wars, anyone who has paused to do some imagining.

Among the cautious were scientist and fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, as well as theoretical physics pioneer Stephen Hawking.

Wrote Hawking: We should beware of a technology that thinks itself so smart it can self-redesign until it sees itself in charge of those who created it.

There is something ironic, and mildly comical about that view. It sounds like the “fly on the wall” talking to God as creates Mankind, knowing His creation will make big mistakes, and might one day imagine itself being God.

Arthur C. Clarke, famous for inventing “Hal” – a rather self-righteous and survivalist computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey” – had a similar concern. He imagined we could get above ourselves; and invent machines we regretted making.

Wrote Clarke: “The most intelligent inhabitants of the future world won’t be men or monkeys; they will be machines. They will start to think and eventually, they will completely outthink their makers.”

With deference to ourselves, these minds were often right, too often not to think about the things they imagined.

While neither thought machines would “come to life,” that is, have feelings, heart, faith, or the unduplicatable markers of humanity, they did wonder about limits.

So, let’s ask – what could happen? We know this. The ability to ingest nearly infinite amounts of human learning, find connections, apply them to complex problems, make decisions, and exercise faux “judgment” – with human bias – is real. AI can do that, and fast.

What does that mean? Hypothetically, AI might invent, deploy, and suppress a deadly pandemic, stop an asteroid, personalize health to extend life, understand animal talk, and permit emotional communication with an unborn baby. Anything!

The current evolution of AI already allows us to solve wildly complex problems, align actions with preferences, predict and preempt bad things, tailor papers, speeches, legal briefs, and mete out solutions heavy with math, nuance, and emotion.

AI can digest, connect, and apply emotion – calibrate and compensate for reactions to problems, in effect often get there before we can. That could be valuable.

AI can instantly do analysis based on game and probability theory, and if allowed, act. It can assess, execute, track, continue tracking, and act toward an outcome.

We may not be far away – honestly – from the global ability of AI to assess whether a war could be won, how it should be fought, and then (gasp) initiate it.

But is this all real, or just science fiction – like antigravity machines, invisibility cloaks, interstellar travel, the light disappearing into black holes, time-changing speeds, humans in space, satellites in orbit for instant communications, an internet, email, skype, mobile phones, and smartwatches?

Yes, you get the point. The first three are predictions Clarke made, the fourth one Hawking made, the fifth Einstein’s, and the last five, based on satellites non-existent when Clarke wrote – all things he predicted.

All have come true except the first three – and they may one day also. So, should AI be stopped, pursued with caution, or embraced? Like computers, genetic engineering, and nuclear weapons, AI is out of the bottle. The key is how we use it.

In truth, many do not fear it but urge caution. They see AI’s capacity to change life on Earth – for good and bad. Morality, ethics, the sanctity of life and free societies, respect for human control, and humanity’s uniqueness, all need protection.

Bottom line: The rise of AI is another reason to slow down, as we once did with computing, genetic engineering, and nuclear power, all life-changing. These innovations have improved medicine, communication, transportation, and the quality and length of life, but with caution.

Funny enough, some clever soul asked AI to assess whether Einstein would think AI a danger to humanity. The answer that came back was strangely Einstein-like.

The AI suggested Einstein would not have shut it down, would have liked the innovation, would have counseled caution – just the sort of answer “Hal” might have given “Dave” (the human in Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”).

I guess, as we better understand and use AI, we should keep one eye on who is telling us AI is fine, to keep going, since it may be AI itself.

As for me, I will not be running ANY of my columns through AI, not letting AI fill my tea kettle or pour my coffee, and certainly not chop my wood. It’s probably just a Maine thing, but I am not going to open the door wide, not yet. Sorry, Hal.

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 Spokesman for AMAC.

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SusanW
SusanW
1 month ago

Great, informative article! Definitely raised some eyebrows. This is an area I’ve been pondering for a while. Our youth are captivated by it. AI is definitely out of the bottle and probably has been for more time than we think. As an educator I’m concerned and very unsettled. The youth will always be where I focus. So in saying that, simply speaking, I am very troubled that the ease of using AI by our young is going to quickly diminish their ability to critically think, be curious, and more importantly, be innovators. Whether parents want to accept it or not, the majority of our youth are already creatures of overindulgence, a lot lazy, and love a “quick fix” to doing homework and projects. I think my hero, Albert Einstein would support me in this thought. Einstein I think would be fascinated with AI, but would warn others of the dangers of technological progress if not directed by ethical considerations. He was a supporter of individual freedom and creativity, but would be concerned that AI might replace human decision making and creativity, which would lead to a devaluation of human experience and knowledge. I could go on and on, but it’s Friday! In short, keep your eye on AI, show little trust, be more concerned that the wealthy and powerful might misuse it, and pray that more good will come from it than evil. Thank you, Robert!

invictus
invictus
1 month ago

Artificial Intelligence= Joe Biden. Can’t get any more artificial than he.

Robert
Robert
1 month ago

Asimov’s Laws Of Robotics might be worth considering!

KATHERINE ZEIGLER
KATHERINE ZEIGLER
1 month ago

Everyone needs to be cautious when using “AI” mistakes and someone else using A I and using the original person’s information without their consent is continuing to happen. We need to guard our personal information and keep it to ourselves.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 month ago

If t can predict the outcome of the war but not to find a solution to prevent it it is not that smart Same old still in the cave fighting with different weapons As for the other things it can do beside destroying our soul it’s rather scary what it will do to our humanness

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

AI is a joke. If its programmed by an idiot, you’re going to get idiot results. See “Google AI” or “META AI” unless you think vikings were black or Nazis Asian…

Krell51
Krell51
1 month ago

Where will AI lead? If you are a Global elitist and you own an AI factory that can design and produce anything you desire, why do you need us lesser humans clutching up YOUR world? It will lead to the mass extermination of 90% of the rest of us!

Jeri
Jeri
1 month ago

It leads to your demise, but don’t believe me research it yourself.

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