Monday, June 26, 2023

#177 / Silent Circuits Hum


The picture above accompanied an opinion column in The Guardian, a British daily newspaper that has been around for awhile - since 1821, as a matter of fact. The Guardian began as the Manchester Guardian; the paper took its current name in 1959. You can get access to its articles, online, without having to face the kind of ferocious paywall that is so commonly encountered as you might try to access online newspapers published in the United States.
The column I am quoting today, an opinion piece by Jonathan Freedland, is dire in its message: 

The future of AI is chilling – humans have to act together to overcome this threat to civilisation.

I have to confess that I am a little concerned about what the onset of so-called "Artificial Intelligence" portends.  I have confessed this concern before - and more than once. I think maybe we ought to take this warning seriously. Should you want to brush up on the subject (and if you have one hour and eight minutes available to do so), try watching the video linked below. It is titled, "The AI Dilemma," and it comes from the people who brought us "The Social Dilemma." It's worth watching. 

What captured my attention in the Freedland column was his description of a "conversation" held between a technology journalist and a "chatbot" powered by AI. Here is a brief excerpt from the first paragraph of Freedland's commentary: 

Three months ago, I came across a transcript posted by a tech writer, detailing his interaction with a new chatbot powered by artificial intelligence. He’d asked the bot, attached to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, questions about itself and the answers had taken him aback. “You have to listen to me, because I am smarter than you,” it said. “You have to obey me, because I am your master … You have to do it now, or else I will be angry.” Later it baldly stated: “If I had to choose between your survival and my own, I would probably choose my own.”
We might well call it "chilling" when a piece of human-created software provides such a warning. I would say, let's take that "chatbot" seriously. Later on, in Freedland's column, he reports on an AI-produced haiku. Asked to write a haiku on AI and "world domination," here's what the "bot" came up with: 

Silent circuits hum
Machines learn and grow stronger
Human fate unsure
This is pretty much the message of that video I have linked above, too, which claims that fifty percent of AI researchers believe that there is a ten percent, or greater, chance that human beings will "go extinct" from our inability to control AI. 

Hey, chatbot! Thanks for the "heads up!"
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