To AI or not to AI in a world where ChatGPT looks like the present and the future

Deconstructing the ethical codes and the bid to stay relevant.

Harper's Bazaar India

One of the most fascinating things about the iPhone when it first positioned itself as the marketing beast it was to become later, was when it acquired and integrated Siri on its device way back in 2011. It was endearing when the AI chat bot, for lack of better information processing would admit to not quite getting what you were asking of it. Subtly enough, AI in the form of chat bot had crossed over to our side. A little over a decade later, while Siri is still not quite getting it, OpenAI (an AI research and deployment company founded by Sam Altman, Ilya Sutskever, Greg Brockman, Wojciech Zaremba, Elon Musk and John Schulman) dropped ChatGPT in November last year making it one of the most talked about ‘technological revolutions’ in the race to achieve tech domination by technocrats at a war with themselves and the limitlessness that AI promises. 

However, as evidence and history would have it, this enchantment with artificial intelligence predates this millennium. A short story (I, Robot) by Eando Binder (who wrote under the pseudonyms Earl and Otto Binder) in 1939, inspired Isaac Asimov to publish his own collection of short stories (I, Robot—officially relased in 1950) where the narrator (a reporter) interacts with a fictional robopsychologist.  It was also in the 1950s that Alan Turing hypothesized that a computer program would eventually interact with humans. Cajoles me enough to acknowledge that all this imaginative meandering way back before our time solidifies the therapeutic nature of ‘thoughts become reality’ sermon dished out at regular intervals. And brings me to where we are currently with all this promise and prison that ChatGPT holds.  
For the uninformed and in simple layman’s term, ChatGPT offers the best solution to your question by industriously searching the plethora of information stored and updated while sussing out the most appropriate and logical answer—a lot like a highly advanced version of Google Search Engine where instead of a million + search results you have one definitive answer.
The trouble with this though (for those already using it liberally) is the accuracy of the answer. The advantage that ChatGPT has over Google search or meta currently—it gets more bold and brilliant with every dollop of information it is fed. So far, ChatGPT has been able to design, write articles, make music, clear medical entrance and law exams, do basic coding, and the list goes on. Actively working on the accuracy levels ChatGPT was also recently in the news for using Kenyan workers on less that two dollars per hour to make it less toxic. An unethical toxic trait given the OpenAI projects one billion dollar in revenue by 2024, with user adoption rate hitting one million early this year.
No surprise then that 450+ start-ups are already working on generative AI. 

When the New York Times article saw the author feeling deeply unsettled by the freedom seeking conversation with Bing’s Chatbot recently, familiar undertones of singularity the machine would seek as envisaged by the brilliantly made films Ex-Machina and Her felt like the past, present and future were converging at a pace we had little control over. Unless of course, regulating it was to become commonplace. Some of America’s largest school districts have already started to ban the AI tool. 

Would you try it? 


[Lead image: Ex-Machina movie still]