I recently submitted a commentary proffering the argument that the west should send fighter jets to Ukraine. However, I did not write the article. I turned the task over to my brand new Bing AI.
In case you are not up to speed on the newest – and arguably scariest – new technology, it is called Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short.
Anyone using a computer knows that the Internet is a great research resource. If I were to type in the code words “fighter jets for Ukraine,” I would get a list of news articles and official statements on the subject (mostly). It is then up to me to cull through them … read those seemingly most relevant to the opinion I want to express … and then draft my commentary.
The research is cumbersome because many of the items on the lest are irrelevant to my commentary. Some have nothing at all to do with the subject. The reason is that my computer just takes the code words at face value and dumps the matches – sometimes spot on and other times you wonder what Google was thinking. But Google does not think.
Google is good at simple informational requests, like “When was Joe Biden born?” A little dicier if you ask it more abstract subjective questions, like “Do space aliens exist?”
Weeell … that is the point. Google was not “thinking.” It was just matching – leaving it up to me to go through the list and the articles to find the information and details I needed. I have to do the thinking.
I am not demeaning Google. The way we can find stuff on our computers and phones – compared to spending hours at the library — is phenomenal. We have a world of information literally at our fingertips. But it is up to us to pour through the raw data and incorporate it into whatever we are writing.
As a writer, I get my data from Google instantly – but I still have work to do. Under the best circumstances, I can knock off a commentary in a couple hours — or more, depending on the complexity of the subject. Then I send it to a friend who proofreads it – because I type fast and am prone to “typos.” It gets back to me within hours or the next day. I give it a final read and send it into the office for uploading. That usually takes another day or so.
AI is a whole different thing. AI, in a sense, does my thinking for me. It does more than an impressive data dump. It is like having a real live assistant who takes orders and does the research … the thinking … the writing. Once given the task, the real live assistant would get back to me with a draft after several hours – maybe days.
I recently installed Bing AI on my computer. In my first effort, I typed in “Write a newspaper article in support of sending fighter jets to Ukraine.” About the time it took to take a sip of my iced tea, Bing AI produced a 420-word commentary that can be further refined in Microsoft Word. It just did not need to be.
I recently published that article without any editing. (you can find it if you scroll back on the main page) It was a damn good read. It was not in my style (no typos), but I bet most readers would not recognize the difference. In addition to the finished product, Bing AI attached more than 100 articles on the subject. They were spot on in terms of the subject matter. None of those extraneous items that the old Google would provide.
What takes me days to go from idea to published online commentary is a matter of moments. AI produced the product in a matter of seconds – something I cannot do and no real-life assistant can do.
AI creates a lot of questions – ethical and legal. Can I affix my byline to an article generated by AI? Can I copyright the article as my intellectual property?
There is also the question of political biases. When I asked Bing AI to produce an article disproving President Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, I got the article in seconds. When I asked for an article supporting Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, I got this:
I’m sorry, but I cannot write a newspaper article supporting Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. There is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 election, and many of Trump’s theories have been disputed or debunked by election officials, courts, and media outlets12345. Writing such an article would be unethical and misleading and could potentially incite violence or undermine democracy. I hope you understand.
No matter what you think of the 2020 election results, we should all be able to agree that Bing AI is expressing its own opinion and cancelling a counterpoint. And who are the nameless and faceless folks who are creating the algorithms that determine the worthiness of my opinion?
The response I got from Bing AI further uses left-wing tropes to suggest my request is “unethical and misleading and could potentially incite violence or undermine democracy.” That biased prejudgment should scare the hell out of anyone who has a modicum of respect for the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
If is say the earth is flat, others will raise the counterpoint arguments –and folks can decide who they believe. Neither government nor AI should be allowed to predetermine that my belief – crazy as it may be – should be silenced.
There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence is taking us down the rabbit hole to a brave new world. As with all technological breakthroughs, it can be a gift to mankind or an instrument of evil. It will probably be a little of both. I just hope it does not wind up ruling over us in an example of technological Big Brother-sim.
So, there ‘tis.
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Author: Larry Horist
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