The race toward an AI-driven society is not only costly in terms of electricity and water use with the current AI data centre boom, but the longer-term impacts on how we communicate may be significant.
“This is the AI Grey Goo scenario: an internet choked with low-quality content, which never improves, where it is almost impossible to locate public reliable sources for information because the tools we have been able to rely on in the past – Google, social media – can never keep up with the scale of new content being created. Where the volume of content created overwhelms human or algorithmic abilities to sift through it quickly and find high-quality stuff.
The social and political consequences of this are huge. We have grown so used to information abundance, the greatest gift of the internet, that having that disrupted would be a major upheaval for the whole of society.” —Ian Betteridge 2024-01-24
In addition, too much of AI, in the form of LLM and GPT, is being used for automation of things that should not be done, such as art or poetry, instead of augmenting human work. Humans are creative by nature. Machines are not. Machines should automate boring, tedious, number-crunching, and pattern-detecting work. Machines are diligent, compliant, intelligent, and they can persevere. People can exhibit curiosity, they can cooperate, they can make sense of complex systems, and they can produce novel thinking.
While ‘silicon valley thinking’ continues in the information technology sector, we need to have larger and more inclusive conversations on how to deal with these technologies at a societal level. The question should not be — How can I use ChatGPT? The question should be — How can we make our work more human?