AA Edit | AI: Tech that can end, or refashion, our world

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

AI is our next step in evolution, and it is here.

The open to public, AI-based chat bot, is currently a recreational and test version. (DC File Photo)

This editorial is written by a human being and not an artificial intelligence bot. But very soon it might as well be written by one. In sheer capability, one might argue, the train has already eft the station — and ChatGPT, one such popular application, might well write one such piece. And better, and faster.

The open to public, AI-based chat bot, is currently a recreational and test version, which has hit headlines after Microsoft reportedly entered into discussions to make a $ 10 billion investment into the firm that developed it — OpenAI, taking its valuation to something just short of $29 odd billion, making it one of the most fascinating, and valuable tech products on earth.

It is also extremely frightening, fusing science fiction dystopias and scary thrillers set in the future together.

In 1872, British author Samuel Butler wrote ‘Erewhon’, (conjured up as the reverse of nowhere), in which, in a chapter, ‘The age of the machines’, in which Erewhonians, unlike mindless luddites, are wary of intelligent machines, which they argue could be the next in step of evolution on earth — in short, if we human emerged from apes, Artificial Intelligence, fused with other tech including 3D printing, robotics, and internet, could well be the next step in evolution.

It is not just an author with epiphany but no realistic details, over 250 odd years ago, who is warning humanity about intelligent, self-propagating machines (AI is essentially intelligent software code that can write software code), but a futuristic entrepreneur like Elon Musk.

The founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and the world’s wealthiest man, nearly five years ago, described artificial intelligence as “the scariest problem” mankind had — way over nuclear war, cloning or global warming — saying AI as an invention poses an unappreciated existential risk for humanity. Mr Musk even sought regulatory oversight at global level to ensure we don’t do something very foolish.

Just an industrial revolution set a paradigm in which the machine’s muscle power was once and for all established as superior to the physical power of man. Cars, planes, electric appliances, cranes, and everything else around, could do physical jobs no man could ever match. Human labour lost all primary dignity, and premium economic value, after the industrial revolution — and socially, the middle classes were held to be superior because they worked with their mind.

Today, already, AI demonstrated by ChatGPT, is intelligent, capable of enormous learning, comprehension, expression, processing, with other machines' advantages, as to make most mental work of man vastly inferior.

AI can already do the job of doctors, lawyers, judges, legislators, writers, poets, songwriters, architects, engineers, editors, TV anchors, accountants, teachers, among others, without any discernible quality lapse, but at unimaginably infinitesimally lower costs and time.

What the industrial revolution did to physical power, the AI will do to man’s mental prowess, and therefore, the middle classes, like the lower classes working with their physical power, will be reduced to insignificance economically, and socially. As a consequence, AI owners, code writers, and corporations which will manage and control this ecosystem (for a while), will soon be the only ones with any advantage, and power.

AI is our next step in evolution, and it is here. Prepare to cede control of earth to a row of zeros and ones.