Humanity should use AI, not fear it

Jim Redwine

Congressman Ted Lieu of California has a college degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. Stanford is famous for having students whose parents went to jail for trying to buy their way into the school. There is no allegation that is why Lieu was accepted. It is assumed that unlike many college students Lieu actually went to class and learned something about computers, including Artificial Intelligence.

Lieu recently used his knowledge to have an Artificial Intelligence computer program draft a Congressional Resolution to regulate Artificial Intelligence. Surprise, the Resolution, “… [G]enerally expressed support for Congress to focus on AI.”

As wars rage in Ukraine and the Middle East and millions of people are in need of food, water and shelter across the globe, including California, Congress has seen fit to concentrate on the projected evils of TikTok and now AI. One has to wonder about the psyches of government officials who find danger and disaster behind such artificial issues while real humans are suffering from so many real man-made and natural disasters.

Putting government in control of AI is much more frightening to me than allowing private entrepreneurs to apply their imagination and genius to enhance technology. Such government regulation reminds me of those Luddites who, during the Industrial Revolution, sabotaged new textile machines out of fear the machines would replace the workers. What they found out was there were more good jobs created by the new technology than were replaced by it.

I imagine there were many such retrogressive thinkers a few thousand years ago when some cave man tinkerer showed his neighbors how he had fashioned a round thing to help him roll his possessions to a new cave. Probably to many of his fellow cavemen and cave women he was seen as a destroyer of local culture. But when the armies using wheeled chariots began to conquer those who still dragged things along, the round thing caught on.

Then about the 1930s, when plastics were becoming ubiquitous, people still stubbornly clung to lead pipes and bowls until the danger of lead and mercury were recognized. Now I am appalled by plastic trash littering our highways and waterways. However, I do not hesitate to use plastic utensils and water pipes and reap the benefits from countless products fashioned from plastics. The fact that many people are too lazy to properly dispose of plastic refuse is not the fault of plastic. If we did not have the usefulness of plastic, trashy people would just toss out other products. Yes, plastic needs to be properly recycled and deposited but that is a behavioral problem, not a plastic one.

Humanity never advances by failing to go forward. We need to use AI, not fear it. I would rather Congress concentrate on real issues such as college athletes making millions from deals for Name, Image and Likeness while ticket prices are rising faster than stock market returns, or perhaps, such lingering issues as why we spend trillions on warfare as we attack poverty with heart-felt speeches.

Maybe AI will outsmart us; it will not be that hard to do. But if AI is put in charge of problems we humans have not solved in 200,000 years, what is the worst that can happen? I say we might want to revisit that old observation from when computers first began to integrate our society. You remember, Gentle Reader, a team of scientists had just completed the world’s most advanced computer and they could not wait to ask it the age-old burning question, “Is there a god?” The computer with AI answered, “There is now.”

I suggest we should not grovel before technology as if it were our god that might save us from ourselves, nor should we cower from it as though it might doom us to Hades. Humans can harness technology to help us do what we cannot do with just the talents nature gives. A nice place to start is inventing nuclear batteries that need neither recharging nor replacing. Or how about a way to give used plastic an economic benefit such that people would not just dump it out their vehicle windows?

In other words, we should not look to AI to save us from ourselves nor fear it will punish us for trying. AI should not be worshiped nor feared, and it certainly should not be the victim of Congressional posturing.