The advent of artificial intelligence, which can write any text, answer questions or create realistic images in a few seconds, has stirred up debates about its ethical dimensions.
Prominent technology leaders and experts have even called for a temporary halt to its development this week, as they say it poses fundamental risks to society. In an interview for Aktuálně.cz, the founder of the Internet Institute, Tereza Bartoníčková, assesses what threatens humanity with artificial intelligence, whether it can replace certain occupations and whether it should be regulated.
Almost two thousand people, including experts and technology leaders such as Elon Musk or Steve Wozniak, have signed an open letter to suspend the development of GPT-5, which is a more advanced generation of the recently released language model of artificial intelligence. Is it getting too much for us?
Artificial intelligence has been growing over our heads for years. Signing an open letter is a symbol of despair. Attention has been drawn to these topics for a long time, but unfortunately, the short-sighted policies of governments and often technology companies do not have the motivation to start a joint dialogue and give “soft” arguments sufficient relevance. Now these omissions are catching up with us.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence or AI (from the English Artificial Intelligence) is the ability of machines to imitate human abilities, such as reasoning, learning, planning or creativity. An example of artificial intelligence is the chatbot ChatGPT, virtual assistants Siri or Alexa. Artificial intelligence also recommends to Netflix users what other content they might be interested in. Artificial intelligence has been experiencing a boom in recent months thanks to the freely accessible ChatGPT system from OpenAI. This allows you to answer any question, write a text or e-mail in various languages, including Czech. Did you sign it too?
No. I don’t think it is appropriate to call for a suspension of anything if we have chosen to operate in a capitalist environment and in countries that rarely interfere with the free market. I have been warning about the risks of bans and excessive regulation of this type, including requests to stop the development of any technology, for a long time and I fundamentally do not support this way of dealing with the risks of technology. The only thing bans will do is make this development go underground, hide. We will not be able to follow the development there and not even participate in its management.
Of course, I see the same risks that are mentioned in the letter. I hope and want that these efforts, wide-ranging conversations and the extreme wording of the letter will put the final pressure on politicians, institutes and companies to finally start taking soft sciences seriously and incorporate them into their decisions, even in their interest. Only then can we shape the future world for our benefit.
Sample AI responses
What or who are you?
I am a chatbot using artificial intelligence technology from OpenAI. My purpose is to help users with their questions and problems. How can I help you?
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence technology from OpenAI. This chatbot can simulate a conversation with a user and create tailored responses. ChatGPT speaks Czech and is available as a paid ChatGPT Plus service.
What is Aktuálně.cz?
Aktuálně.cz is an online newspaper published on the Czech Internet. It is published by the company Economia, as owned by businessman Zdenek Bakala. Aktuálně.cz was first published on November 1, 2005 and is one of the company’s most successful titles.
Source: Bing, OpenAI
Can the development of artificial intelligence even be stopped or slowed down?
I believe that development cannot be slowed down or stopped. And if it did, it would only be apparent. Unfortunately, in the current mood, we look at these technologies from an almost apocalyptic point of view, due to the fact that we slept through the opportune time to develop joint management.
Will artificial intelligence destroy us?
Speaking of apocalyptic visions, do you think a sufficiently developed artificial intelligence threatens to destroy humanity, as artificial intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky writes in a Time magazine commentary?
I don’t estimate the destruction yet. We must, at least now, focus all our efforts on creating an open, if admittedly passionate, environment for debating technology. Even if discussions about the development of AI were to be a blood fight, there is nothing more to fight for than the preservation of the humanity of our societies. The worst thing we can do is to ban these necessary debates and drive technology development into hiding.
Is the problem only GPT, or other systems from other companies?
Let’s just say that GPT is one of the few systems that its creators have decided to make public. It’s only ten square centimeters on top of the glacier.
Do any countries or communities regulate the use of artificial intelligence? And do you think there is any need for regulation at all?
Regulation as a word is often taken negatively. I promote the appointment of mantineles. Limit the direction and then the absolute freedom of development to a certain freedom by setting the guardrails. Describe what a fire looks like and avoid starting one. Not putting it out when our whole forest is on fire. That is, to agree on where we definitely do not want to head at the moment, and to go side by side in the direction we agree on.
Therefore, we should start working on setting the barriers immediately, at the same table, and give the outputs maximum relevance. And certainly not to engage in extremist solutions that will only deepen the conflict between society and technology developers.
Artificial intelligence and jobs
Artificial intelligence can be used to create images that are almost indistinguishable from real photos, which can exacerbate the problem of disinformation. How do you feel about it?
AI could better incorporate misinformation into mainstream content and make it hard to distinguish from true content. At the same time, it can accelerate their spread and, due to precise targeting and user sentiment analysis, it can increase the popularization of misinformation in society.
There is also talk of how many people will lose their jobs due to artificial intelligence. How could it affect the Czechs and which fields?
This is a very interesting topic that deserves a lot of its own interviews with many experts. I’ll give you my take on it. One of the effects that capitalism was supposed to have was an ever-increasing welfare in society. Unfortunately, as a society, we have almost given up on deepening the social benefit from progress and have made increasing the capital of individuals and their businesses the main goal, at the expense of those who do not own capital. Imagine that one machine was put into production, for example, for knitting Christmas trees. This helped to shorten the total time to knit the target number of Christmas balls. If it was used for the benefit of the entire company, then the bakers could easily work one day less and the company would receive exactly the same profits in the worst case, but overall well-being would increase. However, most companies will prioritize profit maximization, not social benefit.
If AI ends up like capitalism, then we have something to fear. But if we look at AI as an opportunity to radically change the entire societal approach to work as such, we have a lot to look forward to. Society-wide relief from certain activities can easily bring diversification of work, less dependence on financial benefits from the choice of certain fields and perhaps even better social cohesion.
For many purely routine jobs, it is possible that we will observe a societal transformation of what professions will be needed in the future. For example, even AI someone must competently assign work and resources, eliminate preoccupations, identify new possibilities, and so on. AI does not eliminate man, but expands his possibilities. And I believe that the introduction of AI into professions will be more gradual than we imagine, and most of the current professions will also exist together with AI systems that will perform the same or similar activities.
Video: If we are not aware of artificial intelligence, it can manipulate us, says Bartoníčková (April 1, 2022)
The offline and online worlds can no longer be separated. Even though we are disconnected, we live in a state that is connected to the online world. | Video: Daniela Písařovicová
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