The AI Phenomenon: For Better Or Worse

The AI Phenomenon: For Better Or Worse

The problem’s plain to see. Too much technology. Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanise.
Styx, Mr. Roboto (1983)

Has it come to this?

Is it just a matter of time before this new kid rampaging on the technology block known as AI (Artificial Intelligence) eventually evolves to such an extent that we face the prospect of being under complete dominance by our robot overlords?

It may sound far-fetched but even Styx’s Dennis De Young, who penned the above lyrics of that 1983 classic, conceded that “robots are going to matter.”

The spirit of confession compels this writer to explain that what you’re reading right now is written by a 100% flesh-and-blood human (the last time I checked, anyway). However, the above image is AI-generated (Source: Adobe Firefly with human i.e. Buzz people prompts).

We don’t expect, at least in the not-too distant future, to be replaced by AI, even though just recently the advertising company VCCP recently launched an AI agency. And this is not people using AI – but basically AI using AI to create automated work for clients.

So, the reality is that AI isn’t going away. Just like other modes of technology, it will adapt and become even more nuanced than before.

AI helps navigate our way through creativity.

We here at The Buzz get it… and use it… experiment with it and learn with it.

For quite some time already, advertisers the world over employ AI services to identify and target audiences. It’s also used to improve on ad efficacy and optimise spend at a much faster rate.

Adam Binder, of US-based digital marketing agency Creative Click Media says, “AI can’t help replace human writers, but it can help writers ideate quickly while improving the structure, syntax and style of their own original ideas.”

Even so, there’s growing opposition to AI, especially as it relates to art and the written word.

Take, for example, author and illustrator Rob Biddulph who said in a UK Guardian online interview, “[AI-generated art] is the exact opposite of what I believe art to be. Whatever form it takes, be it a sculpture, a piece of music, a piece of writing, a performance, or an image, true art is about the creative process much more than it’s about the final piece. And simply pressing a button to generate an image is not a creative process.”

Put another way, you may love Van Gogh’s paintings, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any AI generator to replicate the emotion as well as variation of tone and energy into the mix.

Furthermore, a recent article from the Los Angeles Times highlighted a story in which U.S. technology news site CNET had employed an AI engine to write online articles for its personal finance page. Ostensibly, they seemed coherent until it was revealed that the bot-written articles were studded with errors. Also, there was evidence of plagiarism – not just from CNET itself but also its sister websites.

Yet, for all of its obvious drawbacks, can there be a happy medium between AI technology and the human factor? One is reminded of that old adage that “Fire is a good servant, but a bad master.” Perhaps the same sentiment applies here.

As Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel puts it, “Technology itself is inherently neutral; we must constantly shape it as a force for good. The technology industry must serve as the role model for companies across all industries making breakthroughs using systems enhanced with AI technology. When built and used responsibly, AI will create prosperity and enrich lives.”

In theory, that sounds highly laudable, but in practice, given the vagaries of human nature, one has got to be vigilant. From that seminal moment when our ancestors discovered how to create fire to the present day, technology has been used for either good or ill. It’s yet to escape from human prejudices which, as much as we refuse to admit it, still exist in AI algorithms. We still have to deal with the humanity of AI. The paradox, then, is that the only path to removing said human input is to remove humans. AI, for all its marvels, is incapable of doing just that.

So, maybe it’s not so much about being obsessed with better technology, but with becoming better humans.

Now there’s a thought.