It’s true I’ve been critical of human beings becoming overly-dependent on artificial intelligence (AI). Although there’s no question it can help improve our lives in certain ways, it can also be used to seduce people into giving up too much personal power. In addition: it makes it easy to dismiss such things as the ethical concerns which determine how many of us do or don’t experience our collective human condition.
Where and when to draw lines of AI propriety has to be mindfully considered for many reasons. For example: How comfortable should anyone be entrusting their health to a “doctor” who relied on AI to pass final med school exams? How much can anyone presenting themselves as an “expert” in any field be considered a professional if they lack the ability to discern for themselves the accuracy, or least the plausibility, of automated information?
My Human Bias and ChatGPT
To challenge any biases of my own concerning what some media commentators are calling the “AI revolution,” I allowed myself to be guided through a test run of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. With the help of a more knowledgeable human associate, I asked what kind of insights it could offer regarding a current GoFundMe Music Heritage Project. I anticipated comical results similar to ones comedians had been quoting to draw big laughs. It didn’t exactly turn out that way. A few of the results follow below and others will be in the article titled Artificial Intelligence and Authentic Human Concerns scheduled for posting on LinkedIn.
Since producing a human-written book on the life and times of radio programmer Theron “Ike” Carter is one primary goal of the Music Heritage Project, I wondered about its possible impact outside Carter’s hometown of Savannah, Georgia (USA). ChatGPT suggested this possibility:
“…The book could provide a model for documenting and preserving cultural heritage in other communities, serving as an example of how local residents and cultural leaders can work together to celebrate and preserve their shared history and identity. This could have broader educational benefits, as it could inspire other communities to undertake similar projects and could contribute to a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of American cultural heritage.”
In all honesty, I had considered possible educational applications but not the noted “broader educational benefits.” My human conclusions had come from video-recording weekly interviews with Mr. Carter for more than a year. The chatbot had determined its AI analyses by drawing on digital resources beyond my instinctive reach. My feelings might have been mixed but how could I deny, at least in this case, the validity of the results?
What, then, about the GoFundMe Campaign?
I had scheduled the GoFundMe Music Heritage campaign to run from Jazz Appreciation Month until the end of African-American Music Month because of Ike Carter’s work in the industry. All that made good human sense. It took the enthusiastic counsel of someone who knows much more about AI than me to ask the chatbot what reasons potential donors might have to feel good about supporting the campaign? This the first part of the answer:
“…Contributing to the GoFundMe campaign could provide a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction for donors, as they contribute to the preservation and celebration of an important cultural legacy. This could be particularly meaningful for donors who have a personal connection to Savannah or who have an interest in music or cultural heritage more broadly.”
And here is the second part of the answer:
“By contributing to the project, donors would become part of a community of individuals committed to celebrating and preserving Savannah's rich musical heritage, and would have the satisfaction of knowing that they played a role in creating a valuable cultural resource.”
Did smiling while reading the above response mean I was allowing myself to be seduced by AI-powered reasoning? It could be interpreted that way. Except I had already immersed myself in the organic process of collecting, sorting, and structuring relevant creative material in my own human way. This was a case where it might be said I had accepted a limited partnership with AI to construct the kind of dialogue someone might have had with a Shark Tank expert.
Humanity at a Crossroads
There is no doubt situations will arise (and already have arisen) where AI will provide life-saving assistance. Does that mean we should relinquish to it all the essential components of what makes us human? Including not caring about the livelihoods it threatens to erase en masse? Or reducing our own capacity for analytical thinking? I’m inclined to say no.
So what now? As with any historic situation placing humanity at a crossroads of hopefulness and doubt, we first weigh the risks before us. Then we proceed, or step firmly on the brakes, with caution. [Also check out: Artificial Intelligence and Authentic Human Concerns]
Co-author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Author of These Black and Blue Red Zone Days
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Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.