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
Enjoy More Conversations with the World
EDITORIAL NOTE: You can read part 1 of this article by clicking here. Part 2 begins now:
The years 2020-2022 delivered some brutal surprises most of us could easily have done without and it is likely the year 2023 will throw some hard punches our way as well. That makes it all the more pleasurable to begin the second part of this article by noting the entire suite of current and forthcoming Bright Skylark websites will continue to offer Free Full Reading and Viewing Access. It is an honor to be able to say content highlighted here has benefitted the goals and aspirations of people around the world. These goals and aspirations to date have been in the form of:
A listing of all Bright Skylark initiatives, and how values and strategies have translated into different cultures and languages, would require a separate article. For now, the above listing provides a solid idea of the work done here. Beyond the noted inspired labors, a lot of groundwork has already been laid to reach important project goals and create memorable moments worth appreciating and, when appropriate, celebrating:
Harlem Renaissance Forever
A big special moment two decades in the making is the 20th anniversary of the publication of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Infobase Publishing). With the emphasis many place these days on cultural heritage and legacies, the deaths of Sandra L. West (1947-2019 and Clement Alexander Price (1945-2014), my co-author and foreword author on the encyclopedia respectively, make its 20th anniversary all the more significant. With them, the encyclopedia itself, and the numerous scholars, researchers, and creatives who have benefitted from it in mind, observations of the milestone will take place throughout 2023. They will include but not be limited to the following:
THE 2023 RELAUNCH of Harlem Renaissance Centennial website with the brand new header seen at the top of this post.
THE FIRST-TIME EVER publication of “The Harlem Renaissance in Savannah: Presentation Commemorating the 90th Anniversary of The Savannah Carnegie Library, August 28, 2004” (on HR Centennial website).
FIRST-TIME PRESENTATION of stories from the Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance Archives told through collected correspondence and project journals.
PRESENTATION OF CLASSIC AXS articles and poetry from National Cultural Arts Examiner Column and Creative Spirit of the Harlem Renaissance Archive Collection.
Resting on Laurels Not Part of 2023 Strategy
The idea of “resting on one’s laurels,” as in proclaiming past accomplishments while doing nothing to grow the existing body of one’s creative works, has never been an option for me. The need to do better, and contribute more (when possible) has always served as motivation to address humanity’s ever-changing condition in imaginative ways. That at times has meant using minimal resources to accomplish maximum results.
At the end of January 2022, I began video-recording weekly interviews with legendary Savannah State University radio programmer and former Coastal Jazz Association president Theron “Ike” Carter. At this point in January 2023, we now have more than 100 gigabytes of footage and photographs, along with a small library of books and CDs for a special work in progress: The Ike Carter Passion Supreme African-American Musical Heritage Project.
Fans of Carter’s who grew up listening to his music programs, as well as those now enjoying rebroadcasts and new streaming editions, know he brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and insights to his craft. In our conversations, we’ve attempted to go even further by delving into the significance of influential figures in music and how music culture in Savannah impacted his life and personality.
The interview sessions have been part of a lengthy preparation for a multi-media project focused on the radio programmer’s experiences and interpretations of different facets of African-American music, culture, and history. Additional research and the completion of a first book manuscript are likely to take the whole of 2023 and revisions may very possibly, or even likely, carry over into 2024. So 2022 gave us a good independent start and hopefully funding will become available to see the work through to completion. Donations to support the project are now being accepted.
Standing Strong against the Pandemic
Progress on the Covid-19 Red Zone Letters and Art Book moved forward in a big way in 2022 with the completion of more than 100 art images and corresponding text to fill 12 sections focused on life in this time of marvels and mayhem. While a number of art pieces created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are already available for purchase online, the visual style and written substance of this unusual volume are largely unique to it. In addition to representing direct lived responses to the new realities imposed by the pandemic, they provide what may be taken as case studies of the layered racial, economic, political, and social inequalities which added to the challenge of the pandemic itself.
Yet because people adopted so many innovative ways of adapting to the plague-induced difficulties, the empowering beauty of those times also had to be acknowledged. They remain useful in situations like America’s current so-called “tripledemic.” Because of its multimedia format, it is possible a second paperback and/or eBook edition emphasizing text from the volume may be published.
Becoming Better Practitioners
As yet unforeseen events of the year 2023, independent of hopes and plans at Bright Skylark Literary Productions, will undoubtedly demand attention and cause distractions––much like those of the past year. That will mean becoming even better practitioners of such lessons already learned from exercising resilience and approaching the most damaging challenging problems with the most empowering creative solutions.
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.