AI hysteria: society debates machine-dominated future

Student using ChatGPT / Photographer: Ryan Krisch-Derr


“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way we live, work and interact with the world, bringing both opportunities and challenges to the forefront of modern society.” The previous sentence was generated by an AI model called ChatGPT, that accepts user input and generates unique responses to each query. Would you be able to differentiate a human and an AI sentence? This question is being repeatedly asked as AI becomes more fluent in imitating human interaction.

The idea of creating a true AI dates back to over a hundred years ago, existing in both the worlds of novels and fiction, as well as the curious minds of early computer scientists. From the early 1700’s to the early 1900’s, numerous novels and fiction material have played with the idea, as well as philosophers and early computer scientists. One of these fiction novels was the popular book “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift, which discusses a fictional device called “the Engine,” a machine that improves knowledge and mechanical operations with the help of a non-human, machine mind. Other real, notable AI accomplishments over the years include the creation of the Three Laws of Robotics by Isaac Asimov in 1942, the defeat of chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov by IBM’s Deep Blue AI Computer in 1997, and the release of the AI language model ChatGPT in 2022. 

On November 30th of 2022, AI research and development company OpenAI released an AI model that would shake news outlets and people’s perceptions around the world. This language model, able to be fed commands by logged in users, could produce completely unique responses to complicated tasks, such as writing stories, giving life advice, or even writing code. The model can also produce informational answers to prompts, solve math problems, and maintain a textual, eerily human, interaction. Given all these positives, however, there are controversial takes to a future with AI. 

Nicholas Negroponte’s “Being Digital”, an outlook and prediction on tech written in 1995, accurately describes the current public outcry against AI intelligence in today’s modern world: “‘Ease of use’ has been such a compelling goal that we sometimes forget that many people don’t want to use the machine at all. They want to get something done.” If the use of machines is to become more efficient, at what point does “efficiency” surpass the need for human creativity? Orcas Island High School English teacher, Maurice Austin, establishes his view on the debate with these personal words: 

“After leaving mom’s today, I cried off and on until Seattle, when the “driver mind” took over and held sway until I was in the line for the ferry. Enter what I’ll say at my sister’s memorial on my phone?? No–I used a pen on the back of a copy of the chapter one Speech and Communications handout. Need paper, pen, ability to revise and see both options, lines and arrows, to weigh my thoughts…… that’s it. That’s what ChatGPT doesn’t offer. The option of weighing our OWN thoughts. Rather than a machine’s.” 

The difference between a human and machine is physical, raw experience and the feelings associated with it. ChatGPT can produce a eulogy centered around a loved one provided enough descriptive input. However, the inability for it to experience physical and emotional depth makes life something only humans can capture. 

David Galernter from “Big Think” describes a scary prediction for the future of machine-learning, one where the machines control us: “The danger is not that machines are becoming more human-like. The danger is that humans are becoming more machine-like.” Whether it’s generating class-assigned English essays, Buzzfeed articles, or educational material, the emergence of ChatGPT poses a threat to the traditional academic setting by providing machine-made responses to human-related issues. While the efficiency advantages of a sophisticated AI language model may seem new and attractive to consumers now, this “intelligent” tool will only continue to threaten human ingenuity.