The Public Eye

printed 05/05/2023

Many people are worried about the rise of artificial intelligence and what affect it will have on our politics and government. I, on the other hand, believe that artificial intelligence in politics and government these days is better than nothing.

It’s like if you run out of sugar, you’ll just have to make do with Splenda, which is how I see the whole AI revolution. It is the Splenda of thinking.

Sure, you can ask AI to write a column, for instance, and 400 to 500 words will come spilling onto the page.

You put Splenda (or Nutrasweet, Sweet ‘n Low, or any of those other products) in your iced tea and it’s ... just a tad off. At least it is to me.

Similarly, the AI-generated column would be just a bit odd, especially when you discover that its best lines were stolen from some other writer who’s a lot better at it than you are.

That’s the thing about AI, it’s susceptible to the garbage-in, garbage-out phenomena, because it doesn’t know whether the information it’s being fed is real, fact-checked, actual good stuff or has been artificially sweetened by some bug-eyed aspartame junkie off his nut down in Mom-Mom’s basement.

You. Just. Don’t. Know.

Besides, there’s intelligence and then there’s intelligence. I knew a massively intelligent kid when I was in school. I mean we were all involved in the traditional biology class yuck-fest of dissecting frogs, and he’s over in the corner building one from scratch.

“It’s Alive! It’s Alive!”

Not really, but he was one of those guys who could give you the complete chemical breakdown of a bowl of soup while calculating the atomic mass of a saltine.

He also wore three watches set to three different time zones.

I don’t know about anyone else, but if I ask someone, “What time is it?” and the answer is “Where?” I tend to back away slowly.

Anyway, here was someone who was too smart to be reliably intelligent, if you see my point, and that’s why I’m challenging these leading tech thinkers to produce something really useful — Artificial Common Sense.

Look, writing an algorithm to gobble up written material and artistic elements is one thing, but knowing whether the product you can create with that is a good idea is a whole different thing.

You: Hey, Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence: Yes?

You: Tell me how to build an atomic bomb.

Artificial Intelligence: OK.

Artificial Common Sense: Don’t be an idiot.

You: Well, Iran’s building an atomic bomb.

Artificial Common Sense: If Iran jumped off a cliff would you?

You: Point taken. But what if...

Artificial Common Sense: Did you not hear me? I said, don’t be an idiot.

You: But ...

Artificial Common Sense: Look, you want to build an atomic bomb? Fine. Just don’t come back to me complaining when you get blown out of proportion.

And that’s what I call good common sense advice. No sugar added.

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