Someone Had to Blab to the World About AI and Now We All Pay the Price

Someone Had to Blab to the World About AI and Now We All Pay the Price

Is Your Life Better with AI?

If you work for or are invested in a company riding the wave of artificial intelligence hysteria over the past year and a half, your answer is an emphatic yes.

What about the rest of us? What if you are just a guy or gal trying to live your life in an already technologically-saturated world? What has AI done for you that has improved your circumstances?

The question may be somewhat rhetorical, since artificial intelligence has been integral to practical applications for a very long time. In what was probably the Stone Age for AI, thirty years ago I took a class in Artificial Intelligence and learned the programming language LISP. Today and for some time, it has been easy to call out examples of AI, everything from quality control analysis to medical research to imagine recognition and action. It most of these cases, I wager the net benefit to civilization has been positive.

But my focus in this article is our contemporary situation and the post-November 2022 world when the OpenAI consortium released ChatGPT (GPT-3) to the world. Interestingly, OpenAI originally was founded as a nonprofit and released its AI software predecessors as open source. Someone or ones obviously saw the possible financial windfalls of ChatGPT, and so it is proprietary.

What was new is that now there was an alleged viable release-to-the-masses model of a search-like engine that could read human language and output a response in human-readable terms. Coupled with emerging AI image generation (DALL-E from OpenAI as one example), and it is easy to see why there is a gold rush of sorts to harvest what still may seem like unrealized potential.

Today, try to find a merchant’s website that does not have a chatbot at-the-ready to attempt answering your questions. There is more recent news about how Meta’s AI is flooding its application portfolio with nonsense and confusion for its users (livestock). AI-laced spam and email scams are becoming more sophisticated, attempting to ride your anxiety and emotion into believing you are communicating with a real person that has urgent or serious information you must act on.

AI’s penetration into our technological lives is a chaotic whirl of early attempts to capitalize on opaque benefits.

And so the world has to learn about this “new” AI, because OpenAI, Microsoft, and others saw enormous profit potential. We are the ones, for better or worse, reaping the consequences.

Sometimes I feel like it would have been better if AI had not made such an explosion into the general conscious and had kept course as a tech industry-focused topic.


Last year I jumped on the AI bandwagon, taking a number of introductory courses to learn about OpenAI, GPT, and the underlying modeling that is fueling all of the major AI initiatives. I even created a customized chatbot for my WordPress blog. It worked mostly fine until Pinecone, the company hosting my required vector database, did something that broke the connection to Cassie. It was an enlightening experience, attempting an integration into my WordPress setup using tech barely in its infancy.

In my limited AI chatbot setup, I saw both AI’s potential and its drawbacks. It was usually fine answering my most remedial questions (“suggest an article on the Moon”, of which I have many). But that is where its “power” ended. Even though I keep up-to-date a page that has the next date of the next Full Moon, the chatbot usually answered incorrectly if I asked for the date of the next Full Moon. If I asked for longer or more detailed explanations, it would start making ridiculous jumps to phony topics. I once asked it for a history of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, and the chatbot spent most of its paragraphs lauding me for all the discoveries I made in astronomy!

Perhaps continued training would have ironed-out those weird AI thought patterns. But AI not being able to carry on coherent thought is a key challenge for all of AI. Perhaps GPT and its competitors can fool you with a few sentence, but keep digging; eventually you will expose your AI chatting partner for the fraud he is.


Back to my original question…has AI made your life better over this past year and change?

For myself, I made a conscious decision to stay away from AI as much as I reasonably can, for now. I am reading again more (I am currently reading Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series). I also purchased a real Douay–Rheims Bible and have started to read it at least weekly. I spend time learning about my new telescope. I feel these activities are far better for my overall well-being than AI ever will be.

And speaking of real, I changed the tagline for my blog. I would like my few visitors to know that ComputerLookingUp.com is written and maintained by a real person, me. I posted is a very small amount of AI-generated content, mostly as experience, and it is clearly marked as AI-made. But going forward, all content will be fully written, edited, and approved by a human.

If you have had positive experience with AI, I would genuinely love to hear your story. I acknowledge that my own perspective may be tainted by my now-defunct WordPress chatbot, so let me hear your thoughts.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

Paul

Paul

I write frequently about astrophotography, technology advice, and my other interests like science fiction. I have over 30 years of experience in computer programming, information technology, and project management.

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