ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: A 1984 George Orwellian World?

It seems everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence, or what is commonly known as AI. It has branched off from what many of us rely on daily: the world’s Informational Technology, or more simply expressed as IT. They both continue to increase at exponential rates. Are our societies ready for AI? Ready or not, it is here! Can we master the methodology of broadening human knowledge and experience or is the methodology mastering us? Should we put the development of AI on pause because of the challenges it presents? What boundaries or safeguards should we put into place?

AI brings a plethora of questions. Varied viewpoints abound. And knowledgeable persons are weighing in on these revolutionary happenings of our times.

Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of electric automobile maker Tesla, in a recent interview with CNN interviewer Tucker Carlson said, “AI is more dangerous than, say, mismanaged aircraft design or production maintenance or bad car production, in the sense that it is, it has the potential—however small one may regard that probability, but it is non-trivial—it has the potential of civilization destruction.” Musk said he supports government regulation even though “it’s not fun to be regulated.” The government regulation would however, he says, have to be backed by investigation into AI by industry before it is put into place.

Bill Gates, TerraPower founder and Microsoft co-founder, takes a more positive view of AI, emphasizing it can and should reduce educational inequities throughout the world. During his recent keynote speech in San Diego at the 2023 ASU+GSV (Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley) Summit, he states that AI has the educational benefits of helping young people learn and get better grades. He says AI will be “as good a tutor as any human ever could.”

In a recently aired ABC News interview by Chief Business, Technology, and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, Jarvis and Gates visit the site of the TerraPower nuclear power plant in Kemmerer, near Jackson, Wyoming, set to open in 2030. There nuclear reactors will be used to help solve climate goals, creating cleaner air while creating new high-tech jobs. Gates thinks putting a ‘pause’ on AI development would be unwise, even though conceding to the possibility for misuse. He states you can’t put a pause on the “good guys” because the “bad guys” will keep on going and then we will all be in trouble.

Artificial Intelligence is galloping toward intelligence with human characteristics. This sort of AI is particularly disturbing to me. It creates what I think of as the ‘Big Brother’ of George Orwell’s novel 1984 in which the protagonists’ every move and voice are seen and heard. And every thought is manipulated. I found Orwell’s 1984 so concerning when I reread it a couple of years ago, after first being introduced to it when I was in college, that I gave copies to my grown children.

When I speak of such concerns, I am out of my comfort zone. Normally I’m an optimist, a blog writer of hope and encouragement, and the author of young children’s books which express joy in daily grandparent/grandchild activities which lead the child to feelings of optimism and self-worth. However, as seasoned veterans of life, let’s not stick our head in a hole or shield our ears from unpleasant noise when our very existence demands that we see, hear, and understand the world around us.

Essay on Artificial Intelligence
Connie Carlisle Polley, 2023

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