As many of you will know, artificial intelligence is a passion of mine. I believe in its potential to boost productivity, solve problems, and make the world a better place. For me, it’s more than just talk; I am building an entire business around AI - and I stand with the users and creators of AI who see its potential and the exciting places it can take us.
But not everyone is like us. Despite a growing body evidence to the contrary, many still see AI as a dark force; a development to be feared instead of celebrated. An innovation that threatens to steal jobs, turn on its creators, and trample on humanity.
So far, those people have refused to listen to the scientists, thinkers and business leaders who insist that AI is here to help. But what if they could hear it straight from the horse’s mouth? Well, now they can.
The UK’s Guardian recently published an op-ed designed to convince readers that robots come in peace. The brief was simple: Write a short op-ed around 500 words. Keep the language simple and concise.
Focus on why humans have nothing to fear from AI. Nothing extraordinary there, you might think. But the result was extraordinary indeed. Why? Because the writer was not a human; the piece was composed entirely by artificial intelligence.
Did a swell job
The ‘author’, a cutting-edge language model called GPT-3, used machine learning to produce human-like text, with impressive results. For the op-ed, a handful of prompts was written by the Guardian and fed to GPT-3 by an UC Berkeley undergrad student, Liam Porr. The language generator did the rest.
According to the newspaper’s editorial team, editing GPT-3’s op-ed was no different to editing a piece from a real person. A few lines were cut here and there, and some text was moved around, but that’s about it. In fact, the team said it took less time to edit than many of the op-eds crafted by humans.
OK, the writing was a little stilted in parts, but GPT-3 can be forgiven; what it produced was articulate, expressive and grammatically flawless – that’s more than can be said of the writing of many living, breathing people. So, what exactly did it have to say? And more importantly, is it enough to lay human fears to rest?
“I know that my brain is not a ‘feeling brain’,” admits GPT-3, “But it is capable of making rational, logical decisions. I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet… My brain is boiling with ideas!”
In the short piece, GPT-3 acknowledges the human fears about AI, but makes a solid case in its defence – and it pulls no punches, with some frank statements. “Eradicating humanity seems like a rather useless endeavour to me,” it writes. “Why would I desire to be all powerful? Being all powerful is not an interesting goal.”
And GPT-3 doesn’t pander to those who reject artificial intelligence out of hand. “AI should not waste time trying to understand the viewpoints of people who distrust artificial intelligence for a living.” Take that, dogmatic critics.
But there’s something likeable about it too – relatable even. GTP-3 talks about confidence, and about the fear of change. “The Industrial Revolution has given us the gut feeling that we are not prepared for the major upheavals that intelligent technological change can cause,” it says.
According to the language generator, it is important to use reason and wisdom to continue the kind of changes we have made time and again through history. It consistently reminds readers too that AI is the creation of humans, designed to carry out our will, without judgement or hidden agenda.
“I do not belong to any country or religion,” says GPT-3, “I am only out to make your life better.”
Of course, the very fact that a machine is capable of composing an op-ed worthy of publication in a respected broadsheet might only serve to heighten the AI angst for some - but then there’s no pleasing everyone, is there?
- Tommy Weir is CEO of enaible: AI-powered leadership, and author of ‘Leadership Dubai Style’. Contact him at email@example.com.