May 22, 2024

Krazee Geek

Unlocking the future: AI news, daily.

The Year of Questioning Utility: Rejecting Objectification

4 min read
As we enter the year 2024, there is a resurgence of attention towards artificial intelligence. It is expected that this interest will remain fairly significant throughout the year.

As we enter the year 2024, there is a resurgence of attention towards artificial intelligence. It is expected that this interest will remain fairly significant throughout the year. The promotion of AI is mainly being led by enthusiastic billionaires and their followers, who are comfortably situated in Silicon Valley. On the other hand, there are those who are skeptical of AI, often for their own personal gain, portraying the yet-to-be-realized artificial general intelligence (AGI) as the ultimate enemy of humanity.

Both of these stances are extreme and not feasible, regardless of whether one supports acceleration or deceleration. Pursuing speed without caution inevitably leads to further complications, which advocates often claim can be solved by increasing the speed, potentially in a different direction, to reach an idealized future where past problems are eliminated by the next groundbreaking innovation. However, calls to completely abandon or regress certain areas of progress overlook the intricacies of a globalized society where it is not always possible to reverse changes universally, among numerous other challenges associated with such a mindset.

Throughout the tumultuous and exhilarating course of technological advancement, especially during the era of personal computing and the internet, it has been apparent that in our eagerness for novelty, we tend to overlook the crucial question of whether the new innovation is truly necessary or beneficial. This critical inquiry was never posed in regards to platforms like Facebook, yet they have become an inseparable aspect of our societal fabric, both easily manipulated and indispensable for participating in communal discourse.

The key lesson to take from the emergence of social media as we enter the age of AI is that convenience does not necessarily equate to preference or desirability.

The use of LLM technology, commonly referred to as ‘AI’, has already become deeply ingrained in our daily lives, making it difficult to reverse even if we desired to do so. However, this does not mean that we must succumb to the belief that we must constantly replace human tasks with AI in the name of progress.

The common response to concerns about the rise of automation or delegating mundane tasks to AI is that it will ultimately give individuals more time to dedicate to higher-quality work. It is often assumed that reducing a few hours per day spent on completing Excel spreadsheets will grant the office administrator the freedom to unleash their inner composer and create a masterpiece, or allow the junior graphic designer who was previously correcting photo colors to develop a cure for COVID.

Ultimately, while automating mundane tasks may seem beneficial on paper and may benefit high-ranking executives and wealthy shareholders by increasing efficiency and reducing costs, it disregards those who may find enjoyment in these tasks or at least do not mind them as part of a balanced work life that includes both mentally challenging and rewarding creative/strategic exercises as well as less demanding daily tasks. Furthermore, the long-term impact of having fewer individuals performing these tasks is a decrease in overall participation in the economy, which ultimately has negative consequences even for the select few at the top who reap the immediate benefits of AI’s increased efficiency.

The enthusiasm of utopian technologists often neglects the fact that the majority of people, including techno-zealots, can be lazy, disorderly, disorganized, ineffective, prone to errors, and content with attaining comfort and avoiding boredom or harm. While this may not seem particularly ambitious to some, I say it with a sense of celebration because, in my opinion, these human qualities are just as commendable as more difficult-to-achieve qualities such as determination, ambition, wealth, and success.

My stance is not against stopping or delaying the advancement of potential new technology, such as LLM-powered generative AI. It should be noted that when the outcomes are undeniably advantageous – for example, creating medical imaging diagnosis technology that surpasses the precision of trained human examiners, or developing self-driving car technology that significantly decreases the occurrence of car accidents and human fatalities – there is no valid justification for rejecting the use of such technology.

When discussing the potential benefits of efficiency gains for non-critical tasks, it is important to carefully consider whether the effort is necessary. While it is valuable to save time for humans and allow them to use it in other ways, it is not always a positive outcome. This overlooks the complexity of human existence and how we perceive our own value. Simply saving someone time may not be beneficial if it leads to them feeling unfulfilled in their contribution to society, regardless of suggestions to use that time for personal growth or learning new skills.

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