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The Dark Side of AI

Harry Tongue, St George’s British International School Rome, Italy

The internet has been bombarded with AI over the last few months: sophisticated bots; slightly janky knock-offs; social media posts fantasising over the future of it all. It’s reached every area of the internet, and I’m not sure that’s for the best.

I love technology, I love everything about it. Spending my free time coding, browsing the latest innovations, conversing with bots – I can’t get enough of it. So when I heard of the ‘Google Killer’, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, I was fascinated to say the least. As usual for a new breakthrough in AI, it was everywhere in my ‘bubble’ of the internet. But it was also reaching all other corners of social media. Everyone was loving these new bots, I was too – but I also had the feeling that the rapid development of this software could only be worrying. As an (often devil’s) advocate for controversial and different technology (resolutely defending gene editing technology and nuclear power at any cost), this was strange. I’ve always had the mindset that any progress is good, yet… AI is different. I thought it would be slower, that we would have time to adapt, create new jobs for the ones it takes. We don’t have that time.

What does it mean when we can’t distinguish between robots and reality? Elon Musk recently stated that “AI has come a long way, and we’re getting closer and closer to a future where it will be impossible to tell the difference between a human and an AI.” I generated this quote using ChatGPT, and you almost certainly couldn’t tell, because it’s impossible to detect AI written material without tools becoming outdated by the day, that don’t detect it half the time anyway. For all you know, this entire paragraph has been created by AI – you can’t be sure! This is obviously an unbelievably huge problem, and currently we have the chance to restrict it, to program AI differently before it’s too late. We have to think about our future, not our biology essay due tomorrow. We must recognise the problems, like court evidence. We need to notice the impending doom from the inevitable issues, like unemployment. Did you know that the World Economic Forum predicts that 85 million people will become unemployed due to AI in the next 2 years? Whilst many of the positions likely to be replaced are low-skill professions, there are more complex careers coming to an end, such as software developers, doctors, even teachers! As someone who will soon be moving into the working world, I beg that we implement laws restricting AI’s ability to grab my future, because almost every job can be automated and businesses will do anything they can to cut costs and increase productivity. Unemployment will certainly skyrocket, because how can you contend with a bot that works faster than you, 24/7, cheaper than you? You can’t.

This software is moving too quickly for us to adapt, and it’s only gaining momentum. We need to slow it down. Limitations are necessary, otherwise the ‘Google Killer’ will very easily morph into something much worse. I have two questions to ask you: How long until AI makes your job redundant? And what area of your life will it infiltrate next?

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