Artificial intelligence is everywhere. It makes automated product recommendations on sites like Amazon, it resides in email spam filters and it’s in the software that chats with you on airline websites.
People didn’t necessarily consider all of that stuff to be AI, a Pew survey found.
However, the launch of the wildly popular chatbot ChatGPT has helped raise awareness of potential issues related to AI hype and ethical issues such as bias, privacy and the spread of misinformation. The U.S. government and some experts in their fields aren’t buying the hype and fake promises of AI.
A natural language processing tool driven by AI, ChatGPT allows users to have human-like conversations with the chatbot. The language model can answer questions and assist with tasks such as homework, composing emails, essays, and code.
Renowned linguist and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky described ChatGPT as a form of “high-tech plagiarism.”
New surveys about public attitudes toward AI show that “the more AI becomes a reality, the less confidence we have that AI will be an unqualified win for humanity,” wrote the Washington Post‘s Shira Ovide, author of “The Tech Friend,” a newsletter about making tech into a force for good.
“It’s reasonable to fear that AI will worsen economic inequality or perpetuate racist stereotypes as memes or diminish our ability to identify authentic media,” Reece Rogers wrote for Wired.
Shares of relatively unknown companies with the term “AI” in their name have skyrocketed over the past few months, Bloomberg reported.
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Billionaire investors Warren Buffett, 92, and Charlie Munger, 99, are among the AI skeptics.
“I’m personally skeptical of some of the hype that has gone into artificial intelligence,” Munger said during this year’s annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, according to CNBC. “I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well.”
Buffett said he tried ChatGPT. The technology does “remarkable things,” he said, but it’s outside his area of expertise and he worries about unforeseen consequences of unleashing it on the world. “When something can do all kinds of things, I get a little bit worried because I know we won’t be able to un-invent it,” he said.
In March, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and thousands of others signed an open letter seeking a “public and verifiable” pause on AI tech due to a potential danger to humanity. The letter from the Future of Life Institute urged AI labs to immediately stop training on AI systems more powerful than ChatGPT-4 for at least six months.
“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth?” the letter read.
Michael Atleson, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s division on advertising practices, wrote in a Feb. 27 blog post that AI has become a “hot marketing” term and some companies “won’t be able to stop themselves from overusing and abusing” it.
The FTC urged advertisers to look at its AI guidance, which it says focuses “on fairness and equity but also said, clearly, not to overpromise what your algorithm or AI-based tool can deliver. Whatever it can or can’t do, AI is important, and so are the claims you make about it. You don’t need a machine to predict what the FTC might do when those claims are unsupported.”
A Monmouth University poll released in February found that 9 percent of Americans believe computers with artificial intelligence will do more good than harm to society. A Pew Research Center survey found similar doubts about AI — just 15 percent of respondents said they were more excited than concerned about the increasing use of AI in daily life.
“It’s fantastic that there is public skepticism about AI. There absolutely should be,” said Meredith Broussard, an AI researcher and professor at New York University.
The bottom line on the AI hype?
“AI has not won your trust,” wrote Ovide for the Washington Post. “You want to see proof of its benefits before the technology is used in your hospital room, the battlefield and our roads. This skepticism is healthy. Frankly, you might have more good sense about AI than many of the experts developing this technology.”