By Mary O’KEEFE
The idea of artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a very long time. The practical uses of AI have always been a line walked by science fiction writers and AI developers. Like most innovations, it is those who can afford the new programs that get the first try; however, those days are over. AI is not only here but it is here for the masses.
On Monday an image went viral of a plume of smoke near the Pentagon. It was shared by “verified news and open-source” Twitter accounts. Twitter is an online social media and social networking service.
These Twitter accounts were considered verified because they had a blue checkmark on their account indicating they had a “Blue” subscription. This used to be a form of information verification but now it just indicates someone paid $8 a month to be granted a blue checkmark.
The companies that tweeted this fake image included those that had also promoted several false conspiracy stories and a Russian propaganda outlet. Another blue checkmarked account impersonated Bloomberg News and also shared a false photo and story. This account was suspended by Twitter.
As it became obvious that the photo and story were fake, most likely AI created, many of the images were taken down from social media; however, not before being retweeted hundreds of times.
This AI-generated scam is an example of how this technology can be used, with the help of social media, to spread disinformation. Before this fake story was taken down it caused stock market jitters resulting in the Dow Jones average falling about 80 points, according to reports.
AI does have some distinct advantages for society including allowing people to learn new skills faster, helping with creativity and improving technology – much like Global Positioning Systems provide precise information. But it is the fear of the unknown, and the misuse of this technology, that has most people worried about the future.
ChatGPT founder and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently testified before Congress. ChatGTP is a combination of AI chatbot (a computer program in the form of a virtual email correspondent that can reply to messages from computer users, according to dictionary.com) and GPT (generative pre-trained transformer). The OpenAI website describes the company as “We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests.”
The concept of AI has been at the basis of several science fiction stories; think of “Star Trek” and whenever a human works with a computer to try to solve a problem, or Data from “Star Trek – the Next Generation” who is an artificial life form. Though AI has not yet achieved that level of sophistication it is expected that it won’t be long before it will be possible. Unfortunately the HAL (Heuristically programmed Algorithmic Computer) 9000 in “2001 A Space Odyssey” and T-1000 in “Terminator 2-Judgment Day” are the images at the forefront of minds hearing how AI is being used.
Altman warned Congress of the issues AI could create if not dealt with now, and that government intervention “will be critical to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful” AI systems.
“As this technology advances, we understand that people are anxious about how it could change the way we live,” he told Congress. “We are too.”
Next week CVW will cover more about testimonies in front of Congress by AI leaders and speak with Congressman Adam Schiff, who warned of this technology years ago, and how this issue is being responded to in a bipartisan way.