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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The intrusion and harm of Ai

A photograph of the average user’s chatbot with my AI, which is pinned to the top of all the user’s friend list.

AWhether you asked for it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is here and virtually ubiquitous in our lives. The indubitable nature of this fact is corroborated by a Forbes article titled “The 10 Best Examples of How AI Is Already Used In Our Everyday Life,” which says in its introduction, “You might imagine that artificial intelligence is only something the big tech giants are focused on, and that AI doesn’t impact your everyday life. In reality, artificial intelligence is encountered by most people from morning until night.”

The AI systems we encounter today are in an extremely advanced state of development and are much more sophisticated than they were even two decades ago, as the computing power of these machines has increased exponentially in this time span. AI is now capable of conducting comprehensive numerical calculations and extremely complex analyses of relationships and patterns within unfathomably massive data sets. The calculation capability of these AI systems exponentially exceeds that which even the greatest mathematical minds mankind has to offer possess. 

The rapid learning and adaptive capabilities of these machines have made them a hot commodity among many technologically-based businesses, which look to implement cutting-edge experimental technology in their application to improve users’ moment-to-moment interface with their content. As a result of AI technology’s potential to “up the game” for ambitious tech companies with an extensive track record of looking towards experimental technology to separate themselves from competition, you likely interact and play an active role in improving AI technology on your smartphone every single day.

Anytime that one uses Google Maps, scrolls and reacts to TikToks or posts on social media, they are interacting with AI. This is because every major technology conglomerate, including Apple, Meta and Google which essentially have a monopoly on technology in America employ AI systems in every sector of their businesses.

However, some effects of AI integration into virtually every aspect of our daily lives appear to be quite negative. The technology companies who brought us the technologies that powered the technological revolution of the last half century, have done so in a brazen and ambitious way that stands to seriously harm humanity. 

Due to both its lucrative nature and unlimited potential for technological advancement, AI has been implemented in our lives in a way that lacks serious forethought, or consideration of a variety of problems it could create for humans in terms of our long-term safety, survival and well-being.

AI has made it possible for social media companies to employ algorithms that prey on the mental and physical health of those that use them in order to profit maximally off of their “users.” In a chilling but accurate insight, Professor Edward Tufte says in the movie “The Social Dilemma,” “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” Much like your local illegal meth lab something Milledgeville knows all too well, or the gas station attendant that does not card. Social media sells you a product that is addictive, harmful and supplied through an ethically objectionable business model. 

In the view of society broadly, it seems absurd to compare highly successful and seemingly tidy technology companies to a meth dealer and an indifferent gas station attendant. But at least the people at the meth lab do not ask you to cook a batch for them, and the guy at the gas station will not have you mopping the floors for him before you drive off with your black bag of his addictive goodies. 

Social media is designed to get one addicted to the product so that the social media algorithm that is powered by data can constantly feed on your data and improve the algorithm’s ability at adapting to your preferences so you will stay on the app. Every action that you take on social media is put through a fine-tooth comb by advanced AI machine learning behavior algorithms which mine infinitely many points of data from every single user. 

This influx of data is then used to improve that same algorithm so that it can more effectively do its job, which is to get you and everyone else to use it more and more. 

If you have or have ever had social media, you, the reader, are unknowingly an entry in the data set that AI systems use to get better at manipulating and selling you products. Additionally, much of the data the algorithm uses is not data you would necessarily want it to have access to, and data collection often occurs even when you are not using that particular app.

In 2018, Facebook Owner Mark Zuckerberg was asked to testify before a congressional committee because 87 million Facebook users’ personal information ended up in the hands of a voter-profiling company. The investigation this hearing prompted into Facebook’s dealings led to the discovery that Facbook tracked both users and nonusers. Even while they were not on Facebook or did not even have it, Facebook continued to collect extensive biometric and demographic data on almost all people with a phone. 

In an article for the New York Times titled “What You Don’t Know About How Facebook Uses Your Data,” Peter Eckersley, the chief computer scientist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights nonprofit, claims “Facebook can learn almost anything about you by using artificial intelligence to analyze your behavior.”

Individuals who use social media platforms are exploited by algorithms that intentionally expose them to negative and highly emotional content to get them either sad or impassioned, which are the two emotional states that most compel you to continue interacting with the site. Increased interaction with the site is the primary way technology companies profit off of you as a consumer, as a more captivated and attentive consumer base is much easier to advertise to and make money off of. 

This practice is highly unethical, conducive to poor health outcomes for those that use it and extremely invasive. To distance ourselves from the clear harm to our rights of individual privacy and mental health these algorithms bring us, we need to halt our development and implementation of advanced AI until we better understand it. 

I am not the only one who thinks this. A growing body of notable figures in the technology industry and trusted intellectuals have signed the petition to “Pause Giant AI Experiments.” This letter implores all AI labs to stop training AI systems more sophisticated than Chat GPT4 due to what they believe to be the imminent danger the implementation of these technologies pose to humanity. Figures that have signed this petition include Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and Tristan Harris. 

If you would like to view, or sign this petition to halt AI development that I have identified is dangerous to humans in a variety of ways, it can be found on the Future of Life Institute’s official website.


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