Lately I’ve been reading a lot about recent advances in artificial intelligence (“AI”), some of which are starting to freak out even the sort of sci-fi addled academics and techie business-nerds who are supposed to love tinkering with things like creating machines vastly smarter and more capable than they are.
In an open letter published on FutureOfLife.org, a bunch of tech luminaries like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Max Tegmark from the MIT Center for Artificial Intelligence & Fundamental Interactions and some rich prick who owns Twitter urge AI developers to slow the fuck down for a minute, before they retroactively turn the Terminator franchise into a limited series documentary on Netflix.
“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 asks. “Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.”
Yes – such decisions “must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.” Instead, let’s entrust those decisions to our elected leaders, because our elected leaders are so wise and responsive to the needs, best interests and wellbeing of us lowly constituents that they would never allow any form of technology to run amok, given the chance to regulate said technology ahead of time. After all, if there’s one thing our elected officials understand extremely well, it’s technology.
This amazing foresight concerning technology that legislators possess is why you never hear them complaining about things like Section 230, or the negative aspects of social media, for example, because our legislators just so thoroughly nailed it with their regulation of the internet and all its related technologies the first time around that we have no ongoing concerns about those.
The more I read about artificial intelligence and the many legitimate concerns people have about its development, the more I think what we really need to be developing and nurturing is NI – natural intelligence — especially with respect to those elected officials of ours.
Take Rep. Lauren Boebert, for example. In recent remarks about the federal debt, Boebert said the debt is causing “more suffrage for the American people”, an assertion which, given the definition of “suffrage”, seems unlikely. (On the other hand, if what Boebert meant by suffrage is the obscure, alternative definition of “a short intercessory prayer”, I suppose her claim could be read as plausible.)
And then there’s the putative leader of the legislative body of which Boebert is a member, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. A true student of history, McCarthy had this to say after a “war gaming” session the House GOP held at a recent “issues conference” in Orlando:
“I have a real concern of the aggression of Russia. I have a more greater concern of this axis of power coming together of China, Russia, North Korea and Iran… I watched this happen in the world another time before I was ever born.”
Whoa. Did you catch that, folks? The Speaker of the House says he has a “more greater concern” about something he “watched happen” in the world before he was born. If that isn’t incredibly alarming to you, it’s probably because you have no idea what McCarthy is trying to say. Possibly more worrisome, McCarthy himself doesn’t appear to know what he’s trying to say. Or maybe McCarthy does know what he’s trying to say and what he’s trying to say is that he’s a time traveler? Perhaps this should be a question explored during a future GOP issues conference: “Is the Speaker of the House really Billy Pilgrim in disguise?”
In any event, on the bright side, if there’s anything on which our elected officials appear to agree (currently, at least), it’s the notion that China is big trouble – and we’re not talking about a 1986 action flick starring Kurt Russell.
A couple days after expressing his various and more greater concerns about the axis of power developing between China, Russia, North Korea and Iran (and, presumably, their puppets in the Radical Left Woke Mob here in the U.S.), McCarthy vocalized a series of rhetorical questions about… uh… about… well, whatever this was about:
“What should they have done when they first saw Hitler, Mussolini and Japan getting together? What dependencies did they become weak upon? What aggressions did they look the other way? On building up a military of Hitler even though it went against the Treaty of Versailles. Or the movement in of Czechoslovakia and Austria. Or the movement into Crimea. Or the desire to take Taiwan. So, walking through the pandemic thinking about where was America waking up to medical supplies?”
To be fair, that last one is a good question: Where was America waking up to medical supplies? I have a couple related questions, as well: Were those medical supplies equipped with alarm clocks? If not, did America wake up by coincidence?
Americans have a right to know the answers to these questions – especially those Americans among us who now suspect that on those frequent occasions when we wake up in an unknown location, this fact is somehow related to the existence of N95 respirator masks and not the 1.75-liter bottle of vodka we downed the night before.
Look, I’m not opposed to Congress taking a shot at regulating AI. Admittedly, I do have zero confidence Congress will come up with anything useful in so doing and a great deal of confidence that whatever Congress cooks up will be shortsighted, display a woeful misunderstanding of the technology at hand and eventually be found unconstitutional by the courts. But we’re paying these assholes to hang around up there in D.C. for months at a time anyway, so I suppose we might as well have them do something other than investigate each other and rename post offices, right?
All I’m asking is that as part of the process of regulating AI, we also investigate the possibility of improving the NI that will animate Congress in the years to come. I suppose the good news is that we Americans get an opportunity to take part in that effort at the ballot box, every two-to-six years – or hell, maybe more often than that, if Rep. Boebert is correct about the impact of the national debt.