Is Artificial Intelligence Good or Bad?

A stretched out hand with computer generated graphics floating above.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), whether you are ready or not, is here and is moving into the most critical sectors of people’s lives. This technology is taking over our daily interactions with businesses, online internet searches, health care, transportation, and even our appliances.

On Friday, July 21st, President Joe Biden met with the presidents and CEOs of seven tech companies, Google, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, OpenAI, Anthropic, and Inflection, to announce voluntary agreements on sharing, testing, and developing new AI technology.

“U.S. companies lead the world in innovation, and they have a responsibility to do that and continue to do that, but they have an equal responsibility to ensure that their products are safe, secure and trustworthy,” White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients told NPR in an interview.

At the forefront of discussion are Generative AI programs such as ChatGPT, a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations and much more with the chatbot. The language model can answer questions and assist you with tasks such as composing emails, essays, and code.

However, just like all computer programs, if you put garbage in, you get garbage out “GIGO.” Generative AI programs such as ChatGPT scour the billions of articles on the internet and then generate a fifty-word (or larger) document based on its research. But if its reference material is inaccurate, its document will not be correct. The person using generative AI programs must understand the subject matter to determine if they are getting real or fake information.

Generative AI is not new, and the most widely adopted use of that technology is voice assistants such as Google (with 36% of the market), Apple’s Siri (36%), Amazon Alexa (25%), Microsoft Cortana (19%), and others (1%). So far, in 2023, there are 125.2 million voice users who have made over 8.4 billion inquiries. Their top search was Weather, followed by Music, News, Entertainment, and Restaurants (100 times more searches are for Italian than Vegan).

As to the accuracy of voice searches, on average, AI voice assistants can answer 93.7% of all queries. (I always seem to ask questions or make requests that fall in that 6.3% zone). To learn how your customers use voice search to find products and services, click here.

As one analyst exclaimed, “AI is scary good,’ and the immediate challenge is determining what is real and what is computer-generated. Bad actors have been able to use AI’s superior photo and audio capabilities to proliferate the internet with deepfake images and recordings. According to NewsGuard, an organization tracking misinformation, at least 49 supposed news sites are almost entirely written by AI software and publish hundreds of fake news articles daily. Deepfake photos and sound bites already fill the internet.

Below is a Deepfake experiment with “Pope Francis in a 1990s white puffer jacket,” created using Midjourney v5 software.

A group of computer generated deepfake photos of Pope Francis in a 1950s white puffer jacket.

Check out this deepfake video of President Biden finishing a ceremony speech on the Whitehouse lawn.

Because it is fun but also very serious, here is a deepfake video of Morgan Freeman’s image and voice. Can you tell if it is real or fake? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxXpB9pSETo.

Sky News Australia did a quick six-minute piece on the dangers of deepfake technology and the ease with which it can be done using an example of President Biden responding to a question with a realistic synthesized voice done in ‘real-time.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmPDLQNYCbU

CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan created a deepfake of Anderson Cooper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmFFd8fMqxk&t=10s

As Americans watch the proliferation of AI, they are worried in some ways and excited in others. A Pew Research poll found that the increased use of AI computer programs makes 18% of respondents feel more excited than concerned. But 37% feel more concerned than excited, and 45% feel equally concerned and excited. The reasons for the excitement and fears vary.

Those excited about AI technology feel it improves life and society, saves time and efficiency, and helps humans with difficult and dangerous tasks. They also believe that it is inevitable that this type of progress is the future. 

However, those more concerned with how AI technology is taking over fear the loss of human jobs, abusive surveillance, hacking, loss of privacy, and misuse of the technology as prominent reasons. They also fear the lack of human connection and becoming too reliant on technology in everyday life.

Regarding decision-making and whether AI can consistently make fair decisions on complex issues, the public is nearly evenly divided between those who think it is possible (30%) and those who believe it is not possible (28%). Most people (41%) are unsure if fair decisions can be made.

A growing topic of concern is the use of AI to control driverless cars. Roughly 6-in-10 adults, and mostly those over 50, say they would not want to ride in a driverless passenger vehicle even if they had the opportunity, while the others would love it.

There are also differences in gender and educational attainment. Twice as many men say they would give up control and let AI drive their car. In addition, those with post-high school education, representing 70% of the respondents, said Yes, I’m getting in, too.

The most contentious AI topic involves human-enhancing technologies and a wide range of advancements to augment or improve people’s physical, mental, and reproductive capabilities.

Today, laser eye surgery, off-label use of drugs to improve concentration and mental agility, pacemakers, organ transplants, dietary supplements, and wearable devices, such as smartwatches or augmented reality glasses, are commonplace and seen as tools and techniques in wide use today to enhance human capabilities.

However, science is pushing the boundaries with AI-controlled robotic exoskeletons to increase a person’s strength and ability to lift heavy objects. Computer chips can be surgically implanted in the brain, making it possible to process information far more quickly and accurately. Gene editing (changing the DNA of embryos before a baby is born) reduces a child’s risk of developing serious diseases or health conditions and even enhances specific physical characteristics. What would your opinion be about using AI for those purposes?

The Pew Report goes into great detail regarding the American Public’s views on the gamut of AI technology. Generally, its use to identify criminals is lauded; its use by social media companies to identify false information is welcomed as a flag system with human oversite; and its use by banks to approve their mortgage/loan applications is a way to remove prejudice. But when AI is used to review, reject, or accept their job applications, it is worrisome—human input matters. The extensive details, nuances, and broad opinion spectrum about using AI to enhance human physical and mental abilities are genuinely worth the read and can be found here.

In short, AI is a tool. However, like any tool, you need to know how to use it, where to use it, its strengths, and its limitations. And then, you need to use human judgment to make moral, ethical, and practical decisions about whether AI is appropriately used. Results, whether expected or unexpected, intentional or unintentional, count.

The commitments made by tech companies at the Whitehouse during the July 21st meeting include developing mechanisms so that users will know when content is generated by artificial intelligence through a watermark. Companies said they would make a point to avoid bias and discrimination and protect privacy. They also committed to having their AI systems tested through a third party before being released. One example will be at the August DEF-CON hacking convention in Las Vegas. 

By way of full disclosure, this entire article was researched and written by Craig A. Ruark, a human, with final editing assistance from Grammarly, a generative AI program that checks spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

However, at Business Finance Corporation (BFC), we don’t make decisions based on AI algorithms. We base our decisions on solid business partnerships forged by human resources and relations. To learn how BFC can benefit your business, visit https://bfc.vegas/ or contact us at 702-947-3800.

Your Partner in Success,

David Cabral