“Message in a Bottle”


Here we sit, at the nexus of joy and fear watching a new technology begin its ascent. I have felt both, sometimes simultaneously. It is hard to believe how quickly AI has made such progress and come into the public light. In preparation for this response, I watched several interviews, news stories, and youtube videos talking about AI and what its future may hold. In this class, we have discussed these same topics in a way that can be easily described as unique. To have the perspective of both an artist and an innovator is a gift that allows us to see the gaps that others may not. We have agonized over our fears of becoming irrelevant and marveled at what this technology can do. It is the turmoil in us, myself,  and all of society that I consider when reflecting today.

I feel almost lucky to be here and now, as a student, in the heart of silicon valley, right as such a revolutionary technology is taking off. I imagine this is how it felt to be around as the internet was getting started. To see a powerful new technology evolve and begin to be adapted by a society that is unsure of what this means for the world, but knows it's important. When the internet itself was just starting to take off, I’m sure there were many of the same questions. People worried then about similar issues about replacement, and while some things were replaced, there were new things created. Youtubers have full-time jobs now that can positively affect millions of viewers. On the other hand, some jobs did become essentially replaced, like video rental stores, or print media. The point  I am trying to make here is while change is scary, it’s not the end. 

Now there are many potential changes and developments that can come with AI, and trying to predict them is exhausting. Technology is unreliable in terms of predicting where it will go, and trying to do so is never guaranteed. That being said, of course, many of the top concerns I think do not involve the technology itself, but the society it is potentially being given to. My first thought goes to the AI Twitter bot made a few years back that through interaction with the internet became incredibly offensive and racist. AI is not sentient (yet), and as it stands is a reflection of who we are as a society and a tool that can be used for good and bad. A shovel can be used to dig a ditch that could save lives, or as a weapon to murder someone. AI can be used to solve incredibly complex issues like decoding proteins in medical research, or for cyberattacks. Everything has the potential to be used in a good or bad way, it's the people who use it and how they use it that cause the issues. 

That being said our question becomes how do we change people or change the technology to be safe for people. It is a social and design issue. Technology already moves beyond the speed of governments and law, and companies have not had a history of holding more than their own self-interests at heart. So that leaves it to us as a society to be the ones to no longer sit back and watch the show, but find a way to shape ourselves to be capable of answering these questions. To say what we want, and find a way to support each other in this face of uncertainty. To reach those who create these technologies and move them to consider the human aspects before the business decisions. To reach the humanity in all of us, and learn to live with the technology we use instead of inside of it. 

In conclusion, we are not afraid of AI, we are afraid of each other. And if we can find a solution to how we perceive each other, we can change how AI may see us.