Are We Sure We Know What We’re Doing? (Hint: No Way)

Stupid Male Character Sawing Off The Tree Branch He Is Sitting On Man Idiot Or Fool Harm To Himself Making Mistake Stock Illustration - Download Image Now - iStock

In 1995 a scientist I knew saw something on TV that appalled and frightened him. It was something that made a big splash for a day or two, then died away in ever-decreasing ripples. Today it’s hardly remembered at all. But maybe it should be.

Dr. S___ saw a commercial featuring mega basketball star Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq did a lot of commercials, but this one was different. With techniques made famous by the movie Forrest Gump, Shaq “appeared” in The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason and I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball. I saw those scenes on TV the next day: the hoax made the news–although I can’t seem to find any pictures of it now. Like most people, I found the images very convincing. You’d almost swear they were real.

[Here it is! Thanks and a hat tip to Greg for finding it.]

Dr. S____ , though, was beside himself. “This is very dangerous technology!” he cried. “What if somebody says, ‘Aha, I have video of S____ committing a serious crime’? And no matter what I say, they will answer, ‘You are lying, we saw you do it! We saw the video.'”. He shook his head. “The potential for abuse is unlimited,” he said.

Well, if they can show you Shaquille O’Neal hobnobbing with Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, in a show that was made before Shaq was even born… surely they could also show us Dr. S____ robbing a bank.

Now it’s 25 years later, and a New York lawyer is in trouble for having “AI,” Artificial Intelligence, write his briefs for court and the robot cited–that is, made up–court cases that never happened. And the creators of AI warn us that the world had just better slow down before it goes too far with this and finds itself out on a limb which it has just sawed through.

We don’t know what kind of mischief AI might brew up. Because we are in complete and total ignorance, the sky’s the limit. How about a nuclear war started by robots? I mean, haven’t we got like a million science fiction movies warning us about this?

Maybe we’d better listen. While we still can.

P.S.> If you’ve seen that video with Shaq and Ralph Kramden, please tell me where to find it.

6 comments on “Are We Sure We Know What We’re Doing? (Hint: No Way)

  1. At its best, video is misleading, and at its worst, it’s a fountain of chaos. We have outsmarted ourselves, on many levels.

  2. Technolgy is neutral, it is how it is used. I love the commercial Greg posted, but I also saw recently a Disney animation where the dialogue had been inserted that was very tachy.

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