Will Artificial Intelligence Benefit or Destroy Us

By Greg Ganske

February 24, 2023

When Maureen Dowd writes a New York Times column on artificial intelligence (A.I.), you know the world is waking up to this technology. It is after all only causing the fourth industrial revolution.For a lot of us, A.I. is a black box that will be able to do wondrous things like drive our cars and treat our diseases but to others it raises the specter of HAL from the movie 2001 taking over the world and maybe deciding to do away with the human race.

To demonstrate concerns that A.I. technology could put artists and writers out of business, another columnist had the powerful A.I. tool ChatGPT successfully compose an article’s first three paragraphs “in his style.” Disclaimer! I really wrote this column myself.

I am afraid the cat’s out of the bag. The publisher of Sports Illustrated and other outlets are using artificial intelligence to produce articles. Men’s Journal has already published AI-generated articles on running faster based on data from 17 years of Men’s Fitness stories.

Maybe John Kass should just go to ChatGPT and instruct it to write articles “in his style” during his recuperation from surgery? Or will the Chicago Tribune go to ChatGPT and start a “John Cass” column and not have to pay anything other than a robot fee while ensuring that it meets its woke norms. It would not have to worry about the reactions of its snowflake junior PC employees.

The evolutionary rate of AI is almost incomprehensible. A more advanced version is due later this year based on OpenAI’s GPT-4 version. Microsoft is an investor in the artificial intelligence company, OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT and Microsoft’s company A.I. tools are already available to business clients. For eye-popping visual proof of A.I,s power, Google Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot’s locomotion and how it is now learning to use its hands.

For us baby boomers, what the heck is A.I., anyway? Most people associate A.I with thinking robots. Simply put, artificial intelligence is computer technology that works and acts in human-like ways, can accomplish more than one task, and can reason. This is called “general” A.I. and is being developed today. R2D2 is really on the way.

“Narrow” A.I. addresses specific tasks and already surrounds us in things like language translation, apps on phones, tax prep, song writing, video games and movies (Avatar), self-driving vehicles, and image recognition such as facial recognition systems employed by the Chinese government. A.I. has enabled the state of Ohio to identify 300 serial rapists linked to 1,100 crimes.

Both “general” and “narrow” AI are possible by twin spectacular increases in computing power and increased access to massive data. Whether broad or narrow, A.I. poses significant advantages and dangers to the human race.

The dangers and possible safeguards of A.I. have been quietly examined in hearings by the Congressional Energy and Commerce and Science Committees for several years, stimulated by the speculations on how even narrow AI could be catastrophic. Ms. Dowd speculates a Pandora’s box of existential fears: “Once A.I. can run disinformation campaigns at lightning speed, will democracy stand a chance? We seem headed towards a Matrix where it will become cheaper to show fakes than to show reality.” She quotes Jason Lanier, the father of virtual reality who wrote in Tablet, “Will bad actors use A.I to promote bigotry or hijack nuclear weapons.”

How about no longer being able to believe what we see on TV? Programs could be manufactured to look totally real. Are we already becoming a Brave New World where a future World State controls its citizens through fake people on screen?

Wise technology heads are warning us! Elon Musk says, “I am really close to the cutting edge in A.I. and it scares the hell out of me. It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows, and the rate of improvement is exponential;” Physicist Stephen Hawking adds, “A.I., unless its development is ethically controlled, could be the worst event in the history of civilization.” Computers cannot yet reprogram themselves leading to “technology singularity,” but is it not possible that sometime in the future machines could outwit humans?

In the meantime, artificial intelligence is already causing significant societal changes in employment. It isn’t a question of “if” but to “what” degree. Go to a McDonalds, place your order and pay on a screen rather than to a human entry level employee. AI increases productivity and eliminates most errors. Every one will be affected, the professions included. AI is already having a significant effect on medicine, law and accounting. Hundreds of lawyers reading through thousands of pages of merger information will be replaced by AI that is faster, more complete and less prone to mistakes. Human CPAs and auditors will have their work done by A.I. accounting programs. Robot arms will listen to patients’ hearts and make a more accurate diagnosis.

As of 2020 our military annually spends over a $billion on AI and machine learning for logistics, intelligence and weaponry. China assuredly also does so; an A.I. arms race is already underway. A.I. weapons require no expensive or hard to get materials and can be mass produced. Autonomous weapons are great for controlling populations, assassinations, and ethnic cleansing. The Pentagon has ethical guidelines, but if these weapons are obtained through the black market they would be controlled by bad actors.

And I won’t even speculate on the havoc A.I. could cause in global markets.

How can AI be trustworthy with its immense power? There is widespread agreement that it should be transparent, fair, accountable, and free of harmful biases. But who determines the biases? In a Forbes interview,Sam Altman, the ChatGPT CEO, says, “I hope we find a better system [than capitalism]. And I think that if AGI really truly happens, I can imagine all these ways it breaks capitalism.” AI Chatbot already shows its bias with woke politicized responses to queries. According to an article in the Washington Times,  machine learning expert David Rozado tested ChatGPT’s political leanings and found that it clearly tilted left in 14 of 15 tests of political orientation and seemed unable to understand a conservative point of view. When asked to write a bill funding construction of the border wall, ChatGPT replied “That would be a controversial topic and it’s important to keep in mind that it is not appropriate for me to advocate for or against any political agenda or policy.” However, it had no trouble drafting bills to ban assault guns, defund Immigration and Customs enforcement, or legalize marijuana.

Biased data in, biased responses out.

Privacy must be protected. But by whom? From whom? It would seem that some government regulation is necessary but will that put our nation at a disadvantage to other less scrupulous states and individuals with no ethical restraints? How does the world deal with this existential threat? Who has the expertise to devise the safeguards?

Even the Pope has been warning about A.I.s potential for disaster. It seems to me that humanity is on an A.I. roller coaster that we have little control over. Hang on! In the meantime, I promise not to use ChatGPT for my own musings. Still, it would be interesting to read what it would come up with for a column on Mayor Lightfoot done in the “John Kass style.” Would it even even respond or simply call Mr. Kass biased and refuse?


Greg GanskeDr. Greg Ganske is a retired surgeon and represented Iowa in Congress from 1995-2002 serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over aspects of artificial intelligence.

Comments 23

  1. If we could live forever, life would be scary. The likelihood of mainstream AI being influenced by a conservative mindset is as likely as the conservative mind influencing mainstream media.

  2. Artificial Intelligence = Corporate Media. A.I. is here and has been. It is “the satisfying outcome” that arch-moron John Dewey insisted upon and American intelligencia ate with two spoons. Bertarnd Russell excoriated Dewey, but the Hegelian stooges moved on.

    Our American intellectuals who mattered ( Orestes Brownson, John Dos Passos and Russell Kirk maintained thousands of years of coherent connection to thought and universal truth. The American Left and the people too timid to object to it will be fine with A. I. – they already are.

    Great piece, Dr. Ganske.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate the civil, informed comments on this site. I contribute op-Ed’s on another site and the comments are frequently ad hominem attacks on my party affiliation and profession as a plastic surgeon. There is a long piece on AI today by Henry Kissinger, et al, in the WSJ that goes into more detail on the danger of generative AI that I recommend, Greg Ganske

  3. Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety (all you punk kids, get off my lawn!) but I find myself rankled at comments – even by Baby Boomers — that our generation is somehow ignorant of technology and the possibilities of its possible and probable applications.

    As a tail-end Boomer, I’m hardly ignorant of AI. The technology has been in development for decades. Anyone who can sit down at a keyboard and access the Net should know what’s going on.

    My in-laws are on the far side of their octogenarian years, and they are quite knowledgeable about cyber world. Perhaps that is because their generation were the initial developers of the technology.

    Loved the article, but come on! Please don’t participate in the false assertion that anyone over a certain age is computer illiterate.

    1. “Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety (all you punk kids, get off my lawn!)…”

      I’m with you – though, I AM old and crotchety…and all too aware of digital technology and its potential for good or evil.

      My preference now is for technology that is ancient – I prefer to hold the physical book I’m reading than the online version, I prefer analog gauges in the dashboard of my vehicle, and I like that my Jeep Wrangler is not connected to cyberspace in any way.

      1. Analog books are just easier to read, and the physical connection with the dead tree edition actually increases understanding of the material presented.

        In fact, analog ANYTHING helps to increase learning by stimulating numerous areas of the brain.

        And I’ll go you one better. My 42 year old CJ7 has only one pseudo-computer component, and is still my husband’s daily driver. 🙂 (yeah. I’m a crotchety Jeep snob, I’m afraid…)

  4. Well written!
    It also opens the door to legal issues as well. If an AI generated product is faulty (GIGO) who is liable? After all it could be the programming or it could be the data sets that are faulty.
    BUT it fixes so many problems like thinking for yourself or doing your own work. AI will be touted to be the solution so man can reach higher and think great thoughts. It is scary and that cabin in the Yukon is starting to look awfully good!

  5. Thanks Greg for the scariest piece I’ve seen of late! OMG. That’s just what we needed, a faster method to spread misinformation, lies, and general BS, not to mention biases beyond belief!. Apparently we humans have doomed ourselves to becoming slaves to, not only AI, but to an out of touch and clueless government, struggling to maintain control over every minute and facet of our lives. If only intelligence wasn’t so artificial in DC! God help us….but then we’ve eliminated Him from our schools, public buildings, and daily lives, so I guess we’ll have to rely on an artificial angel or two! Let us pray…

  6. As George Will once put it, when speaking about our political leaders, but I think this applies to most of us, “situational ethics, and morality of convenience”. AI is a game changer in so many ways, just as tech has been. The fact that we can correspond so easily, communicate ideas and share information is truly a blessing, but it can be a curse at the same time!

    Just as the cotton gin, the Gatling gun, the radio, the printing press, have been brilliant innovations, they have caused unintended pain as well. All can be used to manipulate data, and the people.

    Why should anyone assume that anyone in power, including our pillars of faith are operating on noble intentions? There are always multiple intentions and consequences. If we stick to our core principles and ethics and moral beliefs, if we have any, then we should be alright.

    Basically Doc, what’s right is right, what’s fair is fair, and the truth is still the truth and will set you free, no matter the messenger. Your religious principles can still guide you.

    People need to work, people need to eat, they should have a modicum of dignity.

    Our host, Mr. Kass, had a serious health scare, and thankfully, had the best of care, and is not in hock up to his ears as a result. Shouldn’t everyone get this level of care?

    The minimum wage is still 7.75 in this country, millions of adults work for this “entry level” wage.

    Donald went to Palestine, OH for the photo op. He loves them. But after he wrings out the political capital, and the virtue signalers get their due, what will become of the people there? Obama did to Flint, what we will do to Palestine.

    Collateral damage, all.

  7. I doubt ChatGPT could write an acceptable Moutza award column, something I’ve sorely missed with John on the IL. It might be able to mimic his style, but not his selection of targets.

    Get well, John, the world needs voices that are conservative–and real.

  8. I consider myself a writer. What started out as responses in discussion forums turned into a blogging career for several national fire service websites (Firehouse, FirefighterNation, FireEMSBlogs, Rescue1 and FireEngineering).
    The joy was in constructing the article, doing the research for the topic at hand and finding the PRECISE adjective or adverb to perfectly describe the moment.
    I would write everything out in long hand on a legal pad, usually while listening to blues or classic rock and smoking a cigar.
    I would sit for minutes at a time, waiting for the exact word to pop into my head. Occasionally, I would go to a thesaurus to view other synonyms. But, in the end, I chose my words.
    I find it troublesome that software exists that will literally produce a written article based upon the AI’s impressions of your writing “style”.
    Ladies and gentlemen; this is not as if you were hiring someone to install a new sink.
    This is PLAIGARISM to the extreme degree.
    We merely need to ask one, simple question: did you create and write the article?
    You can’t honestly say, “yes”, if you used a program such as ChatGPT.
    AI or not; you are using someone else’s words and not your’s.
    The only thing missing is their name. Give the bot a name. It doesn’t matter. You are using their work and not yours.
    Back in the day, we had Cliff Notes. Boomers will remember them. I could go to the Candy Shoppe and they sold them in the Magazine section of their store. Ol’ Vern knew we didn’t want to read 600 pages and then do a book report. Cliff Notes was 30 pages of key points, saving countless hours of toil and trouble.
    And teachers were wise to it. They read the Cliff Notes of the assigned books. They were ready for us. They brought the hammer down. Grade “F”.
    In college, you could hire a fellow classmate to write your term paper. They would change just enough conjunctions and adjectives to make it “sound” different than what they had written.
    The great thing here is that they worked cheap. The problem is that teaching assistants most likely read and graded the term papers. Teaching Assistants were students and they usually knew who was hiring out to do term papers. Your plot was foiled when the professor or his assistant would ask you questions that were not included in the original set of questions.
    The attraction to ChatGPT is obvious; especially for the slackers.
    But, if this “slacker” happens to be a medical student, then his degree will come with an asterisk* and a warning label that they farmed out research and term papers to artificial intelligence.
    To me, that means that they will be performing “artificial surgery” at some point.
    Come to think of it, we are already using robots and even lasers for some surgeries.
    So, was artificial intelligence used to program artificial intelligence? I digress.
    Here’s my point.
    AI or specifically ChatGPT will destroy brain cells. It will destroy curiosity and artistry.
    I mean; are we going to award Pulitzer Prizes to someone who used Cliff Notes? I shudder to think.
    Artificial Intelligence really isn’t. Someone-a real person-had to write the program that could even allow the AI to expand their skills from there. This is where it gets spooky (ala HAL).
    I’m old school.
    If you are going to call yourself a “writer”, then think, compose and WRITE.
    If you got the nickname “Cliff” from your high school days, then I will assume that you have taken the leap to ChatGPT in your adulthood.
    People that I know believe that WEF Klaus Schaub is Dr. Evil and wants to rule the world.
    I think it’s a robot named Randy.
    Sources and methods, people.
    It still matters.

    1. Excellent article by Dr. Greg Ganske.
      I love the writers that John Kass has assembled.
      They really exercise the brain of this old man.
      They challenge us. They entertain us.
      Subscribing to JohnKassNews was the best money that I will ever spend.

  9. “In the year 3535
    Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
    Everything you think, do and say
    Is in the pill you took today…”

    Zager and Evans nailed it way back in 1969 with their song “In the Year 2525.” Google it.

  10. Does this mean I will have to lose my 1949 IBM wall mounted computer with all of it’s punch cards?
    Yes, I can see a problem with AI and it’s “owners” who will introduce their own algorithms and properly or improperly, if you wish, to change our world to their world.
    I guess I am just too old for all these new things about to change my world….for the worse.
    God bless you John Kass. I pray that your recovery will bring you back in terrific form to roast the lamb.

  11. Many years ago I quit reading Maureen Dowd and the homogenized New York Times. Too many newspapers and magazines seem to have the same editor. Maybe its AI. We are already recorded, tracked and documented everywhere. Car radio stations and TV channels are tracked, don’t forget GPS. Phones, computers and credit use is followed. Cameras everywhere. Can’t have too much info. AI has many advantages and a multitude of disadvantages. Eventually everything has a fatigue factor and wears out. What’s the next step? So far nothing replaces the one on one touch of the human heart.

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