The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


Augmented Intelligence

Staffer explains benefits of embracing artificial intelligence

“It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers.” So goes the famous quote by Alan Turing, the father of modern computing and one of the early proponents of Artificial Intelligence (AI), in the early 1900s. Even before this technology became mainstream, people feared the very concept of AI. Now, with the rise of large language models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, these fears have entered the public consciousness.

The echo chamber that dominates political discourse only increases our paranoia. AI will take over the job market; it will end creative art; it will rebel and take over our governments; it will cause our extinction. It isn’t just our jobs being threatened, but humanity itself.  Logical thought and reasoning is gone. Our shared human ego shattered. We are afraid.

The current solution many have proposed is to prevent the progress of AI by restricting its usage and its development as it relates to certain fields. ChatGPT earned a 2 on both AP English Language and Composition, and AP English Literature and Composition, which test creativity and argumentative ability. Due to these current deficiencies, many are calling for strict regulations on AI technologies outside of science and math, with the reasoning that AI lacks the necessary qualities to replace, or even augment, human creativity and judgment. 

However, this solution fails to recognize that the abilities of AI are ever increasing. With AI applications and training algorithms becoming more and more complex, we cannot conclude that it can never replicate human abilities by solely analyzing the current state of its technology. The idea that there is something utterly unique about human creativity that cannot be ever emulated is false. We now understand that our humanity is the result of trillions of neural connections, not some irreplaceable substance, and AI is fast approaching the processing power and complexity needed to replicate these human abilities. 

Five hundred years ago we never imagined that machines would be able to compute, fifty years ago we couldn’t imagine supercomputers in our pockets, and five years ago publicly available large language models didn’t exist. While it may be that today, the most powerful AI cannot understand emotion, or have a moral compass, with the unprecedented improvement of this technology, this will not be true for long. 

This does not mean that we are soon to be wholly replaced, only that we must accept the imminent evolution of AI into all realms of humanity. One of the biggest cases against widespread AI usage is the worrying level of bias that AI algorithms display, from biased data sets to institutional bias coded into AI processes. But we cannot naively hope that biased data fed to AI algorithms will render them useless in impartial decision making. Bias in data is a huge problem but a solvable one. 

According to Forbes, by educating data scientists, embedding moral guardrails into models, and requiring algorithms to showcase humility, the root causes of bias in learning models can be mitigated. In fact, a Nature study has shown that by converting from a prescriptive to a descriptive AI model—by making it humble—previously biased decisions were eliminated. And non-profit organizations—such as the Data and Trust alliance of major tech companies— are working to ensure that AI is fed information that equitably represents different cultures. With its massive processing power, and strides being made towards impartiality, AI could be utilized to navigate volatile situations—such as important Supreme Court decisions or global conflicts—where humans are known to act irrationally. 

Nevertheless, the prospect of using AI in sensitive decisions is frightening for many. Much of the public perception on the “catastrophic” potential of AI is perpetrated partly by the seemingly endless apocalyptic movies in which horrific elements of artificial intelligence are prevalent. In an iconic example, “The Terminator”, we see humans in the 2020s fighting a losing war against Skynet, an artificial neural network that spirals out of control. A product of the 1980s does not represent the very real current environment but heightens the negative emotions surrounding AI.

Misconceptions like this prevents the world from reaping the enormous benefits that this technology can provide by instilling fear and causing irrational decisions. The biggest improvements in our quality of life have come from advancements in previously human tasks: first, with tools removing the need for human labor, and second with machines taking over processing of information. The third revolution of AI that can learn and reason is poised to create even more positive change.

AI is already being used to find new cures for diseases, conserve wildlife populations, combat world hunger, improve crucial infrastructure, and provide tools for the disabled. And it has the potential to, in the future, address the mental health crisis through therapy, assist judges in reaching unbiased verdicts, and help mediate global issues. From the viewpoint of a student in Jakarta whose homeland is flooding, or a mother with metastatic cancer, pouring resources into technologies that can save lives is a must.

And yet, the fact that AI has the potential to massively reshape job markets is enough to reignite calls for its removal. Statistics like those by the Pew Research Center, stating that 19 percent of American workers are in jobs most vulnerable to AI, are certainly cause for concern

Unfortunately, the fact is that we have opened Pandora’s box. For better or worse, the revolutionary changes of AI are coming. Instead of cursing at the vast potential of AI to do injustice, we must work to prevent those  injustices as the technology rapidly advances. 

The advance of AI in no way means the destruction of human purpose and livelihood. While it may be hard to hear over the worries of mass unemployment, AI is actively enhancing productivity in a number of industries. It is even creating new industries, fueling growth in space exploration, cybersecurity, and sports analytics. The reallocation of labor to prevent unemployment will not happen by itself, but we have the ability to ensure that those most vulnerable to AI are able to thrive in the face of new opportunity. 

This starts with education. The education system is meant to prepare students for a world where specialist knowledge leads to success. We cannot cling onto past measures of ability, but rather we should integrate AI technology into education to ensure students are learning the skills they need in society. If AI can write your essay in a couple seconds, essay writing is no longer a valuable test for secondary students, but constructing arguments in speeches certainly is. Developing fundamental skills is an important cornerstone of education, but once these abilities are learned, students benefit most from developing indispensable, human skills. After all, AI can be used as a starting point, but only a human can effectively deliver an argument.

Previous periods of rapid change, such as the digital revolution, have left millions of people behind. If we let the AI revolution run its course, the same will happen again with multiplied effects. Therefore, we must create reeducation and government job displacement programs to mitigate any negative side effects, and push legislation through that incentivizes companies to retain their workforces, making the revolution beneficial for all. Already people are facing scary realities, such as artists realizing that their creativity can be replicated, and computer scientists facing computers that write their own code. But when we accept the reality as it is and work as a society to adapt, we can help those at most risk. 

AI is the future. It will continue to dramatically change every aspect of our lives, leaving a world that is unrecognizable from the one we live in today. When we do not put our efforts into fighting the change, but rather into making the change as positive as possible, we can enjoy the benefits that technology brings. AI is undeniably scary, but even when it pushes the boundaries of art and science further than any human, we must remember that as a society we have the ability to ensure that AI always works for our benefit.

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    Matthew Lewis | Oct 27, 2023 at 8:24 am

    This editorial tends to misrepresent the opposition, characterizing those opposed as seeing all AI as simply “bad and unjust”. In reality, AI is a very nuanced topic, and I think it’s important to note that there are many valid concerns, ethically and developmentally. Mainly, while AI has the opportunity to make many jobs, it’s unlikely this wealth will be distributed equally, and will instead to clustered in more affluent and technologically focused regions. It’s important to take into account how AI will disproportionately help the already rich, and how this is a concern that needs to be addressed with any social and economic development. From everything from teaching, jobs, and daily life, it’s important we recognize how AI impacts not just our local affluent community, but the world’s communities.