Assisting orenslaving Intelligence?
   Date :19-Jun-2024

Assisting or enslaving
By Biraj Dixit :
“I want AI to do my laundry and dishes so that I can do art and writing, not for AI to do my art and writing so that I can do my laundry and dishes.” Joanna Maciejewska’s now famous statement has served as a wake-up call for all of humanity racing in a direction. I am sure I’d love it if Siri does everything for me butforthe thinking part. Think, I can. Very well. In fact, too well. Friends,Iapologisebeforehand,forIwillrevert to that inevitable habit of going“….backinthose days when we were….”. You see when one is old enough and fatigued enough to remember good old days, one keeps remembering those quite often and then comparison becomes a foregone conclusion. But Ifeel, a little rewind is always good for better understanding of things. You see, technology has always been the catapult to help humanity leapfrog into further and further advancement. From stone tools to metals to machines to AI, ours have been quite a remarkable journey.And being catapulted into the nextl evel (and not climbing the stairs one by one)? Oh, what canbebetter!But with each such leap there have been worries of where we land.Can’t saywehave always achieved a soft landing.
 Just Like That  
Backinthedayswhentheill-effectsofTV,VCR, refrigeratorwerewholesomelydiscussedinsocial gatherings before they found common ground in discussing latest serials, films they last saw at home and batters and curries that could easily be stored in the fridge, people were seemingly worried about how the future generations will handle this advancement in technologies. For, almost every thing was bad for health and healthy development.So,they asked us children to refrain from over-indulgence in technology. So, while we understood that too much technology was bad and how good were their…’good old days’, TV, VCR, Fridge, car, mixer grinders, microwave ovens, washing machines etc etc etc filled our lives. On innumerable occasions, while eating the wonderfully bright coloured chutney, did I hear stories of how the chutney grind in mortar pestle stone of the yesteryears was so delectable as if from some other universe. It certainly must be from another universe as the mortar pestle at my homestood its ground in the unsolicited corner of the house for years together even as the mixer-grinder took the centre-stage.
Ditto with the washing machine! Nothing can match the perfection of the human hands but…! Car was, in a way, bad as humans were forgetting the art and skill of walking… but! AC’s were awful…but…! We inherited a gadgeted world, our children more so. But we have also inherited a gene pool off atherly and motherly worries. So…’we-mustlimit-the-screen-time-for-children’ approach continues. With the inheritance of such steel in our resolve, how effectively we will control the AI is a forgone conclusion. But control we must. The AI revolution started with a promise that it would bring unbelievable ease to human life. The sages of the yore might have said that ease should not be a very welcome thing if humans are to progress in the right direction, but we would not have come so far of wherever we are heading, had we listened to sages. The entire mankind is made up oft hinking beings.We don’t get swayed. Easy, life has become, with most things at our fingertips.
Nay, that too, is passe. You can now call AI for anything and everything.They can read and write for you, learn and adapt, give the most accurate answers, they can more or less do most of the work for you and by virtue of that render you useless. Any flaws or limitations that they havewillgraduallybeclearedastheraceformore and more perfection has already begun. People working on it speak of AI 1, AI 2, AI 3 where the artificial meets the authentic (human intelligence) to create Augmented Intelligence so that creativity meets intelligence. So, the question humanity is asking is not how much but how far. Can it replace you? Now we come to Joanna’s juggle and that of mankind. It must bring ease to all, not money to some. How-so-ever neat the human hand may be, its talents should not be wasted in tasks considered menial like washing dishes and laundry. They should be better utilised for further in gone’s wishes to further and further explore. But had the world been a place where things are seldom what they should have been.
Once the technology of nuclear power was used to disastrous results after which the world unanimously said no more. Yet, its stockpile keeps increasing and everytime a war seems going out of hand,a threat ‘topressthebutton’loomslarge.Thisishowcommitted we humans are. AI is also a powerful technology to be used with great discretion. The same discretion is needed to determine where our technological path is heading to. Will it enable poor women like Joanna and me more time to do what we wish to or will it enslave us in a mannerin which we will never know that we are but slaves? Thankfully, wise voices that are usually heard are drawing attention to AI’s usefulness. Pope Francis, Narendra Modi and many otherleaders of the world recently sought world’s attention towards theneed fortreading cautiously. The G7 declaration,too,mentions the need for more regulation. But most essential will be the steel required to say no to something you know is not good for mankind.Most essential willbe the intelligence to differentiate between comfort and enslavement.