Thursday, July 20, 2023

Into the vortex of the post-truth era

Photo by Manuel M. Almeida on Unsplash

I can't help it but here's another post about my concerns with artificial intelligence. AI is already being used to churn out fake news stories, entire sites of it, as well as fake reviews of hotels, restaurants, movies and much much more. It can be used to write plausible project plans, essays and academic articles (often without substance or any originality complete with references both genuine and invented), fake videos of people saying and doing things they never did in reality (whatever that is!), scripts for TV shows, novels - the list goes on and on. Since AI can produce an infinite amount of content in a few blinks of an eye, I wonder what happens when most of the content on the web is AI-generated. And since AI trawls the web for content it will be trawling other AI content and producing new content based on its own content. This sounds like a wormhole into a Wonderland where nothing is real and fact and fiction have become completely blurred into each other. 

Reviews have been a problem for a long time with people being paid to write fake reviews to make or break a hotel, restaurant, destination, book or film. But why pay people to write nonsense when AI does it instantly and for free. This is highlighted in a n article in the GuardianFake reviews: can we trust what we read online as use of AI explodes? The review sites like Trip Advisor, Amazon etc are aware of the problem and try to filter out the obvious fakes but very soon we will not be able to tell the difference, making the whole process meaningless. In the end you stop reading the reviews. The companies behind the AI tools simply ignore the issue - they lit the fuse and then watch the fireworks.

Guardian Money asked OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, why it does not prevent its AI tool from producing fake reviews of hotels, restaurants and products that the “reviewer” has never visited or used. We made multiple attempts to contact the company and submitted a number of questions but it did not respond by the time this article was published.
AI music is also thriving with streaming services offering playlists of AI-generated formula music in various genres. Since this music is generated by scanning thousands of human compositions the music industry is concerned about copyright and royalties as described in an article on CNN, Universal Music Group calls AI music a ‘fraud,’ wants it banned from streaming platforms. Experts say it’s not that easy. We could theoretically stop it but it's hard to prove breach of copyright when the AI tool has sampled thousands of pieces. 
“You can flag your site not to be searched. But that’s a request — you can’t prevent it. You can just request that someone not do it,” said Shelly Palmer, Professor of Advanced Media at Syracuse University.
Pandora's box is wide open and it looks very unlikely that we will be able to impose regulations. Once again the companies benefitting from the AI-generated content are predictably silent:
Music streamers Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora did not return request for comment.
I have read many articles about how we can harness AI to open up new opportunities in education, health care and other fields and there will be some excellent examples of good practice. But in terms of the wider impact I simply can't imagine human beings acting so rationally. We are truly entering the post-truth era.

1 comment:

  1. Because these are driven by capitalistic greed, I don't expect anything else. And many talking about a better world, are capitalistic wolves in earth-saving sheep clothing.