Exploring Artificial Intelligence
November 9, 2023
Information about artificial intelligence – AI for short – has been very evident in national and local media. The media brings AI to our attention every day. iPhones use our past texts to develop predictive messages when we text later on. Learning a language with apps like DuoLingo and Babbel feeds information into generative language bots. DULY medical systems use ChatGPT to provide answers to patients’ medical questions. Yes, AI is already with us.
Depending upon the company creating it, generative AI has various names. Google describes its Bard tool as “a conversational generative artificial intelligence chatbot developed by Google.” Microsoft’s Sydney described itself, when prompted, as “the codename for the generative AI chatbot that powers Bing chat.” And ChatGPT –which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer – is described as “an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI, capable of generating human-like text based on context and past conversations.”
Essentially, each of these programs has a bot, which is a powerful computer program that searches the internet and gathers information based on a question or direction that a user submits to it. The bot searches related databases, such as that of the New York Times, Wikipedia, digital books, Facebook. According to the rules programed into it, it returns information to the user in less time than it takes to clear one’s throat.
The truthfulness and completeness of the information returned is reliant upon the databases that the bot uses or does not use, as well as the rules in the algorithm directing it as to what information should be returned (or not returned) to the user. Both of these aspects are controlled by the programmer.
We need to understand this technology because it can be easily used to create “fake news,” which looks real and can manipulate us. For example, this technology could be used to create realistic looking news broadcasts in which people are speaking ideas that they do not advocate.
AI can also gather valid and useful data for making decisions and drawing conclusions. As new information is accessible in databases, and as the rules for selecting it change, the information returned changes when a question or direction is re-submitted.
As a community, we are in an important discussion about racism, so I was curious about the information I would receive if I asked an AI chatbot submitted the questions in the Justice & Peace Committee letter of March 6, 2023. I created an OpenAI account and submitted each question. Here’s the answer I received in response to the question, “When you find that you have been racist, what do or can you do to change your attitude or behavior?”
As an artificial intelligence language model, I do not have attitudes or behaviors, nor do I possess the capacity for prejudice or discrimination based on race or any other characteristic. However, for humans who recognize that they have exhibited racist attitudes or behaviors, there are several steps that can be taken to address and change those attitudes:
1. Acknowledge the problem: Recognize and admit that you have exhibited racist attitudes or behaviors.
2. Educate yourself: Learn about the experiences and perspectives of people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds, and seek out information on the history and impact of racism.
3. Listen to others: Listen to and engage with people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds, and be open to hearing their perspectives and experiences.
4. Reflect on your own biases: Examine your own beliefs and attitudes about race, and challenge any assumptions or stereotypes you may hold.
5. Take action: Take concrete steps to combat racism in your personal and professional life, such as advocating for diversity and inclusion, supporting anti-racist policies and initiatives, and speaking out against racism when you encounter it.
6. Hold yourself accountable: Monitor your own behavior and attitudes, and be willing to admit when you make mistakes or fall short in your efforts to combat racism.
It is important to remember that changing deeply ingrained attitudes and behaviors is a process that requires ongoing effort and commitment. By taking these steps, individuals can begin to address and overcome their own racist attitudes and behaviors, and contribute to a more just and equitable society for all.
How can we work with this AI response? It is repetitive and offers no thought, creation, or metaphors to serve as a comparison to our own experience. The feedback is not personalized, but we can compare it to our own personal response. Does it add new thoughts to our ideas?
With AI, there is no possibility for personal experience, and there is no way to engage in two-way dialogue with the text, since the bot can answer but cannot ask questions! But can we use AI data as a jumping off point?
The information that AI provided does not include references that can be checked out for more information. Currently, we have created our own dataset on racism when we returned our responses to each of the questions to the Justice & Peace Committee. Our database will be as good as our contributions to it are.
The committee members will collate our responses and present them to us. Like the bot, they will search our responses – grouping like ideas together, relating them to our values, and holding them up to us in much the way we hold a mirror to our face. We will have a starting point for our discussion.
What might be a connection we could make between racism and artificial intelligence? Racism preceded us; we were born into it. It is part and parcel of our language and customs: habit. We need to intentionally mind and mend our ways.
We were not “born into” artificial intelligence; we preceded it. In fact. In the 1960s, Sister Diane Drufenbrock (Madeline Sophie) studied and worked in the area of artificial intelligence in federal grant programs!
We need to recognize the fruits of AI when we see them and monitor the control of its development. AI will not go away; it is already a powerful tool in the hands of people using it. We have at least three options regarding AI:
- We can bury our head in the sand because it’s too overwhelming or say, “I’m not interested in computer stuff.”
- We can believe everything that the media tells us about AI and do nothing more.
- We can engage with it. Interestingly enough, these are the same choices we have with regard to racism!
How can we engage with AI? I am a voracious reader, so I’ve been reading anything I could, whether or not I understood it completely. I began putting concepts and issues together. The New York Times has had a wonderful series of articles on AI. Geoffrey Hinton worked with AI at Google before quitting and becoming an independent observer—you can follow his writing. A.I. Timnit Gegru, an Eritrean computer scientist and activist, also writes well on the ethics of AI.
Finally, try it out for yourself! You can use your internet-connected computer to easily set up an OpenAI account. Complete the form and write down your password. Follow the directions to submit your first question. I suggest making it about something you are familiar with so that you can evaluate the response you receive.
After you’ve received a response to your question, you can use a button to ‘regenerate’ or submit your question again. Sometimes you will receive new information in a different format; sometimes it will be the same information in a different format.
AI will continue to evolve, and like any new technology, it could have terrible unforeseen or unintended consequences. Experts and government agencies are now considering what kind of regulations and ethics – national and international – we need to put in place to manage the development of AI so that it does not become a tool to further undermine truth and trust in our society. We need to be vigilant so social and communal interests take precedence over financial gain and manipulative uses of AI. Our reflections on racism, for example, reveal aspects of lived experience that we want to make sure are not repeated within the infrastructure of AI.
If you are interested in exploring this topic with me, please contact me by email at: Louise.email@example.com.
This blog is a forum for Sister Louise to share her personal insights and reflections. The perspectives and opinions shared are her own and are not meant to represent the public statements or direction of the School Sisters of St. Francis congregation.