Brad Littlejohn wrote an opinion piece at World claiming that Elon Musk and the many others who signed a petition calling for AI to pause research were onto something–and that the rest of us should pay attention. He writes,
In a famous essay at the dawn of the personal computing era, “Thinking About Technology,” Canadian philosopher George Grant examined the statement, “Computers do not impose on us the ways they should be used.” It expressed, he argued, the quintessential modern idea of technology as simply an extension of human freedom. The claim is that we remain at all times the masters of our technological instruments, free to bend them to our will. More often, however, they have an uncanny way of bending us to theirs. Like the Ring or the Seeing-stones in Tolkien’s prescient myth, only those who possess great strength of will can use the new digital wizardry to serve their own purposes, rather than being enslaved by them. With the advent of AI, the pleasant fiction that we remain in charge of our machines becomes much more difficult to sustain.-Brad Littlejohn, Let’s put AI on pause | WORLD (wng.org)
In The Lord of the Rings, using the ring of power comes at a cost. It makes one powerful and invisible, but at the same time makes the bearer more dependent on its power, and has a deeply corrupting influence. It’s a picture of addiction. We’ve written here that depending on artificial intelligence too much may end up eroding our own imaginations and intellects. Critics have argued the same about Google. The trick is to observe the tradeoffs of tech advances in the long run. What would we gain and what will we lose, and is it worth it?