Do the Thinking on My Behalf: AI In Our Everyday

Has AI gone too far?

Yasmine Elsayed (she/her) // Contributor
Sol Yoon (she/her) // Illustrator

Artificial intelligence has recently become such a normal part of daily life that it can often be unnoticeable. Recent developments have seen artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more integrated into many facets of life and work. For example, Adobe Photoshop released a beta AI program that can edit photos for the user. This has sparked a serious discussion about the extent to which AI has been incorporated into creative processes.

IBM classifies AI as “computers and machines [which] mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.” It has been a topic of discussion and fiction since the Middle Ages, specifically in Greek mythology. Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar in the classics department in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, concluded in her book, “Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology” that the concept of AI was first recorded 2,700 years ago. The Greek poets Hesiod and Homer were the ones that were the first to describe manufactured self-moving objects. Mayor draws on examples such as the story of Talos, which first describes a robot built by the Greek god of invention and blacksmithing, Hephaestus. 

The concept of AI was further developed by Alan Turing as he decoded the Nazi Enigma machine during World War II. He created the Turing Test in order to determine whether a computer could “think” like a human or better than one. Even more recently, AI research began in earnest in 1956 at Dartmouth College, where John McCarthy hosted computer chess games against human opponents. McCarthy also created LISP programming, an easy language that manipulates data strings. Although not as popular as C, Python, or Perl, LISP is one of the oldest and still in use programming languages.

From Photoshop to writing websites like Grammarly, it has become difficult to find tech that does not incorporate AI in some ways. However, despite the raised concerns, AI does have its pros. For example, it can make menial tasks more convenient, such as booking doctor appointments, signing up for classes, or translating text from one language to another. It also offers better accessibility for people with disabilities. For example, HOOBOX Robotics recently created a software that uses facial recognition to move wheelchairs. 

While having facial recognition or fingerprint readers to unlock phones is convenient, there are fears about the jobs that will be lost as AI begins to make certain positions redundant. Since AI is cheap and easy to use, it has many corporations questioning their current practices. Why hire writers when you can feed a few lines to a program, and it will give you a script? The use of ChatGPT was one of the many issues that prompted the Writers Guild of America (WGA) to go on strike. Generative AI was also a tool utilized in making the 2022 film, Everything Everywhere All at Once.  Visual effects artist Evan Halleck used an AI tool to remove background images from green screened shots, a task which usually involves a lot of time and manual labour.  

Another primary concern is how AI artists are now being considered artists in many notable art competitions. One famous case was Jason Allen, who submitted an art piece to the Colorado State Fair’s fine arts competition. This incident was received poorly; some judges said they were unaware the work was AI generated. However, they claimed it would not have mattered since they sought “art that tells a story.” Allen argued that his work clearly showed signs that it was made with AI, naming it “Jason M. Allen Via Midjourney.” Midjourney is an artificial intelligence program that turns text-to-images. He explained that he won fairly without breaking any rules. When entering text into an AI program to create a piece of art, the program does not create from scratch. It looks for original source paintings, combines them, then provides an image. Allen argued that this was different from an artist looking up references to create something original. 

There are many that view AI as a way to make life easier. However, it is rapidly evolving into a tool to make things more efficient, cheaper, and faster. Though this sounds great, there are real world implications that are much more complex than maximizing profits. As data processing becomes faster, repetitive tasks are sped up, and human error is minimized, the impact of AI on the labour market will only grow. For what it offers in its efficiency, AI lacks certain human qualities, which should not be discounted, such as empathy, ethics, morals and creativity. 

On a small scale, AI can be used as  a tool to make certain tasks easier, but in the macro its implications for large corporations and their business practices remains to be seen. 

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