Opinion | AI doesn’t care about diversity yet

Guerneville, Calif. The Supreme Court’s decision to end race and ethnicity as factors in evaluating college applicants comes at what, strangely, may be the best possible time, given the likely futility of higher education for most people, regardless by race, talent, or intelligence.

With artificial intelligence technology (AI/ChatGPT) already stealing jobs from office workers, why should a young person bother spending four years or more mastering knowledge and skills that AI can adequately perform? The growing number of jobs lost to this cunning creature that seems to be nowhere and everywhere at the same time is startling enough to make us question our assumptions about how to plan for a future.

If the goal was once to ensure a college education for everyone, the more prudent policy now may be to help people develop skills related to outdoor and other physically demanding jobs. Chatbots can type, but they can’t change a light bulb. They can’t sound a house. They cannot heal the sick with a human touch or grow vegetables or do countless other jobs that meet humanity’s most crucial needs.

For the confused, GPT stands for pre-trained generative transformer, which refers to how ChatGPT processes, requests, and formulates responses. ChatGPT is trained using reinforcement and reward models that rank the best responses. Something like that.

Ruth Marcus: Supreme Court tosses nearly 50 years of progress on racial equity

While the reasoning behind the high courts’ 6-3 affirmative action decision is best left to lawyers who talk about replaceable professions, the implications of AI’s explosive expansion into new arenas should be obvious to anyone.

During a visit with my son, I brought up the subject of artificial intelligence and he immediately asked to change the subject. I don’t want to talk about it, he said.

Unfortunately, he has reason to be concerned. A writer with a law degree, he depends on regular clients to make a living. He’s fine for now, thanks to his unique niche, but other writers who find themselves in a similar position have lost their entire client list overnight. Post-tech reporters Pranshu Verma and Gerrit De Vynck recently described a Bloomingdale, Ill. writer, Eric Fein, whose clients told him they were transitioning to artificial intelligence. He is anyone Not transition these days?

Fein went back to school to become an HVAC technician. Another displaced writer, this one in San Francisco, started working as a dog walker.

Amidst the interruption, the irony remains fully employed. Does technology, by replacing human beings, also make us more human? Spending more time outdoors is certainly healthier than sitting at a desk for hours a day. If more people turn to skilled labor, might we finally be able to find reliable help for household problems beyond our understanding?

An upcoming wearable AI assistant from a company called Humane is meant to revolutionize both technology and humanity. Imran Chaudhri, co-founder and president of Humanes, describes his pocket invention as intentionally humanizing, because it eliminates the need for devices such as smartphones, watches and even computers that act as barriers to human interaction. The Chaudhris device performs the functions of all of the above and more, using your palm as a viewing screen so your face is free to express emotion, make eye contact and, last but not least, see where you’re going.

Such developments are both frightening and hilarious. The possibilities for liberation and creativity are limited only by the imagination. But the threat to life as we know it and especially white-collar (or work-at-home) jobs is potentially catastrophic.

On the bright side, AI isn’t always that smart. Or rather, he’s smart in the Vulcan way. All brain, no emotion, makes a human being lousy. Writers can be replaced if all you need is a user manual, but the AI ​​doesn’t have the emotional depth or experiential memory to write beautifully, using just the right word or nuance. An algorithm might find the most likely word that most people use most of the time, but a good writer knows better ones. Voice and style are as individual as a fingerprint.

At least one of Fein’s customers realized his content was better than AIs and came back. Others decided that the sacrifice in quality was worth the cost savings. Human beings, after all, need fixed wages and health benefits, vacation, sick days and family leave. Artificial intelligence needs nothing.

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At this point we can’t see exactly how AI might evolve. We know instinctively that the good is often overshadowed by the bad. In how many ways will we regret our ardent embrace of machine over man? Science fiction is written about this, although I suspect AI would be a bad author. Great literature comes to us from people who have dug deep into their psyches, experiences, pains, triumphs, fears, losses and aspirations.

I wonder all the people who will no longer be admitted to colleges and universities because they do not meet certain data-driven standards and, therefore, will not have the opportunity to study humanity’s greatest achievements.

The immediate losers will be students of color who may have benefited from affirmative action. But in the long run, the real loser may be academia. Young men have already dropped out of college in large numbers, leaving women to dominate many fields that AI loves. Add black and brown youth to declining enrollment and who is left? And who will teach? AI, I’m scared.

The Supreme Court says affirmative action belongs to another generation and is no longer needed. It would be nice to think so, but my hunch is that many Americans would agree with Suzanne Szostak, co-host of Mine + Farm, my favorite getaway here in Sonoma County. Commenting on the ruling, she said, I just wish the Supreme Court was an AI chatbot right now.

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