The Rise of Disinformation: How AI is Contributing to the Spread of Misinformation

Like many people I started out as someone who was worried about Artificial Intelligence. Now after countless hours of study, conversations with some of the top experts in the world and thought that followed. I have embraced the idea that AI is good for humanity.  As with mechanised farming and the industrial revolution it’s how we use this technology that matters.

It is not the technology we should worry about! It is the intent behind it and the dangers that follow.

This week I published a couple of blogs around Chat GPT and decided to expand on my thoughts around AI and do some more research.

“The concept of artificial intelligence or machine learning has been around since before computers were even invented, but AI-first businesses are another story…

Pioneers have thought about the use of machines for hundreds of years and how they could solve mathematical problems and become helpful to man by doing other more complex tasks.

Since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818, people knew that this day will come…there were films like The Terminator and The Film Short Circuit, which was more of a comedy, but actually highlights some real risks.” Read The Rise Of AI First Businesses and Why You Shouldn’t Worry!

Do not panic there is a glass half full attitude about AI and tech innovation here!

Jaron Lanier, known as the godfather of virtual reality, dismisses fears that AI will outsmart humans or take over the world. Instead, he believes the real danger lies in technology driving us insane. Lanier, who works at Microsoft as an interdisciplinary scientist, has consistently exposed the dangers the web presents. He believes the internet is deadening personal interactions and stifling creativity. Lanier argues that the misuse of technology could lead to humanity’s extinction through insanity, brought on by factors such as global security threats or misinformation on social media.

Born to Jewish parents, Lanier grew up in poverty after his mother’s death. A bright child, he took graduate-level courses at age 14, later working for Atari and co-founding VPL Research to commercialize VR technologies. Lanier thinks AI bots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard could provide hope for the digital world, as they may counter the internet’s tendency to diminish choice and make people lazy and incurious.

“Lanier’s position is that humans may not be considered to be biological computers, i.e., they may not be compared to digital computers in any proper sense, and it is very unlikely that humans could be generally replaced by computers easily in a few decades, even economically. While transistor count increases according to Moore’s law, overall performance rises only very slowly. According to Lanier, this is because human productivity in developing software increases only slightly, and software becomes more bloated and remains as error-prone as it ever was. “Simply put, software just won’t allow it. Code can’t keep up with processing power now, and it never will.”[24] At the end he warns that the biggest problem of any theory (esp. ideology) is not that it is false, “but when it claims to be the sole and utterly complete path to understanding life and reality.” The impression of objective necessity paralyzes the ability of humans to walk out of or to fight the paradigm and causes the self-fulfilling destiny which spoils people.” Wiki

I tend to agree the new generation of bots can be a positive thing, considering where we are currently at with attention spans and the content we are forced to consume; it may change that. Rather than narrowing our focus, they can expand it. They could be programmed to introduce us to a wider array of content, encouraging us to explore new ideas, music, and perspectives. If harnessed correctly, AI has the potential to enrich our lives and enhance our decision-making capabilities, rather than boxing us in.

“You can use AI to make fake news faster, cheaper and on greater scales. That combination is where we might see our extinction.” Lanier

As for TikTok, Lanier is concerned about its addictive nature and the way it encourages shallow consumption of content. He believes the platform is contributing to the erosion of our ability to focus, fostering a culture of instant gratification and superficial engagement. In his view, banning TikTok would protect users from being manipulated by algorithms that prioritize engagement over substance, he said it should be banned.

“Because it’s controlled by the Chinese and should there be difficult circumstances there are lots of horrible tactical uses it could be put to. I don’t think it’s an acceptable risk. It’s heartbreaking because a lot of kids love it for perfectly good reasons.”

Ultimately, Jaron Lanier’s message, is one of cautious optimism. He acknowledges the risks and flaws of technology but believes that with mindful, ethical use, we can make AI work for us rather than against us. By embracing our “responsibility to sanity” and prioritizing humane, moral actions, we can mitigate the potential for AI-driven insanity and ensure a more balanced, fulfilling digital experience.

Lanier also makes an analogy between cars and people when he talks about AI and humans and in fact I tend to agree, why would you try to run as fast as your car…

If you would like to explore some of my thoughts around this topic you can read more on The Legacy Media Hub.

Do also lookout for the next series of Influential Visions Podcast where we explore major technology innovations within AI, Blockchain, Energy, and others.

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