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The social impact of new AI technology

By Gwen Soriano, May 2, 2023

The current generation of internet users are now using generative artificial intelligence to relieve themselves of mundane, everyday tasks. 

AI companies such as and ChatGPT have come out with their own technological advancements designed for human assistance, such as driverless vehicles and unrestrictive chat bots.  

The general functions of AI technology operate using provided keywords and topics for context, which is then used to generate content based on its imputed knowledge. 

Internet consumers might recognize that AI is no longer a novelty and has been incorporated into many of today’s most popular online sites. Ericsson Santana Marin, computer science assistant professor and director of the Cyber Adaptive Learning Systems Laboratory at Cal Poly Pomona, teaches a number of courses on the subject of AI and recognizes its rapid developments. 

“There’s no way to not use AI technology anymore,” said Marin. “If you use Google, you’re using AI. If you search something on YouTube, you’re using AI. If you click on something your phone recommends to you, you’re using AI. Everything that uses data input to make decisions designed to be faster than humans is considered AI nowadays.”  

Even the popular social media app, Snapchat, has built in a new AI chat bot feature, which is powered by OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT. 

Aside from AI technology’s wide accessibility and value in efficiency and convenience, today’s advancements have also grown to be beneficial in the fields of medicine and healthcare. Computer science student Tony Tong acknowledges its varying advantages as he habitually uses AI machinery to assist him with mundane tasks. 

“AI is making information that was already accessible even easier to access,” said Tong. “But with the introduction of AI, it will definitely negatively impact the job market.” 

Tong’s prediction is slowly proving its validity as AI is beginning to take control of multiple industries, such as the arts. Digital artists are now running into the issue of artificially-generated art, fear it may threaten their entire line of work. Music production companies such as Universal Music Group are filing copyright lawsuits for streaming AI-generated songs, cloned to mimic the voices of famous musicians.  

Although AI technology is programmed to generate content using predetermined information, consumers are being exposed to the convenience of immediate results rather than valuable work from varying human minds. 

This rise in AI popularization also resurfaces the ongoing issue of user data breaching by not only taking the coined term “internet deep fakes” to a whole new level but introducing new tactics for criminal activity. AI audio-generative software are now being used by scam artists to clone the voices of loved ones as a way of manipulating individuals into sending them money. 

“(Data privacy) is a concern as well,” said Marin. “The thing is, with AI, (companies) try to find as much information as they can, which can often be invasive.”  

Now that the modern AI brain is expanding with every piece of information provided by the internet and its users, questions arise about just how much knowledge AI machinery can develop over time. After being assigned less than an hour of repetitive work, an online clip of an AI robot ‘committing suicide’ and shutting itself down went viral, as watchers reacted to the video in fear of the developing robot brain. 

Keivan Navi, a Computer Science lecturer who performs extensive research on the subcategories of nanotechnology and quantum computing, focuses on the potential dangers of AI technology. 

“I’m very afraid of the future of AI,” said Navi. “There are positive points, but for me, one negative point is enough to eliminate advancements.” 

Taking a different approach, Tong critiques the rapid rate of recent upgrades when it comes to AI machinery. 

“I don’t think AI is necessarily a bad thing, I just think that we shouldn’t be approaching (advancements) at this fast of a rate,” Tong said. “AI’s kind of a double-edged sword.” 

Although evidence in the media proves the vitality of discussion surrounding AI potential, experts believe the technology is far too engraved within today’s society. These intelligence machines are designed to improve human lives, but even with the benefits AI has provided, users are left questioning what is real and what is safe. 

“There is no going back, in my opinion,” stated Marin. “AI is here to stay and we just need to accept that, just like we needed to accept the internet.”  

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