AI’s Groundhog Day

A recent issue of the State by Jane C. Chu sports an eye-catching headline: AI’s Groundhog Day. “A.I. is just the latest “genie” that won’t go back into the bottle, the newest technological point of no return.”

It’s an apt comparison. A.I. does seem like a genie: The technology is new and mysterious, we aren’t sure exactly how it works, and we know it is very powerful. We are also afraid of it: In a poll conducted in the summer of 2023, over half of Americans said they were more concerned than excited about A.I.; there is widespread speculation about what effects the technology will have on our economy, our jobs (lolsob), our education system, our art; and tech leaders have warned that the technology puts the fate of humanity at risk. A.I. can’t be stopped, it seems, so the question has become: How do we wield it for good and steer it away from becoming a tool for evil?

– Jane C. Chu on State

Jane, referring to Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that the panic over A.I. feels like “Groundhog Day“.

It replicates the anxieties we’ve seen around social media for a long time. Someone in Congress hauls a bunch of CEOs to D.C. to testify about how they should be regulated.

– Corynne McSherry from Electronic Frontier Foundation

Safiya Noble, director of the Center on Race and Digital Justice at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Slate, “The words progress, innovation, industry—all of these tropes of the promise of American progress—are quite similar to those about what oil and gas could do to improve our lives. As they extract everything they can get from us as consumers and use all our shared resources—our roads, our best-educated people, our attention and time spent on devices—we have grounds to refuse that.”