Is AI painting a bright or bleak future?

AI will be part of our future and it’s our responsibility to ensure it’s for the betterment of everyone.

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ILLUSTRATION: Hailey Gil / The Peak

By: Daniel Salcedo Rubio

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize many industries, from healthcare to finance, and yes, even art. However, as with any new technology, there are also concerns about its potential misuse. There are many present ethical issues on the use of AI, from copyright infringement to repetition of human bias and discrimination, and even privacy. 

AI is here to stay, it’s going to remove trivial and repetitive tasks and will automate activities from many different industries. For example, AI-generated code can be used to automate the process of software development, making it faster and more efficient. Similarly, AI has the potential to analyze images and improve the accuracy of clinical diagnosis. In the entertainment industry, AI can be used to create realistic special effects or upscale image quality in movies and video games. 

Not only has AI revolutionized consumer-related industries, but it is also starting to aid urbanism, ecological conservation efforts, and even everyday life. AI can be used in transportation systems to improve them in a variety of ways. AI can be used to optimize logistics and delivery routes to improve efficiency and reduce costs. In environmental monitoring and conservation, AI can be used to monitor and track whole ecosystems, including wildlife, climate, and natural resources. This data can then be used to identify patterns and trends and make informed decisions about the conservation and management of natural resources.

However, there are also concerns about the use of AI-generated products in these industries. One of the biggest concerns is the potential for AI to replace human jobs. This is especially true in industries where AI-generated products can be used to automate tasks that were previously done by humans. For example, if AI-generated code can be used to write software, it could lead to job loss for software developers. This isn’t something far off in a post-apocalyptic world, these issues are currently happening. In my previous workplace, a whole job class was replaced by AI automation. The job included documentation review and archiving, and became automated by the company’s AI. Some of the people holding that position were relocated to different departments of the company, many were laid off.

Another concern related to AI-generated products is the potential for misuse. For example, AI-generated images can be used to create deep fake videos, which can be used to spread misinformation or propaganda. Just last year a deep fake video of Ukraine President Zelenskyy was spread on social media, urging Ukrainians to surrender. Similarly, AI-generated papers can be used to create fake research or plagiarize the work of others. Another example — probably one of the most debated at the moment — are AI-generated images and the use of AI-generated art, specifically the use of artists copyrighted material for AI training without proper permission or compensation. Artists and photographers have expressed concern that their work could be used without their permission or proper credit. This could lead to the devaluation of their work and the erosion of their rights as creators.

AI is also promoted as an alternative for certain processes to remove human bias. For example, screening through applicants’ resumes could potentially level the playing field, yet, AI has been shown to replicate human biases, and even more dangerously, some might even look at them behind a fake lens of scientific objectivity.

These concerns make it clear that there is a need for regulation of the use of AI and AI-generated products. This regulation should aim to protect the intellectual property of individuals, and increase transparency of decision and product making. 

Possible solutions include requiring companies and organizations that use AI-related products to disclose their use of AI and take accountability for any potential misuse. This could include requirements for transparency, such as disclosing the source of AI-generated images, papers, and even decision-making processes where AI is involved. It could also include measures to prevent the use of AI-generated products for nefarious purposes, such as deepfake videos and copyright infringement. If the use of AI might replace human-managed jobs, we need to ensure there’s a way to provide a secure income for those affected. 

The moment to set up guidelines and regulations for the fair use of AI is now. Governments and organizations should establish adequate, well thought guidelines for the deployment and use of AI. From setting-up standards that AI systems must meet in order to ensure the safety, reliability, and transparency of AI systems to even developing auditing and testing plans from independent oversight bodies to ensure such guidelines and regulations are being upheld. While these tasks will heavily rely on the government and other regulatory bodies, we should ensure public participation and education on AI systems. AI is here to stay, and whether we fail to successfully adapt to its arrival will probably lay in our hands and the actions of regulatory agencies and legislators.