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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 26, 2024

Around the Corner: The Case for an AI Ban

2023 is the year of AI. Tools like Chat-GPT, Midjourney and others have become ubiquitous in our society and popular culture; from South Park to Snapchat, AI has captured discourse like never before. The rapid advancement of technology has opened the door to possibilities that were once restricted to science fiction. AI’s recent developments have also suggested that it may overtake us sooner than was previously thought. A survey of 356 AI experts in 2022 found that half of those experts believed that a human-level AI would be developed before 2061. The vast majority — 90% — thought it would be developed within the century. While the same experts also caution against fear-mongering, there is a possibility we will confront artificial life with equivalent or greater intelligence than us within our (for my readers in college) lifetime. 

The societal consequences of human-level AI would be colossal. Right now, just below 25% of jobs in the U.S. are under significant threat of automation. With the presence of an AI with human intelligence, that figure could reach nearly 100%. Imagine a world in which all human work could be done faster, cheaper and more effectively by an AI that doesn’t take breaks, slack off or get tired. Humans would become obsolete. In a best-case scenario, an AI takeover would result in a utopia of leisure and luxury, but this presumes that society will have full control over the machines. More likely, they will be owned by a small number of people and corporations who will use them for their own profit and benefit. A stratified economy might emerge, where those at the top have machines that produce goods and services for them, while the rest wallow in poverty, with no hope of advancement. Despite being a staunch supporter of free-market capitalism, I recognize that the free market does not always produce the optimal outcome. The free market has little incentive to provide for those who have nothing to sell. For those whose labor is being replaced by AI, many would no longer have the means to support themselves.

While there are many possible solutions, only one is guaranteed to work. That is removing the source of the problem in the first place: human-level AI. Banning human-level AI will keep humans from becoming obsolete. Though it may restrict technological progress, it will preserve human worth. We may not realize a utopian outcome, but we will at least avoid the worst.