Creativity and Harm
“AI Machines Aren’t Hallucinating. But Their Makers Are” by Naomi Klein
The Guardian, May, 8 2023
“AI Is About to Make Social Media (Much) More Toxic” by Jonathan Haidt and Eric Schmidt
The Atlantic, May 5, 2023
“The Future of Writing Is a Lot Like Hip-Hop” by Stephen Marche
The Atlantic, May 9, 2023
How is your school navigating the new and fast-evolving AI landscape? In his fascinating account of employing AI to write a novel, Stephen Marche sounds confident and breezy; after all, to do this kind of thing well, “You need more understanding of literary style, not less” and “Originality died well before the arrival of AI.” Marche anticipates exciting new artistic horizons and delights in his new instruments, welcoming our new era of proliferating AI. In juxtaposition, Naomi Klein’s “AI Machines Aren’t Hallucinating. But Their Makers Are” roundly disagrees with this kind of casual, positive outlook. She calls the training of recent chatbots “what may turn out to be the largest and most consequential theft in human history” and quotes Geoffrey Hinton on the risk that people “will not be able to know what is true anymore.” Klein argues that we have had all the data and intelligence we need to respond to urgent crises like climate change, housing, and teenage mental health, yet big companies have nonetheless been unwilling to create life-saving policies. “Generative AI [...] could indeed be marshaled to benefit humanity,” Klein allows, “But for that to happen, these technologies would need to be deployed inside a vastly different economic and social order than our own, one that had as its purpose the meeting of human needs and the protection of the planetary systems that support all life.” Perhaps most pressingly for educators, in “AI Is About to Make Social Media (Much) More Toxic,” Jonathan Haidt and Eric Schmidt suggest “five reforms, aimed mostly at increasing everyone’s ability to trust the people, algorithms, and content they encounter online,” including the recommendation to “Raise the age of ‘internet adulthood’ to 16 and enforce it.” Haidt and Schmidt synthesize: “Whoever controls the chatbots will have enormous influence on children.” In what ways and to what extent are educators employing AI to new creative ends and protecting students from its harms?