To AI or not to AI?

Nov 20, 2023 | Food For Thought

Before I delve into this topic, I would like to preface this piece by stating that Artificial Intelligence isn’t actually a robot with super intelligence that could pretty much be a human, except with limbs of steel and wires. AI doesn’t create anything new (it’s essentially a massive program that detects and replicates trends and patterns, regurgitating results based on whatever inputs have been stored in it), it doesn’t have feelings, nor a moral compass.

It can, however, go through huge datasets to look for those patterns, and recombine said data into an inhumanly vast number of sub-variants.

But this comes at a severe cost—AI has a massive carbon footprint, and uses up a lot of water (needed to cool down all those servers and data centers so they don’t, say, explode or catch fire) (1). And this cost is exponential—the more you want an AI system to recognize new patterns/cobble up new results, the more data it needs to be fed. “Even to recognize a cat, it needs more than 10,000 pictures of cats” (2) to train its algorithms, which can have almost five times the emissions of an average American car (2). And “training” the program is only a part of the whole process, if it’s meant to be used to others, with the other processes being just as detrimental to the environment.

Therefore, as I’m working to reduce my carbon footprint, I cannot in good conscience use AI tools like chatGPT, etc (though the incorporation of AI into everything, including MS Word, etc, does make it harder and harder to do).

However, even if that weren’t an issue, I wouldn’t be able to make myself willingly use something based on data that’s been taken from others without their express approval (and by approval I don’t mean having some clause linked to using all their personal work to train AI squeezed in some minute paragraph in the middle of a pages-long User Agreement (or renewal of one) for an app or program).

Finally, even if the data fed into these enormous computer programs had come from legit sources, I still wouldn’t be using AI for any of my creative endeavors.

I think that to create something meaningful—a new story, a new piece of art, music, etc.—it has to express what we hold in the depths of our heart and soul (even if small, even if imperfect). And yes, this means my creative process can be slow (🐌), and pushes me hard (to improve my craft, to learn more facts, to understand myself and other humans better, and to assimilate what I know and come up resulting in forming new connections and intuitive leaps), but it is also so much more satisfying when I finally finish my project.

Because I’ve given the best of myself at the time. Because I’ve learned and grown a lot.

Because, however flawed the result, it’s a real part of me that I am sharing with you, thereby creating a true connection between us.