Now, before you jump to conclusions, allow me to be clear with a few definitions and thoughts.
The growing nervousness and fear that AI will take over our educational systems and produce future generations of bot brains and wobbly children is ridiculous. That is just the start of the pervasive concerns that writers and artists fear about losing their jobs. Let’s not even start with the apprehension that educators face about their societal roles. One needs only to read the first two paragraphs of news stories about AI to validate what I am saying.
But wait! There’s more! I’m sure there is, and we won’t follow that winding path.
I’ll begin by defining the words that clutter this hysteria – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE:
Merriam-Webster identifies the word ARTIFICIAL as an adjective that carries the meaning humanly contrived, “man-made” or “produced for a social or political agency”. In other words, it means that it is not real or natural, such as in ’artificial limb’ or ‘artificial flavoring’.
How about INTELLIGENCE?
Merriam-Webster identifies INTELLIGENCE as a noun that carries the meaning as “the ability to learn or understand”, “the act of understanding”. In other words, it means the ability to reason, shrewdness, and comprehension, such as ’superior intelligence’ or ‘gather intelligence’.
As you read this, I suspect that you would agree, more or less, with these definitions and how these words are used. My concern is that the current application of these words as they are abbreviated, AI, and how they are used to describe the capability of such products as ChatGPT and others, is producing entirely undue anxiety. Of course, I see the amazing possibilities that this new technology enables. I dare say that similar concerns and anxieties were present when electricity, radio, automobile, and many other new technologies were introduced. They weren’t called “artificial”. So, the current brouhaha over ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) is a misplaced source of energy.
Allow me to redirect your thinking a bit. It would be far less threatening or worrisome if ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE was named what it really is: AUGMENTED INFORMATION (AI) or AUTOMATED IDEAS (AI). That is what this new technology is all about. It is a new technological tool that humans are still understanding and learning how to use. It cannot do anything on its own. It reflects, re-organizes, and re-distributes information other sources give it. Like all new technology over the centuries, we just have to learn how to use it. As a communication expert for over 50 years, I am well aware of the power of words. Hence, I suggest we start calling this new technology by its real name: AUGMENTED INFORMATION.