Are You Scared Yet?

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Unless you have been living as a hermit in a cave in northern Canada, you have no doubt heard about the coming global shift-shaping demon that some call A.I… short for artificial intelligence.

For those who only now and then take a peek at the news, A.I. is viewed as akin to Frankenstein creating his own Frankenstein. You simply do not know who is the real monster that has the capacity to plague both your daydreams and your nightmares.

Yes, it is that bad. A.I. is akin to the genie escaping out of the bottle, but this genie comes with its own bag of tricks and devices that can scare the heebie-jeebies out of anyone who is concerned about security and truth, with truth being told truthfully.

Alarm bells in the science and computer industries are ringing at high-pitched volumes because A.I. has the capacity to think on its own, apart from its human handlers, and it can do simple logical deductions and can engage in promulgating images that are nigh impossible to detect as being fake.

Congress, belatedly, is trying to get a grip on the ramifications of an unregulated A.I. universe in which practically anything is subject to distortion, shapeshifting and just sheer outright lying about what we commonly refer to as facts.

For A.I. is like silly putty in the hands of the malevolent who will use its intellectual capabilities to nefarious ends such as documents being forged to perfection, banking transactions being subject to grand theft and stories and news feeds being called into question because A.I. can change just enough of what is true to make you say, “Is it real….is it true?”

Imagine an unregulated A.I. culture in which people with no moral scruples were to take that which has been venerated as true and fixed, but with an aggressive A.I. campaign of distortion and half-truths, you are left wondering exactly what truth is and how is it established once and for all.

Remember, A.I. does not have a conscience but it does have a keen ability to denigrate logical arguments by inserting into the conversation elements of “what if” or “what about” that can leave the viewer or reader puzzled, confused or angry if they are not informed that what they are reading or viewing is a product of A.I.

No one has a monopoly on the use of A.I. or how the law should contain its apparent voracious appetite for multiplying upon itself to advance to even greater levels of sophistication in deception or deflection.

With A.I, what you see is not necessarily what you get because A.I. can provide visuals or printed information that is the real McCoy to an untrained eye or ear.

I mean…how do you spank a computer program to do the right thing when it is not initially programmed with guardrails that prevent it from wreaking havoc on a gullible population?

If for example in the current political climate, imagine the immense problems A.I. could generate in political ads and “re-hashing” political conversations so that your opponent is demonized to the point of total absurdity?

The time it would take to combat those false images or statements would be enormous and especially so if your target audience is not seen as being too circumspect as to how they examine, compare and contrast what they know to be true versus the now competing A.I. imagery.

It is laudable that the proponents of A.I. tout its power in developing new life saving drugs or its soon apparent ability to decode immense and complex data about scientific issues that could leave to monumental breakthroughs in creativity, food production, fights against diseases and climate change.

But. The greatest challenge will be in the field of social sciences and human interactive behavior where the presence of the giant of A.I. could be so overwhelming that it begins to inject thoughts and issues that are demonstrably undesirable for maintaining the cords that bind a society together.

All literature, both past and present, could be subject to minor tweaks and changes so that the initial meaning of the author or composer or photographer is lost to human memory and in its place, A.I. triumphs.

Already, there are reports of A.I. being used by lazy students to generate their term papers  including the use of false or misleading footnotes to substantiate the truthfulness of the article.

Make no doubt about it. A.I. in the hands of unscrupulous inventors or amoral producers would have the capacity to create societies that are based upon the whims and wiles of people whose character leaves much to be desired and much less propagated.

So, in closing, ask yourself, is this article that you just read, is it authored by me or by a handler of A.I. who produced it by taking my writing traits and this subject matter and thus birthing the headline topic?

I don’t know. Do you?

Contact Lafe Tolliver at