Who's afraid of AI? Me!

I've been thinking a lot about AI, specifically Generative AI.

There are many discussions - some about AI replacing hundreds of thousands of jobs, some about the literal extinction that AI poses to homo sapiens. If AI does develop into super intelligence, what I call "The Entity," what will be the psychological effects on humans?

I'm not worried about my generation. We've lived full lives. I'm worried about my children's generation and especially about my grandchildren's generation and subsequent generations.

After being the smartest species on the plant, how will it feel to be the second smartest species on the planet? How will we, especially our children and grandchildren, feel about a world in which nothing they do in any respect can even begin to compete with the accomplishments of "The Entity?" What about their motivation? In a world "ruled" by super machine intelligence, is there any reason to even try?

I'm sorry to say I see significant depression, confusion, atrophy. If "The Entity" does keep us around (and that's a big if), what will there be for us to do? Without work to offset leisure, leisure becomes work. All of us wake up to nothing of any importance to do because "The Entity" has already done it – and far, far better than we ever could.

And that's if "The Entity" does keep us around. After all, logically, why would it? Could any attorney make a case for saving homo sapiens? We routinely kill one another, sometimes to a breathtaking degree. In addition to killing each other, we have killed thousands of other species, whether deliberate or not. And, finally, we are well on our way to killing the very planet on which we live. Individually, of course, many of us are good people. But as a species, can any of us objectively say we deserve a future?

What's happening right now amazes me. I'm amazed we are heading toward the cliff, yet we are so complacent. The "geniuses" who brought us TikTock dance videos, Instagram selfies and virtual yelling on "X," could push us over the precipice. Some of them tell us not to worry. Extinction is all hype. Our elected representatives assure us they will put in "guardrails." Do any of us really trust these groups to do what's necessary for us to survive? And even if they meet the challenge, what about China, Iran, Russia, North Korea?

Yes, the AI race is on. Homo sapiens' inability to cooperate with each other, choosing instead to compete with each other, could be our undoing. Whether a company or a country, the AI race will be won. And then – perhaps without us even knowing - the "genie will be out of the bottle."

And our lives will never be the same again.

- Bill Barre of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].