Amal Naj

Amal Naj

“AI Will Be the Death of Humanity”

by The Author / April 21, 2024

Really? Maybe You Should Talk to Ms. Roxy.

Tech gurus and their research disciples have recently proclaimed that their endeavors to create machines that are smarter, sharper, quicker, and far more omniscient than the human brain will end up destroying humanity. These alarmists include big names in the technology world, like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Tesla’s Elon Musk.

Their prognosis is based on a simple premise: that these superior digital brains will generate misinformation or false information on their own and control and influence the inferior minds of mortals; will instruct a high school student how to use household items to make a deadly weapon to blow up a building; will tempt rogue nations to launch swarms of autonomous weapons and instigate catastrophic wars. In other words, this artificial intelligence—AI—can nuke the world far more devastatingly than the atomic bomb.

I pondered the supposed existential threat of AI as I was writing Pandastic Times in 2022 and trying to shape the role of an important character in the story, Ms. Roxy, a humanoid controlled and programmed by an evil businessman named Mr. Marvel.

Ms. Roxy was the creation of Mr. Marvel’s Deep Think laboratory, where she was infused with “neural” instructions by a battery of “Digit Heads” to empower her to control and direct consumer tastes and choices to further her boss’s online business. A product of AI, her sole role was to deceive customers with a reach unimaginable for the duplicitous but inferior brain of Mr. Marvel. She could fly like a drone and spy on people below as easily as she could land and transform herself into a beautiful, smart, talking android and engage with earthly humans—or animals—and control their thinking.

The question that naturally arose in my mind was: If Ms. Roxy’s intelligence was so superior to Mr. Marvel’s, then why wouldn’t she come to see—or, rather, realize—the fraudulent side of her boss, his dishonesty? And resist his orders? I recalled a fascinating meeting I had with scientists at a leading technology company in Schenectady, New York, more than two decades ago. I was a newspaper reporter and was there to report on how they were applying “fuzzy logic” in diagnosing disease from three-dimensional images of the human anatomy. This mathematical process mimics how humans decide what’s truth, half-truth, and falsity when faced with vague and imprecise information, as in the image of the inside of a diseased body. Given that Ms. Roxy had a far superior brain to those scientists, I could dare to assume that she surely could distinguish between truth and falsehood in her boss’s shady pronouncements and behavior by deploying fuzzy logic.

This transformation in Ms. Roxy happens when she is in the Faraway Jungle, where she is supposed to entice the hunters and butchers to slaughter exotic animals for her boss, who publicly professes to care about the wild (a fact noted in the data bank of the android). When her mission is challenged by her companion, a thirteen-year-old named Cathrin, who wants to put an end to these heinous killings of wild creatures, Ms. Roxy pauses to “think.”

The android filters through billions of words embedded in her system and “sees” the pattern of Mr. Marvel saying one thing publicly and doing exactly the opposite. The mismatch sends her on an unimaginable path of self-discovery as she tries to distinguish truth from falsehood. It was like splitting an atom. It unleashes a massive electrical storm inside her neural circuitry. Bang! A big bang! It does no harm to her physically, but it completely destroys her shackled inner being. Like the big bang that is said to have given birth to the universe, it created an all-new Ms. Roxy, capable of standing in judgment. She had come into her own.

Ms. Roxy is an ideal personification of AI creation, where a superior digital brain can override an embedded evil. The question we face in real life is whether the tech giants who are pursuing AI even as they warn of its existential threat will take the trouble of embedding a “neural code of ethics” as a mandated part of their operating systems in their AI creations that would allow the superior digital brains to preempt any action that would harm society. Ms. Roxy was able to do it on her own.

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