ADDRESSING SCEPTICISM, FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
Despite (or perhaps due to) the mass adoption of ChatGPT across a spectrum of professionals, the pushback against AI has been equally swift. Some speak of AI as the harbinger of a dystopian future, while others harbour more practical fears, such as asking whether AI will replace certain jobs.
This fear of the unknown, Ms Chua believes, is normal and understandable, but also “very disproportionate to the current state of tech”.
“My hope is to advocate for AI in a sense that, yes, it won’t go away. You don’t have to be an AI artist, but you don’t have to be afraid of it. Play with it. Then you will understand its limitations and also your strengths. It’s about eliminating that paralysing fear that comes with AI,” she said.
Similarly, Dr Mikhail Filippov from the National University of Singapore (NUS) suggested that this scepticism stems from “the fact that we are seeing something that is going to change the world, but we don’t know enough about it, so our first reaction is just to oppose it”.
“That’s why I think the best thing that we, as a society, can do is to try to use ChatGPT. So it’s not unknown anymore,” said the professor who teaches in the domain of sciences and technologies under the University Scholars Programme.
Dr Filippov believes many concerns about AI and ChatGPT are “not technology specific, but human specific”. For instance, the biases incorporated and propagated by the models are based on data from humans.
But “the biases are changing too”, he added. In other words, as moral and ethical standards evolve, the data collected reflects this diversity in society’s positions.
There is also a deeper existential fear around AI’s upsurge, relating to people’s identity at work, he believes.
“For a very long time, we had our positions and our jobs tied to our self-identity. We were defining ourselves through our jobs. And our jobs, let’s be honest, are very functional, analytical and rational. A lot of these algorithmic, analytical, rational tasks will be replaced,” he said.
“Many of us didn’t like these tasks, but whether we liked it, they were part of our self-identity. Now, if all my tasks can be done by a machine, what am I supposed to do? How do I define myself? This is a mental challenge, a philosophical challenge. What is the role of work?”