Proceed With Caution

Oct. 2, 2023
AI can help our industry, but it needs regulated

By Gavin Jenkins, Senior Managing Editor

Watch one movie, I beg you. That’s a popular saying on Twitter, which is now called X because Elon Musk, who lost billions of dollars when he bought the social media platform, thinks (incorrectly) that it’s a better name.

People usually post those words in a quote tweet — which is a tweet of a tweet, or an X of X, if that’s what they’re called now — and the original tweet often links to an article that outlines something new that artificial intelligence (AI) can do that could lead to human extinction.

The point behind, “Watch one movie, I beg you,” is that America’s tech and political leaders in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., need to consider negative consequences of AI (like they failed to do with social media).

“Watch one movie, I beg you,” insinuates that we are headed toward human extinction at the hands of AI and if leaders would just watch “The Terminator” or “Ex Machina,” maybe it would knock some sense into them.

Our leaders might actually be taking the threat seriously. In June, tech leaders from across the globe who specialize in AI signed an open letter warning that it could destroy humanity. And, in September, Congress held hearings on AI. Lawmakers from each political party, who rarely agree on anything, said there is universal agreement that AI needs regulated.

However, I am dubious that America’s politicians are on top of this. First, they love money, and tech leaders who don’t want regulated have lots of that. Second, politicians aren’t known for speed and competence. Third, the hearings featured Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who runs a social media platform that went from objectifying women to threatening democracy in about a decade.

Recently, these billionaires discussed fighting each other. You know, normal adult behavior that warrants trust when talking about serious topics.

In this issue, we have an interesting opinion piece from Andy Tryba, the CEO of Gigster, a software development company. Tryba outlines ways AI can help the roads and bridges construction industry.

Tryba and I also recorded an episode of Infrastructure Insider Interviews, where we discuss AI. He’s optimistic about AI and confident it will help our industry thrive.

I’m confident I’ll be one of the first to die when “The Terminator” becomes reality.

Maybe I’m a crazy luddite, but I fear that companies will give AI systems increasing autonomy until AI is connected to vital infrastructure, like power grids or military weapons. Then: Boom!

We need guardrails. And, I don’t trust tech leaders or politicians.

Experts say that where we are with AI wasn’t possible two years ago.

AI has progressed so rapidly that I want tech leaders to watch on loop the scene in “Jurassic Park,” where Jeff Goldblum’s character says, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” RB

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