OBLIQUE OBSERVATIONS

By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” - Stephen Hawking

“A crafty rabbit has three burrows.” -- old Chinese saying

Recently, Artificial Intelligence or AI related stories have been popping up in the news and even business forums.

First, there is a new software application that is creating a lot of buzz. It’s called Chat GPT. This new software applications can answer essay questions in a manner that is mostly undetectable on its face. Chat GPT is an AI that can not only tap into a vast amount of knowledge and vocabulary but, understand words in context. It can mimic speech and writing patterns of humans.

Chat GPT has many uses, both good and bad. Several members of the academe are already concerned that widespread use of the program can aid and abet cheating because it can give students the ability to generate essays or answers that they did not write.

Then a few weeks ago, news came out that a sophisticated robot powered by AI will be the first of its kind to act as a lawyer/counsel for a defendant in a traffic case.

According to Joshua Browder, chief executive officer (CEO) of DoNotPay (the company that created the AI lawyer), “the AI-creation runs on a smartphone, listens to court arguments and formulates responses for the defendant. The AI lawyer tells the defendant what to say in real-time, through headphones.”

In a recent 2022 World Economic Forum, there was a “Future of Jobs Report that estimated that AI will replace some 85 million jobs by 2025. We are actually seeing signs of that right now. Automated order takers in restaurants, autonomous vehicles that may someday replace Uber and cab drivers and of course AI call center agents that may spell doom for one of our country’s main industries are now coming into reality.

A lot of people are now concerned about the rapid pace of development in terms of artificial intelligence and their effects on jobs and people in general. At the end of the day, if machines are cheaper, more efficient and less troublesome, why hire humans?

There is then a prediction that within the next decade, AI will give way to artificial general intelligence (AGI) which would enable robots to replicate “the contextual understanding of humans”. The prospect of machines, able to think like humans, produce both positive and negative responses.

Some people are excited about how AGI can free humans from doing menial and routine jobs. Some people, on the other hand, are beginning to get scared that AI will replace humans in general. There are even a small group of humans that believe the stuff of science fiction stories like Terminator and Battlestar Galactica, where machines rise up to destroy humans, will actually happen.

Perhaps, it is auspicious then, that this week will be the start of the year of the rabbit under the Chinese calendar.

According to Chinese zodiac lore, those born under the year of the rabbit are said to be ingenious, flexible and persistent problem solvers.

Rabbits are said to adjust readily to different conditions. The saying that crafty rabbits have three burrows according to philosophers is a testament to the rabbit’s ability to have back up plans when things go wrong.

The rise of the AI just means that we must now be like rabbits. We must learn to adapt and evolve.

The Future of Jobs report previously mentioned though warning of job dislocation also predicted that around 97 million new jobs will be created in the same timeframe for those who can learn to adapt and use the AI to enhance their job skills. Creative and out of the box data analysis will now be the trend. Lawyers can use the AI to fuel creative application of the law.

In terms of Chat GPT, we will probably need counter AI to detect AI generated answers or to change the way teachers ask questions. I remember a teacher who always had open books exams because the answer was never in the books.

In an old 1953 cartoon entitled, “Robot Rabbit”, we see Bugs Bunny outsmarting a robot designed to hunt a rabbit.

To meet the AI revolution, we need to, therefore, emulate the rabbit.

Although the ending of the said cartoon has Elmer Fudd saying, “Ya know someday scientists are gonna (sic) invent something dat (sic) will outsmart a rabbit. ”

Oh well, nothing in this world is permanent.

This is my oblique observation.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.

About the Columnist

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ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.