September 27, 2023

These days, an AI application that translates videos to any language, even imitating the voice of the speaker, is gaining popularity. This has given us Joe Biden speaking in perfect Chinese and other things that we have found equally incredible, like Kamala Harris speaking good English, an angry Fidel Castro speaking some kind of Swahili, or Barack Obama reciting nonsense in the language of Cervantes.

The videos are very impressive, and although it is not the most complex achievement from AI so far, it has caused the social panic that was to be expected. One example I have experienced firsthand is the congratulations via Twitter of a famous journalist to a Spanish political leader (notorious for not speaking English) for his exquisite pronunciation in English in a video that had obviously been doctored: “Wonderful diction!” she said, hoping to turn him into an example of linguistic erudition, but receiving a wave of memes and trolls in response. (READ MORE: The Dark Side of AI: Generating Child Porn)

The truth is that tomorrow, it might not be a video made by an app that goes viral, but a woman calling you on cam using AI to appear so beautiful you will bequeath her even your liver when actually behind the woman’s hologram, there are really two Russian programmers and a gang of Kosovar Albanian counterfeiters. We can be scammed, hypnotized, robbed, cheated, swindled, or anything worse with the help of AI. I’m not so worried about the theft itself as about the fact that, overnight, you’ll find yourself sending flowers, locks of hair, and scented letters to a blonde Muscovite who is nothing but a bunch of ones and zeros. The worst of all a man’s disappointments is the one that comes from learning that the woman he loves not only does not love him back but doesn’t even exist. In a way, one would prefer to be deceived by an old-fashioned Soviet spy — even though it’s just as harmful, at least you could touch them and visit them at the Russian Intelligence headquarters.

Years ago, I accepted that the columnist’s obligation is not to have a clear position on everything. In fact, I have fewer and fewer but firmer convictions, and the only thing I have more of every day are little pet peeves. In the matter of AI, I am aware of the dangers, but I don’t know whether I want to ban it or risk it. Generally, with internet matters, bans have not been very effective, and, after all, the laws of the conventional world can be applied to most of the serious crimes that occur in the digital realm.

However, AI presents us with a more complex scenario.

On the one hand, I would want an organization to bring some order to its development, although I have little faith that it can be contained, and in the end, any limitations would be suffered by ordinary people and would certainly not affect foreign hackers, or thieves, or the rest of the gangs. But I don’t know; maybe some sort of organization along the lines of those trying to control nuclear proliferation might make some sense in the case of AI. (READ MORE: Concerns Are Mounting About Artificial Intelligence)

On the other hand, I see the more totalitarian states, all socialist or communist leaning, getting excited about the idea of regulating AI as soon as possible, and I think the place where that technology could be most dangerous to humanity is in the hands of the government. Imagine AI administering citizen mail, writing speeches to manipulate the masses, organizing television appearances to maximize efficiency, or engineering the most immense and perfect smokescreens to facilitate the crime and corruption that so easily creeps around governments.

The possibility of the agency depending on the U.N., i.e., the Davos Forum, in the end, seems simply terrifying to me; the proof of said danger is that we put the Marxist-Leninist Tedros Adhanom, who is also pro-Chinese, in charge of managing the pandemic. (READ MORE: The Astounding Era: The Men Who Made Science Fiction)

Perhaps the solution, like in crappy sci-fi movies, is to ask the AI to generate its own antidote to the misuse of AI. My God, just thinking about this sort of dystopia or parallel universe is enough to make my head explode. I never thought I would say it, but I need to get out of here and go back to the Dark Ages, the age of light. Ours is the dark age.

Translated by Joel Dalmau.