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Artificial intelligence has been in the news a lot recently, and while many of us are “sort of” used to bots or prompts from what is only the most “basic” of AI, the fact is it is changing a LOT of things in our world, especially how we search for information.
First, there are some who think AI projects might take over search functions entirely. Instead of people searching through the results of a query, what if a machine could give you the best answer in one go? That might make the top 15 results on Google look cumbersome.
Of course, Google owns over 90 percent of the global search market share, which adds up to a $14 billion annual profit on $69 billion in earnings. With power like that, Google seems safe, especially since it has its own AI project, Bard.
Meanwhile, ChatGPT, an Open Artificial Intelligence, or OpenAI project, works essentially by consuming and analyzing vast quantities of information, then generating content.
Microsoft has poured over $11 billion into OpenAI, and is taking steps to integrate ChatGPT into its Bing search engine. Bing is not just another search engine. You can already ask an AI question on Bing. Bing might be able to tell you. Bing can even accomplish some tasks as well — say compiling an Excel sheet with a company’s quarterly revenues.
Google is countering Bing and OpenAI with Bard. That project hit a setback in its introduction when it falsely, but confidently, said the James Webb telescope was the first to photograph exoplanets — which did happen in 2022, but the first photo was taken in 2004.
There are other problems, too. Consider these two: Critics have also shown that political questions in ChatGPT result in politicized answers. Publishing companies now say that about 20 percent of article submissions come from AI instead of human writers. Some of the AI-generated articles submitted are exactly the same, which raises concerns about not only the programming used to generate content, but if said programming can truly be unbiased.
As taxpayers, it is crucial for us to consider the implications of AI’s expanding influence, especially in areas like information retrieval. While AI offers convenience and efficiency, we must remain vigilant and ensure that we prioritize unbiased information, critical thinking, and transparency in the development and deployment of AI technologies. It is important that we demand accountability from the entities and organizations involved in shaping the future of AI to safeguard our rights and interests as taxpayers.
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