Have you heard about the explosion of generative AI models lately? If you haven’t, you must have been living under a rock. These models are making it easier than ever to produce commercial content on a massive scale.
While this technology has the potential to transform entire industries, it also poses a significant risk of diverting attention away from the betterment of humans. We can’t forget that human well-being should always be the ultimate goal.
After all, how good is it for us if it becomes 1000 times easier to make and deploy a whole social media campaign? Are we going to be 1000 times better off? Or are we likely to perpetuate and massively scale up problems that we are already seeing in how industry considers users and consumers?
The Lure of Generative Amazement
Sure, generative AI models can do some amazing things, and the use of AI art generators and AI image generators abound. However, in today’s world, technological innovation, unfortunately, leaves us with mixed feelings. Some solutions actually help us, but for a large part, technology disturbs, distracts, confuses, and outright stresses us.
That’s why we need to prioritize how technology can contribute to human well-being. We need to ensure that our use of AI and other technologies is always guided by the principles of compassion, empathy, and social responsibility. Why not take the logical next step and make the good of humans the de facto denominator and currency for everything we do in AI and beyond?
As I have written about recently, we also need to calibrate generative AI models by knowledge about how humans actually respond. What they see, feel, and think, and how this drives their actions.
Imagine if everyone could generate ads, websites, and other commercial stuff with just a computer. It would lead to a lot of noise, and worse, these initiatives would be bound to fail without actual data on how consumers react. And trust me, it won’t be a small failure – it would be a massive one that we haven’t seen before.
When Easy is the Hard Way
The problem is: we are already now moving from imagination to reality: it has become dramatically easier for us all to make “professional ads” and other commercial assets in seconds to minutes.
One malignant and “antithetical” approach would be to make an ad-generating AI that seeks to distract, nudge, and trick consumers to make short-term choices over long-term gains. As a business model, it’s surely something that can generate monetary value. Make me eat that Snickers bar and not really go for a run (unless I use my subscription fitness tracker).
However, it is also possible to make the same ad-generation AI in a way that seeks to improve the human condition. It can seek to, for example, enable, involve, engage, empower, and enrich our decisions.
Becoming an Optimist When We Live in a Generative Dystopia
As we continue to develop and implement AI technologies, we must carefully consider their impact on human beings. We can’t simply assume that technological progress is always beneficial. Instead, we must work to ensure that our use of technology is always guided by the principles of social responsibility and human well-being.
But let’s be real here. It’s not always easy to do the right thing. In today’s world, technological progress is often driven by profit and market demand, rather than social responsibility. Investors want their multiples back. Entrepreneurs want dividends from the hard work and sacrifice they have put in.
Nevertheless, it is important that we believe we can contribute positively to society by shifting the focus from technology to humans. This might sound naively utopian — but would you rather plainly accept a realistic dystopia? By putting the needs and interests of humans at the center of our thinking, we can create a world that is not only more technologically advanced, but also more just, equitable, and compassionate.
The question we should therefore all have when it comes to the explosion of generative AI is: how can we harness the power of generative AI while keeping human well-being at the forefront of our minds? It’s no easy feat, but there are steps we can take to ensure that technology serves humanity for the better.
- Firstly, those that make technological solutions, such as generative AIs, must define the underlying added value that they seek to produce for fellow humans through their technology. This should actually start with a utopian vision that seeks to see the best in technology and its use. However, it is equally important to be honest about the ways in which technology can detract from human well-being, both currently and in the future. By clearly defining these negative aspects, we can come up with alternative ways in which the technology can be made and used without detrimental effects.
- Inviting external parties to challenge our views is crucial. It is important to dare to be challenged, to see potential flaws in our technology, and adjust accordingly. Identifying key decision points in the design process where we can insert human values is also essential. By doing so, we can ensure that technology serves humanity in a positive way.
- But there’s more we can do. We need to consider the impact of technology on not just the individual, but also on society as a whole. We must strive to create technology that promotes social responsibility and empathy while avoiding solutions that simply cater to profit and market demand. By doing so, we can create a world that is not only more technologically advanced, but also more just, equitable, and compassionate.
It’s One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for…
To truly harness the power of generative AI and other technologies, we must prioritize human well-being. What we are currently seeing is an exacerbation of the race to the bottom we have seen for years with social media.
Prioritizing human values means carefully considering the added value that technology can provide for humanity, as well as its potential negative effects, and seeking alternative solutions. It also means inviting external challenges and inserting human values into the design process. By doing so, we can create a world that is not only more technologically advanced, but also one in which technology contributes to the world being more just, equitable, and compassionate.