[Baltimore Sun] Dean Minnich: Further scrutiny of artificial intelligence is needed | COMMENTARY

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Artificial intelligence is in the news a lot these days. There is nothing, it seems, that will be left untouched by this emerging technology, from politics and propaganda to colorectal procedures.

Both, I’ve been told, are over my head already, in so many ways.

While scanning the internet feeds for developments in the political arena, I saw a headline that made me wonder if we’re not looking in the wrong places for intelligent approaches to civic and political issues.

The headline read, “AI revolutionizes colorectal cancer detection: A leap forward ….”

It certainly opens the gates to understanding what’s going on in Washington, if you stretch your imagination a little. Between the Library of Congress and the Republican majorite in the House, there’s a lot of material available.

For the average citizen, making accurate assessments from the output of the Freedom Caucus carries the same limitations as today’s traditional colonoscopes to find cancerous polyps. It’s what you don’t find, can’t see or has already spread that makes further scrutiny necessary.

Medical technicians have their tools and procedures to follow up on their work. News people keep looking up things in the halls of Congress.

Th article reported that AI-assisted procedures in the medical arena reduce the miss rate for polyps by almost 53% compared to the traditional method.

Statistical assessment of the consequences of errors or misinformation issues reported by news media (including lies by sources) are not available, but a study of the incomplete or failed work in the House of Representatives indicates more research is necessary.

The press has been resolute in shedding light into the darkest corners of political disfunction. Some politicians are changing their positions on the issues, and the public seems to be paying attention, either because or despite the ugliness of the view.

None of that ongoing effort is of any use if the findings are ignored by the body, politic or otherwise. Artificial intelligence is out of Pandora’s box. What humans do with it will save some and poison others.

Ethics are under assault, but that has been the case from the beginning of human cognition. We now have the ability to help a student produce a term paper on a subject without having to actually study it.

Earlier this year, a laboratory used AI to take cells from various sources and grow a piece of meat that can be cooked and eaten. It tastes like chicken. That led to speculation that in the future it will be possible to produce a human being in a petri dish without going through the usual processes of insemination, conception and in-utero development.

Perhaps the lab-produced result would grow to be a thinking, intelligent, communicative human. The question will be what kind of human.

The scientists will pose the question and seek the answers. The politicians will manipulate and seek to control the activities of the processes and the results. The journalists — if any survive — will show the rest of us what happens when you create and give power to a creature without emotional maturity, compassion or empathy.

Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.

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