The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Artificial Intelligence:
ChatGPT Is Not the Biggest Liar

Jun 12, 2023

This article is translated from the April 14 issue #2853 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

A petition launched by big computer pundits and by billionaire Elon Musk warns of the “major risks for humanity” that recent advances in artificial intelligence supposedly represent. Afterwards the media have outbid each other to take an equally misleading and reactionary tone.

"Recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one—not even their creators—can understand, predict, or reliably control," the petition says.

In fact, the “future of humanity” is their excuse. In this case, the motivation of the main signer Elon Musk, who owns auto company Tesla, SpaceX rockets and Twitter, is to criticize technological advances which happen to benefit one of his main competitors, Microsoft.

The petition denounces the risk of disinformation because artificial intelligence software might produce false reports or fake images. But counterfeiters did not wait for artificial intelligence to tamper with photos and documents! This kind of misinformation has been around for a long time. And governments and major official media organizations never shrank from using disinformation to deceive people .... Witness the U.S. government that invented Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” to justify its Gulf War in 2003. Not to mention the radioactive cloud from the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, which French government experts told us not to fear at the time because it had supposedly stopped at the border between Germany and France. It didn’t take artificial intelligence to invent this—just lying politicians and slavish journalists, trained to say the “right thing” much better than any computer.

Admittedly, recent advances in the field of artificial intelligence are impressive. Programs like the one called ChatGPT are capable of producing long texts, even entire books, as if they had been written by a human being. Computers can generate extremely realistic images. But, on the practical level, artificial intelligence is used in many fields. For example, it is used to process medical images, to automatically translate from one language to another and to transcribe human speech extremely reliably regardless of the speaker’s accent.

Artificial intelligence software consists of computer programs that not only integrate a huge amount of information provided in advance, but they also learn in the process. The more a doctor uses this kind of program to analyze patients’ medical images, the more the program evolves by integrating what it learns from these images. There is nothing threatening in this, in itself. On the contrary, it can mean important progress for humanity.

But as with all scientific discoveries, the problem is that those who dominate a capitalist economy based on competition and the search for bigger, faster profit are those who decide and direct the use of this technology. Are machines killing jobs? No, capitalists make the choice to increase their profits through layoffs rather than lightening the load on workers’ jobs. The conclusion to draw is that what humanity must get rid of is not scientific progress, but this social organization that perverts it: that of Elon Musk and company.