A pause is not enough. Time to put a stop to artificial intelligence.

Today I signed an open letter that asks society to take a pause on the development of artificial intelligence. Since last November, the world has been amazed at what ChatGPT is capable of doing. Everything from answering a question to writing an essay to passing a bar exam seems easier with this technology. I have tried the technology a couple times and have been left moderately impressed with its usefulness.

But as the technology becomes more prevalent, more concerns are being raised about the impact the technology may have on society. It is not like other cognitive technologies have not been around such as machine learning and data mining. Robotics is not new and has been interwoven into commercial life. But these technologies were cool as long as they were not used to write the narrative; as long as they could not replace the knowledge worker; as long as they were relegated to assisting the stock worker on an Amazon warehouse floor.

The threat matrix has changed.


The cloud of American fatalism kept Americans from seeing what was coming. We take an “it is what it is” approach to life, an approach that signals that we are willing to give up any control over our surrounding environment. This “is what it is” attitude now sees Americans steering not only into an abyss but standing on the edge of a cliff with poor balance preceding a likely fall.

What is pushing Americans over the edge is that the technology has the potential of subtly re-writing American philosophy. Philosophy sets the platform for the economies that we create, the politics we practice, and the laws we guide ourselves by. “It is what it is” meant that while our backs were turned a Trojan horse was being designed and built and now that horse is inside the city walls.

We let word salad like “efficiency”, “innovation”, and “advancement” blind us to capital’s abhorrence of a vacuum and filling that vacuum increasingly entails getting rid of labor. And now that the thought industry is seeing itself under attack are we now hearing the complaints.

Scholars and popular culture has longed entertained the “what if” notions of a world where Germany had won World War II. Would we be spending Deutsch marks? Would German be the primary language instead of English? Would ethnic minorities live under constant threat of extermination? The enemy has always been some physical externality.

What if, as ‘Professor Morbius’ discovered in the classic sci-fi tale, “Forbidden Planet”, artificial intelligence is the manifestation of our national “id”, an enemy within unleashed on society and bringing with it more damage than any mortal enemy?

America faces a seminal moment not only for a push back on artificial intelligence but a push back on the dangerously increasing attitude of fatalism.

It is time to put a stop to artificial intelligence. It is time to revalidate and protect our humanity.

Alton Drew

30 March 2023

Alton Drew

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