The future of AI: Its impact on creativity, humanity, and well being

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“What does that mean, if creativity is no longer something that we are the best at as humans?” says tech writer Meghan O’Gieblyn. Photo by Shutterstock.

Driverless cars, medical advances, and technologies selecting your music and travel itineraries: Artificial intelligence technology has numerous benefits increasingly seeping into our everyday lives, whether we’re aware of them or not. Advances in AI technologies, like ChatGPT, are happening so rapidly that some tech experts warn that “human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity.” 

In her book, “God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning,” author Meghan O’Gieblyn says “to watch an algorithm, write a sonnet, or create a work of art that's winning competitions against human artists, I think that is really destabilizing for a lot of people.”

Jonathan Bastian talks with Meghan O’Gieblyn, author of “God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning,” about how AI technologies could shape and change us as humans.  How do we make sense of such rapid changes, how do we ensure AI stays in line with our values, and what will the world look like when there’s an absence or decline in the tasks that give our lives meaning?  

“The scary thing for me is that maybe we won't see those tasks as creative anymore,” says O’Gieblyn. “Once you have a machine that can do something, it's like, ‘Oh, well, that's not a big deal anymore.’ Maybe that's just the inevitable course of automation and that will find meaning and other things as opposed to art and writing in the future, but to me, as somebody who has built my life around that work, that would be an incredible loss. That's exactly why I like writing — it requires the full breadth of my attention and my mental capacities, and that is very deeply connected to the meaning that I get from that work.”

Writer Meghan O’Gieblyn, pictured here, says that, “there comes a point where you remove so much friction from the human experience that it's really difficult to get any sort of pleasure or meaning out of anything.” Photo by Barrett Swanson.

But there are also jobs and tasks in dire need of extra resources, and AI technology may have a role to play. As rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness rise in the US, mental healthcare professionals are overwhelmed. In his latest article for the New Yorker, “Can AI Treat Mental Illness?,”

 Dhruv Khullar, assistant professor of Health Policy and Economics at Weill Cornell Medical College, describes AI technology as an effective tool to supplement other forms of mental health care. 

Khullar describes his own experience talking to a chatbot while suffering from anxiety as “quite centering and helpful,” saying we all have a natural tendency to respond to someone or something that responds to us like a person.

“The general idea here is that it [the chatbot] tries to reframe some of your thinking and tries to give you a toolkit or a set of techniques, that when you're ruminating, or you're having catastrophic thinking or engaging in other types of thinking that might not be very helpful, it tries to get you to reframe those things and I find that to be helpful at times,” Khullar says. 

Dhruv Khullar, pictured here, says that, “People, patients, clients, they don't always have someone to talk to, whether that's a professional or a friend or a family member. And so talking to a chatbot, or talking to something that, might not judge you that that is always going to be there at any hour of the day, these things can be there for you in a way and at times that another person might not be able to.” Photo courtesy of Dhruv Khullar. 

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  • Meghan O’Gieblyn - Essayist, columnist and author, “God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning”
  • Dhruv Khullar - physician and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and contributing editor at The New Yorker


Andrea Brody