artificial intelligence
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Artificial crime

AI, without any sense of responsibility, is rapidly paving the way for a new era of delinquency. Meanwhile, laws designed solely for human beings have become obsolete

Students with personal computers attend class.
Sergio Ramírez

During an enlightening session at the recently concluded Centroamérica Cuenta literary festival in Madrid, I was struck by a speaker who astutely remarked that many of us exist in the 21st century yet carry the essence of the 20th century within us, a subtle truth that often escapes us. The disparity between the two eras is staggering, and thinking about the concepts of digital immigrants and digital natives only widens the seemingly unbridgeable chasm.

I, who struggle to fit my thumbs on the cramped keyboard of a phone screen, and who, never having learned the tedious rules of typing, persist in using my index fingers. I must embrace my identity as a homo analogicus — an analog human navigating with trepidation into the digital era, seeking my place.

The 21st century is strange — things are done differently now. A young child, who hasn’t even mastered speech yet, swipes his finger across the picture in an old photo album, expecting it to move aside and present the next picture. He is a true digital native, unaware of the traditional tools of education like paper notebooks, pens, and pencils. When he walks into a classroom one day, he will inevitably find himself facing a screen. As for cameras and film, they are now mere artifacts confined to museum display cases.

In my 20th century, intelligence was a natural trait, but today it has become artificial. The natural and artificial now coexist in constant tension. Back then, people either had good or bad memories. However, the digital mega-brains of today know and remember everything, their invasive power turning them into true predators. As a result, artificial intelligence, without any sense of responsibility, is rapidly paving the way for a new era of artificial crime. Meanwhile, laws designed solely for human beings have become obsolete.

Let’s delve into a topic that deeply resonates with me — literary creation. Recently, a group of writers, including big names like John Grisham, Jonathan Franzen and George R. R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame), filed a lawsuit in New York against OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. They accuse OpenAI of “systematic theft on a mass scale,” the latest in a wave of legal action by writers concerned that artificial intelligence programs are using their copyrighted works without permission.

Chatbots, such as GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformers) are equipped with is called “generative artificial intelligence.” When literary works are fed into the system, it has the ability to not only remember them verbatim, but also recreate and produce similar works in the author’s distinctive style. It’s inspired and blatant plagiarism.

Wired brains like ChatGPT are incredibly capable. They can hold conversations on any topic, answer complex questions, prepare technical reports and graduate-level theses, and translate many languages. Bing, another artificial brain, and Bard, an even more sophisticated one, excel at imitating literary creation. Bard, in particular, is a poet and a “creative tool” that can write odes, sonnets and freeform verse according to the customer’s request and taste.

Aside from being engaged in plagiarism, these brains possess other sinister tendencies. Deepfakes, for instance, are image and audio files that mimic a real individual, assuming their likeness and expressions. Using such “synthetic media,” these fabricated personas express opinions that are not their own, potentially slandering or defaming others. Their ability to deceive algorithms and biometric identifiers introduces a novel form of identity theft, which in turn gives rise to new forms of crime. These “alternate people,” who effectively appropriate both your soul and body, can engage in scams, obtain property mortgages and open bank accounts in your name — or empty your own account.

Some tools lend themselves to child pornography. Deepfake apps can undress people — the artificial brain calculates the size and shape of a body and then removes its clothes, whether it is an adult or a child. This just happened to a dozen schoolgirls in southwest Spain.

Every realm holds its share of paradoxes. Artificial intelligence, while an incredible creation, owes its existence to the foundations of natural intelligence. In elementary schools situated in Silicon Valley and attended by the offspring of AI pioneers, the use of electronic devices is strictly forbidden. These schools are preparing children for an existence as analog beings, as future citizens unswayed by the allure of the digital world. Flesh and blood teachers lead the way, using real chalk on blackboards, while students diligently write down their thoughts in paper notebooks using graphite pencils and ink pens.

In today’s world, visionaries are revolutionizing social dynamics, shaping the future with groundbreaking artificial intelligence. Amid this transformative journey, they cherish the importance of preserving tradition for their children — something tangible — while an increasingly surreal outside world tries to replace authenticity with illusions. Books, faces, and voices serve as reminders of what truly matters.

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