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Perspective: GPT-4 is here. Which side are you on?

Pixabay and Pixlr

Polarization seems to be the new normal. We see it in politics where the two parties stake seemingly opposite positions on every issue and pursue a winner-takes-all strategy of divide and conquer. And we see it in the discussions and debates about new technology, especially the GPT series of algorithms from OpenAI. In fact, with the release this past Tuesday of GPT-4, things have heated up all over again.

On one side, you have the tech evangelists, proclaiming the coming of a new era in which artificial intelligence stands on the verge of achieving capabilities that are equal to or even able to surpass that of human beings. The singularity is near.

On the other side, you have more cautious voices issuing dire warnings of machine generated disinformation, the inability to trust anything that we see or read, and the further concentration of power in the hands of the few. The sky is falling.

But this polarized way of thinking is nothing new. It has been in place and in play from the very beginning -- since at least the time of Plato, who recorded for us a debate about a fantastic and disruptive technology that was called “writing.”

So polarization -- especially when it concerns politics and technology -- is not new. It has been standard operating procedure. What really matters here is not for us to choose sides -- to pick winners and losers -- but to figure out how to balance these competing viewpoints and devise a more attentive and accurate understanding of things.

Northern Illinois University professor and author