EDITORIAL: AI’s: potential for unleashing evil Mr. Hydes

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are two separate fictional characters in the book authored by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. They have differences in their mental, physical, and moral characteristics, and are often portrayed as being fundamentally incompatible with each other.

Dr. Jekyll is generally described as a normal person with good morals and values and is well-respected in his community. He is often depicted as tall and middle-aged and is regarded as a man of great status. He is also said to possess a sense of humour and to be somewhat antisocial.

In contrast, Mr. Hyde is often portrayed as being small, young, and physically deformed. He is frequently depicted as being sociopathic and violent and is generally considered to be a morally corrupt character. Unlike Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde is said to enjoy talking with others and does not possess a sense of humour.

Stevenson was writing that good and evil both exist in the world, in each of us. Mr. Hyde is likely a play on words to indicate that we try to hide’ the reprehensible side of ourselves for social reasons. However, the evil that lurks within each of us gets exposed, more or less, to various degrees depending on the person’s motives and objectives. Racism, sexism, ageism, misogyny are all examples of our Mr. Hydes coming to the fore. The isolated examples of police brutality, another example.

The Mr. Hyde character appears more readily with increased anonymity as seen in social media. People are more ready to make biased or offensive comments when they are anonymous. Evil appeals to more people than one might hope. Consider the multitude cheering for the criminal Barabbas rather than the preacher, Christ.

How does this relate to AI?
AI or chatbots work with the accumulation of material that is input to them, anonymously. Hence, it is inevitable that some users will write offensive material. Chatbots mine and record everything developing their database including the evil side material. This becomes a vicious circle of endless growth.

The current AIs have accumulated trillions of bits of data input from the technology users of the world and this accumulation continues to grow unimaginably and incredibly.

The ignorant, illiterate, uneducated
Most certainly, there is no debate about the benefits of AI as an assistant tool for writing, planning and inspiration. However, AI can become a cudgel rather than a pen if used by the Mr. Hydes. Educated users, users who evaluate and examine the information they read may not fall into the chasm of abuse and evil because they weigh and consider the information they read online. The ignorant, uneducated and non-analytical thinking users may succumb to their evil side believing that everything they read is truthful, valid and right.

We are on the technological cusp of an unimagined world of technological power and potential. We need to tread warily.

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