Mayfield: AI might not destroy humanity, but let us love it more

Dec 5, 2022, 7:42 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 7:12 am
This photo illustration shows the DALL-E website reflected between a computer screen and cellphone in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2022. - A million people eager to dabble with a new artificial intelligence tool that lets them create images simply by describing them with words will soon get their wish, its creators said Wednesday. Artificial intelligence research firm OpenAI is conducting a wide-scale beta test of DALL-E, a cutting-edge software that creates images from textual descriptions. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Robots are taking over the world! Not the beep-beep-boop-boop-Howdy-Mr-Jay kind but the “open your social media and see artificial intelligence-created portraits of your friends and family” kind. The “read tearful and moving holiday letters from parents to kids about the reason for the season written entirely by AI” kind.

My husband even showed me a question-and-answer session with a new AI chatbot that was asked to tell jokes and then not only told funny jokes but could explain why they were funny.

More from Travis Mayfield: How I learned to fall asleep by embracing the worry

I can’t explain why some jokes are funny! But robots can?

Everything I just described happened in the last few days.

We’ve reached some kind of threshold in artificial intelligence. My code-writing and researcher friends are even impressed or scared.

Usually, I’m a “remember the terminator” kind of alarmist about such things. But this morning, I’m more reflective, thinking about what computers actually give us. Not just the breakthroughs and advances. No, I’m talking about something else, something we have to look a little harder to see.

An appreciation for other humans and their hearts.

I can enjoy an artificial intelligence-generated portrait of me to post on Instagram. But it’s the one of our whole family taken by an art photographer who comes to our home each December and lights us, positions us, and laughs with us that we frame and put above the fireplace.

I can read the holiday letter written by a bot in wonder and love the one handwritten by our 9-year-old and addressed to Santa C-L-A-W-S even more.

Maybe I can’t explain why my lifelong best friend’s jokes about water aerobics and breakfast buffets are funny…but I know I laughed and cried on the phone with her as she told them.

My point is the more artificial and intelligent our world becomes, the more deeply I appreciate the authentic love and humanity in life.

It’s there every day and everywhere if we only look for it.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Mayfield: AI might not destroy humanity, but let us love it more