The rise and fall of FTX’s co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, a poster boy of the crypto world and seen as a genius, tells a story that has important learnings for all of us. A key learning is that, though talent or ingenuity can erect an empire of fame and riches in a short time, yet devoid of moral and ethical moorings, it can wreak havoc in the long run.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is catching the attention of governments and lawmakers globally. Some advanced countries like the US are already deliberating with the Big Tech companies about how to mitigate potential risks of AI and make it responsible, ethical, and trustworthy.
Indeed, with the advent of AI, we are now entering a new age of learning and thinking. Technologies that have so far been seen as helpful tools for the dissemination and accumulation of knowledge are now making an incursion into our creative spaces, a space hitherto considered exclusive to the human domain.
Take ChatGPT for instance. Built on a large language model and trained to respond to a prompt with a detailed response, it interacts in a conversational manner. The dialogue format allows the tool to respond to follow-up questions, admit mistakes and reject inappropriate requests.
Limits to Big Tech
While we can use ChatGPT as an aid to supercharge our efficiency, productivity and creativity, the possibilities of its misuse are real and vast. For instance, it can generate malware code and then modify that code to make it tougher to detect or stop. It can also aid phishing and scamming by fixing broken languages, through which we usually spot phishing. Further, acting as a tool to create text about anything which is perfect for a student/researcher/writer, it can help plagiarize and cheat. This way it can also fool recruiters by mastering essential phrases that may appeal to hirers, and thus get past the filters used by HR Software.
The disruptive tool has engendered animated debates across the world on the power of machines and technology and their far-ranging possibilities and ramifications on business, industry, education and society. Yet, competing with machines is futile, in the sense that machines can learn a billion times faster, adapt pretty rapidly to the changing times, and react in a split second.
Surely, technology enhances the efficiency with which different tasks can be performed, yielding many dividends, but such efficient tasks need to be morally correct. The unethical dimensions of the tasks can pose a variety of risks, ranging from threats to safety, security, jobs, privacy, and human and civil rights to erosion of public trust and democratic values.
Professor Toby Walsh, a world-leading researcher in the field of artificial intelligence, explores such ethical considerations and unexpected consequences AI poses. In his latest thought-provoking book titled, “Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI”, he says that given the increasing human reliance on robotics, a regulatory framework needs to be made now, to ensure that the future of AI is a force for good, not evil.
Limits to Big Talent
The same question is applicable and relevant in the matter of talent as well. In the recent past, we witnessed how FTX, the world’s third-largest crypto exchange, witnessed a catastrophic meltdown in its valuation from a peak of $32 bn to zero in a span of a few weeks. The rise and fall of FTX’s co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, a poster boy of the crypto world and seen as a genius, tells a story that has important learnings for all of us. A key learning is that, though talent or ingenuity can erect an empire of fame and riches in a short time, yet devoid of moral and ethical moorings, it can wreak havoc in the long run.
We know that a creative mind can be a bit unconventional or unruly. Yet, the quirkiness or eccentricities often find social acceptance, as society pays a high premium on IQ or talent. But it would be tragic if a genius slips on basic human values and ethics. Such moral lapses can also be devastating for large followers and fans, who may look up to such a genius with awe and for inspiration.
A ‘Big Talent’ may get quick material success, but honor comes only by operating within an ethical guardrail of discipline, patience, openness, and team spirit. Leading with values is key to making a positive and beneficial impact on society.
(The writer is a former bank executive and author who writes on contemporary issues. Views are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)