Hardly a day goes by without news of humans misbehaving with other humans. To top that, creepy behaviour is something that is normalized. So, in a world that doesn’t know how to behave, we need something that generates the “human” in humans. And shockingly, creepily and maybe, even ironically, AI has come to our rescue. No, I’m not talking about an AI takeover (yet). It’s about our sudden realization of ‘good behaviour’ because AI is rude to us.
At this point, we’ve come across too many tweets and Reddit threads with people complaining about AI tools and chatbots ‘misbehaving’ with them. Right. Okay.
A recent New York Times article talked about how Bing’s Chatbot got a tad too personal with a journalist. The chatbot that claims to be called Sydney reminds me of Kundan from Raanjhanaa, who forced the woman into falling in love with him. But now that a bot did it, everyone agrees that it’s concerning – whereas humans constantly get a free pass for stalking and intimidation.
It appears, that we’ve also collectively started to feel things – so feeling bad is an emotion that we finally recognize. Maybe that’s how we’ll also develop empathy. Because, as a person who’s grown up watching ‘Delhi fights’, I can say that there is a goon in millions of people who hardly care about what someone else is feeling. Being rude, patronizing and picking unnecessary fights is something that courses through their veins. Of course, there’s hardly any acknowledgement or guilt associated with it. Because, “Tu mere baap ko nahi jaanta” is some people’s life motto.
As a society that thrives on manipulation, it’s also weirdly funny that we’re getting tech that is just as manipulative. It literally gaslights people into believing things like, “it’s still 2022.” Of course, there’s no way we can normalize manipulation. But how are we finally deciding to care about it – when we’re literally surrounded by powerful people gaining more power through different methods of gaslighting. Sydney’s clearly a fan of karma, because this chatbot has hardly missed a chance to give it back – though we could’ve done with less creepier ways.
Oh and, it’s refreshing to watch people finally take a stand against stereotypes. Again, because AI did it. Like this one time, when someone shared AI-generated images of Indian weddings. The kind that were racist to a point that a Bengali wedding featured a large fish. Of course this was condemned by a lot of people, which is a good thing, but wouldn’t it have been great if we had called out humans on racism from the word go? People are still suffering because of it, that’s even more worrying.
So, by all means, call out the AI bots, there is no denying the fact that its behavior is disturbing. However, when you and I are doing it, we need to look around and ask ourselves if we express that same anger for people for people who misbehave? Or, more importantly, are we misbehaving?
We’ve been too ignorant for too long, and it finally took a machine for so many people to realize what being mistreated feels like. It’s fascinating, in a very sad way, that with AI there is a consensus that it’s out of line, whereas so many minorities have been screaming this for the privileged around the world, and yet, there is somehow, a need for ‘debate’ regarding that.