Oliver takes a closer look at how A.I. technology is impacting our lives already and its unsettling prominence.
In the new episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, it was finally time to tackle a subject that’s taken over the Internet over the last few months: Artificial Intelligence, and, most specifically, the text-generating platform ChatGPT. The episode explained how that online tool works, and what’s fun and what’s worrying about it, but not before establishing Pedro Pascal, Dolly Parton, and Cocaine Bear as national treasures and showcasing raps about cats.
The first segment of the show focused on Fox News reporters sounding off about why Julia Roberts hasn’t made an appearance in Ohio after the East Palestine train derailment — according to them, this is a real Erin Brockovich tragedy, and the actor should be there. Right after that, the show segued into James O’Keefe. The republican got fired from an organization he himself built and made alt-right members furious, which is completely understandable: You can’t help but fall in love with a guy who claims he went undercover as a pimp, posts a 45-minute resignation video, orchestrates and stars in his own version of Oklahoma!, and writes a musical based on his own life.
A.I. Is Here to Take Over
O’Keefe took a bit of a chunk of the program, which got considerably longer with the main segment. On it, John Oliver drew attention to the fact that we’ve already been using A.I. for some time but in “harmless” ways like adjusting the frame on smart TVs and working face recognition on your phone. However, the use of A.I. to create text and art online makes the problem of trusting it a lot more evident: There is no “black box” to tell how the online tools reach certain conclusions about the prompts they’re given.
A.I. Has Messed Up Several Times Before – And We Remember It
In order to illustrate this, Last Week Tonight reminded us of some infamous incidents related to A.I. that made the news in the past few years, like the automated Uber car which ran over a person because it didn’t register jaywalking as someone crossing the street. The show also mentioned the A.I.-guided resumé analysis that concluded that men were more qualified for some jobs, and, in one specific case, singled out guys named Jared who played lacrosse as most capable.
And that’s not even the worst part. Since A.I. feeds off content from the Internet in order to learn patterns, one inevitable path that a bot might take is taking on racist slurs and assuming a conspiracy theorist persona since they find countless social media accounts that are directed at that. That’s why Microsoft’s Tay Tweets was launched as an A.I.-oriented Twitter account and its plug was pulled a mere 24 hours after. On the plus side, A.I. can also create a near-perfect Eminem song about kittens, which is obviously what we should be focusing on.
You can watch the main segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver below: