Machines imitating humans in the worst way possible

Dear Editor,

According to a recent news report (it was described as “shocking”) machines are now imitating humans in the worst way possible.  If proven accurate, this might signal the end of civilization, as known, with little hope left for all the noble ideals beating in human hearts and swirling in human minds.

The results of a joint study by Cardiff University and no less an institution than the mighty Massachussetts Institute of Technology revealed that robots display “racist” and “sexist” tendencies. Say that again, please!  Somebody is playing the fool; or trying to make me into one.  Tell me that I am hallucinating.  Who is programming these things?  Who is policing them?  Now I am all for Artificial Intelligence and its promises to unlock timeless secrets and explore new frontiers, but this is taking matters too far beyond the pale.  At this rate, there will be no barriers left that cannot be breached, which is in and of itself more than humbling; it is disturbing.  This research stands on its head, all those stirring words and postures and deeds devoted to face up first to the pain of racist and sexist inclinations, and then endeavour to reverse, or at least temper, them.  It has been a slow laborious process with some progress amidst mounting reversals and heartaches.

These mechanical contraptions are so smart as to recognize “outsiders” and to prefer huddling with likeminded souls. On second thoughts, let me make that wires and metals instead of souls.  To tell the truth, I am blown away.  As one who endorses AI projects and groundbreaking gains, this is frightening. These are unplumbed seas.  Now if laboratory and technology creations can discriminate, then what hope is there for the removal of longstanding injurious barriers, the march of human progress, and the trajectory of human civilization.  I fear that these appear subject to backward and downward pressures.  But forget about the wider world at large, what hope is there for sick, poisoned, enfeebled racial (racist?) Guyana?  If this is the hardwiring predisposition of bloodless, disembodied robots (21st century equivalent of UFOs, or men from Mars), through the auspices of AI, then the seasoned bigots and chauvinist (pigs) on the local arena have just been furnished with scientific justification for their history, outlook, and existence.

Editor, if factory robots can be on the lookout and selective screening for strangers and genders not fitting the mould and not belonging, and exhibit a marked preference for their own kind then the thoughtful constructive citizens of Guyana might as well throw in the towel, and resign themselves to the doom of eternal division and hostility.  Also, there is now rationale for denouncing alternative lifestyles.  I think this development, more like revelation, just knocked the Humpty Dumpty of love of neighbour from the pedestal and shattered that lofty construct into a profusion of irreplaceable fragments. If machines can conduct themselves in this manner, then what about man?  Local man weighed down by his weaknesses, animosities, fears, envies, and troubles?

Ironically, for the first time, I see oil as a possible saviour.  I trust that it will be so viscous as to gum up local eyes so that racist visions would be clouded; clog local arteries, so that rancorous hearts are distracted, beat slower and enable emotional gender embrace; and mire local feet in the sludge of heavy crude, so that the rush to kick domestic outsiders, neighbours all, would be made infinitely more difficult and thus thwarted.  This is problematic.  In the future, I may have to limit myself to writing about horticulture or Bridge strategies or Babylonian decline.  Nothing controversial, either racist or sexist, can be found in such essaying.  Well, so I believe.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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