DFL’s Communications and Public Engagement Manager, Sasha John, sat down with IIT Bombay’s Anupam Guha, Medianama’s Aarathi Ganesan and CIS’ Pranav Bidare for a conversation on the implications of Generative AI for the nature of work, misinformation and policy in the 21st century. This panel was part of the program at BeFantastic’s FutureFantastic festival, an AI art festival for climate change.
Opening statements ranged from fear of AI taking over writing jobs (which all 3 panellists do!) to having no such real fear of the penetration of AI in the workforce because, at its core, AI cannot do what humans do. Anupam stressed that AI cannot understand and infer the way humans do, even though it’s often talked about as being able to do so. Keeping this in mind, he said, helps stave off the fear that AI is coming for our jobs and also ensures we don’t partake in more fear-mongering.
Anupam made a point about how the outrage over generative AI seems to be coming from a certain class of worker, the “creative worker”. In contrast, when problems with platform apps were called out, there wasn’t necessarily a similar call to action or outrage for platform workers. Sasha countered with a point that it might not just be creative workers that are impacted but, in fact, entry-level (mostly women) workers that might also bear the brunt of this innovation, considering most tasks that are deemed to be replaceable by generative AI seem to be secretarial in nature - writing, summarising meetings and emails, coordinating meetings, etc.
When Sasha asked Aarathi about how policy should be responding to this current moment, she pointed out that policy just isn’t moving fast enough to keep up with the pace of technological innovation. Not only that, but there also continues to be such a large gap in understanding the technology itself, so foreseeing its impact becomes both more challenging and even inaccurate.
Sasha pivoted to asking about the misinformation that generative AI can contribute to, and Pranav pointed out that there’s no quick fix to this problem, irrespective of generative AI’s impact. Social awareness and cultural education are key.
No one had anything particularly uplifting to say about a future scenario for generative AI but Anupam did end with a rallying call to educate and organise collectively - as researchers, tech workers, workers in general, creatives etc. - against the imposition that generative AI is proving to be.