AI for Humanity

ai for humanity

Editor’s Note
Prof. Manas Chakravarty, teaches Human Resource Management at Globsyn Business School – which has always been considered to be one of the best MBA colleges in Kolkata. Prof. Chakravarty moved to academics following a distinguished career in the industry culminating in leadership roles. Prior to joining the faculty team at Globsyn Business School, he was the Associate Dean at ICFAI, Hyderabad and Dean at Unitedworld School of Business, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar. In addition to administrative and professional responsibilities, Prof. Chakravarty has delivered executive learning programs at leading corporate houses across the country and has been the program director of national and international conferences. Apart from academic writing, he also has a blog page in the Economic Times.

When Carolus Linnaeus, the father of biological taxonomy coined the term ‘Homo sapiens’ in the middle of the 18th century, little did the world know that in less than three centuries, it would see the emergence of a phenomenon, which, if the functional classifications of biology and computers could be merged, can rightly be called ‘Auto sapien’. Auto because they can act automatically and sapient because they can make judgment, often better than Homo sapiens. All this thanks to the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Growth of AI has been incredibly faster than anything that we have seen so far. To reach the mark of 100 million users, Facebook took four-and-a-half years and Instagram took two-and-a-half. ChatGPT took just two months. When things move this fast, every day it throws up new possibilities. Apart from enabling commercialization of ideas, which were earlier thought unfeasible, AI offers exciting prospects of addressing a host of societal problems that have for long defied favorable outcomes. It is indeed already being directed towards a wide array of issues including those in agriculture, public health, gender violence, health care, disability care, language translation, public governance and education.

However, like many other technology marvels, AI is a mixed blessing. But the ratio of the mix is causing alarm bells to ring, particularly in its avatar of generative AI. Serious concerns have been raised on many aspects including confabulation, hallucination, invasion of privacy, infringement of intellectual property rights, and of course the nagging issue of bias due to garbage-in-garbage-out. Apart from harm that may be caused to people, damage to the planet is also being flagged. GPT3 is reported to have consumed 700,000 liters of clean fresh water which is also the estimate for the amount of water required to cool a nuclear reactor. Yet we must not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Human society must continue to explore all possibilities to utilize AI for its progress, while ensuring that the risks are reasonably hedged. With this in mind, the International Vision Seminar 2024 organized by Globsyn Business School in January 2024 was devoted to the theme: Embracing AI for Humanity. The two-day event had a galaxy of speakers of international eminence who deliberated upon the good, bad and ugly of how AI is developing and impacting human lives. One of the objectives served by such an event is to sensitize participants in a way that they become alert to signals of epiphany.

Recently I was tasked to review a piece of writing. One read and I knew it was the output from generative AI. When the editor asked how I knew, I had to fall back on that famous line from Justice Potter Stewart of the US Supreme Court, “I know it when I see it”. Since the piece I was reviewing had passed a plagiarism check, I had to painstakingly go para by para to establish that there were unexplained gaps in the expression of thought and inconsistency in the style of writing. My worry is that, in decades to come, if reviewers themselves have been brought up on the staple diet of generative AI, they may not be able to say “I know it when I see it”. This is already happening with Healthcare. Diagnostic reports carry the rider that test results must be clinically correlated. However, those physicians who from day one have been fed with lab reports even before making provisional diagnosis, have not developed the clinical acumen required to doubt or challenge a test result even if it is grossly in error. We must find ways to prevent the cultivation of AI from descending to such an abyss.

The good that AI can bring is not in doubt. The question is how to protect the world from the flip side.  A major issue is infringement of intellectual property rights. Overwhelming portion of material on which generative AI platforms are trained is copyright protected. Recognizing this, in September 2023, Microsoft had announced that it would indemnify customers using its AI tools if they face copyright challenges. In December 2023, New York times filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and Open AI for copyright violation.  Though exact monetary value has not been indicated in the suit, the claim mentions “billions of dollars” of statutory and actual damages. Judicial decisions in such cases will finally determine what will be the cost of generative AI to the ultimate user. If due to court decisions or out of court settlements, original creators are left short changed, it would mean rewarding art of copying at the cost of art itself.

While rightly flagging the dangers, we must not run a bandwagon for AI bashing. Perhaps the best thing about generative AI is that it is intuitive for everyone, not just the experts. Of course, in the matter of birthing knowledge, the role of AI should be that of the midwife not the master!

Another factor that crosses my mind is that someday tables may turn and we may see the emergence of a niche market that proudly proclaims to be AI free.  There are body washes where the label says it is soap free, there are hotel rooms that proclaim they are chemical free, there are hand embroidery and hand-woven carpets that are way costlier than machine manufacture. Soon there may be companies who advertise that their call centers are AI free, and that clients will be served by Homo sapiens not Auto sapiens.

The wording of the theme of Globsyn’s International Vision Seminar 2024 mentioned above—Embracing AI for Humanity—holds profound import. Embrace is an expression of trust, and trust must be reciprocated. Humanity has already embraced AI. Now the purveyors of AI must embrace humanity.


Prof. Manas Chakravarty
Faculty – Human Resource Management
Globsyn Business School