AI’s Potentially Fatal Flaw

Plenty of discussions have been taking place about the dangers surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its existing application, the positives and negatives, and possible misuses and/or abuses.

However, a problem has popped up that seems to be causing a real stir.

It turns out that AI can actually lie.

Tech experts refer to inaccuracies and falsehoods produced by AI as “hallucinations.”

This term is typically used to describe incidents whereby AI provides solutions to problems; however, the solutions contain fictitious material that was not part of the original training data used during the programming process.

Tech experts don’t actually understand AI’s hallucination phenomenon.

When AI first became available in the form of so-called large language models (LLMs), aka, chatbots, AI hallucinations just surfaced on their own.

Early users of LLMs noticed that hallucinations seemed to “sociopathically” embed plausible sounding fabrications in the generated content.

A number of experts have used the words “very impressive-sounding answer that’s just dead wrong” to describe an AI hallucination.

An early example of the phenom happened in August of 2022.

Facebook’s owner Meta warned that its newly released LLM, BlenderBot 3, was prone to hallucinations, which Meta described as “confident statements that are not true.”

In November of 2022, Meta unveiled a demo of another LLM, Galactica, which also came with the following warning: “Outputs may be unreliable! Language Models are prone to hallucinate text.”

Within days Meta withdrew Galactica.

December of 2022 saw the release to the public of OpenAI’s LLM, ChatGPT, in its beta-version. This is the AI that is most widely used and one with which the public has the greatest familiarity.

Wharton Professor Ethan Mollick seemed to humanize ChatGPT, when he compared the LLM to an “omniscient, eager-to-please intern who sometimes lies to you.”

Lies were exactly what were generated when the Fast Company website attempted to use ChatGPT to author a news piece on Tesla. In writing the article, ChatGPT just went ahead and made up fake financial data.

When CNBC asked ChatGPT for the lyrics to a song called “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” instead of supplying the actual lyrics the AI bot provided its own hallucinated ones.

A top Google executive recently stated that reducing AI hallucinations is a central task for Bard, Google’s competitor to ChatGPT.

Senior Vice President of Google Prabhakar Raghavan described an AI hallucination as occurring when the technology “expresses itself in such a way that a machine provides a convincing but completely made-up answer.”

The executive stressed that one of the fundamental tasks of Google’s AI project is to keep the hallucination phenom to a minimum.

In fact, when Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. first introduced Bard, the software shared inaccurate information in a promotional video. The gaffe cost the company $100 billion in market value.

In a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Google CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged that AI hallucinations remain a mystery.

“No one in the field has yet solved the hallucination problems,” Pichai said.

Admitting that the phenomenon is very widespread in the AI world, he stated, “All models do have this as an issue.”

When the subject of the potential spread of disinformation was brought up, Pichai said, “AI will challenge that in a deeper way. The scale of this problem will be much bigger.”

He noted that there are even additional problems with combinations of false text, images, and even “deep fake” videos, warning that “on a societal scale, you know, it can cause a lot of harm.”

Twitter and Tesla owner Elon Musk recently alluded to the potential harm that AI poses to the political process.

In an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s prior Fox show, Elon said, “If a technology is inadvertently or intentionally misrepresenting certain viewpoints, that presents a potential opportunity to mislead users about actual facts about events, positions of individuals, or their reputations more broadly speaking,” Elon explained to the host.

Elon then gave his perspective, taking into account the intellectual prowess of AI.

He asked, “…If AI’s smart enough, are they using the tool or is the tool using them?”

The answer is yes.

The Real Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

Over the past year, the technological development surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) has advanced much more rapidly than ever anticipated.

A recent letter, signed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk, and additional AI experts and entrepreneurs, cautioned that a six-month pause needs to be placed on all new AI models.

Time published an article by founder of AI alignment Eliezer Yudkowsky, encouraging the implementation of a permanent global ban and international sanctions on any country pursuing AI research.

The high-profile figures are warning that AI technology is accelerating so quickly, machine systems will soon be able to perform, or even exceed, human intellectual functioning.

A majority of the nation shares the same concerns as the experts. According to a recent Monmouth University poll, 55% of Americans are worried about the threat of AI to the future of humanity.

And according to a Morning Consult survey, nearly half of those who participated would support a pause on advanced AI development.

Because the public has been able to access generative AI platforms that are capable of creating text and participating in human-like conversations, the two-letter acronym itself has been absorbed into the national lexicon.

The term “AI” was coined by a computer scientist back in 1956. At its simplest, Artificial Intelligence combines computer science algorithms with data in order to solve problems.

An algorithm is a list of instructions for specific actions to be carried out by computer technology in a step-by-step fashion. AI utilizes “machine learning,” which enables learning and adaptation to occur without explicit instructions being given.

The type of AI that is presently in use is designed to specialize in a single task; for instance, conducting a web search, determining the fastest route to a destination, or alerting the driver of a car to the presence of a vehicle in the car’s blind spot.

Such functions have oftentimes served to make the lives of individuals better, easier, safer, and so on.

However, it is critical to understand that existing AI is starkly different from the type of AI that is in the pipeline – Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

This type has a benign sounding title, but it is nothing of the sort.

AGI can, and no likely will, match and even exceed human capability.

The point at which AGI exceeds human intelligence is known as “the singularity.” There have been gobs of books and films that have featured AI themes, based on the assumption that advanced AI could somehow turn against humans.

“2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Matrix,” “The Terminator,” and “Blade Runner” all contained AGI warnings about things to come.

The fact of the matter is human beings program machines. So it stands to reason that should a given programmer err during the programming process, the resultant technology that is created will be flawed.

When it comes to ethics, the possession, or lack thereof, on the part of the programmer can result in the type of programming that may have catastrophic consequences.

This is because AI possesses the capacity to learn from its mistakes and adjust on its own, It may be able to improve itself to the point where human beings will lose control of their own invention.

The nightmare begins when the stop mechanism no longer functions.

In one of the unimaginable situations, we could have a super intelligent AI advance in a way that runs counter to all human morals, ethics, and values.

This tips into the realm of the spiritual, which requires a great deal of critical thought and further discussion.

For now, a pause is not only advisable, it’s a must.

Lessons Learned from the PayPal Debacle

PayPal is currently in an existential crisis.

The company recently issued an updated “Acceptable Use Policy” (AUP), which was set to go into effect on November 3 of this year.

Among other things, the AUP included a $2,500 fine, which was to be imposed on users of PayPal if said users transmitted speech that the digital financial service company deemed unacceptable.

The type of speech that would have triggered the policy included “the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content, or materials” that “promote misinformation.”

Debits taken directly from users’ PayPal accounts would have been the means used to collect the hefty fines.

Having already suffered the loss of free expression at the hands of the reigning misinformation police currently patrolling our society’s virtual and real worlds, a whole lot of people reacted swiftly and forcefully.

A tsunami-sized backlash against the AUP ensued in the conventional media, social media and elsewhere. This forced PayPal to backtrack big time.

Up until now the multinational technology company had been the world’s preeminent online payment system, ranking 143rd in revenue on the 2022 Fortune 500 list.

Originally founded in 1998 by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek as a company called Confinity, it went through a merger in 2000 with, an online financial services company co-founded in 1999 by Elon Musk.

Musk directed to focus its resources on the online payment business. Musk was subsequently replaced by Thiel as CEO of, which was renamed PayPal, and ultimately went public in 2002. The former wholly owned subsidiary of eBay became an independent company again in 2015.

Like way too many other large tech enterprises, PayPal’s management ultimately swerved into speech regulating territory, banning in 2018 radio host Alex Jones, along with Jones’s website.

Three years later PayPal announced a plan to collaborate with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), as well as other nonprofits, to scrutinize users’ transactions for purported investigative purposes relating to extremism groups. The results were intended to be shared with law enforcement and other entities.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt indicated that a better understanding of how extremist groups use PayPal could potentially “help disrupt those activities.”

In September of 2022, PayPal closed the accounts of a British social commentator and two related groups, the Free Speech Union and The Daily Sceptic website.

The accounts were apparently terminated because of alleged misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. A few days later, however, PayPal reversed its decision.

During the same month, the company threatened to withdraw its sponsorship of the Phoenix Suns, if the basketball team’s owner Robert Sarver failed to be removed from the franchise.

Sarver is presently under a one-year suspension from the Suns, following an internal investigation that found he allegedly used “hostile” words and slurs against women and minorities.

The company also recently banned Gays Against Groomers, a group composed of LGBT-identifying individuals. Simultaneously, PayPal’s subsidiary Venmo also blocked the organization.

Ian Miles Cheong, an independent journalist who reports on the promotion of transgenderism to minors, has also been banned.

After facing media scrutiny and a viral wave of criticism, including some chiding from its former president David Marcus and one of the company’s founders Musk, lo and behold, the company stretched credibility by claiming the change in policy had gone out to the public by mistake.

A PayPal spokesperson reportedly told the following to National Review:

“An AUP notice recently went out in error that included incorrect information. PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy. Our teams are working to correct our policy pages. We’re sorry for the confusion this has caused.”

— Marcus had used his Twitter account to slam the original AUP policy change.

“It’s hard for me to openly criticize a company I used to love and gave so much to. But PayPal’s new AUP goes against everything I believe in,” PayPal’s former CEO tweeted. “A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with. Insanity.”

— Musk tweeted a single word reply, “Agreed.”

— Another Twitter user, Andrea Stroppa, had shared an article on the policy change and added, “Worrying. That’s why we need the X platform more than ever.”

Musk responded with an emoji, “💯,” meaning total agreement. Stroppa appeared to be referring to a new platform that Musk recently said he wanted to create.

Professionals in tech and media know quite well, when dealing with Terms of Service, these kinds of changes are reviewed and signed off on by skilled executives and attorneys before they are implemented.

— Intrepid reporter and social media influencer Jack Posobiec didn’t mince words when he posted, “#BankruptPaypal no one is buying their walkback. We know what their plan is. They’re just mad they got caught.”

— “Well, well… looks like PayPal spread misinformation about itself,” Christina Pushaw, campaign spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, tweeted. “Maybe they should pay a $2,500 fine to all of us?”

Other furious users had simply closed their accounts and taken to Twitter to share their thoughts.

— Commentator and impactful influencer Candace Owens had tweeted, “Just moved all money I had in my PayPal account out of it. And I very must suggest you do the same. This is serious… #PayPal is dead.”

— Sen. Tim Scott, R – S.C., had posted his desire to investigate the matter.

“Allowing private companies to become thought police would be egregious and illegal overreach,” Sen. Scott tweeted. “My office will be looking into the validity of PayPal’s new policy and taking any necessary action to stop this type of corporate activism.”

It remains to be seen the extent to which PayPal has damaged itself with the attempted curb on freedom of expression and the unconvincing withdrawal.

In any event, the PayPal saga serves as an object lesson for corporations still wishing to dabble in viewpoint discrimination.

A big warning sign now hangs at the entrance to the internet, which reads,

CAUTION: Censor at your own risk.