Beware of Artificial Intelligence …

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Formation

In the fast-paced world of technology, the year 2023 has marked a crucial milestone in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) programs. In recent years, we have witnessed significant advances that have taken AI to new horizons, transforming the way we interact with technology and, ultimately, the world around us.

In the educational field, for example, AI programs (ChatGPT and others) have become in a very short time a regular reference tool for students who have some work for school … it has even become a source of information for researchers and writers.

What, in principle, may seem like a substantial breakthrough, has also provoked intense reflection regarding various ethical and social challenges related to transparency, fairness, accountability, possible algorithmic bias and lack of understanding of how certain AI models make decisions. The novel technology also provokes concerns in numerous areas. As systems become more complex, so do the potential risks (risks arising from malicious use of the technology to the possibility of these systems making poor decisions that ultimately have very serious consequences).

Undoubtedly, over time, solutions will be found to all these questions, and both the veracity of the results and the way we relate to this technology will improve significantly. Returning, however, to the example of a school research paper it should be clear that AI cannot replace personal study and understanding of the data obtained from multiple sources.

Let’s take an example: we have asked an AI to give us a brief biography of Frederic Ozanam. This was its response:

Frederic Ozanam was born in Milan, Italy, on April 23, 1813. His father was a French merchant who had emigrated to Italy because of the French Revolution. Frederick received a solid education in the humanities and sciences, and at the age of seventeen he converted to Catholicism.

In 1831, Ozanam moved to Paris to study law. There, he joined a group of Catholic students who were concerned about the plight of the poor and marginalized in the city. In 1833, this group founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which was dedicated to social aid and evangelization.

Ozanam was an active member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He regularly visited the poor and sick, and organized activities to help the needy. He was also a prolific writer, and his works defended Christian values and social charity.

In 1841, Ozanam married Amélie Soulacroix. They had two children, but Amélie died in 1853. Ozanam was devastated by the death of his wife, and his health began to deteriorate. He died in Marseille, France, on September 8, 1853.

Ozanam was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997. His work has had a great influence on the Catholic Church and society in general. He is considered an example of lay Catholics committed to social charity and evangelization.

The text is riddled with errors. In addition to vagueness and phrases that deserve to be nuanced there are no less than 5 inaccuracies or falsehoods, and not small ones. It is too high a number for such a short text.

Are you able to detect them? We invite you to give it a try and then check your accuracy by displaying the following table:

Click here to discover the errors

Frederick Ozanam was born in Milan, Italy: he was indeed born in Milan, but it is misleading to say that it was then part of Italy. In fact, it was then under French sovereignty. In 1805, Napoleon transformed the Cisalpine Republic (of which Milan was part) into the Kingdom of Italy, proclaiming himself king and appointing Eugène de Beauharnais, whom he had taken in as an adopted son after the execution of his father, Alexandre François Marie, Viscount of Beauharnais, in 1794, as viceroy. Eugène ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1805 to 1814.

His father was a French merchant who had emigrated to Italy because of the French Revolution: Jean-Antoine Ozanam worked, indeed, in the business of buying and selling and exporting goods, but upon his arrival in Milan he dedicated himself to the translation of texts, to giving lessons in Mathematics, French, Latin and Italian, and he also opened a school for externs and ran a boarding school, as well as studying Medicine (he would later become a doctor, a profession that he practiced until the end of his life). It is not true that he emigrated because of the French Revolution: he emigrated in search of a better future for himself and his family.

…at the age of seventeen he converted to Catholicism: Ozanam was born into a family with deep Catholic convictions. Although in his adolescence, between 1826 and 1828, he suffered a crisis of faith, he did not disavow his beliefs, nor, of course, can it be said that he “converted” at the age of seventeen. As his cousin Henri Pessonneaux wrote: “poor Ozanam suffered for several years. In spite of everything, his Catholic convictions did not waver and, in the midst of the turmoil of his soul, Ozanam remained faithful to his pious ways.”

Frederic and Amélie had two children: they actually had only one daughter, Marie Josephine, who was born in 1845 and died in 1912. Before Marie’s birth, Amélie had been pregnant two other times, but in both cases she suffered miscarriages.

Amélie died in 1853: Amélie died in 1894, at the age of 73. Therefore, it is also not true that Frederic’s health deteriorated following the death of his wife, as the AI claims. In 1846, the first symptoms of what would become a serious kidney infection appeared … an infection which would lead Frederic, slowly and painfully, to a premature death, which occurred on September 8, 1853, in Marseille.