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Should We Be Pumping the Brakes on the AI Renaissance?

Have you noticed how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are the new darlings of everyone from Silicon Valley bigwigs to Hollywood movie stars?

Three months ago, these people probably didn’t even know what the acronyms AI or ML even represented!

Chat GPT, Open AI, sex robots, and many other innovations are all enjoying their moment in the spotlight. They’ve risen to the forefront of the national conversation so quickly and so completely that even a Hollywood heartthrob like Ryan Reynolds has turned to AI to write his cellular service ads.

Why Did AI Hit the Mainstream Faster than Crypto?

AI has hit the mainstream so fast that it raises the question of whether these kinds of innovations will truly make a difference. After all, crypto has been explosive over the last several years, but it was an unruly crowd — those ever-mindful of the Big Brother intrusion — who carried it for the longest time.

Before its past few years of mainstream adoption, Bitcoin was initially saddled with the stigma of being dirty, dark, and illicit. Why should AI get special treatment? Why is it skipping the pessimistic, cautious, and even dismissive stage that normally plagues technology of this type?

Like many innovations, when Bitcoin was invented in 2008 in the back of a metaphorical garage, the idea was revolutionary. Today, its impact is global. Yet, unlike AI and ML, crypto doesn’t need venture capital to grow. It does everything independently. It is, by all measures, its own marketer and VC firm.

Have We Considered the “Dark Side” of AI?

As a grassroots movement, the crypto community attracts a diverse crowd of individuals, because it was truly designed for everyone. Its entire purpose is to bypass the financial gatekeepers and leave its applications to the individual.

Crypto, Web3 and AI are all part of a new renaissance that have clearly shared a defined period of their existence where trial and error shaped their development.

Take crypto. The early years of crypto, marked by the Silk Road and other disreputable dark web actors, were partly enabled by the existence of Bitcoin. Crypto was a free market where users could use it however they wanted—and they did.

Even now, crypto is still used for nefarious purposes, primarily in the form of scams and breaches of trust helped along by ignorance and arrogance from the likes of LUNA, FTX, and way too many Ponzi schemes to list.

Yet, crypto’s respectable accomplishments have overshadowed all that, and VC capital has finally come calling, dragging with it the endorsements from celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx, and Paris Hilton. While this high-profile support took quite a while to come to light, it helped crypto ultimately contribute to advancements in every industry imaginable.

But AI and ML are not grassroots. They’re the privileged kids at college whose parents can afford to donate.

Despite all the hype, it’s not the all-too-imaginable horrors that are worrisome. It’s not the robot uprising, the self-realizing Ultron, the resurrection of The Matrix, or even the terrifying threat of an AI-driven apocalypse. Nope. None of that. It’s the good, old-fashioned scamsthat are the biggest causes for concern.

Where Crypto and AI Diverge

Everyone loves to talk about the negatives in the crypto space. But many of those negatives work themselves out as crypto is exposed to market scrutiny.

AI is different. AI hasn’t gone through a “bad reputation” period yet. Could that be on the verge of changing? While the platforms themselves have stirred controversy recently, it’s their broader application that may be cause for greater alarm.

As sophisticated AI tools become more available to “the masses," it’s easy to imagine billions of life-like AI scammers, all run by a single person. Or maybe AI will usher in an endless tirade of phone calls, all sounding like an actual person. Or, maybe your business becomes plagued by phony clients, all wasting your time as they put on airs of legitimacy.

AI is going to change the world for sure, just like crypto. But instead of just focusing on the positives — which, for some reason, the prominent cyrpto naysayers suddenly seem to be doing right now — we should be cautious of how this new renaissance can be co-opted by bad actors who want to abuse this new cutting-edge technology.

It's the polished veneer of legitimacy that is particularly scary when it comes to this new frontier: AI artwork, deepfakes, voiceovers, genuine-looking legal documents, companies, and even people. Imagine, in the instant you search for a product or service, an entirely new (yet fictitious) 5-year-old company appears, complete with hundreds of supporting documents, well-researched articles, a sophisticated social presence, and images dripping with authenticity.

All of this compels you to meet with one of the company reps (who is actually an AI manifestation) over Zoom. You’re met with an appealing face, a realistic voice, and facial expressions too real-looking to even question.

Then, suddenly, after entering your payment information, as quickly as it was born, it’s gone—vanished into the vast ether of the internet.

Given the easy access to fraud that AI provides, don’t be surprised if we start to see old-fashioned, in-person, face-to-face meetings starting to make a resurgence. Say what you want about crypto—at least when it comes to scams, there will always be someone else to blame.

With AI, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.


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