Valley News Forum for Sept. 23, 2023: AI-written editorial does not compute

Published: 9/23/2023 6:19:54 AM
Modified: 9/23/2023 6:19:04 AM
AI-written editorial does not compute

AI editorial makes strong arguments against itself” (Sept. 20) was almost laughable, especially the headline. A newspaper editorial board prints an editorial asking Microsoft’s AI to write a contra-AI argument and, then, touts it! An editorial board is responsible for the content of its editorials. Do we hold the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board accountable, here, because the headline tells us these are “strong arguments” and the board is, after all, responsible for originally printing it? That is, the board’s collective judgment — which AI claims cannot be done by AI — endorses this editorial? I wish the board had thought further.

AI says “it lacks human judgment, empathy, and ethics.” AI also said it “cannot distinguish between right and wrong or between truth and falsehood.” I don’t know if this is really true — do you? And if it is, then is it true that the AI arguments are true or false? Of maybe since it cannot distinguish between one or the other, it cannot write an editorial with strong arguments? Since the humans on the editorial board thought they distinguished strong arguments, and strong arguments presumably appeal to truth, moral conduct, and our human passions, the humans on the board seemed to feel that “mere words,” not the truth, not distinguishing moral conduct, not really appealing to human passions were strong arguments.

Let’s sum up. AI had no intention of writing anything because it had no purpose other than the Dispatch’s question. The question, without an alternative, accompanying column on “AI editorial makes strong arguments for itself,” was simply designed to tout journalism. AI had no thought about journalism or anything else, but it had algorithms to cobble words together. The words seemed like thought, seemed convincing, seemed even “passionate” to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board, which decided to run this editorial with this headline as a strong set of arguments for journalism. And the Valley News picked it up. Truly, this is serious?

J. Scott Lee

Bradford, Vt.

VPA’s policy is a constitutional crisis

I read Jim Kenyon’s Sept. 10 column (“Left off the pitch in Vermont”) and some questions came to mind.

The oath Vermont principals take requires them to uphold the Vermont and U.S. constitutions.

Article 3 of the Vermont Constitution says:

“No person ... (can) be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of religious sentiments ... and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship.”

The Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) certainly may adopt a policy for participation; however, given the language of Article 3, should they be allowed to weaponize it against any student or group in a manner that violates basic civil rights?

It appears that VPA has adopted a policy that they assume gives them the authority to unjustly deprive the civil rights of a student, as well as the rights of an independent school. If this “governing body” cannot manage to align itself with the constitution of the state of Vermont, and honor their oath, then perhaps they should be the ones ousted; and a new governing body formed that adopts and exercises policies that align with the constitution.

Is this situation about “transphobia,” as Jim Kenyon puts forth, or is it about power and prejudice? Vermont Principals formed an Association, adopted a policy, then mistakenly assumed they had authority to exercise the policy in a manner to control and interfere with the conscience of others.

I hope this brave little student receives as much or more support, from the “The Brave Little State” than even the Dartmouth president.

I am not saying it is wrong to have policies. I am saying, the way this policy is being applied is out of alignment with the plain language in Article 3 of the Vermont Constitution. Principals take an oath to uphold the constitutions, perhaps they need to rethink the manner in which they are exercising this policy.

Tanya McIntire


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