Pine Nuts: Who is Ethical AI? |

Pine Nuts: Who is Ethical AI?

Ethical Al is the guy whose job it will be to save the planet, no small task.

Al was born late last month in my mind when I mistakenly read a headline, “Microsoft President Meets with Pope to Consider Ethical AI,” which I read as, “Ethical Al.” No matter, AI or Al, the responsibility of saving the planet will fall to AI or Al, or perhaps Ethical Alice.

As countries enhanced by artificial intelligence race ahead, leaving the rest of the world and me behind, inequality is sure to metastasize and cause big problems. So here’s the deal…

The Vatican and Microsoft have put up a cash prize of $6,900 to the author of the best doctoral thesis on AI technology that stands to benefit the common good. The only problem as I see it, is that Ethical Al has no idea what the common good is or should be, though he is really good at chess. We know of one enterprising student that actually taught Ethical Al to copy his handwriting and do his homework.

No, it’s going to take an Ethical Alice to save the planet, for she inherently understands how to advance the common good. A sound heart is a better guide than artificial intelligence, and Ethical Alice holds in her bosom a heart that beats in the rhythm of an American folk song.

So I might like to get my shovel in here and suggest to Brad Smith and Pope Francis that they drop the doctoral thesis, limit the contest to 200 words, and open it up to everybody. I present my entry here …

Ethical Alice

Imperialism was yesterday, nationalism is today, and true brotherhood will be here tomorrow. Artificial intelligence is useful, but it’s going to take human feelings and emotions to save the planet from destruction, specifically, an evolution of goodwill, and an abeyance of animosity. May I introduce you to, Ethical Alice, she is a 21st century Joan of Arc without a sword; feel free to insert your mother’s name here. Where AI is capable of denotative reasoning, Ethical Alice is capable of the much more important faculty of connotative reasoning.

Ethical Alice and AI do have one thing in common, both are relatively free of testosterone, that hormone that causes men to tailgate and blow things up.

If we are not already there, AI will take us to the brink of World War III. The hand that rocks us from the cradle to the grave will be the hand that pulls us back from the brink. That’s my thesis and I’m sticking to it.

PS: Please send the $6,900 with thanks to Doctors Without Borders, or a charity of your choice …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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