Which AI type are you? (and would you mind writing a review?)

I was delivering some training for business leaders wanting to be leaders on responsible AI adoption a week or two back, and my excellent colleague began with a discussion question on AI personality types. Consider the ice well and truly broken:

The Optimist

The optimist looks to the future with AI and thinks: yeah, things will be fine. As an amplification of technology’s ability to make our world more connected and more productive, AI will tend towards the positive, and deliver a better world for us overall. Like all things, there’ll be a mixed bag… but, in general, a good thing for humanity.

The Pessimist

The pessimist looks to the future with AI and thinks: oh dear, things are really not going to be fine. In fact, they are going to be bad. AI – as an amplification of all we’ve seen with social media – will be toxic for democracy, for the social contract, and lead to conflict between people, between cultures and between countries. A powerful tool in the hands of bad actors – dictators or profit-hungry CEOs – it is going to usher in a rough time for humanity.

The Dismissive looks to the future with AI and just sees… continuity. What’s the fuss about? It’s a new technology, but nothing fundamentally new or important. We’ve had Web 3.0. We’ve had the internet. We’ve had home computers, VCRs, food mixers, tractors, mechanical looms and ploughs… Don’t believe the hype. Just another thing in a long line of over-played, over-marketed things, and nothing to get anxious about or dazzled by. I mean, have you used ChatGPT? Or made an image with Stable Diffusion? Look at the fingers! Look at the sleeves!

The Utopian looks to the future with AI and sees… paradise. This is Musk’s vision of humanity finally relieved from our toil. AI will make the best decisions for the most number of people and it’ll be heaven. We’ll not need to work. We’ll have the climate crisis sorted. We’ll not even need money. We’ll all just be able to sit back and… flourish.

This week I’ve met everyone… except a Utopian. I had a great chat in the street with someone who’d just bought the book (thank you) but was a committed Dismissive. I’ve had discussions with Pessimists, and heard a bunch from Optimists. The Utopians are harder to catch in the wild, but they’re out there for sure (and usually invested in this most ‘God-like’ presentation of AI’s potential to save us to the tune of many millions. And are also looking for a bunker.)

But what we must realise is that the future is ours to make, if we will grasp it. We have to believe that we have agency. This is why the book ends with the following:

Perhaps [hope in the future] lies in repeating again the lines that Thomas Paine took from the French Revolution to forge a new America, the lines that Steward Brand chose to launch his revolutionary magazine of human counterculture, that Kevin Kelly repeated on the founding issue of Wired, lines of hope for a better future if we will rise from our screens and believe:

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

We do. And we must.

Been so lovely seeing images out there of people getting stuck into the book. Would be very lovely if you’d consider leaving a review somewhere.

Thanks. Hope it’s a good week x


2 responses to “Which AI type are you? (and would you mind writing a review?)”

  1. Kathleen Gilroy

    Dear Kester Brewin,

    I read your AI test in today’s Guardian and I would like permission to cite it in my book on how to write a college essay.

    The chapter “Don’t Cheat, uses a quote from Pinocchio, “I want to be a real boy.” It uses the metaphor of Pincchio as one means of defining what is artificial and what is real. Pinocchio is granted his wish to become a real boy because he gains a conscience that shows he is brave, truthful and unselfish.

    Your test is by far the best teaching tool I have seen to guide students on how to use AI ethically and fairly. For the purposes of the book, I would like to call it–with full credit to you–The Pinocchio Test.

    I think by naming it, I can refer back to it so that my students will remember what they can and cannot do.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kathleen Gilroy

  2. Thanks so much Kathleen – sorry, been tied up with other work etc for a couple of days so just getting back to the blog! Be delighted to have you use/cite this, yes. If you were able to mention the book that it forms the introduction to, that’d be wonderful. Please do let me know when your books is published and be very happy to share it around my networks. As a teacher for 25 years there’s lots of people who’d be really interested I know.