A photo of the core characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation

What Star Trek can teach us about the pitfalls of AI chatbots

I’m not an AI expert, but I have seen an awful lot of Star Trek. And over the past week, that’s turned out to be almost as useful. Between Google Bard and Microsoft Bing with ChatGPT,  major companies are going all-in on AI chatbots, which raises profound questions about the future of search engines, online journalism and how long before artificial intelligence more closely resembles the real thing.

At present, I have concerns about the proliferation of AI chatbots, and I’m not the only one. Journalists, investors, and everyday technophiles alike can already see many of the potential pitfalls. If AI chatbots are supposed to someday replace (or meaningfully complement) search engines as a more naturalistic way to answer queries, then Microsoft, Google et al. will need to answer some serious questions about authorship, attribution and accuracy. Even more importantly, the companies will need to decide whether the ultimate purpose of the technology is to answer simple questions, or to create an entity that can have a meaningful conversation with a human being.

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