Dumb Ox Debate votes to shut down AI tech

By Eleanor O’Hagan
Staff Writer

In a vote of 37 to 22, the motion “This house believes that the creation of artificial intelligence should be shut down now” was passed at the semester’s final Dumb Ox Debate, hosted by the Veritas Society.

Both members of the Veritas Society and those in attendance had the opportunity to speak on their opinions of this motion and what they believed to be the best course of action to deal with the rapidly growing world of artificial intelligence.

Affirming the motion were Peter Sammons and Patrick Uhlenkott. They argued that AI technology can be used for more cyber-crime, imitation, impersonation and weapons, as well as personal use of creating and generating pornography.

“Possibilities are endless,” said Uhlenkott, “and that is the problem.”

Veritas Society members who represented the opposition to this motion were Faith Sirilla and Kurtis Streumke. They argued that the technology itself is not evil but rather the particulars it can be used for can be evil.

The opposition also argued that stopping the development of AI in the Western world would not guarantee an end to the dangers AI presents.

“Enemies of the West will continue to use and develop this technology,” Streumke argued.

The two sides had opportunities for rebuttals, further explaining their reasons for the arguments made and calling into question assertions made by the other side.

The opposing side emphasized that creation can never transcend the creator and that it can be used virtuously with the proper rules and restrictions in place. The affirming side emphasized that, since little is known about the technology, it should be shut down or at least paused until a firm understanding of its possibilities is secured.

Those in attendance were given the floor to speak their own opinions on the issue. Students and faculty brought up concerns about continued AI development limiting the human intellect and thought. They also mentioned the false perception of reality AI can create and the ethical issues that arise from certain technology.

Though there was no direct opposition to these concerns, other attendees argued for AI and the benefits it provides, saying that the technological takeover is not machines versus humans but, rather, humans versus humans.

Instead of asking for a pause or end to the AI development, students in opposition argued that Catholics should be using their own AI technology to fight back.

Before the vote was taken, each side of the debate made closing arguments. Sammons argued that simply putting a restriction on the development and usage of AI technology is not enough.

“Who can we trust to make these codes, rules and restrictions,” Sammons said. “What makes you think someone won’t (bend) the rules?”

Sirilla opposed this argument, saying, “You can’t shut it down just because it is a potential danger. … Dangerous countries will not shut down their own development of it.”

The motion was passed, despite many of those in attendance speaking on their own concerns of the halt of AI development.

“I thought the opposing side should have won,” said sophomore Patrick Hardy. “When you stop something for six months, the only thing it does is let other people step in front of you in development and leaves you in the dark and makes people more afraid.”