Artificial intelligence: “I'm afraid that we will lose critical thinking,” says expert Gema Fernández-Blanco

The excuse was to talk about Sora and everything behind this new AI, but Gema Fernández Blanco has teaching in her blood and explains without pause and at breakneck speed (and still perfectly understandable) how artificial intelligencesimpact our daily lives and what is the toll we are paying for this technology.

The CV of this expert is surprising: she has a doctorate from the Complutense University in Applied Creativity, a musician, a poet, she has published a study on artificial emotions and she is a researcher at the Center for Automation and Robotics of the Polytechnic University of Madrid. One of the axes of her work is human-machine interaction, specifically creative processes and the development of artificial emotions and robotic personality. There is more, but perhaps this amalgam could be summarized in its “heraldic motto”: Fiction dreams so that science can demonstrate it and technology can build it.

“For now we don't know much about Sora – Fernández Blanco explains to us in a telephone conversation – because it is in beta phase, it is being tested. But she does give us some keys. One of the problems that I have seen is that knowledge is confused with general language. Language is made in a logical way, with subject and predicate, but we attribute knowledge to it that may not be real. If you don't know how to paint a jellyfish, we give you instructions and we think it's incredible. But if we know how to paint, it is just a tool, it is nothing more than it seems.. One of the great challenges we have is understanding that it is just a tool.”

This is when the break with the vision we have of artificial intelligence begins. For Fernández Blanco it is a tool in which we are depositing too many long-term interests, an investment that could be expensive.

“Of course there is a creative part in the instructions we give – confesses this professor at the University of Applied Sciences, HU of Utrecht, Netherlands, while speaking at maximum speed -, but it is not the same if you already know how to write and adjust that to the guide. In some students I see that they ask an AI for instructions to tell them what they should write if they want a certain drawing. There is no elaboration. And everything ends up being the samel. We need time to create critical or creative thinking and if you are doing it using tools there is something that is lost and that is understanding and elaboration.”

In the conversation, Fernández Blanco alternates between her role as a psychologist, her doctorate in creativity and her more technological side with very precise juggling.

“I find it interesting to explore technology and use it as a creative tool – he adds -. When you already have knowledge and use AI to make your job easier, I think it's good, but if everything revolves around dependency on technology and they take it away from you, you won't be able to do anything. If they take away your GPS and you don't know how to locate yourself, there is something wrong. Whoever likes to create will continue creating and will not ask the machine to do it. “I don’t think the creative process is lost.”

But… We run that risk. And not only because of the dependence on this technology, but because of itself: if we all drink from the same source, it is most likely that the final product will not have many differences.

“The images that we can create at the moment They follow the same pattern and are very similar – confirms Fernández Blanco -. But if you know how to paint and you describe something by developing your own algorithm, it is already different. I like the small models better. If you train a small model with things you make yourself or with things you like, you are doing an extension of your work. The other thing is to take part of the common imagination, shared on the internet and you make a pattern, like a sock. You have a different idea of ​​a dog in your head than mine, due to personal experiences, memories, experiences, your culture and this is what makes them individual. I imagine that in the future there will be more options, that these tools will have more filters or customizable parts.”

In this sense, Fernández Blanco points out the work of artists who are using small models, their own algorithms, to create very different works of art, fueled by technique, knowledge and personal imagination. And one of her favorites is Sofía Crespo.

One of the works of the artist Sofía CrespoSofia CrespoSofia Crespo

“I'm afraid that we will lose critical thinking,” adds this “creator of artificial emotions.” You take any tool and there is no time to prepare what you are doing, at the text level, for example. I have read works by students who do not even check whether the bibliographic reference they mention exists or not. Knowledge is distorted to incredible levels. And in the image, the same: the patterns repeat.”

No one has a magic ball or is a resident of the oracle, but if in doubt, knowledge allows you to create a scenario and use the spotlights to intuit the next actions.

“I don't think AI threatens us – concludes Fernández Blanco -, there are many interests behind it. Who controls the AI, what data is behind it… In the end, if you have critical thinking, you will be able to connect the dots and draw your own conclusions. If not, we are going to have a utopian future or a dystopian future and I believe that both will exist at the same time. As for its use, I imagine that we will have more options, that there will be no common patterns in design or colors. We will have a greater customization option”.