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CCFB News» October 2023

Downwind"Download me some of that artificial intelligence"

10/02/2023 @ 8:30 am | By Bob Rohrer, CCFB Manager

I’ve tried to write an Artificial Intelligence (AI) column several times in 2023. It has proven to be difficult. Intelligence is not my forte. I need an AI download.


My exposure to artificial intelligence has been mostly through movies…War Games, the Terminator, the Matrix, Star Trek, 2001 – A Space Odyssey, I - Robot, Robo –Cop and Disney’s Wall – e. These movies feature “thinking” computer machines that seem really “mean”. Mostly, the Artificial Intelligence is bent on the eradication of the human species (which I have fondness for!). As a result, AI scares me! AI is certainly low on my trust barometer.


The concept of Artificial Intelligence, a machine or system that makes decisions on its own without human input, is nothing new, right? I suppose the concept of AI has been around as long as there’s been human imagination and the envisioning of computers. That’s for really smart people to think of and create.


Recently, however, I’ve come to realize that Artificial Intelligence is no longer some futuristic, movie based make-believe creation. AI has come to the forefront of commerce, potentially revolutionizing business operations for consumer marketing, healthcare, finance, real estate, language and more. There are a number of AI companies and software brands with products and systems now available. It is all very confusing to try to sort out.


Chat GPT is perhaps the most widely known due to huge usage growth in its first few months of “life”. It reportedly has over a million users per week. Chat GPT functions by creating text generated responses based on the user prompts (guidelines and questions posed). It makes decisions and recommendations based on the data and information available “out there” available in public spaces. Microsoft, Google, Meta and other big tech players are all working on AI products. Their goal…to revolutionize our lives with a cure all diseases, end world hunger, make a decent cup of coffee? I know that most people are using the AI for innocuous purposes…generating the best plan to build a kids cabin out of leftover giant zucchini, building a better resume or binding relationship advice.


And this brings me back to those scary AI movies with the premise of “death to humans”. One minute, I’m asking Chat GPT to write a Downwind column for me on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence” and the next minute, my brain is mush and the energy from my body is used to fuel the evil mega-computer focused on taking over the universe.


And here’s probably the biggest obstacle for me… “I’m too old to learn about this new dog trick”. Somehow, I survived many decades without AI in my life. I find it difficult to believe that I have to worry about AI today, in present tense. I don’t even know enough to be dangerous. Or if AI is dangerous.


So why should I, as a lowly Farm Bureau manager, bother figuring it out?

  1. We must protect the privileged and confidential data of our members and prevent its misuse.
  2. We should prevent any bias, discrimination, plagiarism, licensing, copyright, etc. that could result from AI usage
  3. I believe we need to establish policy within our nonprofit Association office on staff and volunteer usage of AI related to Cook County Farm Bureau.
  4. We need to help our farmers and other members by developing strong and effective policy on regulations and guidance regarding AI usage in agriculture and farming.


So is AI good, neutral or evil? Time will tell but no matter what it is, good or evil, it is here to stay.

On the pro side, I can see the advantages of AI doing routine jobs quickly and accurately, streamlining of time for efficiencies, translations, complex and massive data organization, etc. On the con side, I can see disadvantages including plagiarism, licensing and copyright, bias, loss of data or privileged intellectual property, liability/misuse by companies and staff.


AI will save time, money, and labor. But will it eliminate the need for people, certain jobs and businesses?

My skeptical nature makes me ask question … “Are these AI programs really “artificial intelligence” from a thinking computer/system or is it simply an elaborate software package that scours what’s “out there” to grab, repackage and plagiarize?”


The American Farm Bureau Federation is seeking input from members regarding how AI should be governed and what ground rules should be established. At Farm Bureau, privacy remains one of our top concerns. Through our grassroots process, we welcome any input or feedback that a farmer member may have in regards to AI and agriculture related policy moving forward.


Author’s note: A human being entirely wrote this Downwind column … not an IA bot. (Alright, I confess that I went to ChatGPT and asked it to write this column for me but what it produced was too beautifully written … no one would have believed I wrote it.)

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