21 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 299 2019 economics to oncology and computer science? IBM’s Project Debater is already capable of ingesting thousands of articles about a given subject, understanding the content, and debating a human by discerning that person’s argument to generate a counter-argument rooted in information-rich analysis.9 It is already the case that AIs can read in a few hours more than any single human could possibly read in their entire lifetime. So, there is certainly a compelling argument to be made that scholarship produced by AIs has a role to play in advancing expert knowledge to promote understanding, analysis, and innovation. What would authorship mean in such a scenario? Should an AI be legally recognized as an author, particularly when no human could possibly generate the robust analysis and writing such a system might create? If AIs create publications and disseminate knowledge that relies on the research produced by academics (this reliance on expertise disseminated through academic publishing is the current model), then who should benefit from any monetization of such authorship? Machine-learning systems are already leveraging existing research (generated by humans) to derive insights for treating or curing disease. Who will own the capital (servers, algorithmic design, cloud-based services, data sets, and so forth) that is the basis for the digital domains of technology innovation as AIs join the rank of academic publishers? It might be tempting to simply hope such developments never occur. And yet, Microsoft and OpenAI have already forged an alliance to make this scenario look like child’s play. As existing AIs can already write poetry, short stories, and newspaper articles, it is certain that even a minimally successful product that barely approximates the goal of artificial general intelligence (AGI) could mean the irreversible transformation of the expert knowledge economy. It should be clear Now is the time for a broad array of experts to anticipate new directions in technology innovation in order to begin shaping an ethical and sustainable future rooted in equitable outcomes.
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