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The AI Development Dilemma: Learning from the Swill Milk Scandal

Updated: May 22

When history warns us of the dangers of unchecked progress, should we pause the AI race?

Over a century ago, the Swill Milk Scandal sent shockwaves through New York City, as dairy farmers prioritised profits over the health of their consumers by adding hazardous fillers like plaster and calf brains to their milk. Thousands of people fell ill and died as a result. This scandal led to the establishment of the 1906 Food and Drug Act, effectively creating the US Federal Consumer Protection Agency and laying the foundation for governance in the food industry.

Today, we face a similar challenge in the rapidly advancing field of artificial intelligence (AI). In this ODT feature, "Machines of the Future" CMPNZ's Dan Eady explores the pressing concerns and ethical implications surrounding AI development.


The piece serves as a reminder of the importance of ethical guidelines, regulations, and oversight mechanisms to ensure the responsible and safe progression of AI technology. Featuring insights from experts like James Maclaurin, Olivier Jutel, Brendan McCane, Tony Savarimuthu and Timnit Gebru, the article delves into the potential benefits and risks of AI systems. It highlights the need for interdisciplinary research, transparency in AI development, and a human-centred approach to ensure the technology is used ethically and responsibly.

Embedded here are a series of images created by Dall-E 2, an AI-powered image generator. By using sentences from the article as visual prompts, Dall-E 2 has generated images that complement the article's content.


With the potential of AI singularity, perhaps we need to heed the lessons of the past, like the Swill Milk Scandal, to avoid repeating our mistakes. If you're interested in the current state of AI development, the potential consequences of the singularity, and the role of governance in ensuring AI safety, have a read.


[Link to the article: "Machines of the Future"]

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