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Artificial intelligence: The dumbest, smartest, scariest thing in your futureArtificial intelligence: The dumbest, smartest, scariest thing in your future

More than Dirt: Be aware of the opportunities and threats Artificial Intelligence could impose on you and your family farm.

Mike Downey

July 14, 2023

3 Min Read
Person on laptop talking to a chatbot
Getty Images

I’m blown away by the technology behind artificial intelligence! Specifically, ChatGPT, which has become the fastest growing consumer software application in history.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot whose core function is to mimic human conversations. Among its many applications it can write and debug computer programs, compose music, plays, fairy tales, student essays, answer test questions, generate business ideas, and write poetry and song lyrics.

Recently, I watched a marketing consultant use ChatGPT to produce a draft of the 10 reasons why farmers should have a written succession plan. They trained ChatGPT to play the persona of Mike Downey from Next Gen Ag Advocates, to include 10 reasons while citing references from credible sources. In a matter of minutes, I watched a 10-page e-book unfold right in front of me which would have taken me months to write myself.

For a laugh, the user asked ChatGPT to interject jokes and agricultural humor, in a British accent, with some rap lyrics too. Think I’m joking? It re-wrote the entire book in a matter of seconds.

Opportunities & threats

Is artificial intelligence good or bad for agriculture? This was the topic of our very first Farm Talk Friday meetup last week which generated a lot of discussion! Participants on our zoom call witnessed a demonstration of ChatGPT, which caused a mix of emotions. Our guest speaker said to think of AI as the dumbest, but smartest thing you’ll ever meet.

Like many of us on the call, he acknowledged the technology scares the heck out of him! But, if he doesn’t adopt it he may be left in the dust of his competitors. One participant interjected, saying technology such as this won’t make us smarter, rather, dumber and lazier.

But, there are positives. AI can allow farmers quicker access to information to give them a competitive advantage. It could help them become more efficient and be better marketers, perhaps take the emotion out of decision making. It could assist in higher level strategic planning and perhaps develop ideas for new enterprises for a farm business in the future.

Some of the cons? Users have expressed concern over the potential of ChatGPT to displace human intelligence, enable plagiarism, and fuel misinformation. ChatAI has even acknowledged it’s software can sometimes write plausible sounding but incorrect answers.

Of course, what about those who might try to use it to produce harmful content or hurt others?

By the end of the hour it seemed we had a lot more questions than answers:

  • Should AI be regulated?

  • If so, who will regulate and enforce it?

  • How can we protect ourselves from the danger AI brings?

Listen to the recording of our July meetup. We plan to wrap up this discussion at our next Farm Talk Friday, to be held Aug. 4. Other proposed topics for our August meetup include:

  • A wrap-up of the July AI discussion

  • Land lease considerations for 2024

  • Potential new legal rights for landowners against pipelines

  • New proposed legislation which incentivizes resident ownership of farmland

Farm Talk Friday will be held the first Friday of every month at 9am central, via Zoom. If you’re interested, please join the group, here.

Downey has been helping farmers and landowners for the last 23 years with their family farm transition, estate planning, leasing strategies, and general farm advising. He is the co-owner of Next Gen Ag Advocates and an associate of Farm Financial Strategies. Reach Mike at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mike Downey

Co-Owner, Next Gen Ag Advocates

Mike Downey is co-owner of Iowa-based Next Gen Ag Advocates and an associate at Farm Financial Strategies. His passion for helping farmers and landowners stems from his own farm roots, growing up on his family’s grain and livestock farm near Roseville, Ill.

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