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Gwen Kautz, Dawson PPD General Manager

Gwen Kautz

General Manager

AI gets criticized for various reasons. People worry it might take away jobs, be biased, lack transparency, invade privacy, pose security risks and bring ethical problems. Concerns also include potential misuse, causing unfair outcomes, stifling creativity, making people dependent and being exploited by malicious users. Critics emphasize the need for responsible development and rules to address these issues.

Would it surprise you to know that some forms of AI have been around since the mid 1950s? Let’s look at some common and recent innovations that created concerns when first introduced:

Concerns were initially voiced about Global Position System (GPS – 1970s) technology, including worries about overreliance leading to a decline in traditional navigation skills, privacy issues related to location tracking, safety risks like distracted driving, potential security vulnerabilities and the initial costs of implementing GPS infrastructure. Despite these concerns, location services have become widely adopted for its numerous benefits in navigation and various applications.

Personal computers (1972) were not immediately perceived as productivity tools for businesses. It took time for software development and the evolution of hardware to meet the demands of business applications. The introduction of personal computers contributed to a cultural shift, altering the way people worked, communicated and consumed information.

Cell phones (1973) were expensive and considered a luxury. As cell phones became more prevalent, concerns about privacy emerged followed by health fears. The wide adoption of cell phones represented a cultural shift in communication habits.

Initially, opponents of the internet (1980s) expressed doubts about its need, raised concerns about privacy and security, and feared information overload. Some worried about social isolation and questioned the commercial viability of the internet. Despite these early reservations, the internet has since become a transformative force in communication, commerce and society.

There are even earlier examples of artificial intelligence (AI) applications dating back to the mid-20th century:

Logic Theorist (1956): Logic Theorist was one of the earliest AI programs. It demonstrated that a machine could mimic human problem-solving abilities in a specific intellectual domain, marking a significant milestone in the early development of AI.

Dendral (1965-1969): Dendral was a pioneering artificial intelligence system that demonstrated its main purpose was to help chemists identify the composition of chemical substances.

What I’m getting at is that the advent of any new technology has always created concerns and fostered speculation – and AI will be no different. Negative concerns are often fueled by unfounded conjecture. AI will be part of our future, like it or not. The key will be to handle it with ethical considerations supported by acceptable and proven “trust but verify” processes.

The promise for AI to assist and improve data interpretation related to energy delivery and use, outage prevention and efficient grid development will be significant.


Power line relocation is required for road project

Power line relocation is required for road project

Dawson Public Power District’s board was updated on a plan for construction at their meeting on April 3, 2024. The district is working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation on the Highway 83 upgrade, south of North Platte. Transmission and distribution power...

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