Artificial intelligence, or AI, may seem like science fiction, but it is already having real-world impacts, including a concerning use that could mean life or death.
Foraging expert and chef Alan Bergo (@foragerchef) expressed frustration in an Instagram video over the onslaught of fake foraging books and authors flooding into the market. “Beware,” he warned, “and call out BS.”
In an Instagram PSA, Bergo explained that many artificially generated books and authors are making their way into the hands of amateur foragers and ripping off foraging experts.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a huge deal, but last week, I took a look at two foraging manuscripts by new foraging authors, and one of them listed the fake books as a reference above Sam Thayer. That’s a problem!”
Relying on unvetted sources rather than trusted experts could have dire consequences for beginner foragers.
While plant and mushroom foraging can be fun and rewarding, it is crucial to practice safely with the guidance of an expert. New foragers could fall victim to lookalike mushrooms — toxic varieties with appearances similar to edible mushrooms. Misidentifying a mushroom can result in vomiting or even death, as noted by Food Safety News.
Although AI offers benefits like its predictive capabilities for weather and climate events, its implementation presents complications for people and the planet. Processing huge data sets requires massive amounts of energy and water in a world plagued with drought and pollution from dirty energy.
Beyond water consumption concerns, numerous occupations are facing an existential threat to their livelihoods driven by the use of AI. The historic writer’s strike hinged on regulations for AI, and a group of authors filed a suit against AI generation that relies on their copyrighted work.
While policymakers grapple with trying to regulate AI, scammers and other bad actors are taking advantage of the loose guidelines, especially in publishing, where bad advice and misinformation can easily spread for profit.
“People trust books as guides partly because there’s an assumption of fact-checking and editorial process…With AI there is no author to hold accountable” one commenter said.
“This isn’t just happening to foraging books. It’s happening everywhere,” another warns.
Bergo suggests those new to foraging buy field guides from reputable sources and flag content from fictitious authors that could mislead someone into a dangerous situation. As one commenter notes, “The more people [that] know the better.”
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