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Artificial Intelligence – Peeling back the Illusion of Realism

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Artificial Intelligence ? Peeling back the Illusion of Realism


When Utility Safety Partners began this monthly Newsletter, we knew creating content each month would be challenging. While there's always a story to tell, cobbling articles together each month wasn't exactly in everyone's job description. Despite that, we knew the outreach would benefit our objective to promote awareness and reduce damages to buried utilities and reduce contacts with overhead power lines.

And so, every month we generate eight to 10 articles that we hope our readers will find interesting or instructional and ultimately help inform Canadians of the services available to help secure public, worker and utility safety. Then, along comes artificial intelligence (AI).

For interest's sake, I logged into an AI website to see for myself just how good (or bad) it might be. I thought about a topic I'm very familiar with (Public Awareness programs for transmission pipelines) and wrote this in the command box "Explain public awareness programs as they relate to transmission pipeline systems in Canada", which I thought was fairly specific. The AI generator delivered the following in seconds:

Public awareness programs related to transmission pipeline systems in Canada are educational initiatives designed to inform the public about the safe and responsible use of pipelines and the potential risks associated with pipeline operations.

These programs aim to educate the public on the importance of pipeline safety and encourage them to report any suspicious activity or concerns they may have regarding pipeline operations. The programs may be initiated by pipeline companies, government agencies, or industry associations, and typically involve a range of outreach activities, such as public meetings, brochures, newsletters, and social media campaigns.

The primary goal of these programs is to ensure that the public is aware of the potential hazards associated with pipelines, such as leaks, spills, and other accidents. They also aim to promote best practices for pipeline safety, such as calling before digging, reporting pipeline damage or suspicious activity, and staying away from pipeline rights-of-way.

In Canada, public awareness programs related to pipeline safety are mandated by law under the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations. Pipeline companies are required to establish and maintain a public awareness program that includes outreach activities to inform the public about pipeline safety.

These programs are important for maintaining public trust in the pipeline industry and ensuring that pipeline operations are conducted in a safe and responsible manner. By increasing public awareness and engagement, pipeline companies and government agencies can work together to prevent accidents and minimize the risks associated with pipeline operations.

I was speechless. Not only is the information accurate, it's coherent!

So where does this leave us ? and more importantly, where is it taking us?

AI is an excellent tool to help gather information but is it smart enough to be as smart as us? Or dare we ask, smarter? It's definitely faster, but smarter? No, not yet ? but it is close. 

As humankind relies increasingly on AI for information, and we continually update the feedback AI generates, are we supplanting true tested knowledge for something that is fast, easy and at our fingertips? It's our nature to want more, faster and easier regardless of the risks

Peeling back the illusion of AI won't be an easy task. While AI generated content needs to be fact-checked, it is very real and for this writer, a little unnerving.


Mike Sullivan ? President, Utility Safety Partners


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