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Pandora’s Box? 潘多拉魔盒

中国日报网 2024-01-26 13:42


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, with “Pandora’s box” in particular: AI is a Pandora’s box.

My comments:

Artificial Intelligence, that is.

Artificial Intelligence or AI can be dangerous. If applied in the wrong way, a lot of bad things may happen.

That’s it. That’s what “AI is a Pandora’s box” means.

Pandora’s Box is a jar that contains all sorts of bad worms and evil things, according to Greek mythology.

It’s a popular tale and websites telling this story abound. Here’s one, per GreekMyths-GreekMythology.com:

Pandora was, according to the myth, the first woman on Earth. She was created by Gods; each one of them gave her a gift, thus, her name in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts”.

Pandora was created as a punishment to the mankind; Zeus wanted to punish people because Prometheus stole the fire to give it to them. Her gifts were beautifully evil, according to Hesiod. Hephaestus created her from clay, shaping her perfectly, Aphrodite gave her femininity and Athena taught her crafts. Hermes was ordered by Zeus to teach her to be deceitful, stubborn and curious.

Pandora was given a box or a jar, called “pithos” in Greek. Gods told her that the box contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever. Then Hermes took her to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus, to be his wife. Prometheus had advised Epimetheus not to accept anything from the Gods, but he saw Pandora and was astonished by her beauty, thus he accepted her right away.

Pandora was trying to tame her curiosity, but at the end she could not hold herself anymore; she opened the box and all the illnesses and hardships that gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Pandora was scared, because she saw all the evil spirits coming out and tried to close the box as fast as possible, closing Hope inside.

According to Hesiod, Hope indeed stayed inside because that was Zeus’ will; he wanted to let people suffer in order to understand that they should not disobey their gods. Pandora was the right person to do it, because she was curious enough, but not malicious.

Well, curiosity kills the cat, as they say.

Anyways, the moral of the story is, be careful what you wish for. Once your curiosity is satisfied, you may end up with more problems at hand, problems that you can’t deal with.

The genie is out of the bottle, in other words, and cannot be put back in.

And it’s the same with AI, artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is good, of course. Students are said to be using AI apps to write poems and essays for them.

That’s not such a good thing, I hear you say.

Well, you’re right. Still, I consider it a good thing, or not such a bad thing because AI is used to do much worse things. For one example, using artificial intelligence, politicians’ voices have been mimicked to mislead the public.

All sorts of problems are still to be found, as this is the early days yet for AI technology.

Luckily, we still have Hope.

Hope is still there – in the Pandora’s Box.

Keep it there. Don’t let it leave.

Keep hope in our heart, that is – always.

All right, here are media examples of Pandora’s Box:

1. Renowned Scottish artist Peter Howson says he found viewing a new exhibition of his work going back 40 years to be “quite full-on”.

The 65-year-old says he was glad to get home after visiting the City Art Centre in Edinburgh, where the biggest exhibition of his career begins at the weekend.

“There is so much gloom and doom,” he says. “It’s quite depressing actually.”

The exhibition, which runs until October, brings together more than 100 works, tracing his career from his student days to the present.

It has been assembled from public and private collections spanning the UK and Europe, with many of the works never having been seen in public before.

Howson says that a preview of the new exhibition for friends of the gallery had left some in tears.

“I don’t know whether they were crying with joy or with anguish,” he says.

“I think they enjoyed it. It got the thumbs up from them.”

Despite Howson's opinion of his own work, he says he is “chuffed” with the way the exhibition has been put together.


Howson, who says he does not even carry a mobile phone, does not think there are any elements of AI that can be useful to artists.

It’s like a Pandora’s box,” he says. “Once it’s opened, it’s hell. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I really don’t.”

He hopes the new exhibition gives people a chance to see work that is created using “real techniques which are hand-done”.

“They go directly from my brain to my hands and on to canvas or paper,” he says. “There is nothing mechanical about it. This is just technique and years of learning.

“I sound like an old dinosaur but I’d rather be a dinosaur than be a hypocrite really. I have to say what I feel. I’m just an artist. I want to just paint.”

- Peter Howson: My work is quite full-on, BBC.com, May 27, 2023.

2. Former President Donald Trump has long vowed to prosecute President Joe Biden if Trump wins November’s election and the two trade places. He upped the stakes dramatically Tuesday, contending that if criminal charges against him aren’t dropped, any current and future ex-presidents also could be prosecuted.

“I feel that as a president, you have to have immunity, very simple,” Trump said after a court hearing where a panel of three federal judges seemed deeply skeptical of his attorneys’ arguments that presidents have immunity from prosecution for official business. “It’s the opening of a Pandora’s box and it’s a very, very sad thing that’s happened with this whole situation.”

Trump said Biden might not be the only one targeted. Former President Barack Obama could end up being prosecuted, he said, citing Obama administration drone strikes in the Middle East that killed a U.S. citizen who was identified as a leader of the terrorist group al-Qaida and that man’s 16-year-old son, also a U.S. citizen. In court, Trump’s attorney suggested that former President George W. Bush could be prosecuted for providing false information that launched the Iraq War.

The arguments, related to the federal charges Trump faces for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results, raised new constitutional issues that may only be settled at the U.S. Supreme Court because Trump’s cases mark the first criminal prosecutions of a former president. They also dramatically raised the stakes of Trump’s campaign to portray the charges as politically motivated attacks from Biden that would justify his own retaliation should he return to the White House.

Legal experts were skeptical that allowing the charges to go forward would lead to endless prosecutions of ex-presidents. Still, Trump has increasingly framed his bid to return to office as getting “revenge” against political enemies who have wronged him.

He made a point of being physically present in court for Tuesday’s arguments. That maximized the attention he received, both for his legal battle against the federal government and his primary campaign, six days before Iowa holds the first contest of the Republican presidential nominating cycle. It also put him on camera as he vowed to repay what he portrayed as Democratic vindictiveness with his own should he win the election.

“That will be bedlam in the country” if the prosecution continues, Trump warned.

- Trump warns of ‘Pandora’s box’ of perpetual presidential prosecutions if charges against him stand, AP, January 10, 2024.

3. I’ve always had this curiosity for the bizarre and twisted, like an itch I couldn’t quite scratch. It’s like that feeling when you’re about to spill some hot tea, and the whole room leans in to hear the juicy bits. Well, my friends, the Epstein documents? They’re like a Pandora’s box of dark secrets and unanswered questions, and there’s one question in particular that’s been haunting me.

Now, before we dive headfirst into the abyss, let me take you back to a moment that sparked my obsession with this whole Epstein mess. I was sipping on a lukewarm coffee, scrolling through the news, when I stumbled upon an article about his infamous little black book. You know the one – names of the rich and powerful, all allegedly connected to his sordid world. It read like a who’s who of the elite, and I couldn’t help but wonder: How deep does this rabbit hole go?

As I dug deeper into the Epstein documents, my fascination only grew. The extent of his connections, the plea deal that seemed too lenient, the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death – it was all like a Hollywood thriller playing out in real life. But amidst the chaos, there’s one question that keeps gnawing at me.

Who Knew What, and When?

- This Question About the Epstein Documents Fascinates Me the Most, by Chloé, Medium.com, January 11, 2024.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Identity theft? 身份盗窃


Works like a charm? 非常有效


Word salad? 言语混乱


Binge watch? 刷剧


Running around in circles? 兜圈子

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