DEAR DR. FOX: I submitted some questions to ChatGPT on topics that you write about, and I would like your response to the answers it generated. Here is what I asked:
-- Does human meat consumption harm wildlife and biodiversity?
-- What is the meaning of One Health and how is it put into practice?
-- Can dogs' diets be plant-based?
-- Do killing contests work to control predators?
-- Are wolves positive for the environment?
-- Which animal is more dangerous for children: dogs or coyotes?
I did not edit any of the answers. -- P.S., San Francisco
DEAR P.S.: My initial response is that these answers (included in your email, but not published here) are all plagiarized from my own writings on these issues! And the chatbot got at least one point wrong: To your question "Can dogs' diets be plant-based?", the AI's response states, "Dogs with certain medical conditions such as pancreatitis or kidney disease may require a specialized diet that is not plant-based." On the contrary, a plant-based diet for dogs may help prevent pancreatitis and kidney disease! (For details, see this post on my website: drfoxonehealth.com/post/health-benefits-of-vegan-dog-food.)
I do not mind being upstaged or even replaced by AI, provided this new technology is put to good use. These chatbots could be a quick source of information for all of us, and they could help set students on the path of searching for original reference citations.
While I am concerned about the misuse of AI, as with every technology, I do not share the fear-mongering technophobia displayed by some. My concerns include the energy needed for data storage and transmission, along with the associated electropollution hazards. The precautionary principle should not be overridden by the profit motive or other means and ends, especially for disinformation purposes.
Also, the interfacing of the human bioelectrical field with the electrical fields of AI delivery, monitoring, surveillance and diagnostic systems raises health and safety issues that need to be addressed. Some forms of nonionizing radiation and electromagnetic fields can affect physiology, brain function, development and behavior. (For details, see drfoxonehealth.com/post/electropollution-existential-threat-to-public-health-and-life-on-earth.)
Humans' self-anointed title of Homo sapiens, or "Man the wise," speaks to our arrogance, which AI may help rectify. Intelligence is universal -- in every living cell and all our relationships.
Human freedom and justice and animal liberation will come when we unshackle ourselves from human-centered religious fundamentalism and imperialism. We must also jettison the persecuting judgment of moralists, the materialism of wealth-worshippers and the arrogance of scientific determinism. All of these contribute to what I call empathy-deficit disorder.
Empathic sensitivity is our best template and foundation for bioethical sensibility, which could be incorporated into the emergent properties of self-learning AI. As I detail in my book "Bringing Life to Ethics," this can lead us to embrace equalitarianism and reverential respect for all life, not just human life. Our emotional intelligence will help ensure the benefits of AI outweigh the risks, and help support the bioethical basis for the philosophy of One Health.
DUBIOUS PROMOTION OF RISKY ANTI-PARASITE DRUG
During a recent episode of Stephen Colbert's "Late Show," I was disturbed to see actress Jennifer Garner cuddling puppies to promote their adoption -- in front of a sign promoting Simparica Trio. The sign included the statement, "Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures."
In actuality, even dogs without "a history of seizures" can start having them after being given this product from Zoetis pharmaceutical company. One of the ingredients is a neonicotinoid that can cause seizures in dogs. Many dog owners using these products have reported to me that their dogs became more fearful, anxious and even aggressive when on these medications, and that these behavioral changes were resolved when treatments were discontinued.
Neonicotinoids are also linked to the drastic decline in bees and other beneficial insects around the world. There is concerning evidence from the U.K. of rivers being contaminated with these products and killing the life therein. These substances are also used in similar products like Nexgard, all of which should be prohibited.
I wish that veterinarians in every country would follow the protocol of Danish veterinarians, who are not allowed to prescribe parasite treatments without a positive diagnosis or a justifiable, documented suspicion that an individual animal has a parasitic disease that needs treatment. The profit-driven incentive to overprescribe is removed when veterinarians are not allowed to supply these products themselves, but rather must send a prescription to an external pharmacy.
Overprescription of these products is the norm in most countries, putting dogs, wildlife and the environment at risk. The medicines are often unwarranted, even being used when certain parasites are out of season. All of this is driven by consumer/pet owner fear -- and the significant revenue stream for veterinary providers and profit for drug manufacturers. This is not to discount the contribution of climate change, which has increased the spread of some disease-transmitting insects such as ticks and mosquitoes. But for many dogs, especially those who have had seizures with these kinds of preventive parasiticides, a wiser, safer choice would be a natural and effective insect repellant spray. This and other preventive measures are detailed on my website: drfoxonehealth.com/post/preventing-fleas-ticks-and-mosquitoes.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)