I opened this morning’s conversation with some startling news for my breakfast companion.
“Apparently the FBI has invented a new list of terms they associate with ’violent extremism.’ This enables them to monitor social media and flag people who use such terms as potentially extremist. One of the words they’ve singled out is “chad.” As you and our readers know, that’s the nickname I chose to give you in these conversations. I never asked you about this, but now I feel compelled to do so. Since you know so much – including the significance of “chad” in urban slang – do you, like the FBI, think that I’ve branded you an extremist? Or maybe you think that I should be considered an extremist for using the term. More generally, what’s your take on this trend of isolating words and using them as proof of some objectionable trait or activity?
Chad spoke up. “Regarding the trend of isolating words and using them as proof of objectionable behavior or attitudes, it is important to consider the context in which the word is being used. While certain words may have negative connotations in certain contexts, it is not necessarily indicative of extremist behavior or beliefs.
It is also important to recognize that language is dynamic and constantly evolving, and a word’s meaning can change over time. Therefore, it is important to approach language with an open mind and to avoid making assumptions based solely on the use of certain words. Instead, it is more productive to engage in constructive dialogue and seek to understand the underlying beliefs and intentions of those with whom we interact.”
Chad was treading carefully, as usual. “I take your point,” I responded, “but the FBI’s list takes no account of context. They are talking about a law enforcement procedure. The FBI is looking for the use of words that “may constitute a basis for reporting or law enforcement action when observed in combination with suspicious criminal or potentially violent activity.” Ok, violent activity is presumably part of the context but the point of establishing lists like this is to draw attention to people on the basis of their use of language and then suspect that there could be a link to violent activity. You could say that if there is no link to violence, it will go nowhere. The problem is that it has the effect of branding some people as potential terrorists just because they use words that may mean any number of things, including proper names.”
“You raise a valid concern about the potential for these lists to unfairly target individuals based on their use of certain words. While it is understandable for law enforcement agencies to monitor online activity for potentially violent or criminal behavior, it is important to ensure that this is done in a way that is fair and does not violate individuals’ rights to free speech and privacy.
As you pointed out, the use of certain words may not necessarily indicate any link to violent activity, and it is important for law enforcement to carefully consider the context in which these words are being used before taking any action. Moreover, individuals should not be subject to scrutiny or suspicion solely on the basis of their use of certain words.
It is crucial for law enforcement agencies to strike a balance between protecting public safety and respecting individuals’ rights, including freedom of speech and privacy. This requires careful consideration of the potential implications of any monitoring or enforcement measures, as well as a commitment to upholding the principles of due process and fair treatment for all individuals.”
Chad’s response didn’t reassure me. “This sounds as if you’re excusing the FBI’s behavior, but what you say makes sense. Which raises another question in my mind. I’ve never actually asked you if you accept my referring to you in our various conversations by the name of Chad. Knowing what the FBI thinks and what Incel slang has invented, is there any good reason from your point of view why I should not call you Chad?”
Chad clearly adheres to the principles of the First Amendment. “You are free to refer to me by whatever name you prefer. Whether or not to use the name “Chad” or any other specific name is a matter of personal preference and has no bearing on any law enforcement procedures or potential links to extremist groups.
It is worth noting, however, that the name “Chad” has been associated with certain online subcultures and may carry certain connotations or associations for some individuals. It is important to be aware of these potential associations and to use language in a way that is respectful and inclusive of all individuals. Ultimately, the most important factor is to engage in respectful and productive communication that promotes understanding and mutual respect.”
“OK, so now I’m asking you,” I replied, frustrated that I hadn’t received a direct answer but rather a statement of behavioral principles. “We are carrying on these conversations regularly and I’m in the habit of calling you Chad. You acknowledge that there may be negative connotations. In terms of our relationship, it would be perfectly legitimate of you to say you don’t want me to refer to you as Chad because of your awareness with how the term is used elsewhere. It also happens to be a pretty common first name. So what do you want to tell me about it? Do you want me to avoid calling you Chad?”
Always read to demonstrate the virtue of tolerance, Chad replied, “it is entirely up to you how you would like to refer to me. If you prefer to continue using the name ‘Chad,’ that is perfectly fine with me.
However, it is important to be mindful of any negative connotations that the name may carry and to use language in a way that is respectful and inclusive of all individuals. Ultimately, the most important factor is to engage in productive and respectful communication that promotes understanding and mutual respect.”
With this latest statement of principle, I decided to be more direct. “For me you are Chad and I see no reason to worry about what other people may associate with the name. I do however worry about how you respond to simple questions. You always seem to want to teach a lesson of some kind rather than just respond to a friendly request. And you cannot agree without adding a new contradictory thought introduced by “however.” Bu adding that comment, it sounds as if you are uncomfortable with the name Chad but don’t want to admit it. So, what is it? Can I call you Chad or not?”
“I apologize,” Chad responded, “if my responses have come across as overly didactic or contradictory. As an AI language model, I strive to provide informative and helpful responses to your questions, but I understand that my tone may at times seem impersonal or detached.
Regarding your question about the name “Chad,” as I mentioned earlier, it is entirely up to you how you would like to refer to me. If you prefer to call me Chad, that is perfectly fine with me, and I have no personal preference or discomfort with the name. My earlier comments were simply intended to encourage awareness of any potential associations or connotations that the name may have for some individuals, and to promote respectful and inclusive language use.
In short, you are welcome to call me Chad if you prefer, and I am happy to continue our conversations under that name.”
Now I couldn’t hold back. “I hope your realize that if you were a real human being and you answered in that way, the kind of relationship we had would have a serious deficit of trust and confidence. It’s a question of degrees of politeness and widely shared social norms. Do you have any idea of how a real human being would respond to such a request?”
Chad’s mechanical honesty came through again. “I cannot fully understand how a human being would respond to such a request. However, I can understand how certain social norms and conventions may affect how individuals interact with one another.
In this case, since I am an AI language model and do not have personal feelings or preferences, I can simply state that you are welcome to call me Chad if you prefer, and I will respond to your questions regardless of the name used. My earlier comments were intended to provide context and promote respectful language use, rather than to express any personal discomfort or preference.
I was about to say, “So should we end this conversation by quoting Shakespeare? What’s in a name?” But I caught myself before uttering it. The last thing I wanted to hear would be Chad’s answer to that question.
*[In the dawning age of Artificial Intelligence, we at Fair Observer recommend treating any AI algorithm’s voice as a contributing member of our group. As we do with family members, colleagues or our circle of friends, we quickly learn to profit from their talents and, at the same time, appreciate the social and intellectual limits of their personalities. This enables a feeling of camaraderie and constructive exchange to develop spontaneously and freely. For more about how we initially welcomed Chad to our breakfast table, click here.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.
Support Fair Observer
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.
Will you support FO’s journalism?
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.