Some 5,000 scientists, academics, industrialists, and others have signed a petition calling for a six-month moratorium on the development of artificial intelligence (AI); another 50,000 people are reportedly lined up to add their names, asserts Gordon Pape, editor of Internet Wealth Builder.

The idea for the pause is to allow the world to formulate guidelines and rules for how AI is to be expanded and controlled in the years ahead. The proponents of the pause feel that without tight monitoring, we risk being overtaken and crushed by our own creation. A digital Frankenstein’s Monster!

Our only hope is to control it before it controls us. It's a laudable idea. It’s also totally impractical. Is China going to halt its AI programs? Is India? Is Israel? Do we expect any one tech leader to stand pat while another forges ahead?

And even if we could somehow persuade all these entities to sign on, how exactly would the moratorium work and what would be the end result? A United Nations resolution? The UN hasn’t unanimously agreed on anything since it was created at the end of World War II.

Yes, we do need some controls on AI. But stopping development for six months will do nothing except give cheaters an edge. What will work? No one has found a realistic answer yet. Perhaps we should go back to the three laws of robotics that science fiction author Issac Asimov created in a 1942 short story. They are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The problem is that these laws don’t cover many of today’s concerns. There is nothing to prevent AI from stealing human jobs. AI can be used to cheat your way through school without violating Asimov. It could be argued that AI is free to develop its own intelligence far beyond human capabilities. We’re in uncharted territory.

While great minds try to solve this conundrum, the rest of us are left to consider how we can profit from this dizzying new branch of science. What better way to find out than to go right to the source. I asked the question to ChatGPT.

Its reply suggested a variety of technology companies, robotics and healthcare companies as well as exchange-traded funds or mutual funds that focus on AI including the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ) and the ROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (ROBO).

ChatGPT added, "The AI industry is still in its early stages and investing in AI-related companies can be highly speculative and subject to high volatility.”

That’s a reasonable and responsible look at the broad AI investment landscape, complete with warnings about risk and speculation. It was generated in less than a minute after the question was submitted. Impressive. Scary.

What about the quality of the advice? Among the stocks suggested by ChatGPT, Google (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), IBM (IBM), and Nvidia (NVDA) are all on our recommended list and all have been profitable. Alphabet announced that it plans to incorporate Chat AI into its Google search engine this year. Microsoft is already using ChatGPT in its Bing search engine.

Neither BOTZ nor ROBO are on our recommended list. Both ETFs have similar patterns. They reached their all-time highs in 2021, then went into a deep slide. They’ve recovered this year, with BOTZ up about 19% year-to-date while ROBO has gained about 14%.

Both these ETFs look interesting in the current environment. Their prices aren’t cheap, but ROBO has the lower p/e ratio at 27.4. BOTZ has a slightly better average annual return since inception. Either would be a good choice if you want an ETF in the AI sector, but my preference would be to buy shares in Microsoft, Alphabet, and/or Nvidia.

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