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The conversation on "Main Street" with Patrick McCloskey, editor-in-chief of the Dakota Digital Review, covers a range of topics related to digital technologies and their societal impacts. Key topics include:

Purpose of Dakota Digital Review: Established by McCloskey and Chancellor Mark Haggarott, the publication focuses on the transformative impact of digitalization on various aspects of life. It aims to bring experts into journalism to enhance public understanding and decision-making.

Target Audience: The publication is aimed at the general public, not just experts or academics. It's written to be accessible to a wide audience, focusing on local and regional issues relevant to leaders and the public in North Dakota and beyond.

Contributors: McCloskey actively seeks contributors with expertise, regardless of their academic background, to write for the publication.

Article Highlights:

• Invasion from Planet Zircon: Discusses the rise of AI-powered virtual relationships and its potential societal impacts, particularly concerning loneliness, relationship dynamics, and demographic changes.

• AI's Energy Appetite: Highlights the significant energy consumption of AI, predicting that by 2040, AI could consume as much energy as the entire United States does today.

• Polytechnic Education: Focuses on the role of polytechnic education in the modern workforce and its practical approach to preparing students for industry needs. • AI's Public Benefit and Risks: Explores the dual nature of AI, balancing its potential benefits and risks in various fields.

• Deep Fakes and Legal Challenges: Addresses the legal complexities introduced by deep fakes, including their potential to undermine evidence in legal proceedings. • Automated AI Control of Military Systems: Discusses the potential dangers of over-relying on AI in military systems, including cybersecurity vulnerabilities. • Digital Forensics in Crime Solving: Covers how digital forensics, including data from devices like Fitbits, are being used to solve crimes.

• Autonomous Vehicles and Moral Duty: Considers the moral implications of using autonomous vehicles as they become safer than human drivers.

• Future Directions of Dakota Digital Review: The publication aims to keep up with rapid developments in technology, focusing on topics like energy, agriculture, artificial intelligence, and integrating arts and humanities to address moral and socio-economic questions.

• Access for Educators: Educators can access the Dakota Digital Review online, download PDFs, or contact McCloskey directly for copies.

Dakota Digital Review Transcript 

Main Street 

This is Main Street on Prairie Public. When you think of drones, are you looking to the sky?

Maybe you should look in the depths of the ocean where the Soviets have a nuclear powered, nuclear tipped drone torpedo. And what about our nation's power consumption? Do you realize that by 2040, AI will consume as much energy as the United States consumes today?

All of these topics are in the current edition of the Dakota Digital Review. We discuss that with Patrick McCloskey. He's the editor of the Dakota Digital Review and director of social and ethical implications of cyber sciences for the North Dakota University System.

Patrick, welcome back to Main Street.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Well, thank you.

Main Street 

You have published another edition of the Dakota Digital Review. Remind us before we get into this edition, what's the purpose of the Dakota Digital Review?

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review The publication was founded by Chancellor Mark Haggarott and myself to address digitization, to address this tsunami, really a revolution that's transforming our lives on personal, family, social, political, economic levels simultaneously. I mean, I was trained as a journalist, but journalism struggles to deal with all the complexity. And my sense was, let's bring in more experts right into the domain of journalism, help them become public intellectuals so that we can better explain what's going on, such that we can all make better decisions as parents, as students, as legislators and business leaders.

Main Street 

And your market for this publication are not those that are just in the ivory tower. It's literally for everyone.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review That's true. It's not geek to geek. It's written, not to be dumbed down, but it's written for the general public, general educated public, meaning pretty well everybody in North Dakota and beyond.

It's local and regional. And it's geared at our leaders and general public.

Main Street 

There's a wealth of information. Where can people find this? And then we want to get into what's in the most current edition.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Well, it's on the Dakota Digital Review website, which is part of the Dakota Digital Academy. So you can go to ddr at For any information to reach me, you can email ddainfo at Or just Google Dakota Digital Review NDUS and it'll pop up. And how do you seek contributors for the digital review?

Well, I'm constantly hunting. First, I look for people within the North Dakota University system at our universities, colleges, and we have five affiliated tribal colleges who have some expertise and would like to write. If they're not familiar with this sort of writing, which many aren't because they're academics, I help them through the process.

I look for students. But really it's anyone with expertise, people in industry. I don't care whether you have a degree or you have 10 degrees.

Do you have some expertise? Are you willing to share that with the general public?

Main Street 

Let's talk about your article in this review first, if we could, Patrick. Invasion from Planet Zircon. And now I'm wondering if my grandkids are going to have alien boyfriends or girlfriends or people in their lives after reading what you wrote.

What were you thinking about when you wrote this and how do you think society should address perhaps what's coming down relative to this article? The inspiration for the article came from two different directions.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review One is I came across an article that talked about the growing epidemic of loneliness, particularly among men, and how this phenomena of AI-powered girlfriends and

boyfriends is growing. And it's at scale, I think, one of them I mentioned, Replica, 2 million users worldwide, and this is just really the beginning. It's, I think, a highly addictive thing for men because you get to create your own perfect woman, and I include one image in the article, but a lot of it is Vertizon pedophilia, really.

It's very suggestive. And it's coupled not only with the sort of physical appearance, but I think the more addictive thing is these are AI-powered, large-language-model-powered, quote-unquote, girlfriends who establish or imitate relationships, are always in agreement, get very erotic, establish friendship, which I think the emotional part of it is a highly seductive and addictive, which creates an immense problem, I think, for society at scale. If we're not forming families of some kind and raising children properly, we've got a real problem. We're on the verge of demographic collapse worldwide in the U.S. We're sort of okay, but not really. And this could really tailspin quickly. Pretty tough to regulate things properly. I mean, typically regulations are written by the companies that already have all the power, like big tech, and all they do is crush innovation because they can hire the lawyers and manipulate everything.

It doesn't help startups. And with something like this, you know, one could look at that because it certainly crosses the line into pornography and where do we stand on that? My take was not so much about the morality, but about what's best for children.

I spent the first part of my career writing a book about an all-boys high school in Harlem, and I got very much involved in the breakdown of family structure in that environment, which is happening all over the place. You know, the social science literature is loaded with studies, et cetera, showing that children growing up in two-parent functional families do much, much better, and people do much, much better in marriage. It doesn't mean that's the only way.

I was a single parent. It's very difficult. The social science literature at this point points to the value of having a two-parent mother-father family.

You know, one of them might be a stepfather, stepmother, you know, but this is by far what's best for young people in the neighborhood in Harlem, something like 85 percent single-parent, mostly mother-only, present a lot of difficulties, poverty, dysfunction, et cetera, which, you know, that school was overcoming, but it is a huge social problem. So in terms of solving these issues, we need to encourage the family. We need to encourage healthy relationships.

Main Street 

One of the most interesting statistics in this article that I came across was about AI's energy appetite. I've always thought about energy consumption relative to cryptocurrencies, blockchain, Bitcoin mining, those things. If you're traveling near Jamestown, there's a nice server farm right out there, it doesn't employ anybody, but boy, does it suck energy.

And the statistic referenced in this article by Mark Mills estimated that by 2040, AI will consume as much energy as all of the energy consumed in the United States today. Holy smokes.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Yeah, no kidding. And holy smokes is a good way of putting it, it's burning everything. And extrapolate out what happens a decade later, all the energy in the world.

Yeah, it's an enormous energy suck. I mean, just training an AI model can take as much as 15 houses in a century or something. Currently, the entire global digital infrastructure uses three billion barrels of oil, the same as aviation.

And these numbers don't really figure in much of AI yet. This is the digital infrastructure as it is. AI is going to enormously increase this.

We're on a — these things are logarithmic, they're not just even arithmetic.

Main Street 

With our bots turning to maybe more green energy sources, will that be enough to sustain a doubling of our energy needs?

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review No, it's more than — we're getting more than double. Green energy can't possibly even get close to our energy needs now, and it's not very green. I mean, in a previous article, as Mark Mills pointed out, so-called green energy is only 6 percent or less carbon dioxide production.

It's not very green in the first place. It's not very efficient. It's useful.

It's part of the energy mix. But I think what we need is — we're going to have to increase energy production on the one hand. On the other hand, the long-term solution is, as you know, I've written, and we need to go to nuclear long-term.

It's going to take 100 years to build that out and do it properly. But that's really the only solution long-term.

Main Street 

Article in this month's Dakota Digital Review about North Dakota's Polytechnic Institution, What's in a Name by Douglas Jensen. This, of course, talks about the 88,000-square-foot facility that broke ground in Bismarck in 2022. It's not finished yet.

It's on its way to becoming finished at Bismarck State College. What is the role of the polytechnic education system in the modern workforce? He writes about that.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Well, the bottom line is that polytechnic education is geared towards solving workforce issues. It rather quickly prepares people for the workplace, even beginning in high school. I think eight students this year graduated with a degree from Bismarck State College while still in high school.

So one young lady got an emergency medical technician degree. Well, she's now qualified for a job. People going into BSE can be in certificate programs, two-year programs, four-year programs, doing both theoretical, to some extent, that one would do at a university, but a lot of very applied science, applied use in the classroom and in industry and internships.

And it's very much guided by a relationship with industry so that students are learning what industry wants.

Main Street 

A lot of focus on, in their security operations center, design of computer security and jobs related to that, that students will get an experience with in real time. Let's talk about the article, Looking Beyond the AI Hype to Maximize AI's Public Benefit. There are many ways to think about artificial intelligence.

And Jeremy Straub talks about it has some good and very positive benefits, talks about balancing the risks between good and bad in this article.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Yeah. Jeremy's a professor at NDSU and one of the top in his field. He has a very positive outlook towards AI and knows a lot about it.

But I think when we look at AI, it's always a dual-edged sword. Enormous benefits, but every benefit can be turned into the opposite, right? Like, we've had nuclear energy for, what, 70, 80 years.

We still don't know whether it's going to power the planet or blow it up. I mean, for example, AlphaFold won a number of very prestigious medical prizes last year or this last year, this year. And it predicts how proteins fold inside the cell.

Now, that's sparking research in all fields in biology, etc. However, the same technology could be used, for example, to misfold proteins and create prion diseases. The same with research into curing diseases.

Well, you can create diseases, you know, anywhere you look. In the military, you can create these, you know, weapons to defend us and then, you know, create other weapons to massive destruction beyond our imagination, really.

Main Street 

We're enjoying our conversation with Patrick McCloskey. He's the editor of the Dakota Digital Review. The new edition is out.

He's also the director of Social and Ethical Implications of Cyber Sciences for the North Dakota University system. The next article, one that we've heard about in the news, about deep fakes. There's an addressing concern in AI and what steps might be necessary to educate the public and the legal profession.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Yes, Blake Klinkner, a law professor at UND, wrote an article. It's actually published in the Wyoming Law Review. And of course, you're from Wyoming.

That's right. So, go Pokes. So, you know, it's the top law journal in the country.

Absolutely. He has geared towards what lawyers, but it's written away for everybody. So, I republished it for the most part about what's going on in regarding deep fakes in the law, because it creates all kinds of problems, right?

Like, somebody submits a video purporting a crime. Well, was that a deep fake? How do you tell?

Well, let's say it's real. Well, the defense can then put doubt into the jury. Well, maybe that it is deep fake, right?

So, it kind of nullifies so many things. So, we have to be aware that these things are possible. We have to look out.

Currently, there are ways to detect sometimes in the quality or the lip-syncing or something that something's going on. But this stuff is getting better and better and better.

Main Street 

I wasn't in West Fargo at 10 o'clock on Tuesday. I was in Horace. Here's the video. Maybe.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Maybe. Yeah. Yeah.

And you see, I mean, in three seconds, they can clone your voice.

Main Street 

We are aware of that, by the way. All right. Let's move on.

Mark Hegerat's article on the limitations of automated AI control of military systems was fascinating to me and dang scary. From the aspect of I've always thought about drones

as those things that maybe fly above us for military reasons, for agricultural reasons, for Amazon delivery reasons, or what have you, I had never considered prospect of a nuclear weapon nuclear powered torpedo that is a drone with a range of 6,200 miles. You talk about the Russian Poseidon in this article.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review That's a little bit scary. Oh boy. To say the least.

Yeah. They have something like 32 of these, so they could launch and hit every major coastal city in the world and just blow it up, which is very scary. The other scary part is, well, it's an AI system.

AI systems are actually pretty easy to hack. In a previous issue, the book authors wrote about the difference, like an encrypted system is 10 to the 39th, one in 10 to the 39th chances of hacking, an AI system, one in two. Yeah.

So they're not very secure. Oh, AI systems aren't encrypted? Is that what you're telling me?

Well, they're much easier to penetrate. Now, obviously they're working on these and military ones are probably better, but there is a significant problem with being able to hack these things. And the illustration of this in the article is that an over-reliance on web systems and artificial intelligence and drones.

For military use. For military use, creates enormous problems. And Chancellor Haggard, who was a former U.S. Navy captain and a professor at the U.S. Naval College, had actually wrote an earlier version of this article 10 years ago, and it was like too far ahead of its time. So we're publishing it now because it's obvious. We saw with Hamas, the Hamas attack, how low-tech defeated high-tech, right?

Main Street 

Too much reliance. Very interesting to me. He talks about the need for soldiers to still be able to navigate without any GPS.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Right. And also for the need for ships to use old-fashioned radio communications to navigate instead of also relying on high-tech radars and GPS systems. It's a fascinating article.

Again, all of these articles are written for laymen, so to speak, to understand. I think, I think they're all just very, very fascinating. Let's move on.

Main Street 

Let's talk about the Fitbit murder. And I'm talking about an article that explores digital forensics that were used to solve the murder of Connie, is it Dabate? D-A-B-A-T-E?

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Actually, I never asked the author how to pronounce it.

Main Street 

Yeah, I don't know. Dabate maybe or Dabate? I don't know.

I wondered about that, but my goodness, go down the line here. Cell phone evidence, camera evidence, Fitbit evidence. And the list goes on and on about what was used to solve this gruesome murder.


Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review

Well, this is her second article. This is Erica Colm, who is the director of the digital forensic services at Dakota State University, and they do a lot of criminal investigations, just like on the shows, right? And the previous article was about the BTK murders, which was the first instance of forensic, digital forensics solving a murder, and then she wrote about this one, which is still an older one, but sort of we're progressing up the, up the digital chain as it were, and that the murder victim had a Fitbit device with her, which showed that where she was and when, et cetera, totally displaced it.

Stopped moving. There was no question about it. Yeah, absolutely.

So, but when, without that and other digital pieces of, of, of information about cell phones, et cetera, it doesn't happen to be her husband or murder, her money got away with it.

Main Street 

My wife and I have this conversation often. I believe that autonomous vehicles that are digitally connected are thousands of times safer on the highway than I am driving with perhaps you next to me and somebody else driving at me and we're all making our own decisions in human reaction time, she disagrees that that's the case, but Dennis Cooley writes an article that suggests that we have a duty to use them when they are proved safer than human drivers. That was an interesting article for me to read.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Yeah, I mean, he's a philosophy professor and I wanted to get some philosophical discussion in publication because I think it's important for people to begin to understand how philosophy works and how you sort these things out. And he sets up criteria about how we would work out whether or not it's a moral duty. And he argues that, and it's obviously with everything, there is a plus and a minus, right?

I mean, there's freedom and human dignity and the capacity to go wherever you want. You know, he argues that certainly certain sorts of instances, it should be a moral mandate at least, and that if somebody is habitually intoxicated, you know, has a problem with drinking or whatever, DUIs, someone is incapacitated, I mean, if you're blind or reduce vision and a number of other circumstances, he makes a good case that obviously people in these sorts of things. But the question you raise is whether as these things become safer and safer, I mean, they're not quite there yet.

Should we all be doing it or should we, which isn't a moral question or a legal question.

Main Street 

This is real time things we're talking about. And I referenced just an article last week, sensationalized, I will admit, that talked about a Wyoming representative's vote against a system that could be in cars that you walk in and it could tell if you were drunk and then boom, the car is disabled. Right.

I wonder what's wrong with that. But boy, people that are very concerned about other things saying like, hell, you're going to have a kill switch in my car. These are decisions that are being talked about today.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review That's, I think, the crux of it. You know, what's the balance between freedom and safety, et cetera. And what many people are concerned about is the fact that if big tech, your car company, the government can restrict if you drive, when you drive, where you drive, how much, we really limited freedom immensely.

So self-driving doesn't need to be connected with this sort of thing. Is it possible to have a self-driving vehicle that no one outside has control of and it's just safer? The problem is when you set up all this infrastructure, well, yeah, it's pretty easy to control.

Main Street

When something goes wrong… What's coming up for the Dakota Digital Review? How will it continue to evolve and its content? How will it focus on areas that are just very critical to our current times?

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review It's a challenge to keep up with everything and because everything is developing so quickly. So I'll try to continue to do that. We always try to look at energy and agriculture because they're extremely important in this arena and to the state.

Artificial intelligence is going to continue to be an issue. I'm trying to integrate more of the arts and humanities in because they're important, they're obviously affected by this, but also if you are an engineer and you think about how things work, that gives you a lot of knowledge and capacity, et cetera, but that doesn't answer any moral questions. It doesn't answer the social, economic questions, et cetera.

So we need to integrate kind of both sides of the equation.

Main Street 

If I'm an educator, how can I make sure that the Dakota Digital Review gets to my classroom?

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Well, you can go online and get access there. You can actually download the PDF and you can contact me and I'll send you a copy. Again, the website is?

Dakota Digital Review. So it's just the easiest thing to do is Google Dakota Digital Review NDUS.

Main Street 

Patrick McCloskey, thanks for joining us today.

Patrick J. McCloskey, editor-in-chief of Dakota Digital Review Well, thank you.

Main Street 

He's the editor of the Dakota Digital Review and director of social and ethical implications of cyber sciences for the North Dakota university system.

The transcript above was generated by AI. There may be errors. Check the audio of this  Main Street episode. The authoritative record of Main Street programming is the audio  record.