Artificial intelligence (AI) comes with a frenzy that is just impossible to miss or overlook. After all, we are very sure it is going to be part of our lives in the near future and we are going to have to know how to coexist.
Wait, coexist? Yes, coexist, because the idea behind it is to create tools and systems that won’t need human control to operate, just like human beings.
While this might be a step closer to better productivity and generally easier life for humans, AI poses an unimaginably huge threat to the utility and even the existence of the human race.
We are definitely not yet at a point where we should feel threatened by artificial intelligence but the future, to all appearances, is a cause for concern.
But Why Should We Be Worried About AI?
Because these are thinking machines we are talking about – machines that can be modified to supersede us and virtually make us useless in the labor market and even down at the social level.
Or maybe just because the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men dread it albeit it may never affect them and their riches.
In case you didn’t know, by the way, Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak have all warned against artificial intelligence claiming its zenith may prove more detrimental than helpful.
We can, of course, decide to pick sides – focus on the terrifying reality that the future has in store for us or the super-exciting credit side that we have already started enjoying.
But everybody is talking about the greatness already.
Let’s get a little bit back to reality, people.
While we are still in the happy stage, ten years to come may be the regret phase. Our jobs will be taken that’s for sure.
Mark you, even the ones you think you can resort to such as taking care of the old in care homes and kids in pre-primary level schools. Machines will more likely than not have been refined enough to be able to wash pensioners, dress them and keep them company after.
Cars will be driving themselves and robots will be giving live lectures in classrooms.
People will form romantic relationships with robots. Yes, attractive robots with emotions and most probably better manners than us.
Thank God there is a Solution. Or, is there?
What is even scarier is the fact that scientists can’t even figure a way out in case AI gets out of hand. We simply can’t be in a position to contain it, much like the nuclear programs’ situation in the world right now.
Nobody knows how they can curb an incoming nuke; it is guaranteed to hit its destination, destroy properties, kill scores and paralyze millions.
The only way a country can defend itself is by hitting back at the aggressor, destroying property, killing numerous people and injuring scores others.
Not quite a specific analogy right there but I’m sure you can get the picture: how complex it would be trying to regain control of our own creation because we were too excited about the short term benefits to even notice the long-term damages.
And trust you me, I have done more than enough research on the question, “How will humans ensure they remain in control of artificial intelligence once it reaches human level?” to conclude we are utterly clueless of what we are doing.
Of course, when AI was founded back in the 50s, nobody thought conscious machines would be a reality one day so it wasn’t by any chance an evil plot by the then scientists to overthrow future generations with thinking machines.
But come to think about it, did anyone think wireless communication would ever happen let alone take the 21st century by storm during the creation of landlines?
Probably not. When it looked like a reality, however, someone must have reckoned the downsides the internet and mobile phones would bring along: loss of jobs for deliverymen and Posta service providers and above all clampdown of social traditions. All of the above happened, and, contrary to expectations, everybody liked it.
Should that give us confidence as we review full-blown artificial intelligence, though?
Well, this right here could be a completely different situation which calls for a completely different angle of view.
Because artificial intelligence will not just take over a particular aspect of our life like the internet, computers and mobile phones did with communication.
It is meant to replace us – look like us, think like us, learn like us and work like us but programmed to resemble what is perceived to be perfection, something we are far from emblematizing.
Current Applications of AI
Top companies are slowly incorporating artificial intelligence into their products.
One of them is the Bay Area-based tech giant Google, who have already manufactured self-driving cars, smartphone assistants and many other machines which can learn from data and perform functions according to past encounters rather than instructions programmed into them.
The algorithms used in creating these computer systems are known as “deep learning” and they allow computers to study patterns and discern them from within huge amounts of data.
In 2012, if you can remember, the company created a network of 16,000 computers that were supposed to learn and recognize a cat by watching millions of cat videos on YouTube in a project labeled Google Brain.
Right now most of Google’s creations such as advertising, Web search, and speech recognition are all products of deep learning. Computers can now complete tasks that only humans could perform.
What is evident though is that they are far from matching human intelligence – a situation referred to as singularity.
What Will Full Blown AI Look Like?
We can’t tell the exact details for various reasons. For one, we have seen how our predictions over the years have been thwarted by better surprise inventions like in the wearable technology field, for instance. Heart rate monitoring, step counting, sleep tracking etc. all on an armband were plain unimaginable. Now they are a reality.
Maybe we can try to get a little insight from Hollywood movies like the legendary I Robot, Terminator, Her and Johnny Depp’s Transcendence.
No doubt, movie directors are not always accurate when it comes to making technological projections but we can get a thing or two from cases that exemplify a universal idea.
In the movie Transcendence, which came out in 2014, the star character Johnny Depp uploads his entire mind onto a computer but becomes power hungry to the extent of jeopardizing the independence of other humans.
What followed was a Hawking column in the Huffington Post warning of the dangers, as if this looked practical to him. This could be the worst mistake we ever made, wrote Hawking regarding the future of AI.
In the 2013 movie Her, the character of Joaquin Phoenix develops a relationship with “Samantha” his smartphone’s operating system.
Experts think that the scenario was a little too overstated but agreed on one thing – that computer systems will rapidly take on human attributes, study habits, be able to predict needs and, of course, try to satisfy them.
We already have such, and Apple’s Siri is a case in point. With the app, you can perform Web searches, answer simple questions and accomplish other basic but unnecessarily tedious tasks.
Microsoft and Google have their equivalents in Cortana and the Google app respectively. The latter describes itself as the tool that provides “the information you want when you want it”.
Sure work is needed to make it a complete product, but it does in its current state somewhat justify its slogan. For instance, you don’t have to check the weather forecast on your phone to determine what to wear. Instead, you can approach the app with the exact question “What should I wear in the afternoon?” and the weather forecast will just display.
Perhaps targeted advertising is Google’s biggest success apropos the application of AI thus far as it not only works almost perfectly but also solves a challenge that has troubled online marketers for years.
Its main problem is that it violates people’s privacies, which makes the process of trying to refine it further a little difficult.
Artificial intelligence undoubtedly has more benefits to the human race than you can count.
The future, if we had to ignore the drawbacks, is even more promising. Use of the internet will most probably become easier and some hard blue collar jobs will be taken off our shoulders and be assigned robots.
What we can’t ignore however is a number of disadvantages that comes with this technology and how they weigh against the benefits.
As we have seen, machines could come to surpass us on almost every level and that will add up to form singularity which should be any normal human being’s greatest fear.
This would be almost irreversible, and only targeted action now can ensure the perils of the technology are kept at bay and human superiority is sustained for at least another century.
So what could be done now?
Outlaw any further innovation on the field maybe or just put an international limit on how far we should go?
Let us know in the comment section below. Also, feel free to ask questions as regards the subject, and we will be glad to get back to you as soon as we can.