AI (Artificial Intelligence) is the start of technology that will transform our very existence. Once a fantasy seen only in Sci-Fi films and dreamt about by scientists, AI is now in our world in more ways than we can imagine! While we may not have talking robots that serve us as digital butlers, machines and gadgets are already starting to learn to look after us and themselves. But first of all: what is Artificial Intelligence, and are we on our way to destroy our planet?
Let’s Define AI
Artificial Intelligence is a form of technology designed to operate a task to help make a human’s life easier. The chances are that you have already interacted with AI in your everyday life – from asking SIRI a question, getting tailored search results from Google, or even listening to music in the gym. All this software is using AI to help show you more of what you want, or achieve the tasks you ask from it! But is this ability new?
Artificial Intelligence has actually been around since the 1950s – with scientists first trying to understand how they could get a robot to think for itself. They wanted to ‘build a human brain’, based on the historical scientific paper by Alan Turing. He became such a famous figure that Benedict Cumberbatch played him in the Hollywood film, The Imitation Game.
People are scared of what AI can do because they’ve seen films where robots take over the world! Sure, the Terminator is the bad guy and up to some pretty bad things, but then again, C3PO is a fan favorite for friendly companions. And while some may like the idea of a robot friend, we still have a few years to go.
What Are The Risks?
Rumors about AI have been circling ever since it entered the mainstream. One myth is that its turn against humankind is inevitable, making for some Hal-9000 behavior. The rationale is that if robots learn how to think, they are going to yearn for things that humans want: independence, freedom, equal opportunity, and the right to live in peace. Humans have been known to fight for these rights through war, so who knows what robots could achieve?
Actually, the reality is far from this! Since AI is very narrow in its capabilities, scientists don’t worry about robots turning ‘evil’ per se, but they are concerned about machines adopting goals and rules that misalign with humans. This could be anything and is worth keeping an eye on as we continue to build future robots.
Rise of the Machines?
Another fear and rumor circulating online is that super-intelligence within machines is only a few years away. This would mean that humans would be at risk of becoming subordinate to technology a lot sooner than anyone could prepare for. The thoughts of this could lead to a catastrophic future where humans and machines battle for dominance.
This rumor is also incorrect and is irresponsible to spread such scary ideas! The fact is, we are still many decades away from even knowing what might happen. Many scientists and AI experts simply disagree on the timeline expected to see superintelligence among computers. Even if the idea of the unknown is scary, the fact it’s so far away means we have time to prepare for all possible outcomes.
“They Took Our Jobs!”
Many workers are scared that increased automation and AI will replace everyday workers. We can already see some fast food joints in the USA replacing servers with machines, and self-driving cars are feared by Uber drivers. One rumor around the industry is that machines will one day outperform humans in every possible task, making them the safer, more reliable, and cheaper options for companies.
Again, this fear is totally perpetuated by skeptics who wish to stop the progression of technology. Just like this ‘They Took Our Jobs!’ tactic has been used against immigration policies in history, this is another way to scare people away from embracing it. AI still requires human observation and guidance, since we are still seeing machines make mistakes that humans wouldn’t.
The State of AI Today
Today, AI is used to help assist humans in their day-to-day activities. This means it can help us with our increased workflows in the office, help us choose what TV show to watch at home, and has started operating inanimate objects through the ‘Internet of Things’. This concept is widely getting adopted in parts of the USA, as people are now starting to see their kitchens, living rooms, and even toilets hooked online.
With all these additional things online and collecting data, AI will become better at learning our patterns and improving its performance. Currently, that’s all AI can do. Since it is incapable of thinking for itself, it still relies on reading and responding to what humans tell it.
Better or Worse?
We’re actually better off with more artificial intelligence in our lives. One reason is that it gives us the opportunity to focus on more time-consuming and meaningful projects. The fear that we would be aimlessly wandering around with nothing to do after technology replaces us is unwarranted. Our improved lifestyles will actually allow us to chase more hobbies, spend time with families, and relax.
When putting ‘Will AI’ in a Google search brings up some scary auto-filled responses. Ironically, it tries to complete your query but suggesting very negative results. Will AI take over/destroy humanity/take jobs’ seems to be what people are asking since Google fills those gaps by giving users more of what they want?
This shows that AI clearly doesn’t have the brains to manipulate and outsmart humans. Why would the search engine deliberately show results that negatively describe its own service? Not very good thinking, if at all. Once again, the rumors of AI being too powerful seem to stumble at their own attempts.
This isn’t to say AI isn’t getting better each year. With new voice-controlled virtual assistants and automated chatbots helping us order pizza, buy clothes online, or communicate with others, AI has started its seamless entry into our lives. The next time you chat with a company online or ask SIRI to set a reminder, remember you might be talking to yourself!
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