The world as we know it has been in a constant state of flux since its beginning. Throughout the ages, mankind has survived several extinction level events such the outbreak of the Spanish Flu and Smallpox. Today with the advancement of technology and huge strides in science and medicine, man seems to have all under control.
In this technological era we find ourselves in, we have made our lives much easier by relegating difficult and manual stuff that would take enormous effort and time to machines and robots. This is pretty awesome, isn’t it? But to take it a step further, we have even been able to develop complex Artificial Intelligence that can help these machines and robots to perform better.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
What is Artificial Intelligence? Yeah, I heard you alright. Artificial Intelligence or AI as it is more commonly known as, is the imitation of human intelligence procedures by machines, particularly by computer systems. Some of these processes include learning, reasoning, and self-correction.
In computer science, AI research can be defined as the study of “intelligent agents”. Any device or object other than human or organic that can recognize its environment and takes actions that increase its chance of success at a goal can be considered an Artificial Intelligence.
AI was considered and founded as an academic discipline in the mid-1950’s, and in the years since it has experienced several ups and downs.The discipline was founded on the assertion that human intelligence could be so accuratelydescribed that a machine could simulate it.This raised philosophical opinions about the nature of the mind and the ethics of making artificial beings endowed with human-like intelligence.
The Revival of AI
In the twenty-first century, AI technology has experienced a stark revival due to simultaneous leaps in computing power, huge amounts of data, and a better theoretical comprehension of the subject area. AI technology has become an integral component of the technology industry and is helping to solve many challenging problems in computer science and other areas such as production and manufacturing.
With AI taking over so many industries and replacing humans, there has been a quantum leap in the number of workers laid off by huge firms who adopt AI technology or robots. These huge losses in the workforce have a direct ripple effect on the economy. Jobs are lost and the purchasing power of people is greatly reduced leading to a less generally vibrant economy. However, best job search websites help people find great jobs that suit their skills.
Concerns Raised by people About AI
Some prominent people also consider AI as a hazard to humanity if it develops without some substantial checks. Some of these individuals are Professor Stephen Hawking, a multiple award-winning British Physicist, and Elon Musk, CEO of Space X and Tesla.
Professor Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking has for the better part of this decade been gravely concerned about AI and the rate at which it is being incorporated into everything. In response to a question in 2014 about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI, speaking to the BBC he warned that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
He continued to say that, the basic forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very valuable, but he fears the import of creating something that can match or surpass humans.He said, “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate, humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”
In 2016, at the unveiling and grand opening of Cambridge University’s artificial intelligence center, Professor Hawking said that AI could either be the best or worst invention humanity has ever made.
In a more recent interview in November 2017 at the Web Summit technology conference in Portugal, Stephen Hawking predicted that AI would soon replace humans as the most dominant species on the planet. He said that progress in AI has been so great that the machines will one day be more dominant than human beings.
He told Wired Magazine: “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”
He goes on to say that, “This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans. The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve when our own minds are amplified by AI.”
In his closing remarks, he said, “In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization, but it could also be the last unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.”
AS for the case of Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk, he views AI as an existential threat to humanity. He has been on a campaign to reduce the level of AI integration into new technologies and expose the possible dangers they may pose.On 4th September 2017, he tweeted that; “China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at a national level most likely will be the cause of WW3 imo.” where IMO means In My Opinion.
His tweet was triggered by a statement from Vladimir Putin that “artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind … It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”
Elon Musk’s dread of AI conflict has been a powerful force in his public statements for a long time. In September, he was one of more than 100 signatories calling for a UN-led ban of lethal autonomous weapons.
On the other hand, Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook have differing opinions on the subject of AI. Bill Gates, speaking with the WSJ Magazine says, “This is a case where Elon and I disagree. The so-called control problem that Elon is worried about isn’t something that people should feel is imminent, we shouldn’t panic about it.”
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is rather enthusiastic about a future where AI makes human life better. Musk’s most recent comments on AI will definitely rankle Mark Zuckerberg, who in August called out Musk for his frequent A.I. fear mongering. “I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios, I don’t understand it,” he said during a Facebook Live chat with fans. “It’s really negative, and in some ways, I think it’s pretty irresponsible.”
Likewise, John Giannandrea, the senior vice president of engineering at Google who heads the tech giant’s AI exigencies has also criticized the kind fear mongering Musk has been doing recently. “I just object to the hype and the sort of sound bites that some people have been making,” said Giannandrea, at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September 2017. “I am definitely not worried about the AI apocalypse.”
Time to Make a Personal Decision
With the pros and cons of the AI debate by these prominent people, what do we as ordinary people think? Is AI the Future or the End? This is not a subject where you can sit on the fence because the reality stares us in the face and no matter how AI technology turns out, it will have a massive impact on our lives.
I think we should all join the debate make our thoughts on the subject known so that we can make our voices an input to help with the decision on AI technology.