A Discussion about Artificial Intelligence
Since antiquity, mankind has played around with the concept of creating fully autonomous machines capable of performing various cognitive and physical tasks that require human intelligence. This once-seemingly improbable idea has become a reality.
Artificial Intelligence, colloquially known as AI, is rapidly developing and changing our world in unprecedented ways. In fact, the advancement of AI may very well shape the future of humanity as we know it. As such, it is imperative that we consider the positive and negative implications of this new, disruptive technology and take the necessary steps to limit the potentially detrimental effects it may have on society.
The term Artificial Intelligence was first coined by Computer Scientist, John McCarthy, during the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence - held in New Hampshire in 1956. This conference introduced the idea of teaching machines to use language, form ideas, and solve various problems reserved for human intuition.
Almost six decades later, machines have fulfilled these proposals and are progressing even further than what John McCarthy and his colleagues may have imagined. Artificial Intelligence has infiltrated many spheres of study including medicine, politics, and finance among many others.
Such changes are widely regarded as being positive as it provides humans with an opportunity to extend the reach of their abilities while largely reducing human-induced errors. Take, for instance, the machine learning system known as the deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) which accurately identified 95 percent of melanomas based on 100 images of skin lesions. Contrarily, dermatologists were only able to identify 87 percent of melanomas and 73 percent of benign skin lesions. With the aid of CNN, dermatologists will be able to identify skin cancer more accurately and treat the disease in its early stages, thereby reducing its mortality rate of 12 percent.
The practical uses of Artificial Intelligence extend far beyond medicine - in fact, engineers are developing new and advanced ways of utilizing Artificial Intelligence every day. As such, highlighting all of its benefits in a concise essay is virtually impossible.
I would argue, however, that the notion of Artificial Intelligence being overtly useful leads to a false premonition that there are no harmful or destructive effects of it. Refer to Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
While a Terminator-esque doomsday scenario is highly unlikely, Artificial Intelligence in the form of lethal autonomous weapons will likely be humanity’s greatest threat.
In fact, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and 116 other Artificial Intelligence experts penned an open letter to the United Nations in favor of banning the development of such weapons - citing that a third revolution in warfare is on the horizon. Furthermore, Elon Musk suggests that Artificial Intelligence will likely be the cause of World War 𐤛.
In fact, the video game franchise, Call of Duty, explores such scenarios where highly advanced military technologies are used to topple nations and slaughter scores of people. As a matter of fact, much of the futuristic technologies introduced in that game are being researched and developed in reality.
While much of these claims may seem far-fetched and conspiracy in nature, it is important to remember that technology is growing exponentially and thus putting off such claims as preposterous would be futile.
Ray Kurzweil, a Computer Scientist and futurist, predicts that by 2029 Artificial Intelligence would have passed the Turing Test, which would suggest that machines exhibit intelligence equivalent to human beings. By 2045, technological singularity would have been achieved - Artificial Intelligence would go through self-improvement cycles, rapidly improving upon itself causing an intelligence explosion. At this point, technology would be far more intelligent than any creature on Earth. While it is impossible to say whether or not this would cause human extinction, it is still important to consider.
Artificial Intelligence is here to stay - unless a cataclysmic world-ending event were to occur. While much of its future is left to speculation and theories, it would be irresponsible to brush aside any speculation against its progress - being proactive rather than reactive before it is too late. While no major policies have been enacted in terms of slowing the development of Artificial Intelligence, I believe that this will change with more influencers in the technology industry pushing for what they believe is right.