Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Beata Green – Director of London-based HeadChannel Ltd. Her opinions are her own.
It is almost impossible to think about something without picturing it. Can you tell what you see when you think about artificial intelligence? Do you picture Alicia Vikander playing Ava in Ex Machina or Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator in your mind?
Associating Artificial Intelligence with a human being is quite popular as that way it is easier to see artificial intelligence as… intelligent, but what if it is nowhere near that?
1. Is Artificial Intelligence a threat?
Back in 2015, over 1,000 Artificial Intelligence researchers and experts along with Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak signed an open letter warning of a “military artificial intelligence arms race” and claiming that autonomous weapons systems, that could choose and eliminate targets on their own, could actually lead to the end of humankind.
One year earlier, professor Stephen Hawking, when asked about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate (which is a basic form of AI), had said: “Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”
What is at stake?
2. Artificial intelligence taking over jobs
Humanity might very soon be approaching the time when robots do more and more jobs and some experts, like professor Moshe Vardi, even predict that the development of Artificial Intelligence may lead to an unemployment rate greater than 50 percent.
At the beginning of 2017, a Japanese insurance firm announced plans to replace roughly 30 percent of the employees with an Artificial Intelligence system powered by IBM Watson. Insurance, however, is not the only field where Artificial Intelligence’s expertise can be used. There are many more areas that can be mechanised or automated with recruitment on top of that list. A White House report published at the end of 2016 predicts that lower-skilled and lower-paid workers are those who will feel the biggest impact of automation.
3. Artificial Intelligence outsmarting humanity
Even though you think Artificial Intelligence is a new thing, it actually started in 1996 when the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue took down chess champion Garry Kasparov, just as Google’s AlphaGo beat one of the Japanese board game Go champions, Lee Sadol, at the beginning of 2016. The only difference is that back in 1996 Deep Blue was programmed to compute every possible move, which is not possible in the case of Go as the game is much more complicated. In 2016, AlphaGo was able to adapt to the situation in front of it. Playing against artificial intelligence is now becoming more and more popular with Google’s AI experiments released last year. One of them is Quick, Draw! which uses artificial intelligence to guess what you are drawing.
4. Humanity depending on Artificial Intelligence
In the middle of 2016, the IBM supercomputer Watson diagnosed a woman with a rare form of leukaemia that doctors had misinterpreted months earlier. Watson is now said to be the best doctor in the world that may soon be able to provide a shortcut to treating cancer. Supercomputers, however, are not the only ones humanity can rely on. The technology that is becoming more and more popular and might be able to revolutionise medical industry is wearables that monitor your health conditions and can detect a disease before the symptoms occur.
5. Artificial Intelligence more ‘artificial’ than ‘intelligent’
Ask AlphaGo to play Monopoly, ask Watson to diagnose patients with severe depression, ask robots to work in businesses other than recruiting and insurance and they will all fail. The reason we do not have to fear Artificial Intelligence is that it is programmed to do exactly what we want it to do. Watson, for example, was provided with a database of 20 million cancer research papers in order to identify leukaemia. Research that has been run by human doctors. Artificial Intelligence is here to help humanity, not ruin it.
6. Artificial Intelligence making humankind stupid
The only thing that I find truly frightening when it comes to artificial intelligence is that it can make humankind stupid. People already ask Siri to order their pizza and Alexa to google something for them because they are either too busy or too lazy. Some of us are not that curious or as creative as we used to be and the next step is probably being not that smart anymore. Therefore, the question is – will our brains become less productive with Artificial Intelligence doing the thinking? Or maybe it is Artificial Intelligence that will become stupid once humanity teaches it to think on its own?