It is said that we create our own demons. How much truth does this expression hold as far as Artificial Intelligence is concerned? Just like all of mankind’s inventions have a bad effect in the long run, like nuclear weapons, oil extraction technologies, natural gas, and other natural resources, Man’s greatest invention, Artificial Intelligence, stands as a miracle; a clever machine that outperforms humans at various activities. However, will they evolve into conscious robots that start destroying humans and eventually decide to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth?
The replication of human intelligence with machines, particularly computer systems, is known as Artificial Intelligence. The idea of AI has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that British mathematician Alan Turing developed the concept of machine learning.
Artificial intelligence is a technique used for teaching a computer, a robot driven by a computer, or software to think critically and creatively like the human mind. AI is achieved through examining the cognitive process and researching the patterns of the human brain. These research projects produce systems and software that are incredibly intelligent.
Just like every other thing, Artificial Intelligence has its advantages and disadvantages as well. Sure, there are some upsides to relying on AI for most of our activities like reduction in errors, 24/7 availability, faster decision-making, and better handling of information. However, the dark side of Artificial Intelligence may sometimes get a shade too dark.
Max Tegmark said, “Everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before – as long as we manage to keep the technology beneficial“. But is the amplification of Artificial Intelligence slipping through our fingers?
Let’s be true, mankind has always had the fear of super intelligent AI systems. In pop culture, films like Ra One, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Blade Runner, The Matrix, and The Terminator are all a reflection of the same. So before discussing the real problems that AI can cause us, let’s bust some myths established regarding them. One of the biggest myths is that AI will develop a conscience and turn evil, annihilating everyone in its path. While this is unsettling, the actual concern is that AI will have objectives that aren’t compatible with ours. There won’t be much we can do to stop them once that happens. While this is not bound to happen in this lifetime, given the speed at which technology is advancing and the safety precautions put in place, it is still highly improbable for an AI invasion to occur even in hundreds of years.
Al is consistently portrayed in the movies as a menacing robot with laser cannons and indestructibility. But an Al won’t need a body to act badly; all it needs is a place online, and then all hell can break out. Let’s take a look at the realistic threats AI possesses to humankind.
1. Data Privacy and Safety: The existence of a vast amount of valuable data is a crucial requirement for a successful AI model. However, sending all the information to the software raises another issue, namely, the security and protection of our data. Is it susceptible to hacker attacks or is it adequate to protect users’ sensitive information?
2. Wars and Destructions: AI-based systems may provide the most cutting-edge, self-destructive weapons. But because we are separated by national borders, a select few developed nations who have access to more advanced weaponry have an advantage over others. This not only benefits a small group of privileged individuals but also increases the risk of world war and other dangers to the destruction of humanity. Another very crucial concern is raised by the massive growth of nuclear power – can we trust a computer to handle such massive and critical information?
3. Job Automation: Another concern raised with the introduction of AI-based bots was the gaping hole it will leave in the employment sector. We are replacing the individuals who do certain jobs with AI bots due to improvements in the monitoring systems in the industries. This is leaving a significant void in the employment market. Is AI sufficient to offer enough possibilities to accommodate everyone?
Adopting AI, according to Elon Musk, is like “Summoning the Demon“. He thinks that robot leadership poses a threat to the planet and that artificial intelligence has the potential to start the next world war, and ultimately dominate it. He also cautions that when those competent AIs evolve into merciless autocrats, there will be no way for the planet to survive. He said, “We need to be extremely careful with AI since they are potentially more destructive than nukes”. Additionally, he recommends being proactive rather than reactive when everything fails. He thinks that better controls and laws should be in place as AI is developed. The irony here is that Elon Musk, despite believing in the existential risk AI possesses, has spent enormous resources on tech industries that are responsible for the development of intelligent machinery; for example, his brand of self-driving cars – Tesla.
Whether or not the evolution of Artificial Intelligence poses an apocalyptical threat to mankind is a matter of speculation, but only at the moment. In the years to come, with the rapid digitalization of information, anything is possible. After all, it took us thousands of years to touch the skies, and only a few more to reach the moon. The pace at which the planet moves is scary. And we just might see a different dominant species take over if we deal the wrong cards.
Mariam Tuba is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Anzal Khan