“Artificial Intelligence will reach human levels by 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, and we will have multiplied the intelligence – the human biological machine intelligence of our civilisation – a billion-fold” – Artificial Intelligence (AI) today has an influence on our daily lives. It is evolving rapidly, and entering our homes, lives, conversations, etc. Artificial intelligence today is designed to perform a narrow task like, facial recognition or only internet searches. However, the long-term goal of many researchers is to create general AI like playing chess or solving equations, which would outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task. The essay evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of AI.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term may also be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving. The ideal characteristic of AI is its ability to rationalise and take actions that have the best chance of achieving a specific goal.
When most people hear the term artificial intelligence, the first thing they usually think of is robots. But nothing could be further from the truth:
·Artificial intelligence is based on the principle that human intelligence can be defined in a way that a machine can easily mimic it and execute tasks, from the most simple to those that are even more complex. The goals of artificial intelligence include learning, reasoning, and perception.
·As technology advances, previous benchmarks that defined artificial intelligence become outdated. For example, machines that calculate basic functions are no longer considered to embody AI, since this function is now taken for granted as an inherent computer function.
·AI is continuously evolving to benefit many different industries. Machines are wired using a cross-disciplinary approach based in mathematics, computer science, linguistics, psychology, and more.
Where and how is AI used?
The applications for artificial intelligence are endless. From SIRI to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly. While science fiction often portrays AI as robots with human-like characteristics, AI can encompass anything from Google’s search algorithms to IBM’s Watson to autonomous weapons.
·The technology can be applied to many different sectors and industries. AI is being tested and used in the healthcare industry for dosing drugs and different treatment in patients, and for surgical procedures in the operating room.
·AI includes computers that play chess and self-driving cars. For self-driving cars, the computer system must account for all external data and compute it to act in a way that prevents a collision.
·Artificial intelligence also has applications in the financial industry, where it is used to detect and flag activity in banking and finance such as unusual debit card usage and large account deposits - all of which help a bank's fraud department.
·Applications for AI are also being used to help streamline and make trading easier. This is done by making supply, demand, and pricing of securities easier to estimate.
When considering how AI might become a risk, experts think two scenarios most likely:
·The AI is programmed to do something devastating: Autonomous weapons are artificial intelligence systems that are programmed to kill. In the hands of the wrong person, these weapons could easily cause mass casualties. Moreover, an AI arms race could inadvertently lead to an AI war that also results in mass casualties. This risk is one that’s present even with narrow AI, but grows as levels of AI intelligence and autonomy increase.
·The AI develops a destructive method for achieving its goal: This can happen whenever we fail to fully align the AI’s goals with ours, which is strikingly difficult. If a super-intelligent system is tasked with an ambitious geoengineering project, it might wreak havoc with our ecosystem as a side effect, and view human attempts to stop it as a threat to be met.
The danger of having artificially intelligent machines do our bidding is that we might not be careful enough about what we wish for. The lines of code that animate these machines will inevitably lack nuance, forget to spell out caveats, and end up giving AI systems goals and incentives that don’t align with our true preferences.
To avoid these pitfalls and potentially solve the AI alignment problem, researchers have begun to develop an entirely new method of programming beneficial machines. The approach is most closely associated with the ideas and research of Stuart Russell, a decorated computer scientist at Berkeley. Russell, did pioneering work on rationality, decision-making and machine learning in the 1980s and 1990s and is the lead author of the widely used textbook Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. In the past five years, he has become an influential voice on the alignment problem at international meetings and panels on the risks and long-term governance of AI.
Russell’s version states:
·The machine’s only objective is to maximise the realisation of human preferences.
·The machine is initially uncertain about what those preferences are.
·The ultimate source of information about human preferences is human behaviour.
·Health - There have been several attempts at using AI within this field and together with established researchers or through large training data it can ease the way that we detect one of the most common diseases today which many people fear.
·Construction - Enabling these technologies and building better buildings may both increase the way it is used and optimisation for light, wind and adaptation in terms of climate.
·Travelling - This can be done more efficiently with AI and seeing simulations of autonomous driving which integrates solutions within the field of AI shows some promise in reducing queues, saving time and being more fuel efficient than we could be when driving previously. AI is already being used to optimise the way public transportation works in countries like Germany. When transport arrives on time and more people can use public transportation it enables a more climate friendly solution to work better.
·Environment – AI can help understand how we can address forest fires or the long term plans for forest management. If we are to rebuild our forests and make the planet lusher it will not be possible without a great investment of time and resources. AI when used with climate data, which often is the case, build models already that helps us predict the weather.
“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”.
It is undeniable that technological advance, of which AI is a supreme manifestation, has gifted humankind too many possibilities. AI’s presence in the health and environment sectors is especially important. It could save millions of lives, save our degrading planet and increase efficiency. However, as AI grows more sophisticated and ubiquitous, the voices warning against its current and future pitfalls grow louder. Whether it's the increasing automation of certain jobs
, gender and racial bias issues
stemming from outdated information sources or autonomous weapons
that operate without human oversight (to name just a few), unease abounds on a number of fronts. Destructive super-intelligence or artificial general
intelligence that’s created by humans and escapes our control to wreak havoc, is in a category of its own.