Fears About Artificial Intelligence are Masking the Benefits

Jul 08, 2015 • Gadgets, Op-Ed
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Since the dawn of Sci-Fi, humanity has been concerned about AI and whether it will eventually lead to our demise. This a mindset held by great thinkers such as Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates. This fear has often overshadowed the many benefits AI offers and the advantages to our world they can provide. With only speculation to reinforce this worry about our future, we have held ourselves back from the wonders advanced AI can and is already giving us. Only by shaking off these fears can we reap the benefits.

Below are three main fears regarding artificial intelligences as well as four benefits AI offers that are ignored in the process.

Fears

1. It’ll lose control

Many fear that these brilliant machines will malfunction and wreak havoc. This includes self-driving cars misunderstanding obstacles and crashing, causing damage and taking lives. However, safeguards have been placed to ensure these malfunctions do not occur or can be prevented. Many solutions are well-known, such as a plane’s autopilot, providing the option for manual control so a person can take action and prevent calamity should a malfunction occur.

2. It’ll turn against us

A fear is that AI will one day gain the intelligence to rebel. However, science has placed safeguards to ensure this is impossible. Computers are designed to complete tasks, and even the most advanced AI is designed to learn only the information needed to better complete their task. For example, AI has been designed to play Atari games better than humans. The AI learns from previous levels and applies this knowledge to newer levels. However, the AI doesn’t learn how to create nuclear launch codes; it learns only what is needed for its set task.

3. We’ll become too dependent on AI

A growing concern is humanity will one day rely so heavily on AI that we’ll be incapable of functioning and thinking for ourselves. However, this is highly improbable, as ancient philosophers speculated that the creation of writing would ruin humanity’s memory. This was proven untrue and the same is likely for AI. The advancement of technology improves a person’s abilities rather than hindering it.

Benefits Being Ignored as a Result of Fear:

1. Production Efficiency

Machines are capable of building things faster and more efficiently. An AI focuses on its task and completes it no matter the situation. A person can be inhibited by sickness, trauma, or personal matters, while an AI always produces at the same level of efficiency. Additionally, AI is far more reliable. You needn’t worry about strikes or accidents, as an AI will provide the service it’s designed to at a level that can be tracked and gauged. With the advancement of AI, we can make every element of our world more efficient, leading to the end of world hunger, unequal wages, and many other issues.

2. Everyday Convenience

We’ve already seen examples of AI making everyday life more convenient and efficient, such as the iPhone’s Siri responding to questions, giving up-to-date driving directions, and even engaging in verbal banters with users. The advancement of AI could go far beyond Siri’s abilities to offer greater processing, better advice, and a multitude of other helpful assets in the palm of our hand.

3. Life-saving Response Time

AI is able to process information and provide a solution before the human mind can even register the situation. This quick reaction time can save human lives. On a small scale, cars designed to stop immediately if something moves behind you as you’re in reverse showcases this. This can prevent you from hitting and possibly killing a small child or other living things. It’s all from processing data through analytics and what is flash storage almost automatically. On a large scale, this reaction time could mean administering vital medical attention to patients before a doctor has time to think, saving a life that slow thought-processing would have lost.

4. Extra-human abilities

AI is simply capable of things humans are not. This allows us to send massive space probes to distant planets to investigate for life and other vital information. The AI is capable of staying in space forever, theoretically, gathering crucial data and transmitting it back to Earth. A human being could not live on another planet for very long, and our lifespan would not allow the same amount of uninterrupted research.

Fears blind us to advancement. Sci-Fi, speculation, and worry often overshadow the wonderful possibilities waiting to be uncovered. Only by putting aside fear and building safeguards can technology bring us into the greater future envisioned.

Alex Espenson

Alex Espenson is a technology writer with a passion for home automation, tech security, and wearable smart devices.

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