What is Artifical Intelligence (AI)? Why is it one of the most talked-about subjects? What makes it one of the most fascinating, thought-provoking topics that programmers, developers, or scientists are willing to lose sleep at night on it? What do people think of AI nowadays?
Scary? I will tell you why AI is scary. Google had to shut down its AI as the “Intelligent Machine” created its own language and started communicating. An AI was created to play Tetris, but Tetris game is known for its tricky future repercussions and arrangements of blocks, and how certain ways of stacking will affect the outcome.
The AI was beaten several times and decided to just “stop” playing the game.
GO chess is a game known for endless variations and possible moves, and the game involves more human institution than calculation. Yet, an AI named AlphaGo beat the strongest GO master 4 to 1 (AlphaGo, 2017). AlphaZero, a chess AI, learned chess by playing with itself in 4 hours and beat the strongest chess database engine Stockfish, the engine that most chess grandmasters depend on to prepare for their games (chess.
com). Elon Musk, in July 2017, at a meeting of the National Governors Association, said that: ‘I have exposure to the very cutting-edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it.’
‘I keep sounding the alarm bell,’ he added. ‘But until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.’
The leading developer in Intelligent Machinery had also labeled AI ‘our biggest existential threat,’ and in August 2017, he “declared that humanity faced a greater risk from AI than from North Korea.
”. Or simple enough, have you seen the Gladiators movies? Or Age of Ultron? Yes, you get the idea.
Let’s look at a real-life example: a plane. Most modern planes are flown with the autopilot system, and the human pilot often watches over the automatic controls. The autopilot has been widely used in passenger air travel for the last 30 years and everyone seemingly went along with the idea without any strong objection. The difference between the intelligence of an autopilot and artificial intelligence is that the autopilot can follow only a limited set of preprogrammed instructions.
The human operator knows all the commands and prompts the plane’s systems can understand and execute beforehand. But what if the programmer made a mistake at the design or programming stage, or during implementation? Well, in most cases, the problem will not be discovered until errors or accidents occurred. For Artificial Intelligence, it is equipped with complex artificial neural networks composed of simple, individual, interconnected elements — neurons. Depending on the input signal value, they send output signals of different values to all the neighboring neurons, creating tons and tons of variations of outputs, branching, and possibilities, and this makes it nearly impossible to even predict the system’s behavior.
The bottom line is: we do not fully understand the network of AI and its functions. Yet it is becoming “smarter” and way more efficient in human tasks. That is a scary thought
Yet, do we really need to worry about the Terminator knocking on your door telling who your future wife would be or when you would get killed? Or maybe one night Alexa will be mad at you and burn down your house?
Andrew Ng, former director of Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and founder of Google Brain Deep-learning Project, said: “Talking about an evil AI enslaving the human race is an unnecessary distraction… If we colonize Mars, there could be too many people there, which would be a serious pressing issue. But there’s no point working on it right now, and that’s why I can’t productively work on not turning AI evil.”.
I am saying that AI turns out to be beneficial for mankind. First, it helps with fundamental services such as finance, education, healthcare and security, and thanks to AI, services can be provided to a wider range of customers. Second, AI programs can improve student outcomes dramatically. Noting that every student is unique, an AI can be used in student homework programs to respond and adjust to their learning needs. While some might say that a human teacher can do this, it will be way more efficient and faster for machines to handle it. Facial recognition technology and lie detectors are also finding their significance in the application with security services. AI programs allow for real-time face matching with a database comprising thousands of cataloged photographs.
At some airports, AI models increase public safety by cross-reference millions of faces with the authority’s database. EU also starts to implement AI lie detectors when asking travelers questions (although it is still experimental). Third, AI relieves the human burden of repetitive tasks. There is such a word as human physical labor. Then, machines began to automate physical labor. Machine learning automates mental labor, letting people use their time and talent in other areas.
Last but not least, AI boosts efficiency. Meaning doing the same tasks, just getting more done. It might be inaccurate to say that AI is replacing jobs with new jobs, to some extent, as it adds values and efficiency to our current jobs. If you are still not convinced why AI is good, here are some statistical numbers being thrown at you. According to research from Stanford University’s inaugural AI index (Toby Sakata, 2018):
“84% of enterprises believe that investing in AI will lead to greater competitive advantages
75% believe that AI will open the new business, while also providing competitors with new ways to gain access to their markets
63% believe the pressure to reduce costs will require the use of AI.
The big question now is: should we be afraid of AI? People are afraid that their jobs are taken away. There might be no more librarians, no more drivers, no more accountants… What if they become smarter than us? What if the machines malfunction and everything becomes chaos? With AI advancement, it is true that we should deal with a lot of people losing jobs. However, with or without AI, people lose jobs. Addressing the concerns over job displacement due to intelligent automation, Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil argued that while jobs will be lost, newer ones will be created, though they are not even invented. “My view is not that AI is going to displace us. It’s going to enhance us. It does already.”
In conclusion, AI has been benefiting us, and let people know the risk and the danger as AI technology is a double-edged sword, much like fire. It helps us keep warm, enhance our lives, but at the same time can burn down our house. It is good for us to learn how to benefit from it and avoid the bad things that AI might create, rather than just run away from it, because you simply cannot. Also, the future of AI going rogue is too far to even think about. For now, just embrace AI, while it lasts…
So, instead of being obsolete, as machines become more intelligent, humanity will also grow to become smarter. Machines and more specifically, AI, give us a different perspective about things, change our well-known knowledge and give us an insight on how a more complicated “neural network”-human brain-might work? Afraid or not, AI is growing and becoming more and more important…