The Danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI): Its Impact on the Future

In our last blog, we delved deep into the history of Artificial Intelligence, from the Hellenistic period all the way up to the modern industry. Now, AI has advanced into almost every industry with massive benefits. However, the question of “can we?” has gradually morphed into “should we?” Should we endorse and progress a technology that has the possible capability of turning on us? What is the danger of AI? This is a popular, controversial, and tricky question to tackle. Yet, in today’s article that’s just what we plan to do. Let’s discuss the uses of AI and the concerns that arise around them.

Applications of AI

Absolutely every industry can benefit from AI applications. Healthcare, business, education, finance, law, manufacturing, education, the list goes on. Weak AI can provide chatbots that help with research, it can sort through hundreds of documents quickly for data collection, and it can even target weak areas in a student’s writing to improve learning efficiency. These are only some apparent examples of AI capabilities. This all sounds fine and dandy but what is the downside?

Applications of AI
Applications of AI

Pros and Cons of AI

The Pros:

AI can make decisions faster and more effectively than humans. It is unbiased and free from human emotions. AI can also predict outcomes with data that an individual may not have access to. Additionally, AI can improve human progression creating new, less repetitive, or difficult, jobs for employees.

The Cons:

There are many deep ethical questions raised about using AI even when used for good purposes. There is a feeling of powerlessness in not being able to control the actions of a machine. The potential for hacking and privacy invasions are real risks. The fear of a robot-ruled dystopian future is prevalent. Last, is how AI will impact humans in their professions. A major concern about AI is the vast number of jobs it could perform, subsequently putting employees out of work.

The Danger of AI

Is AI dangerous? Artificial Intelligence is continuing to develop. It has the potential to solve many current issues, from being able to diagnose cancer to predicting floods to solving poverty and hunger. But are AI advances unethical or a risk to the future of humanity? In short, no. One major concern is that AI could lead to a future where humans are nothing more than the pets of cyborgs. Simply mentioning AI can project dystopian images of The Terminator and iRobot into the receiver’s imagination. In this future, humans will be enslaved by their own creations and treated as inferior beings with limited rights and freedom.

AI Robot from the film iRobot
AI Robot from the film iRobot

However, the possibility of strong AI existing is currently a distant sci-fi theory. Let alone strong AI becoming intelligent enough to be independent and surpass humans. Additionally, to turn on humanity, AI would need to deem us as its enemy for some reason. This could be easily avoided through tweaks in the AI’s machine learning code, and much peer review. Basically, if a company or group of individuals went down a route that could lead to a strong AI revolution, this would be recognized early, and course corrections would be made. As it stands, AI needs much maintenance and trials to perform tasks effectively. No matter how much information is fed to current AI, its intelligence level will not be anywhere close to that of a human.

What Bred the Fear of AI?

That said, most fears are at least somewhat justified. So, where does the fear of AI originate? First, it can be agreed that humans have always had a fear of the unknown, named “xenophobia”. This fear branches out into all other fears including racism, bigotry, and homophobia. The most common and apparent example of the fear of the unknown is nyctophobia, the fear of the dark. Simply not knowing what is in front of your face can send shivers down your spine.

Depiction of the fear of the dark (Nyctophobia). The danger of AI.
Depiction of the fear of the dark (Nyctophobia).

Since AI is a complex subject to wrap one’s head around and fully comprehend, many fear it. Pop culture has ingrained this fear with depictions of mad scientists creating metal Frankenstein monsters that inevitably turn on humans. This then worsens the perception of the danger of artificial intelligence.

In addition to the fear of the unknown is a fear of replacement. Not only are some worried about a strong AI overtaking, but also the simple fact of the manmade recreation of human intelligence is worrisome. Especially to those with religious beliefs. If human intelligence was fully replicated, this would demean what is to be human. The human soul could then be argued to have no inherent value. Ethical debates of cloning/replication and the treatment of clones/replicants versus humans would ensue.

The Concerns of AI

AI is a new and disruptive technology that has led to the emergence of ethical concerns. Ethical decisions are in the hands of developers and companies, so it is up to them to ensure that AI is safe for society.

The issue is that the decision-making process for AI does not include input from people outside of the industry who have knowledge of how AI could impact society. This may lead to an escalation of ethical concerns or an impasse in the process of making the right decisions. These concerns highlight the need for universal industry rules and regulations to avoid an overbearing strong AI, and, more realistically, negative human intervention like hacking and illegal data collection.

Thanks for training with us. In our next posts on AI, we will explain how certain industries can benefit from AI applications.

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