Artificial Intelligence: To be or not to be?
By Anand Jha

Imagine if a Medical Robot which is programmed to rid cancer, concludes that it must exterminate all the humans who are genetically prone to the disease. The technology which was invented to aid the humankind could turn out to be a curse.

“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window”.

Was Steve Wozniak right? Does Artificial Intelligence have the capacity to take over humans? Stephen Hawking had warned that artificial intelligent machines are so clever that they could kill us because they are too clever!

One may have read about the recent incident where Facebook introduced a chatbot that was given a brain of its own with a clear objective to perform specific tasks, instilled with a set of well-defined instructions. It all seemed to go pretty well until the said chatbot started to form a language of its own to converse with a similar chatbot and interestingly, this mode of communication became unintelligible to humans. Not only that, but the well-defined set of instructions were overridden. This led to a lot of paranoia and eventually, Facebook had to shut down the experiment.

While the chatbots managed to accomplish the tasks they were created for and went even a step further as they achieved better speed and even developed their own language for negotiations; these goals were achieved at a certain cost.

This brings us to another question, ‘How strong are today’s AI machines?’Incidentally, the AI that we see today is also called Weak AI, which is unidimensional and can only network with one or two other machines and perform limited duties. For example, the machines used for facial recognition or playing chess. The scope of today’s AI is constrained. However, the same can’t be said about what’s in store for future. The advanced AI machines might perform advanced tasks superseding humans in everything we do. Let’s raise a question which determines AI’s strength when developed to their peak potential. The AI will give you the best possible solution for problems ranging from economics to law. It can act as your lawyer and accountant at the same time. But an entity that becomes so self-sustained and omnipotent in its functionality can cause catastrophe too.

Also, between economics and law there lies defense, and weaponry is an integral component of defense. The traditional methods of warfare are still monitored by the world leaders, but let’s mull over something in defense that’s a little advanced.

Autonomous weaponry, a branch of defense that doesn’t require human involvement is one of the most advanced defense mechanism in our times. It can be used for assassination, destabilizing governments and can cause permanent damage to human lives and materials. It is scary to think of a situation where there is no involvement of human fighters, who are driven by human emotions, if not conscience. There will be no human casualties but if AI machines are given a free rein and a brain of their own, are we not giving doomsday a definite date in the calendar?

Similarly, self-driven cars can save many accidents from happening, for instance an AI powered car will know the patterns and working of other similar cars which makes the car ride safer, right from speed to anticipation of traffic and other automated safety protocols such as safe braking combined with traction control, robots in the medical field can be groundbreaking in the will boost medical treatment and increase diagnostic precision. AI will have extreme knowledge of the human body and can perform highly delicate operations without any emotional or physical influence. A medical revolution for the better of mankind that can aimed to bring a permanent cure to incurable diseases.

But the biggest fear is not the machines turning malevolent, they don’t have a moral compass to push them over to an anti-human side, it’s their objective that needs calibrated with utmost precision. AI turning evil, is fortunately not predicted in any prophecies. AI doesn’t have a moral code, it has defined objectives and the process to attain that objective can be detrimental, as the AI doesn’t understand the need to preserve the existing while building something new. The concept of sustainable development is lost, but development does happen and at a much greater pace. The quality of life will be better, a utopian world will take over the current one, but will we be masters in the new formed world or just be a secondary race, only time and technology will tell…

 

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