2001: A Space Odyssey, Transcendence, The Terminator, The Matrix, and many other sci-fi movies are based on a hypothetical scenario where Artificial Intelligence (AI) evolve to a point where we’re no longer able to control them, and eventually leading to the end of human civilization. Big names such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have expressed concerns on this topic. Although Hawking agrees that the creation of AI would be the most significant event in human history. He said, “Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. In the near term, world militaries are considering autonomous-weapon systems that can choose and eliminate targets.” He added, in an interview with BBC, “humans, limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded by A.I.”
Here are some of the developments in Artificial Intelligence that have many leading scientists concerned:
AI Occupying Jobs
Machines are eliminating our jobs at a very fast pace. In the U.S alone, more than 250 000 people have lost their jobs to machines and what’s even scarier is the fact that this number keeps increasing by double digits, year-on-year. In a study conducted by Oxford University, it suggested that 35% of jobs in the UK will be substituted by some sort of AI in the next 20 years.
The Use of AI for Military Purposes
There is no doubt that making use of AI during military combat could save millions of lives. But weapons of destruction that can think for themselves, and operate on their own, can pose a great threat. More than 1000 high-profiled AI experts want to avoid this danger and tried to do so in 2015 at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Argentina, where they signed a petition which aimed to ban the development of AI for military purposes.
They Could Outsmart Human Hackers
Hacking in the wrong hands can be, and already is, very dangerous. The development of AI hacking systems to fight off other hackers could be seen as a potentially chaotic and uncontrollable problem. There have been the development of AI systems that are able to attack enemies, as well as find and fix their own glitches. Scientists are developing AI hackers with good intent but they do realize that in the wrong hands it could cause havoc and mayhem.
AI Understanding Human Behaviour
A prime example of this, is Facebook, one of the most powerful and influential social media platforms today. Whilst using Facebook, we unconsciously interact with an artificial intelligence. Facebook uses artificial intelligence to understand its users’ behaviour. Facebook’s AI is only capable of supervised machine learning, pattern recognition and algorithms for now, but it is foreseeable that scientists will eventually develop a super smart artificial intelligence that can both learn and improve itself. This breakthrough could either improve our lives or create endless problems.
Learning to Discern Right from Wrong
This is an attempt to make AI more human and empathetic. A professor of cognitive robotics, Murray Shanahan of Imperial College London, believes that this will ultimately stop machines from eliminating mankind. The same way in which we teach children human values. Through storytelling, the AI is being educated in a similar manner. However, even after being taught right from wrong, humans are still capable of unthinkable evil. Does the same apply for AI?
With AI continually developing and integrating human characteristics, it’s only natural for us to fear what kind of role AI will play in our future. Especially since they are – with no sign of stopping – replacing us in our jobs, replacing us in the military, as well as in many other areas within society.