The Rise of Artificial Intelligence - A Revolutionary Invention or an Uncontrollable Tool?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer an alien or futuristic technology. Honestly, it’s omnipresent now with every tech company eyeing and creating a new AI software to reach a mark in the tech industry. 

But what makes AI so special and yet, vulnerable?

Before moving forward, let’s understand how AI works:

  • The process of AI development starts with programming and designing for the AI to meet a certain goal. The data available is fed into the AI software for training it to achieve the goal
  • When the AI reaches an ideal level of learning, it takes on the data independently; without human intervention
  • It is now expected from the AI that it will use the data to analyze and achieve the desired goal by itself
  • After the process of data analysis, predictions are made based on what the AI comes across as per its algorithm 
  • With every passing day, the AI trains itself to be smarter; learn and improvise 

Artificial intelligence can certainly be a big technological boon or might go terribly wrong if not checked. There are obviously gray areas of AI that organizations need to know now.

What makes artificial intelligence so special?

  • AI Decreases Human Error

Humans are obviously not perfect and make mistakes. But computers, if programmed with care and integrity, may not make the same mistakes

Since, designed algorithms aid the compilation of data that AI uses, the chances of errors are reduced along with increase in chances of accuracy and precision.

  • AI Facilitates Accelerated Decision-Making

AI aids several technologies and machines to make faster decisions that are beyond the human capacity of decision making. 

With every decision AI makes, the more it gears up for future decision making and improves the possibilities of the entire process.

  • AI Is Available 24*7

Unlike humans, AI never requires rest.

This continual availability of AI with no gap, can make a huge difference in increasing a company’s productivity and lessen the burden on employees.

For example, Educational Institutes, Hospitals, and Helpline centers among several others get several queries and issues which can be handled very well by AI.

  • AI Minimises Risks

Some tasks can be extremely hazardous for humans such as deep sea explorations, mining, volcanic exploration, and even bomb diffusion, can be efficiently done by AI integrated bots.

In a recent incident, an Apple smartwatch detected a man’s abnormal heartbeat and alerted the emergency services that he was about to have a heart attack. It ended up saving the man’s life.

  • AI Automates Repetition

Human potential is often not fully utilized because of mundane and repetitive tasks that can be easily delegated to AI.

AI can automate repetition in several ways such as responding to emails, bots for apps, smarthomes, and phone AI systems such as SIRI in Apple phones, among several others. 

  • AI Serves As a Digital Assistance

Today, many organizations use digital assistants for customer interactions. This one act alone can significantly reduce the need for excessive customer service staff.

For example, the rise in the use of chatbots already proves how useful they can be in directing customers to the information needed. 

AI technology has already reached a point where you may not even be able to determine if you are chatting with a chatbot in some circumstances.

  • AI Identifies Patterns

AI utilizes patterns in the data to make predictions and decision making a less intimidating task.

This helps companies see the bigger picture properly and make better organizational and marketing decisions, thus, helping in future planning.

  • AI Makes Tasks with Heavy Data Easier

AI takes much less time in analyzing huge amounts of data by acquiring and extracting large sets of data easily. 

From there onwards, it takes data with further interpretations and transformations. 

It can both acquire and extract data rapidly, but that’s not all. From there, AI takes the data further with interpretation and transformation.

  • AI Aids In Daily Activities 

Daily applications such as Google’s OK Google, Windows’ Cortana, and Apple’s Siri, are frequently used in daily tasks whether it is for searching a location, making a phone call, or replying to a mail among several others. 

For example, a few years ago, when we were planning to visit a place, we used to ask a person who already went there for directions or look up directories. However, now all we have to do is say “OK Google where is California.” It will show you California’s location on Google Map and the best ways to reach it along with information on hotels and destinations to visit.

But these things make Artificial Intelligence special. 

What makes it vulnerable and also dangerous at times?

In March 2018, at the South by Southwest tech conference in Austin, Texas; Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk issued a warning: “Mark my words,” he saidAI is far more dangerous than nukes”, as reported. 

A year before Musk’s comment on AI, the late physicist Stephen Hawking said something similar to his audience in Portugal that “AI’s impact could be cataclysmic unless its rapid development is strictly and ethically controlled.”

As AI grows more sophisticated and ubiquitous, the voices warning against it also grow louder.

Some examples include the increasing automation of jobs, racial, and gender bias issues arising from outdated information sources, or autonomous weapons that operate without human intervention, unease on a number of fronts. 

But we’re still in the very early stages of AI development!

  • Threats Relating to Privacy, Security, and the Dangerous Rise of ‘Deepfakes’

In a February 2018 paper titled “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation,” 26 researchers from 14 institutions (academic, civil, and industry) enumerated a plethora of dangers that could cause serious harm or create minor chaos at the least.

Malicious use of AI”, they wrote in their 100-page report, “could threaten digital security (e.g. through criminals training machines to hack or socially engineer victims at human or superhuman levels of performance), physical security (e.g. non-state actors weaponizing consumer drones), and political security (e.g. through privacy-eliminating surveillance, profiling, and repression, or through automated and targeted disinformation campaigns)”, as reported

In addition to the existential threats, the focus is on the way AI will negatively impact privacy and security.

A very good example is China’s “Orwellian” use of facial recognition technology in schools, offices, and other public places, that did go wrong eventually. But that’s just one country. “A whole ecosystem” of companies specialize in similar types of AI tech and it is available in the international market. 

The same goes for video and audio deepfakes which are created by manipulating voices and tone. Using machine learning, which is a subset of AI involved in natural language processing, an audio clip of any given famous personnel could be manipulated to make it seem as if that person spouted something against normal public views. 

  • AI is Creating a Biased Culture and Widening Socioeconomic Inequality 

AI is said to be causing a socioeconomic inequality and gap through factors such as job loss, educational gap, and several other factors.

Several other forms of AI bias have come forward, too. As per New York Times, Princeton computer science professor Olga Russakovsky said “It goes well beyond gender and race. In addition to data and algorithmic bias, AI is developed by humans and humans are inherently biased.”

  • Autonomous Weapons and a Potential Arms Race

However, not everyone agrees with Musk that AI is more dangerous than nukes. But what if AI decides to launch biological weapons, bombs, or nuke without human intervention due to hacking or algorithm issues?

Or, what if an enemy hacks and manipulates the algorithm to misguide AI operated missiles?

Both possibilities would be disastrous. More than 30,000 AI/robotics researchers and scientists who signed an open letter on the subject in 2015, certainly think so. 

The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting,” they wrote. 

If any major military power country goes ahead with AI weapon development, a global AI arms fight is virtually inevitable, and the dawn of this trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of the future.

Mitigating the Risks of AI

Several scientists and AI developers are on the same page that the only way to prevent or temper malicious AI from wreaking havoc is introducing stringent regulations. 

A safe AI environment begins and ends with human intervention. 

How will a machine exactly know what is valued if we don’t know it ourselves and program the AI like that?

While creating AI tools, it’s extremely important to “honor end-user values with a human-centric focus” rather than fixating the algorithm on short-term goals.

Technology has been capable of helping us with tasks ever since its invention. But as a race, we’ve never faced the possibility that AI centric machines may become smarter than we are or pervade our consciousness. 

This technological zenith is an important distinction to recognize to both elevate the human conscience and define how AI can evolve around it. 

That’s why we need to be aware of which tasks we want to train machines to do in an informed manner and which we do not in order to prevent an uncertain future threat.

Posted in Android, Articles, iOS, Mobile App Development, News, Programming, Updates, Web Development on Nov 05, 2022

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