It has been a dream for a long time for humans to create machines that have the ability to take decisions on their own. While these thinking machines are a staple for a lot of science fiction movies, fully sentient machines are still a far-fetched dream.
But we have progressed a lot in this field and right now we are in a situation where we are constantly surrounded by examples of "narrow AI" or "weak AI". These are machines or programs that can carry out a simple or complex specific task by itself, and that too very efficiently.
For example, a self-driven car can drive you from home to work, taking in account the traffic conditions, environmental factors etc. There are a lot of digital assistants in the market like Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri that make our lives easier.
But there is always a constant debate going on since the inception of the idea of artificial intelligence. There are divided opinions on whether humans are digging their own graves by creating intelligent machines or they are contributing in catapulting human civilization to greater heights with it.
Let’s have a look at the major benefits and risks of artificial intelligence and decide for ourselves.
AI machines use machine learning algorithms to mimic the cognitive abilities of human beings and solve a simple or complex problem.
AI-powered machines are great at doing a particular repetitive task with amazing efficiency. The simple reason is that they remove human errors from their tasks to achieve accurate results every time they do that specific task.
Moreover, such machines can work 24X7, unlike humans. Thus, they eliminate the need to deploy two sets of employees working in day and night shifts to work on important tasks. For example, AI-powered chat assistants can answer customer queries and provide support to visitors every minute of the day and boost the sales of a company.
Scientists are working to teach artificial intelligence powered machines to solve complex equations and perform critical tasks on their own so that the results obtained have higher accuracy as compared to their human counterparts.
Their high accuracy has made these machines indispensable to work in the medical field particularly, owing to the criticality of the tasks. Robots are getting better at diagnosing serious conditions in the human body and performing delicate surgeries to minimize the risk of human lives.
AI uses machine learning algorithms like Deep Learning and neural networks to learn new things like humans do. This way they eliminate the need to write new code every time we need them to learn new things.
There is significant Research and Development going on in the world to develop AI machines that optimize their machine learning abilities so that they learn much faster about new processes. This way the cost of training robots would become much lesser than that of humans. Moreover, machines already reduce the cost of operations with their high efficiency and accuracy of doing work. For example, machines don’t take breaks and can perform the same mundane task again and again without any downtime or change in results.
The best part about AI-powered machines being deployed for work is that they let us gather humongous amounts of data related to their work. Such data can be processed to gather deep insights into the processes with quantitative analysis so that we can optimize them even further.
Machine learning abilities of AI machines are increasing further and further to do even the analysis by themselves.
Although hailed as a boon for humanity by tech pundits, artificial intelligence is feared by a lot of scientists and regular citizens alike. This fear has made it to the silver screen several times in the form of movies depicting dystopian futures created by AI machines that took over the planet. The most notable of these is the Matrix and the Terminator.
Intelligent machines have characteristically high computing powers contributed by an array of several processers. These computer chips have rare earth materials like Selenium as a major constituent. Besides, the batteries of such machines run on Lithium, again a rare element in earth’s crust. The increased mining of these materials is irreversibly damaging our environment at a rapid pace. Moreover, they consume huge amounts of power to function, that is putting severe pressure on our power plants and again harming the environment.
There is no doubt that machines do routine and repeatable tasks much better than humans. Many businesses would prefer machines instead of humans to increase their profitability, thus reducing the jobs that are available for the human workforce.
Elon Musk is considered to be one of the smartest person working on AI in present times. He has also stated publicly that AI is the biggest threat to human civilization in the future. This means that the dystopian future that sci-fi movies show is not impossible. Also, Stephen Hawking has always shown his disagreement with the advancement in the field of AI.
The biggest risk associated with AI is that machines would gain sentience and turn against humans in case they go rogue.
Every coin has two sides and Artificial Intelligence is no different. The rise of AI-powered machines has undoubtedly eased our lives in many applications even today. But there is a need to strongly emphasize on creating ethical codes and policies to ensure that the risks associated with AI are mitigated to the minimum.
What is your opinion on this debate? Leave your comments below.