Artificial Intelligence and its dangers

Hollywood has done its fair share of spreading awareness, awe and terror by means of the Terminator series and the like. All of us are too familiar with the apocalyptic scenario of robots becoming intelligent and deciding to eradicate us from the face of this earth due to the fact that we are simply pestilential as a species.

But no matter, let’s just look at this phenomenon called A.I on a day-to-day basis instead of getting too embroiled in future doomsday scenarios. From high-tech security cameras to Siri to even self-driven cars for that matter, A.I does seem to be advancing slowly, yet steadily. This turns out to be a challenge for computer repairs specialists, as now they have to upgrade their knowledge in order to keep up with the trend. But when technology advances on an unprecedented level, it would be a very different story.

This itself proves that technology is quite the double-edged sword. Take it too far and sometimes the potential implications are staggering. The Future Of Life Institute has a tagline that sums it up quite well “Technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before …or to self-destruct”. Even Stephen Hawking has stated that A.I. “could spell the end of the human race”.

BW laputa robot

Having said that, let us look at some of the reasons why A.I could pose a grave threat to humanity as a whole.

  • Superintelligence: If A.I becomes truly autonomous, then it could improve upon everything including its stealth weapons, defense systems and overall design to the extent to which we would have nothing or no way to stop it whatsoever. Today it is still known as “narrow A.I” in the sense that it is still designed to perform small tasks, but it could very well become “strong A.I” in the future due to technological advances which would end up outsmarting human beings at nearly every task.

    Once this happens, the power we humans have had as the only species on the planet to be able to control the fate of all other species would vanish in an instant, leaving us in quite a fix as to what exactly to do next.

  • A.I will ultimately learn from us: The more worrying fact of the matter is that A.I. will get the idea of extermination from us itself. Since we ourselves came up with it, it is ultimately a mirror. It will behave in accordance with the amount of data that it is given which can mean the uglier side of humanity. For instance, if it is programmed to believe that deforestation is beneficial and that certain species need to be wiped out, A.I might end up going the whole nine yards and applying that for the whole planet.
  • It will be unstoppable after a certain point: From self autonomy and decision making, A.I can very rapidly move on to making high quality decisions only for itself and its safety that may or may not align with our own interests (which are in any case, rather jumbled up and confused at best), which in turn could very well produce a runaway effect.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of myths surrounding the topic of A.I. leading to a lot of people worrying about the eventual day of reckoning plus the main myth that it’s only a few decades away from literally taking over every aspect of our lives. Sure, it could happen, but it’s still fairly hypothetical at this point of time which is absolutely no reason for us to assume the worst outcome. The fact that whether machines will actually become conscious in the same way human are is still a matter of fiery debate, so the future may not be so bleak after all.