Artificial intelligence and computing are currently as competent (in some areas) as their human counterparts. At what point will they surpass us and what are the consequences?-
A Changing Landscape
The advance and implementation of artificial intelligence is a mixed bag. Some applications may never be developed past a robotic machine that operates merely as a repetitive, assembly-line program tasked with making only basic adjustments to accommodate their environment. Other AI uses, however, are on the cusp of exponential growth and may present humanity with a very real rival.
Applications utilizing cloud computing with AI create amazing opportunities for human-machine interaction. IBM’s Watson, Google’s Deepmind, and Microsoft’s Project Oxford are artificial intelligence programs that use language processing, voice recognition and computer analytics to provide an interface between the computer and a human via voice requests or commands. These areas offer an opportunity to enhance our lives, allowing us access to products, services and information on a global scale. But, they also move us closer to machines that function and interpret the world around us almost as well as humans.
Military applications, Blockchain technology and super-fast parallel processing via GPUs have an almost limitless horizon. Exoskeletons are under development that creates an almost super-human military force. Personal assistants are being created that actually learn from their conversations with humans. The world of super-computing capabilities is currently so fast that even the most complex scientific, medical or technological problems can be solved in a matter of minutes or hours. We now speak of computer capability in terabytes – forget the old gigabyte… it’s so yesterday.
And, if the rapid expansion of internet inventions is a foretelling of future machine learning via cloud computing, we will soon experience forward progress on a scale that is difficult to imagine. The looming question for humanity: At what point will the computers surpass their human creators?
The Workplace Is Only the Beginning…
Whether you’re a customer at McDonald’s or an hourly employee in an automotive facility, the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics has already touched your life. Artificial intelligence coupled with robotics has opened opportunities for streamlining not only production in manufacturing but improving the customer experience when ordering fast food as well.
There are, of course, pros and cons when you consider the integration of AI and the machines into our workplaces. Artificial intelligence will increasingly impact human livelihoods, business bottom lines and social interactions. But, as with the invention of the ATM, declines in the person-to-person experience aren’t an overnight occurrence. Slowly, however, the workforce seems to be moving toward a more “machine” and less “human” diversity.
Potential Human Versus Machine Conflict
The potential for human resistance and conflict won’t necessarily be a direct result of Mary Jane Robot’s ability to speak five languages, solve complex problems and operate at super speeds. The real conflict will be a result of lost incomes, a lack of workforce opportunity (especially for unskilled labour) and the human perception of being “forgotten” creating the opportunity for an unhappy populace.
Of course, as with any transformation or transition, there are two potential outcomes. The opportunity exists to improve humanity with the addition of AI into many aspects of our lives. With the continued development and integration of AI, unforeseen opportunities and industries could arise to benefit all of humanity. After all, who in 1983 could have foreseen the tech giants of today, such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft? How many lives have been improved simply because of the opportunities these companies created? The opportunity also exists to misuse AI and open the door to discontent.
The day will arrive when we are forced to determine if artificial intelligence is a help or hindrance. If the latter proves to be the conclusion, the conflict will be sure to follow.