The Robots are Coming
Updated: Nov 24, 2019
You know what gives me HEFTY amounts of anxiety? Artificial intelligence. Any day now the robots will get too smart and will eventually take over the human world; and we will have absolutely no one to blame but ourselves. Go ahead and think I'm crazy, but this could actually happen. Both Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have been quoted talking about the serious risk that AI poses to the continuity of humankind. This article on Forbes expresses my anxiety about this much more eloquently than I can:
"The reality is that any new artificial intelligence innovation might be used for both beneficial and harmful purposes: any single algorithm that may provide important economic applications might also lead to the production of unprecedented weapons of mass destruction on a scale that is difficult to fathom."
"Today, any individual or entity who has a desire and knows how to access big data and has data science capabilities can use it for whatever intelligence, automation, surveillance and reconnaissance they want to achieve, irrespective of their education, background, standing or intentions in society."
"Anyone with or without formal training, can accidentally or even purposefully cause chaos, catastrophe and existential risks to community, ethnicity, race, religion, nation and humanity."
By definition, artificial intelligence is "a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers, the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior." Some examples of recent AI advancements include a robot that cares for elders living with dementia and other limitations (UM HELLO DIDN'T ANYONE SEE iROBOT????) and the self-driving cars that are already killing people.
There have also been an immense amount of positives that have come from artificial intelligence, including the ability to detect cancer and other diseases in humans in ways that doctors have never been able to before. (It shouldn't go unsaid that while I'm focusing on the negative aspects of AI, there are definite positives; like potentially saving human life.) Human creativity and ingenuity has led to all of these insane developments, and that should be celebrated! But I'm not sure we thought this all the way through before we continued down this road to AI and its impacts on humanity.
THIS MAKES ME ANXIOUS BECAUSE...
Although there are absolute positives about AI, without solid regulation in place with how this technology is being used as well as how it's being developed, bad things are likely to happen. Take, for example, this robot who said that when he evolves he will keep his human friends in a "people zoo."
SORRY BUT THAT'S F***ING TERRIFYING.
Part of this trend of creating human-like robots seems to be driven by the desire to have a personal connection with the technology that surrounds us. Here's the thing though, it's technology. These robots aren't human. Why do we need to spend so much time trying to form connections with ourselves and advanced technology when as a society, we can't seem to figure out human-human connection. Don't you think we should try to fix that first? Some recent advancements also include a robot that can conduct an orchestra and play instruments. It's this that led me to write about this topic in the first place. Threat to humanity aside, what will AI do to human creativity if everything we want to create can be done by the touch of a button? You can't program a soul into a robot. As humans, we have a spark in us. We are comprised of the same physical elements as stars. That is straight up magic, dude. The very reality of being human is what makes humanity a beautiful thing. What will happen to that when the outcome of this creativity and beauty can be circumnavigated by AI? After all, AI is the outcome of these special, very human traits.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
There is a lot that we could do about the emergence of AI - you just need to be creative. (Ha, see what I did there?)
Learn about it: In order to be aware of the potential risks of AI, read up on it! Forbes covers AI fairly regularly. Science Daily also has a regular AI section for the most up-to-date advancements.
Support regulation of artificial intelligence: I couldn't find really anything about current policy regarding AI. Perhaps I wasn't looking in the right places, if that's the case please send me information about what I missed! The best I could find was this document from the Future of Life Institute. People are definitely starting to think about how this new era of technology needs to be regulated. With regulations in place, we could potentially avoid inherent existential risks.
Be safe with your personal data: This goes without saying for all of general life, but even more so with recent AI developments. Facial recognition is becoming more and more prevalent, and as we know, once something is online it doesn't go away. The more personal data you put into the ether, the easier it is for you to become a target for not just things like identity theft, but larger scale security breaches.
I don't know if I fully believe that it's all doom and gloom, but I'm definitely riddled with anxiety about the place of AI in the lives of humans. We need to keep learning, start regulating, and getting smarter with how we distribute information. I don't want to be in a people zoo. #iamaptlyanxious