Are you afraid of thinking machines and what they might do to the world? There is much discussion among computer scientists about the potential opportunities and threats of artificial intelligence and robots. We cannot know for certain what will happen during the decades and centuries ahead. However, the use of artificial intelligence is now a daily reality and effects the lives of billions of people across the world.
The Arts and Sciences
Artificial intelligence is moving beyond repetitive tasks and beginning to be used to create original works of art, literature and music, causing many to be concerned about the possible implications. There are concerns that huge numbers of people might lose their jobs and need to be retrained for new careers. Some employers have indicated they would prefer to redeploy employees to carry out tasks better done by people and new business opportunities and career paths could also become available. These new job roles might involve human beings planning and directing the activities of machines.
Recently in areas as varied as medical research and astronomy advances have been made that might have required decades of work by highly educated scientists. The combination of human and artificial intelligence could lead, for example, to significant advances in the treatment of many diseases and the discovery of more planets capable of supporting life. Around the world many organisations are overwhelmed by the vast amounts of data they have collected and the growth of the Internet of Things is likely to accelerate this.
Many organisations are using expert learning systems to analyse vast amounts of data and manage complex processes. You might be concerned about the impact of such technology upon the job and career prospects of yourself and your family. The question you might also ask yourself is, what are the potential benefits to society from making use of artificial intelligence and can it help me in my life and work?
Through the use of artificial intelligence, individuals, organisation and businesses could begin making more sense out of the information they collect. Relationships and patterns of data might emerge, which would otherwise have gone unnoticed. The falling cost of computing power will make artificially intelligent expert systems available to small business owners. Those who can find innovative ways of leveraging such power could successfully develop new products and services.
A human being could define a particular problem, provide vast amounts of big and small data and then direct artificial intelligence to look for solutions. In a sense we would provide the purpose and meaning, whilst machines do our bidding and we interpret the results, then apply the findings. However, many could struggle to acquire the new skills and experience necessary for such jobs and find themselves competing with many other people.
Ethics and Decision Making Machines
Even the most advanced current technology is primitive when compared to biological systems. Most experts agree that it will be many years until machines become self aware and it might never happen. However, such a situation would require ethical codes. Already autonomous machines are required to make decisions that could effect human safety. For example, who would be accountable if an autonomous car is unable to avoid colliding with one of two other vehicles, one carrying a single person, the other a family.
Future generations might have to learn to co-exist with sentient evolving self-replicating robots, that need meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging. They might be connected together through the cloud to form a hive mind. They could become our friends and co-workers, helping us to build a better society, or compete against us for control over this world, as they think and plan their present and future.
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