With the amount of research and development being conducted in the area of Artificial Intelligence, science fiction movies portraying the dominance of robots over man and notable scientists like the late Stephen Hawkings warning that the development of robots and intelligent machines beyond a certain point could mark the beginning of the end of humankind, the fear of the possibility that Artificial Intelligence might totally replace Human Intelligence is real.
Digital life has continued to augment human capabilities and disrupt age-old human activities. Experts say the rise of Artificial Intelligence will increase human effectiveness and improve human lives over the coming decades, but also predict that these advances threaten human autonomy, agency and capabilities. They say computers will match or even exceed what humans can do in areas of reasoning and learning, sophisticated analytics and pattern recognition, speech recognition and language translation.
Many thought leaders are optimistic on the positive changes AI has brought to bear in sectors such as healthcare, its many applications in diagnosing and treating diseases, assistive elderly people care, accumulation of data to help broaden public-health programmes, etc. Another aspect is in manufacturing, where intelligent machines can help in assembly, loading and stacking tonnes of material which humans cannot possibly lift. Some people are even excited about the long-anticipated chances AI would bring about in formal and informal education systems using Virtual Reality. They are of the opinion that the application of AI in communities, manufacturing and business processes will help save time, money and lives.
Judith Donath, a researcher at Harvard’s University Berkman Klein center for Internet and Society has a lot to say about whether advancing AI and related technological systems would surpass human abilities by 2030. Will humans be better off than we are now, or will these systems lessen human autonomy and capabilities to an extent that we become far worse than we are today?
She says by 2030, most social situations will be facilitated by bots – intelligent programs that interact with us in a human-like way. In homes, parents will engage the services of skilled bots to help their children with homework and sort out meal menus. At work, bots will run meetings, schedule and monitor tasks. A bot confidant will be considered essential for psychological well-being and we will increasingly turn to them for advice ranging from what to wear, what to eat and whom to marry.
We as humans care deeply about how others see us and soon will seek approval from artificial systems. By then, the difference between humans and bots will be considerably blurred. Our own communication will be heavily signed by AI crafted messages and online profiles. AI companions might be able to expertly mimic human emotions and responses, but will never be overcome by real feelings. They will only project what is expected of them in a particular scenario, thanks to the massive amount of data they already have about us. But their behaviours will be controlled by companies and governments who developed them, in order to maximize profit and sway opinions to amass political power.
So what then can be done? A number of thought leaders are saying that human reliance on technological systems will only work well if close attention is paid to how these tools and platforms are engineered, distributed and updated. We need to work aggressively to make sure that technology matches our values. This must be done at all levels, from governments to business to academia and down to individual choices.
A prevalent concern is whether the rise in AI systems and tools will lead to a massive displacement of humans from their jobs. With the abilities of AI and robotics to replace both blue-collar (drivers, servants, house cleaners etc) and white-collar (accounting, sales etc) jobs, the global unemployment rate could increase significantly. However, data scientists say we are still a very long way from what we see portrayed in science fiction. Even in an AI-driven future, humans will always deliver value that machines cannot. Time and again, it has been proven that human insight creativity and contextual awareness are a huge part of the key to making AI work.
While AI will continue to transform the way we work and forces us to update our technological skills as employees and business managers, there are certain limitations to machines which puts a check to it’s implied future dominance over human intelligence. It is true that we can rely on intelligent machines to make logical and rational decisions which are primarily based on facts, there are other aspects of human life which involves complicated tasks where machines fail to provide the flexibility and creativity needed to find a solution.
There is a wide range of jobs that cannot be performed without human intelligence – emotions like empathy, sympathy and love must come into play. For example, although AI assistive nursing could help in observing patients conditions and timely administration of drugs, the healthcare would be insensitive without the role of human nurses and their bedside skills – enquiries to how the patient actually feels, cheering them up, soothing them, etc. Also, who would actually like to place their small children in the care of robots at the daycare? Or who would listen to an automated-motivational speaker or preacher?
Having said all of that, there is certainly no arguments that there are certain work situations where the use of robots is more efficient than human effort. We have already experienced this for years in simple robotics like or house cleaning gadgets. Whether in assembly lines in manufacturing or automated assistance in customer service/response situations, AI-powered machines can definitely help a great deal in increasing efficiency. However, humans must direct, control and operate the use of such technology. Therefore safe that AI will not replace all the human resources in whatever years to come. Instead, we are heading to a reality where humans and AI machines will be working closely together and the workload in the future will be handled more precisely and effectively with the interaction between humans and robots.