While millions of people are losing their jobs due to robotic automation, the world’s political leaders are gaining more and more power due to AI technology.
Is artificial intelligence (AI) a blessing or a menace?
AI is an area of computer science which is dedicated to creating intelligent machines. Computers are programmed to have the following traits:
- Problem solving
- Language processing
- Human abilities like movement and object navigation
Today, through deep learning or deep neural network (DNN), machines are becoming more and more intelligent and human-like.
Their efficiency has also become so tremendous that they have in many cases overshadowed the human performance.
DNN drew its inspiration from the human brain, how the neurons work within this amazing gray matter. Just as the brain has neural networks, computers programmers use algorithms around a model of artificial neurons that are strategically placed on three or more layers depending on the complexity of tasks that humans want it to accomplish including image recognition and natural language processing.
Machines learn by exposure to enormous amount of data. It takes a lot of time and effort until they can recognize images and accomplish other complex tasks with high accuracy. It’s like teaching a child step-by-step. But, once the machine has acquired the essential degree of knowledge, it can already start learning on its own.
So advanced have these machines already become that even tech leaders who develop and utilize AI in their own businesses now want the technology controlled.
More than 100 robotics and artificial intelligence entrepreneurs have signed a letter addressed to the United Nations, which calls for action to prevent the development of deadly autonomous weapons.
Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, presented the letter at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2017) in Melbourne.
The letter read: “Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
Among those who had signed the letter were:
- Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
- Mustafa Suleyman, founder and Head of Applied AI at Google’s DeepMind
- Jerome Monceaux, founder of Aldebaran Robotics which manufactures Nao and Pepper robots
- Jürgen Schmidhuber, founder of Nnaisense and leading expert on deep learning
- Esben Østergaard, founder & Chief Technology Officer of Universal Robotics
- Yoshua Bengio, founder of Element AI and leading expert on deep learning
And now, it’s Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin who’s making headlines.
President Putin issued a warning to students in Yaroslavl, Russia where a meeting about AI was being held, saying that “the one who becomes the leader in this sphere will be the ruler of the world.”
This is another serious acknowledgment about how immensely powerful AI is, so much so that it can catapult an individual or entity to supreme power.
The Russian president continued by noting that, “it would be strongly undesirable if someone wins a monopolist position.” This means that whatever Russia it’s able to achieve in AI technology, will be willing to share it with the world.
What the world leader also hopes is that future wars would be drone-centric, “When one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”
There is no doubt that AI advancements have been affecting the lives of people around the world in a positive way. At the same time, the field, which keeps advancing exponentially, needs to be kept under control.
What if superintelligence emerges? While it could be great, it could also decide it doesn’t need humans around. Without any claims of a looming AI-mageddon, the reality is that we have to be smart enough to control our own creations as a way of avoiding potential pitfalls. At the end of the day, it is crucial to our own progress and existence as species.