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Artificial Intelligence: Rise of Machines?

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Anyone who has watched the Terminator trilogy understands the talk of the town regarding Artificial Intelligence. The film series shows the dominance of machines over the human species, portraying the barbarous and vicious side of the former. The fictitious tales of the ‘80s are now being seen by some as the fate of the humans. But the tech-savvy Siri using populace doesn’t seem to understand what the yammer is all about. But those who have seen the clip of Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini a dog-like machine opening up an entrance for its comrades were precipitously terrified thinking that the termination is nigh.

The techno world is split over this matter. Every tech giant seems to have their own opinion. The last few months have seen everybody coming up with their views on AI. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO and Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX even had a little public tiff over the matter. Musk recently said that AI poses “a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization”, and went as far as saying that AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons. He even proclaimed that the global arms race for AI will cause World War III! Stephen Hawking, in 2014, had warned that artificial intelligence could end mankind.

On the other hand, Microsoft owner Bill Gates says that “AI can be our friend”. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO seems to be sailing in the same boat as Bill Gates.

So for the layman out there, let us decipher what the blab is all about, what exactly is AI.

Artificial intelligence is a domain of computer science that puts emphasis on the manufacturing of smart and intellectual machines that function and respond like human beings.  To make it even simpler, the philosophy of AI is “Can a machine think and behave as humans do?”

The discipline of AI research began at a workshop at Dartmouth College (United States) in 1956. Though origins of AI can be traced back to Greek mythology where Talos was a giant machine made of bronze to safeguard Europa in Crete from pirates and invaders.

The chief uses of AI include problem-solving, reasoning, knowledge representation, developing commonsense knowledge, natural language processing, speech recognition, computer vision, handwriting recognition… the list is long. But how can it affect your life? The answer to that question is quite fanciful. You could have their own self-driving car, like the one in Sylvester Stallone’s 1993 film Demolition Man. You could have a flying car, like the one Doc drove in Back to the Future Part II (1989). AI could bring efficient crime-cracking and fraud detection. You could have robots that would do all kinds of jobs error-free. It all seems fancy and fun. Where is the problem?

Initially, AI would bring jobs at the highest levels but with progression in time the biggest problem that AI would bring with itself is severe unemployment. Masses will lose their jobs. People will be left with nothing to do. So much empty time may result in destructive use. High dependence on machines could also lead to a gradual decrease in the mental capabilities of humans over a course of generations. Machines could easily lead to destruction if put in the wrong hands. Imagine some terrorist organization having some barbaric android! Scary!

A person who keeps a tab on the trending technology knows that AI has been used to make chat agents and many times such bots develop their own language and communicate among themselves in their own pattern. Such a case was highlighted at Facebook’s AI which developed its own language. The proponents of the theory of machines enslaving humans find this an enormous occurrence and advocate that AI must go altogether.

Everything in this world comes with its pros and cons be it a social change or a scientific creation. AI too comes with its fair share of pros and cons, where pros slightly outweigh the cons. Having said that, it must be handled with utmost care as it could be the best or worst thing ever for humanity. Strict policies must be created and adhered to by the governments and international organizations to make sure that AI is used in ways that are positive for the human race, as the concern of machines superseding homo-sapiens is not a hollow one. Humans must carry on to be the masters of machines. If things turn the other way round, civilization will turn into pandemonium. Smart machines may turn out to be cleverer and shrewder than us, they might enslave us – everything the old movies depicted has come up to be true up until!


Nitish Kapur

The author holds a degree in Nanotechnology. He is acquainted with French, Punjabi, Hindi and English languages. He enjoys playing outdoor sports. Old buildings mesmerise him. He is fighting Coronavirus by staying indoors.

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