Artificial Intelligence: Boon or Bane…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) research started at Dartmouth College in 1956. It was funded and used for exclusively US Defence projects over the next few decades. From 1980s through 1990s, commercial AI projects picked pace. This was also the era of increased computational power of computers at low costs (commoditisation of electronics & computer hardware) [1]. Since 2000s to present, AI use has exploded in the B2B & B2C products/services. These have helped mankind immensely and opened up many new possibilities.

Differently abled people and elderly people have become more independent, reducing dependency on caretakers for their daily activities. Firms have AI to reduce operational costs—from programming to manufacturing—repetitive tasks. The defence industry uses AI extensively in unmanned aerial missions. This has been adapted by the transportation industry with limited success for cars, though trains (metro) have shown a greater success rate [2].

Though AI has been used for over 50 years, it faces big challenges—both technological and ethical in nature.

Firstly, if we allow predictive learning algorithms to be used extensively for AI’s decisions, these machines would either outgrow the intelligence of average humans or create new problems, and pose a threat to mankind. Facebook’s failure to flag inappropriate content using AI failed multiple times over the years, as anti-socials exploit the nuances of words (borderline positive & negative) [3][4].

Secondly, misuse of such technology could allow governments and surveillance agencies to completely wipe out human privacy. A democracy can quickly turn to an autocracy, through overprotective and intrusive surveillance on citizens. Rogue Malware can cause AI machines to attack the humans it was supposed to protect [5][6].

Finally, through cyberwarfare anti-socials can easily take control of such powerful technology—IOTs are most vulnerable, due to low security features embedded within them. Ultra-intelligent machines learn at much faster rates than humans (Intelligence Explosion), such machines would control and eliminate mankind [6][7].

To sum up, although AI enables humans lead a comfortable life, we citizens of the world need to address the challenges in a timely manner. A global framework for judicious & ethical use of AI is the need of the hour!

© Sudhanshu Vuppuluri, 01-01-2020


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