“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” -Napoleon Hill
As I am writing this article, in the September of 2017, some dedicated millions around the globe are working their asses off on the Technology that is speculated to add a whole new dimension to Human Life in the near future. With rapid advancements in the fields of Computers as has been in the past 50 years, the curiosity of the human mind expanded multiple horizons. One such horizon is Artificial Intelligence – the development which is making a machine efficiently think & behave the way intelligent humans do.
Today, this field captures the interest of MAFIA (Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook, IBM, and Amazon) and other big companies like Intel, Apple and Tesla, who are all opening themselves to infinite possibilities to take Intelligence to a whole new level.
Undoubtedly, AI has been of great assistance to humans. Researchers are now conducting tests in simulated environments, which practically reduces the risk of an accident to Zero. Millions of instructions are processed at a per-millisecond rate by a computer, to accommodate the transactions & information exchange in this fast-paced World. But, the first prerequisite for the making of such an AI system was to study a Human brain and the way it works. These studies have given us tremendous insights and have led us to develop the appreciation for the complex functioning of our brains. As we improved our understanding of the Human Nervous Transmission, we could come up with models to fasten the speed of Machine communications.
Neural Networks –
The Human Brain is characterized by its Structure & Functions. The brain, being a network of billions of neurons and other auxiliary cells, works in perfect harmony to delve in sensations from the environment for evaluation, storage and response delivery. Nevertheless, all human activity has to be performed within an inescapable biological straightjacket, beyond which it is impossible to transcend. Such a structure allows the brain to construct a model of the surroundings in the form of a personal reality.
A human being is characterized by Proprioception – the feeling of a sense of Individuality, Perceptions (or Predispositions), Knowledge, Memory & Learning. All of this may be fluid (having come from reasoning, or hearing) or crystalline (having come from experience). But, apart from that (or including that, as the case may be), the other biological processes remain somewhat similar. A Unifying law – The Principle of Bio-topological Equivalence states that there is an equivalence of the process & functions among different species. How far does this concept stay applicable to humans and computers?
Electric Current is used as a means of communication in both; both have enormous functional modules, data storage capabilities & dedicated output signals. Each logic gate allows or disallows current to pass through it depending on the info it receives. If you compare this with neurons, the latter is believed to have a more complex functioning – the current passage is modulated chemically, depending on the type of neurotransmitter released by the presynaptic neuron. A lot of other fundamental differences reside, but exacting sciences on recent developments are proof enough that this analogy is worth thinking of and emulating. (This is a widely studied subject matter of a stream of AI called Strong AI, which concerns itself with the way an AI system functions so as to obtain its goals)
Why Elon Musk and 140 other scientists are worried about AI?
With AI helping us with almost everything in our lives – from Music, Automation, Video Games, Customer Support, News, Surveillance to What not(!), why is it perceived as something of demonic nature?
Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players in the history of the game, competed with IBM’s Supercomputer Deep Blue in ‘96 & ’97, which is believed to be the fiercest Man V/S Machine match ever played. In his book Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins, Kasparov wistfully declares the triumph of Machines to be a triumph of Man. In his TED talk, he mentioned that doom-sayings had always been a popular past time when it comes to technology.
On the other hand, Elon Musk sided with Putin, saying this week that AI will likely be the cause of World War III. Nations are now in an AI race, and the ones leading this race are perceived to be in a stronger position altogether.
Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, however, rejected such fears, saying that the true potential of AI is untapped and far-fetched.
Likewise, hundreds of people have hundreds of perceptions of the Reality of the situation we are really facing.
Supercomputer giant IBM announced that they had 12 projects planned as of this year. Each aligns with UN’s Sustainable Goals. One such aim is the eradication of poverty. Parallel research streams at Stanford University and other Institutes have helped to find areas in need of finance and the numerous causes and motivation for other linked activities. Larry Page once said about Google, “It [Google] will be included in people’s brains. When you think about something you don’t know, you will automatically get the information.” Again, there are different responses to different sets of people to such statements.
But on the other hand, an estimate of 40% jobs will be lost once AI will be deployed worldwide. Many theorists, again, have varied assumptions of the situation arising. One such important perspective is written In the NYT Bestseller – Abundance by Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler, wherein Technology is seen as a resource-liberating mechanism. Using Technology, the once scarce can be made the now abundant. This essentially means that new jobs will be created in the then scarce resource. (If you are an avid reader, have no second thoughts on making this your next read!)
So, the excitement (or frenzy, as some would want to call it) here is evident. It would be to a general liking if more control was sought so that the worries AI brings along with it are addressed. Earlier this year, MEPs have proposed to the EU Commission some Rules for AI to guarantee a standard level of safety, which seems like a step in the right direction to me.
AI is the future! Calling for action to put on a stoppage to the field would mean that the enormous potential and its underlying benefits would remain untapped, and that would certainly be unacceptable to the society as a whole. But going at AI the pace which we are going at, we risk ourselves to the point of Technological Singularity. Things like Facebook having to shut down their AI (after the two ChatBots started communicating in a language humans couldn’t understand) might be the news of the day; and knowingly or unknowingly, the Machines will have superseded us in terms of Intelligence. But as of now, we have to accept the fact that most Humans have increasingly become dependent on the Machines, and most memory-based skills have been eliminated.
Lots of Humans today are at the brink of losing hope, living empty lives, and blaming other systems for it. We’ve come to the point that some of us have started hating ourselves for it. We need not be depressed because technology got the better of us because for all we know it is helping us achieve something even bigger out there!