Artificial Intelligence – Racing to a red light
We seem to be at the cusp of developing a new type of technology, one that might change the current cultural paradigm completely. Like the invention of the printing press and the steam engine, advanced AI is the new breakthrough technology that could potentially change the way we live in the world forever, and perhaps not for the better.
Uncontrollable progress can be a very dangerous thing. “Many an inventor and scientist has been ruined by being persuaded that he is a ”wizard.” I have always believed that when a successful inventor is exposed to dangers of that kind he should, somewhat like that king of antiquity, hire somebody to whisper as often as possible into his ear: ’You are an ordinary mortal.” (Pupin, 1923, p.348). Pupin through this quote portrays how people of science are prone to hubris, which is precisely why I think a measure of restraint might be for the good of everyone in the case of AI.
Another issue is how informed people are with regard to AI and journalists do not seem to be helping matters. For the most part, the way people imagine AI usually stems from the media’s portrayal of it, for example comparisons to pop-culture movies like the Terminator or Ex Machina to name a few. (https://royalsociety.org/-/media/policy/projects/ai-narratives/AI-narratives-workshop-findings.pdf, p.8 & p.9 Professor Caroline Bassett et al.). This warps people’s perception of it, causing them to romanticize it and distract them from the real problems with AI, which are things such as loss of privacy, liberties and even due process. In the article Enchanted Determinism, these dangers are further reinforced by elaborating how deep learning algorithms, which are in place on every phone or computer, learn from us and compile all of our personal data, of which we have no ownership of (Campolo & Crawford 2020, (Citron and Pasquale 2014) p.3). They further state how dangerous it is for those kinds of information to fall into the wrong hands, but also, how frightening it is that the designers of them might not even be aware of the concerns, which speaks volumes of what Pupin meant when he spoke of hubris.
Unemployment could very well be the most devastating problems created by advanced AI. In the times article (https://time.com/5876604/machines-jobs-coronavirus/), it is stated how COVID-19 has proven to the job market how little human presence is actually needed, which could lead to massive future lay-offs, numbering at around 60 million. On the other hand, New York Times columnist, Kevin Roose doesn’t share those concerns. In Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation he goes in-depth on the economic implications of AI replacing certain economic sub-groups and professions. He further elaborates that people needn’t fear the coming of AI, but rather they need to adapt to it, because technological changes such as AI are a common historical phenomenon and are an inevitability (Roose, 2021, Chapter 3). He further states that the solution to our fears of AI are to play on our strengths, such as our human creativity, which he stipulates machines simply cannot replicate. (Roose, 2021, Chapter 4).
In all actuality, I do not believe the real danger lies in the AI itself, but in the people making it. The people who make need to be fully aware of the implications of such an invention and possible unforeseen consequences, as well as be aware that they are in fact only human.
Campolo, Alexander & Crawford, Kate. (2020). Enchanted Determinism: Power without Responsibility in
Artificial Intelligence. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society.
Roose, K. (2021). Futureproof 9 rules for humans in the age of automation. Random House.
From Immigrant to Inventor. By Michael Pupin. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1923.
https://towardsdatascience.com/top-20-movies-about-machine-learning-ai-and-data-science-8382d408c8c3http://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=12 <— This is where the idea for the Final Assignment came from, no particular lines have been drawn from it.
I hereby confirm that this essay is the result of my own independent scholarly work, and that in all cases material from the work of others (in books, articles, essays, dissertations, and on the internet) is acknowledged, and quotations and paraphrases are clearly indicated. No material other than that listed has been used.