Intelligent machines are taking over the world, whether we’d like to admit it. Your smartphone likely has a built-in virtual assistant; we see the growth of self-driving cars – these are just some of the many examples where artificial intelligence is making its way into our daily lives. It may not be evident but AI is already present in so many industries, including medicine and education. Some see this as a benefit, but there can also be some serious risks and threats involved.
The rise of AI can have severe consequences to humanity, which includes employment (wherein machines take over human jobs, especially those that can be automated and involve computation and using numbers), and even the very survival of the human race.
Artificial intelligence was primarily created with the purpose of analyzing large amounts of data; more than the average human can handle. This makes AI useful in certain scenarios such as translation, speech recognition, and forecasting. AI’s strength lies in its ability to compute quickly – oftentimes in real time.
Even the most intelligent AI created by man still won’t be able to exhibit or feel human emotions, and this will always be the shortcoming of AI. So, while AI may not be naturally capable of doing something malicious on purpose, there are situations wherein AI can be dangerous:
- AI is programmed to cause harm:
Systems and programs can be designed by humans with the purpose of killing. When these systems get into the wrong hands, they can cause serious casualties in large numbers. In fact, it’s not impossible for an AI arms race to occur, or even an artificially intelligent war.
- AI is programmed to do a good task but it comes up with a destructive way of achieving it:
Sometimes, humans fail to align the AI’s own goals with our own goals, and oftentimes this is actually really difficult. For example, you can ask a self-driving car to transport you to the airport as quickly as possible, and to achieve this goal it exceeds speed limits and gets you into trouble, or even causes an accident and harm. This is another case where the artificially intelligent machine is not able to understand what the human wants or what the intention is, then the AI proceeds to carry out the command literally. This can be very dangerous particularly when artificially intelligent machines interact with people.
- AI may be intelligent and self-aware enough to resist modifications from programmers:
Today’s AI programs haven’t reached this level of intelligence just yet, but in the future this can happen. If an AI is too self-aware and intelligent it may have the ability to manipulate its operators and resist changes, such as programming adjustments or an ability to be turned off.
- AI may suffer from self-delusion:
In this case, the artificially intelligent machine may learn a method that allows it to change its own perceptions so it is deluded into thinking that it has succeeded in achieving its goals.
Even Bill Gates fully believes that AI is a serious threat. He has said that humans should seriously be worried by the threats caused by artificial intelligence. Gates has said that he didn’t understand people who weren’t worried by the possibility that artificial intelligence could one day become too strong for humans to control. Bill Gates said:
“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.
A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.“
To prevent these things from happening, some of the world’s greatest minds have developed projects focusing on only the positive side of artificial intelligence. One of these is OpenAI, a research project founded by Elon Musk whose objective is to promote friendly artificial intelligence. OpenAI projects are focused on ways that AI can benefit all of humanity. By operating with open research projects and making patents available, the public, primarily researchers and institutions can collaborate with one another.
Given the scope of the threat that AI poses, the world needs more than these projects. There needs to be more solutions made available so that artificially intelligent robots can be prevented from abusing and even killing off humanity.