Understanding Artificial Intelligence And Should You Be Worried?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is humanity’s most powerful technology.  Stories about artificially intelligent creatures go back at least as fas as the ancient Greeks.  The Greeks had myths about robots, and Chinese and Egyptian engineers built automatons.  The field of modern AI wasn’t formally founded until 1956, at a conference at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, where the term “artificial intelligence” was given.

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Until the year 2000 or so, Artificial Intelligence systems were limited but the new millennium has brought about a new type of universal AI.  The future of AI will change everything about life as we know it.  When artificial intelligence gets super intelligent, it’s either going to be a dream or a nightmare.  Check out why…..

10.  Robots are definitely going to take your job.

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Professor Moshe Vardi of Rice University says that most jobs will be done by robots within the next 30 years, leading to unemployment rates greater than 50%.  You might not think so, but the work you do is either already automatable or will be very soon.  It sounds pretty scary, but many academic say it might not be such  a bad thing.  They believe that technological unemployment will open up opportunities to a future where work is something people do for pleasure and not out of necessity.  Project proposals such as “Universal Basic Income” are the beginnings of something like this becoming a reality.

9.  A lot of smart people think developing artificial intelligence to human level is a dangerous thing to do.  

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Some very smart people in the world including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are quite worried about the time when machines are as intelligent as man.  Once Artificial Intelligence reaches that stage, they won’t stop there, the AI would definitely work on improving itself.  “If I had to guess at what out biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that.  So we need to be very careful.  I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.” said Musk during an interview.

8.  Once artificial intelligence gets smarter than humans, we’ve got very little chance of understanding it.    

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Tim Urban is the writer and illustrator of the blog ‘Wait but Why’, where he dives into the topic, ‘Why Artificial Intelligence is scary.” He says, “A chimp can become familiar with what a human is and what a skyscraper is, but he’ll never be able to understand that the skyscraper was built by humans.  We will never be able to even comprehend the things a super intelligent AI can do, even if the machine tried to explain it to us.  It could try for years to teach us the simplest inkling of what it knows but it would be hopeless.”

7.  Artificial Intelligence is developing faster that you think, and speeding up exponentially.

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Humans are creatures who are always in the process of learning and improving themselves.  We have made excellent scientific advances so far and will continue to do so in the future and a must faster rate.  Futurist Ray Kurzwell calls this the ‘Law of Accelerating Returns”.  He says that scientific progress attained between 2000 and 2014 equals the amount of progress made in the entire 20th century.  He also says the same will happen before the year 2021.  To accept the fact that we’ll make scientific advances super fast in the future we need to understand the exponential nature of progress and we need to ignore our inner tendencies to think things will remain the same or will keep improving at the same rate.

6. About half of the AI community believes computer will be as smart as humans by 2040.  

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A couple of researchers surveyed hundreds of AI experts on when they thought there was a 50/50 chance that human level artificial intelligence will arrive…..the median answer was 2040 – only 24 years from now.  The average life expectancy in the UK is 82 years, which means there’s 50% chance that a person who is 58 years old today will see computers as smart as humans in their lifetime.  Author, James Barrat also asked researchers when human-level AI would be achieved – 2030, 2050, 2100, after 2100 or never.  42% of the respondents said before 2030.

5.  There’s no such thing as an ‘evil’ artificial intelligence.

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We see a lot of bad robots on TV, but that’s just a human concept, Artificial Intelligence can’t be evil.  AI can do some outrageous things, but it doesn’t do them because it’s wicked, – it does it because it’s been programmed to do so whether intentionally or unintentionally.  “A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble,” explained Stephen Hawking.

4.  Artificial Intelligence could be the reason why we’ve never met aliens.

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“Existential threat” to humanity is what Elon Musk described Artificial Intelligence as. Could this mean AI will erase mankind from the universe entirely?  This is kind of like ideas of a “Great Filter” that kills off alien life forms that reach their limit of technological development.  Maybe we haven’t met aliens is because artificial intelligence was invented before they could build spaceships capable of interstellar travel, and that discovery caused their extinction.  Far-fetched but possible nonetheless.

3.  You use artificial intelligence all day…..everyday.

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Almost everything we interact with on a daily basis are examples of Artificial Intelligence.  Nowadays there’s Siri, Google Now, and Contana which are the obvious examples, but we are surrounded by AI.  Vacuum cleaners, video games, e-commerce software, cars, lawnmowers, international finance markets, medical research, toys – are just some of the many other examples.  In 1956 John McCarthy came up with the term “artificial intelligence” and he said “As soon as it works, no-one calls it AI anymore.”

2.  There are three ways a super intelligent artificial intelligence could work.

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“Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by AI expert Nick Bostrom classifies three ways in which superintelligence could operate. A ‘genie’, an ‘oracle’, and a ‘sovereign’ are the classifications.  A genie does what it is commanded to do and then waits for its next order.  An oracle would have enough knowledge to answer questions with a good degree accuracy and a sovereign would be assigned a far-fetched goal and then be allowed to operate in the world and make decisions about how best to accomplish that goal…..now that’s a scary thought.

1.  Basically, there’s a good chance we’ll be extinct or immortal by the end of the century.

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All humans are either pessimists or optimists.  The same goes for the world of Artificial Intelligence.  The optimist hopes for a happily ever life where a superintelligent being will be invented that solves all the problems the human race faces and a future where all mankind’s needs are met.  The pessimists on the other hand worry about the slightest mistake that can lead to mass destruction and the end of the human race altogether.  To elaborate on that, let’s take climate change.  An AI will see humans as the number one obstacle and will try to eliminate the cause.

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