The Future of Artificial Intelligence

By Chris Wong

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As technology becomes more and more advanced, artificial intelligence is becoming smarter and more advanced.  Current pop culture has framed artificial intelligence as robots with sinister intentions such as the cyborgs from the terminator movies, artificial intelligence can be as basic as Google’s search algorithm.  Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, is currently designed to outperform humans at specific tasks.  However, researchers are currently trying to create an AI that will be able to outperform humans at all tasks. 

The threat of automation can be potentially dangerous.  Most people think that robots will take over and enslave us all.  This most likely will not happen since artificial intelligence will need a power source.  The real danger is if the AI is programmed to do something dangerous.  For instance, autonomous weapons are artificial intelligence systems that are programmed to kill.  In the hands of the wrong person, these weapons could easily cause mass casualties. This risk is quite low at the moment but grows as levels of AI intelligence and autonomy increases.  Another potential danger is if the AI is programmed to do something useful, but uses a destructive method to achieve its goal.  This can happen whenever we fail to fully align the AI’s goals with ours.  For example, if you ask an intelligent car to take you to the airport as fast as possible, it might get you there by breaking multiple laws, doing not what you wanted but literally what you asked for.  If the programmer does not give specific instruction to the AI then it might create more issues in our ecosystem as a side effect.  Artificial Intelligence might not necessarily be malevolent but instead extremely competent. A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals but the problem occurs it its goals aren’t aligned with ours.

There are a lot of myths surrounding AI that may give it a bad reputation.  A very popular concern is the possibility that AI could gain sentience and end humanity using robots or our own nuclear missiles.  As said above the real worry is not evil robots but how well the AI does its job.  For example, if it was given the order to protect humanity and the AI thought the best way would be to put humans in metal boxes, then the AI is simply doing what it is told to do without malicious intent even though it would go against what the programmer wanted.  Also, an AI would not even need a physical body to be a threat to humanity but instead would just need a simple internet connection.  By accessing the internet, it would be able to hack into different devices and accounts and cause general havoc to the public.

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While artificial intelligence may be the way of the future it does not come without some major risks.  The implementation of AI could be extremely useful, but it could also come with some major concerns if not implemented and programmed correctly.

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