Gaining increasing popularity, artificial intelligence has become a subject of numerous debates among scholars, well-educated individuals as well as everyone who enjoys watching sci-fi movies and fantasizing afterwards.
Even though I don’t like generalizations, I’m gonna divide the opinions into two major categories; utopian and dystopian. The utopian group includes those who are overoptimistic about the A.I breakthrough; those are usually tech/science enthusiasts who are interested in innovations and believe in the unlimited manpower. The dystopian group is comprised of those who look at A.I. as a threat for the human race; they concentrate on the ethical and security issues as well as other socioeconomic issues such as unemployment associated with smart machines.
Well, it might sound paradoxical but I believe both scenarios are theoretically possible, yet, practically, far from being true. As a matter of fact, before becoming a part of our daily life, all kinds of innovations have confronted these polarized views. After some time though, when the shock of the novice faded away, people got accustomed to these innovation, neither the utopias nor the dystopias became reality; the turmoil calmed down and the equilibrium was reached with increased efficiency.
Let’s look at all the arguments separately.
Do you remember when the first PCs were put on office desks? Everyone thought that robots have come to replace human workforce. What happened in reality though? A short-term structural unemployment followed by a long-term multiplication of workplaces, another chain of innovations and an enormous economic growth. Becoming friends with machines, people can take advantage of the efficiency and time saving provided by these robots.
Another question is whether the smart robots created by humans can become so intelligent and strong that can compete with humans and destroy the mankind. Well, a rather captivating topic for an action sci-fi! In reality though, no matter how perfectly intelligent machines get, they are created by humans and internalize only the information that humans have, thus, they can never innovate, whereas humans have the uniqueness and flexibility to outperform themselves every time it seems as though there is no room to advance.
The question of self and consciousness are mysteries themselves and a part of the buzz around A.I is caused exactly by the uncertainty around the concept of self. Yet, no matter whether self is a part of our brain function or a separate concept, artificial machines cannot emulate “the self” taking advantage of its unlimited abilities unless humans themselves demystify the concept and teach it to machines..
Does this mean that, A.I. Is all good and there are no threats? Of course not! Even though smart machines will give us an opportunity to develop, become more efficient and productive and have more time for “humanness”. People vary, our intents vary and the level of intellect varies. So, whether the utopian or dystopian ideas will prevail depends on how people will utilize it.
The bottom line: time will pass and intelligent machines will become an inseparable part of our lives. It will have both numerous benefits, such as increased efficiency and faster information circulation as well as several disadvantages such as lack of human interaction. Depending on the use to which the machines will be put and who will have access to these machines: it might both cause catastrophes and result in wonders. Everything boils down to a single truth that humans themselves are the only source of both good and evil. If there is something we should fear worry about, it’s ourselves!