During a conversation between Demis Hassabis, co-founder of the DeepMind Lab in London, pioneers in the field of
artificial intelligence and Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, Demis said “I am working on the most
revolutionary project of our times, we are building the first completely automated, self-learning machine or in
other words, Artificial Intelligence.”
Elon Musk replied, “This is why I am planning to colonize Mars, so that we’ll have a bolt hole if A.I goes rogue and
turns against humanity.”
A slightly amused Demis retorted “It would just follow you
to Mars too.”
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Humanity is at the brink of a technological revolution. With hundreds of scientists and computer engineers working
towards realizing the dream of a completely automated self-learning machine that does not need any kind of help
from humans to operate.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence is the theory and development of a machine or a computer system that can undertake tasks that require normal human perceptions like visual perception, speech recognition, decision making and language
translation. Since its beginning in 1956 at the Dartmouth College in
New Hampshire, the field of A.I has been progressing in leaps and bounds with recent advancements such as ongoing research in digital neurotransmitters which is said to be ‘the breakthrough’ in realizing the A.I dream.
But, what are the pros and cons of A.I?
Would it be a boon or a bane for humanity?
What are the implications of creating a machine that can think and make decisions on its own?
A lot of influential people in the spheres of science and technology have been very expressive of their opinions
about A.I, making it perhaps the most controversial piece of technology in development.
To understand the implications of Artificial Intelligence, we must retrace our steps to the first sign of
intelligence in modern man and what he has achieved and what he has destroyed with his intelligence.
In the last 10,000 years of human existence, we have achieved unfathomable progress in science and technology,
decoding the riddles of the universe and human existence. But we have also brought about chaos and destruction to
ourselves and our environment. Wars, pollution, deforestation, excessive mining are only a few things in the ever growing list of atrocities that man commits against himself and this planet. Looking at our own past, we must ask ourselves one question:
Given the pattern of human evolution and the amount of environmental degradation that we have seen through the course of our history, is it advisable to build a machine that can think for itself and make decisions of its own while separating itself from the basic human ideologies of what is right and what is wrong?
A.I would be a super intelligent system that basically does not have the limitations that humans do. It would obey its directives to the dot, but, how it carries out its directive would be unpredictable as the machine would learn something new and adapt to changes in due course of its directive. For example, if you ask an A.I system a question that is impossible to solve, it would try to solve it for days or months but maybe one day, it would come to the conclusion that the only way to solve the question would be stop it from existing and, thus, the system might erase the person who asked the question from existence! Maybe it could figure out that humans are slowly killing
themselves and the best thing for humanity would be to go extinct.
A question might arise in your mind, “But what about Asimov’s Laws?” (For the benefit of those who aren’t aware, Asimov’s Law is a law which states that a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. And, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.) That is the thing with A.I. It would be able to override its core programming if it sees that it would be the best way to approach the current situation.
A lot of computer engineers have voiced their opinion on
A.I going rogue. Their solution is to give A.I specific directives to learn things like humans do. To keep note of things that humans value and take human emotions into consideration. If we can stop A.I from turning on us, it would go on to become the most revolutionary piece of technology ever invented, helping humans and the environment to develop and evolve in leaps and bounds in a matter of years. It would heighten our intelligence and would provide
solutions to the problems of environmental degradation.
It has even been theorized that human-technology hybridization is the next step in human evolution as
humans would start incorporating technology into their own beings starting with medical nanobots in the bloodstream and going onto cerebral implants which would allow humans to process information faster and live longer.
The dawn of the technology era would either cause the biggest leap in human evolution or it would cause human extinction. It is hard to imagine a scenario that comes in between these two possibilities. With technology becoming the latest religion, it would not be hard to see the names of supercomputers joining the pantheon of human gods.
Wherever our future takes us, let us be optimistic about it and look forward to a glorious future of science,
technology, peace and prosperity.