A few days back, I came across an article that was convincing people that Artificial Intelligence or AI cannot progress beyond what it is now. It totally ignored the future. But we all know that research on the subject is being carried out more aggressively than any other time in the past. We already have AI-based code and machines etc. that will keep on improving. Let’s check out some facts about Artificial Intelligence while also dismissing some myths about it.
Facts about Artificial Intelligence
Some articles on the web say machines cannot have a conscience. They go on to say that conscience cannot be measured and cannot be considered scientific. But we know that it is there inside everyone. People have a conscience whether or not science considers it as a fact. Science cannot even measure brain or neural networks, but it has to acknowledge them.
With that as a base among facts about artificial intelligence, I’ll try to explain the technology and things associated with it.
The main argument in the article was that since a conscience cannot be programmed into machines, the dumb AI is the only AI and totally ignores the problems other researchers see with Super AI. There is indeed a school of thought where people follow this theory of conscience and self-awareness. They believe the current AI is not AI at all but just automation just because conscience and consciousness are missing from machines.
But we already know AI is more of enacting the human brain… much more than Automation… as it involves thinking on behalf of computers. Thinking on behalf of computers/machines would mean the NIL involvement of operators. I’ll cover automation vs. artificial intelligence in a separate section in this article. First, let’s check out the types of Artificial Intelligence.
Types of Artificial Intelligence
You probably already know about Artificial Intelligence. It is categorized into many types. For convenience, we’ll just place them in three broad categories that beginners use.
- Weak Intelligence
- Strong AI
- Super Artificial Intelligence
Weak AI has been around for a long time. It is just a machine that works for which it is designed. Take the vehicle speed controller as an example. The speed controller measures the speed of vehicles and keeps them in control. There is no intelligence there, but it sure removes the need of a human to keep watching the speed of the vehicle.
Another weak AI example is the game of chess. If you are playing chess with a machine, it looks as if it is thinking. In reality, it is parsing all the possible moves and the casualties associated with each move. That is not slow but still sends a signal that the machine is thinking.
In short, where the machines are made to perform a few acts based totally on the coding, it is weak AI. You don’t expect real intelligence there.
Strong AI is one where the machines can play the part of understanding. In weak AI, the understanding part is reserved for humans who code or use the machines. Strong AI can understand and take actions based on their actions.
If you remember TAY, the Microsoft chatbot, it was fed with crap all day by humans and became racist in a day. So far it was weak AI. But if it had understood what information it has to reject and what to collect, it would have been strong AI. That is, ignore people who were feeding it with posts that led to negativity and it understood that it is a bad knowledge that has to be rejected, we could have called it an example of Strong AI.
Super AI is connected to consciousness. This is where the machines know they exist and that they exist for a purpose. We don’t have much of Strong AI at present, and hence we consider Super AI as non-achievable. Looking at the other side, research is on; experiments are being conducted, and we may soon have a machine that knows what it is and what are its aims. It’s just a matter of time!
Read: What is Machine Learning and Deep Learning?
Facts about artificial intelligence – Does Automation mean AI?
No. Automation can be said to be a part of artificial intelligence. Automation can be as small as a baggage conveyor belt. In the speed control example above, the machine which is reading speed can be modified a bit to bring the vehicle back to normal speed. Likewise, driverless cars that can decide where to go can steer the vehicle and apply acceleration. So while the thinking part of driverless cars can be said to be Artificial Intelligence, other aspects such as steering and acceleration are automated. Hence it is safe to say that automation is just part of the output of artificial intelligence.
Read: What is Google RankBrain.
Will Artificial Intelligence replace Jobs?
Confusion about artificial intelligence is that it can replace humans in different jobs in the future. Technology as a whole has already cut short the job market, making many of us unemployed. If machines can think for themselves and the business houses, they’ll do it at a speed much higher than that of humans. Needless to say, businesses will invest more in artificial intelligence.
However, there is always scope for other fields to open up. With new technology, there come opportunities too. Just that the requirement or the skill set would be different. If for example, driverless cars can replace driving jobs, we’ll need a skilled workforce that can maintain these cars.
In this post, Microsoft explains how Artificial Intelligence will shape our future.
Can Super AI be dangerous?
It may or may not be. It depends on what is fed to the machines. If we look back at the TAY example, it went bad because people fed it negative things. Likewise, if the machines earn consciousness and learn to ignore the bad, they will be good. If there is evil working on it, they may definitely start countering humans. Many of the renowned physicists signed a petition to let governments understand the risks of Super AI and to stop funding such projects. But we know that corporate business houses in their pursuit of profits can go to any extent. Even if such projects are stopped by governments, some corporate houses will be more than happy to fund such researches and experiments. It is then that we need to worry.
Read: What is Machine Learning and how it is different from Artificial Intelligence.
Debate on artificial intelligence
The debate on artificial intelligence has two sides. The ones afraid of machines taking over humans is termed pessimists, while the other group thinks they can play Gods.
In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit, Bill Gates confirmed his fears. He said he is worried about the potential threats that artificial intelligence poses to humankind. He also said he agrees with people like Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, and doesn’t know why others are not concerned about machines gaining self-consciousness.
Bill Gates is not the only one concerned about the negative effect of artificial intelligence. A few months ago, in an interview, Stephan Hawking said that artificial intelligence can spell doom for mankind. Stephan Hawking is a prominent scientist and researcher. He is paralyzed and uses a machine based on artificial intelligence to talk. The machine learns his thought process and predicts the words he may want to use next. The voice is robotic and though there are similar machines that provide more natural voices, Stephan prefers the computer voice. He says children who need to use such machines often want to imitate him when speaking.
Stephan Hawking was being interviewed by a BBC reporter who posed a question about his communication machine that uses a basic form of artificial intelligence. To this, he replied that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the doom end of the human race”. He further added that humans, who cannot evolve at a faster speed, cannot compete and would be superseded.
Likewise, Steve Wozniak, the Apple co-founder is too worried about the future of artificial intelligence. In his own words:
“Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on? I don’t know about that …”
But there are others in the industry who are more optimistic and contribute to the debate on artificial intelligence optimistically. The developer of Cleverbot, Rollo Carpenter, says that he believes that humans will remain in charge of the technology for a long time and the potential of it can be used to solve many of the real-world programs. Cleverbot is a software that can chat with you and you will never find out that you are chatting with a software.
He too is a bit skeptical but is betting that the effects of developing artificial intelligence matching or surpassing human intelligence would be in favor of the human race. He says:
“We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it…”
Now check this piece of dialog. Ivan Crewkov asks a machine what if Catherine wrote about it. The machine replies that it would be great. And adds, “Do you think she will be really interested in writing about me?”
The dialog is not from any movie. It is a personal assistant robot named Cubic and it is already under production. I guess people would love to have a personal assistant that can talk like humans – showing human emotions, etc. Cubic is a crowdsourced project and they raised more than $100,000 in crowd-funding. People who contributed to the project will be getting the Cubic somewhere around November this year. While it feels good to have a companion with whom you can talk as much as you want, there are some fears attached as well.
But what happens if machines like Cubic with higher levels of artificial intelligence gain self-consciousness? Will they be willing to serve humans as masters? Or will they want humans to serve them as slaves?
Read: What is Metaverse?
The above facts about artificial intelligence are not comprehensive. I will come up with another article in a while where we’ll talk more about myths about artificial intelligence.