What is So Amazing and at the Same Time Frightening About Artificial Intelligence?
This question could confuse an attentive reader, because even scientists majoring in this field have not yet come up with the universal definition of intelligence (McCarthy, 2007). For instance, Marvin Minsky defines intelligence as “the ability to solve hard problems” (Minsky, 1988, p. 71). However, to use this definition one should also provide the definition of what a hard problem is. Performing routine calculations, for example, requires significant intellectual efforts. Nevertheless, almost any computer program can do these calculations easily. Therefore, it is obvious that this definition is at least too broad. Another example of a confusing definition of intelligence belongs to Larry Tesler. According to him, artificial intelligence “is whatever hasn’t been done yet” (Narin, 1993, Defining Intelligence section, para. 5).
One of the reasons why the technology of artificial intelligence is amazing is its significant contribution to the process of production instruments improvement, which has taken place throughout the whole history of humankind. People created computers to perform highly complicated calculations. Later, they noticed that computers can operate other devices, which gave a rise to robotics. Such devices can interact with their surrounding and perform various tasks.
So far, robots have improved their performance of routine operations in a great number of production processes. The are used in conditions dangerous for human health, such as operating in a nuclear reactor or on the ocean’s bottom. However, while working in an aggressive environment, a robot needs to be guided on its possible courses of actions. A robot’s operator cannot use natural language to provide such a guidance, because it is too complex and ambiguous for a machine.
The fact that, according to Yehoshua Bar-Hillel (1960, p. 1), “the idea of inventing a method for fully automatic high quality translation” from one language to another “is just a dream which will not come true in the foreseeable future” gives the evidence for this claim. However, people can write a code to instruct a robot about possible courses of actions, but ordinary programming turns out to be too cumbersome in this case due to the so-called dimensionality (Sammut & Webb, 2011, p. 257).
It is surprising, but only programs with elements of artificial intelligence can be good enough for manipulating a robot. The software development, which is dependent on hardware development, has impeded “the spread of artificial intelligence” so far (Simmons, n. d., p. 2). It is likely that in near future “some of the biggest political decisions on the world stage” will be “eventually influenced by sentient machines” (Simmons, n. d., p. 2).
Unfortunately, as a consequence of technological progress, machines gradually exclude people from the production processes, as well as from managing a society. Such tendencies became apparent long before the start of the computer era. As for future, some sci-fi authors believe that computers will once conquer the world and eliminate. To avoid it, a famous scientist and writer Isaac Asimov suggested his three basic principles, on which the behavior of robots and smart machines should be based. Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, as they are called, are the following:
- Robots must never harm human beings or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- Robots must follow instructions from humans without violating rule 1.
- Robots must protect themselves without violating the other rules. (WhatIs.com, n.d.)
However, it is a great challenge to bring these principles to life. Also, the fact that the development of information technology has contributed to “organized crime becoming more globalized and more diversified” is yet another aspect that makes artificial intelligence frightening (Gastrow, 2013, p. 2).
Besides making our lives easier, artificial intelligence also imposes significant risks for the humankind. Among these risks there are the following:
– computer’s potential superiority over a human being, which can lead to machines’ conquering humankind;
– the reduction of workplaces available for people due to this superiority;
– new opportunities for criminals to break a law.
As for the optimistic part of the question, this technology can help people avoid working in aggressive environments, and delegating risky tasks to robots. The quality of decision making can also be improved due to the use of artificial intelligence and its participation in the decision-making process.
Bar-Hillel, Y. (1960). A demonstration of the nonfeasibility of fully automatic high qualitytranslation. In The present status of automatic translation of languages (Appendix III). Retrieved from http://www.mt-archive.info/Bar-Hillel-1960-App3.pdf
Gastrow, P. (2013, October 17). Transnational organized crime: The stepchild of crime-combating priorities. Retrieved from http://us-cdn.creamermedia.co.za/assets/articles/attachments/46528_polbrief46.pdf
McCarthy, J. (2007, November 12). Basic questions. Retrieved from http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/whatisai/node1.html
Minsky, M. (1988). The society of mind. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
Narin, A. (1993, December). The myths of artificial intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.narin.com/attila/ai.html
Sammut, C. & Webb, G. I. (Eds.). (2011). Encyclopedia of machine learning. New York, NY: Springer.
Simmons, D. (n. d.). The dark side of technology — the evolution of cyber crime. Retrieved from http://xlgroup.com/~/media/f901ba2df00541a6a18400f6e93f1ccc.pdf
WhatIs.com. (n. d.). Asimov’s three laws of robotics. Retrieved from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Asimovs-Three-Laws-of-Robotics
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