By Mohammed Adel
When most people hear the words “Artificial Intelligence” they immediately think of metal robots with red shiny eyes running around and shooting people. But that is not really the case. Artificial Intelligence doesn’t actually need a body to perform its function. Artificial Intelligence has an amazing range of benefits that people often overlook. It is present in your mobiles, planes, and even in social media.
Facebook for example uses AI to study a person’s patterns, likes, shares and check-ins to suggest pages and events that might interest the user. They also do the same with advertisements. That is why the suggested pages or ads often fit the bill perfectly. AI is also present in air-planes in the autopilot systems. It is definitely of amazing use and benefit to the human race, but will this always be the case? Or will AI reach the point where it deems normal human beings as surplus to existence and try to get rid of us?
A new field of research was founded to protect the human race from ever reaching that phase. AI Safety research is concerned with aligning the AI system’s goal with ours. After all, what people should worry about is not that the AI would conjure feelings of hate towards the human race and suddenly decide to destroy it completely. The AI is an intelligent system with a specified goal. It will do whatever it was designed to do regardless of the cost. That’s where the term “Be careful what you wish for,” comes in.
You can design a system to get you from one place to another, so it will do just exactly that but you may find yourself leaving a trail of wrecked cars and bodies on the road behind. It will give you the result you asked for but not with the way you imagined. So the fear is not actually from the AI developing consciousness but from the danger of it teaching itself and finding humans as an obstacle in reaching the goal it was designed to do. After all, we are exactly the same. If you wish to build a shopping mall in a forest, you will just cut down the trees that are in your way.
AI developing super-intelligence is not something that only the uneducated mass believe, but many prominent figures in technology such as Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates also believe in the danger of AI being a threat to humanity. Some people argue that machines can never control human beings but it is actually completely possible. We can control animals only because we are smarter than them not more powerful. So in the case of AI developing super-intelligence, we can easily be controlled and out-manipulated. It needs only an internet connection to do whatever it desires.
There is also the fear of autonomous weapons. A heat-seeking missile is a weapon that depends on AI and changes its behavior based on the decisions of its target. In that case, if a person is its target, he won’t be afraid of the missile developing consciousness but rather afraid of its goal. To prevent such disasters from occurring, we need to align the AI system’s goals with ours.
Although some people argue that super-intelligence won’t be reached for decades, some argue that it may happen in a couple of years. Both arguments may be valid as the technological advances have become hard to predict in recent years. But one thing is for certain; it will be a long time before you find a robot knocking on your door and saying “Hasta La Vista, Baby”.