Spelling An End To Human Race? Artificial Intelligence Is A Major Global Threat

Posted by Ivjyot Oberoi
June 6, 2017

On any normal day, one can hear voices “Okay Google” or “Hey Siri” multiple times. Be it in office or while commuting in metro/public transport. It proves how quickly the Artificial Intelligence has bonded with the humans, and more importantly how seamlessly humans have accepted it in their lives. With AI bots — such as Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa— already on the shelves across the globe, the transformation has been relatively quick. The race has begun. With most of the honchos of various premier companies working overtime to cross the finish line first – the run is becoming interesting as well as scary.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? 

 Oxford dictionary describes AI as a theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

In layman terms, it means that the computer system is capable of taking decisions without the human interventions. Sounds lucrative, doesn’t it?  You might have even used certain applications using Artificial Intelligence. The automatic detection of a person’s name in a picture clicked by a smartphone is one of the example.

What can AI do?

From searching the web to scanning the body for cancer, for AI sky is the limit. A renowned and interesting project is of ‘driverless -cars’. These cars are capable of steering a passenger, even through heavy traffic. For the same purpose, cab aggregator Uber few months back acquired the Geometric Intelligence to expedite the process. Imagine how profitable this can be for a company like Uber.

Further Google, under the umbrella of Alphabet Inc. is trying to use AI and bring medical facilities to the needy. It teamed up with Johnson and Johnson – a year back- to develop automated surgical -robots and is again back in news for announcing that  Google would be using Artificial Intelligence to detect breast cancer.

Not to forget, AI Chat-bots have revolutionized the customer service experience and have been evolving with time. With people becoming more welcoming towards the chat-bots, the industry is booming with multiple start-ups that use this as one of their service.

What can go wrong? 

We want to craft this world a better place (and a more lethargic one) with robots completing the ubiquitous daily chores. With an enormous market (16.06 Billion USD by 2022) the research to fine tune the technology is bound to take place at a robust pace. However let’s not completely be enticed with it.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX while answering a question at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium said; “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence…I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and he’s like — Yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out. “Somewhere down the line, Mr. Musk is right.

The recent driver-less car crash in Arizona has accentuated the problem which has also put Uber, testing its driverless cars, on hold and has resurfaced the contentious question whether we are safe under the wheels of AI.

Hence, let’s not be gullible and try to understand the fact that, the rocket used to launch satellites can also be re-engineered to be used as a ballistic missile. Same principle is valid here. With most of the world going digital, the vulnerability to mankind is at its zenith. AI is bound to usher a new era of hacking. With the sensible automation reducing the time to crack into a system, no doubt it has also been welcomed by the dark society.

Also most of the advanced weaponry systems are digital now. With extremism on a rise if such technology passes in the hands of nefarious regimes, it can be dangerous and be a reason of mass destruction.

Hence while swimming in the obscured waters, one has to be careful which even the famous theoretical physicist, Mr. Stephen Hawking warned of. He said: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race…. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”