Hey Siri, Don't Kill Me Please
How AI is Taking Over Our World
"AI will be either the best, or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which." - Stephen Hawking
Catch Me Up
There are 3 types of AI:
Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI): Can perform single tasks like searching documents, playing chess, and making calculations. This exists already and is rapidly getting more advanced. Think: Google Translate, Siri
Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): This AI is as smart as a human and can converse, reason, and potentially express emotion. This doesn’t exist yet, but it probably will in the next 20-50 years. Think: Samantha in Her
Artificial Superintelligence (ASI): Intelligent beyond our wildest dreams. ASI is hypothetical, but many experts believe it to be possible due to recursive self-improvement, the ability to better itself continually without assistance.
The Upside ⇡
Artificial intelligence has the ability to make our lives much easier and solve increasingly complex problems facing the world today. Right now, it helps us avoid traffic, flies our airplanes, and helps us diagnose disease. Within the next two decades, AI will begin to manage most things that take up our time and help optimize the surroundings for each person. Your health and wellbeing will be monitored with wearable technology that gives recommendations for exactly what you should be eating, tells you what supplements you should take, and coaches you through your exercise routine. Robotic doctors will operate with almost no margin of error while AI investors manage assets by the minute. Crops will be planted on the optimal day of the year, education will be tailored to the learning style of each student, and fake news will be filtered out of the internet. From doing the dishes to auditing taxes, AI will take on most of the jobs that humans would prefer not to do, perhaps freeing up time for humans to focus on their passions and have greater ability to allocate their time how they choose. If all goes as planned, life will be safer and more efficient.
The Downside ⇣
What if things don’t go as planned? Well, according to Elon Musk, AI “is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” Musk’s main concern is that AI oversight and safety measures aren’t keeping pace with the advancement of the technology. It’s far sexier to build it than to police it. One fear is that AI will become so intelligent that we fail to control it, leaving the human race vulnerable to the whims of the machine. A superintelligent AI may decide to treat us like cute little pets or extinguish us all together, whatever is more strategic for its end goal. Politically, it’s a space race all over again, and the stakes are higher than ever before. In 2017, Vladimir Putin said, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere [AI] will become the ruler of the world.” Yikes. In a closer timeframe, we can expect AI to take jobs away from humans. AI guru Kai-Fu Lee estimates 40% of jobs in the next 2 decades will be replaced by AI, leaving low-wage workers scrambling to find new opportunities and governments to decide how to support them. We’re also in for a great deal of babysitting as different forms of AI learn and adapt. Some Walmart employees are already “past their breaking point” with an anti-theft AI. In 2016, Microsoft learned the hard way that people can easily corrupt AI after Twitter taught its AI, Tay, to spout xenophobic, racist, and mysoginistic things within 24 hours of launch. Oh well…at least the terms for AI development are cute: AI gets more intelligent by practicing unsupervised learning and self play :’)
The Future ⇢
The exciting thing about AI is that its growth potential is enormous. As we move towards the singularity—the point at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, AI will continue to advance the human race in unimaginable ways. Memories, thoughts, experiences, and teachings will be uploaded directly into the cloud to be stored, shared, or sold. Neuralink is already seeking FDA approval this year to implant computer chips into people’s brains that allow them to control computers and smartphones. Intelligent nanobots will circulate the body, analyzing our physiology and addressing our medical needs at the molecular level and dramatically expanding the human lifespan. AI will aid in the development of green technologies, allowing us to continue to make technological progress with minimized harm to the environment. Homes will be outfitted with AI-enabled appliances that commandeer domestic duties, from cleaning to cooking to planning our schedules. With the ability to plug into anyone’s brain (with consent), we will become smarter, more informed, and even more tapped-in to the global consciousness. We will coexist with technology more intimately than ever before, doing our best to maintain a semblance of control while ever pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
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Each week, we hold Zoom discussions on how we want the future to look. Grab a friend and hop in with us! This week’s times are: