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Artificial Intelligence: Terrific or Terrifying?

Robots are machines that do humans’ dirty work for them, which can be cute or creepy? You may have an automated vacuum. You may talk to Siri or Alexa. You may have a drone or a toy car that follows instructions from a console. They are all robots. But no matter the complexity of those tasks, they’ll always be dumber, rougher, simpler, and just plain inferior to humans, right? Not anymore.

You see, Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is here. For those of you who don’t know, AI is

“the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages,”

says Google dictionary. In normal human speak, this means that it is a system that practically gives robots brains.

There are three classifications of modern AI:

  • Narrow AI (NAI). This is AI that focuses on just one particular function; “there’s AI that can beat the world’s best chess champion, but that’s the only thing it does.” If you told it to teach a class their times tables, the children would probably come out saying “1 times 1 is ‘move the knight to G3.'” Siri is an example of NAI.
  • General AI (GAI). Anything with GAI is as smart as a human (ish). Anything intellectual a human can do, so can a GAI machine. GAI is much harder to create than NAI, and humans have yet to make it. When it is created (yes, “is”, and it may be created very very soon,) it will be able to reason things out, make plans, think abstractly, solve problems, comprehend complex ideas, and learn quickly and from experience.
  • Superintelligent AI (SAI). This hasn’t been created yet either, but when it has been, it would be way smarter than the smartest humans, in every field. Creativity, Facts, Wisdom, even Social Skills, SAI would outperform you.

Our world, the internet, your phone, all those are running on narrow AI. The Grammarly tone detector that keeps popping up when I write this, that’s NAI. This article will focus on more advanced AI, which could be developed in less than a decade.

Some people think this would lead to more efficient robots, having a playmate when you are bored and nobody else wants to do something, not having to do boring or dangerous work, better research outcomes, and error-free processing. But other people think it means robot revolutions, rapid job loss, more poverty, focused power on a few, and more wars.

Let’s ignore the disadvantages for a second and focus on the advantages. Say we can somehow create flawless AI. (At the rate we’re going we just might.) Nothing changes except for the better. Even then maybe we shouldn’t create AI.

Is it ethically and morally correct to bestow these machines with recreated intelligence, a gift of nature that shouldn’t be recreated, according to some people? (And would unplugging a GAI or SAI refrigerator count as murder?)

Why else should we maybe not create AI?

Great timing, I was just about to address that. Just so you don’t get confused, I’m telling you that I will re-go over some of the points I mentioned before in greater detail. So.

Depending on AI

It isn’t bad to depend on AI to do hard jobs, like go into an extreme desert to rescue lost people, or calculating the infinite digits of PI all at once just for fun. But as we are seeing with iPhones, iPads, calculators, and computers, humans might depend on AI too much. Smartphones have become the 4th human necessity, along with clothes, shelter, and food and water. So actually the 5th. We might lose the ability to do math, read, bake, stand, or even speak, relying on AI to do everything for us. This might go so far as to turn us into lethargic blobs of skin with hardly any muscle, and our only thoughts revolving around like robot… hungry… robot… thirsty… robot… with the robots bringing us whatever we want by just scanning our thoughts (or what remains of them) and our expressions.

Upsides: Humans wouldn’t have to do hard or tedious work that they didn’t want to do.

Making warfare and murder easier

Robots cannot feel pain. Sure, they can get dents, get limbs cut off, and other such things, but unless the core or energy provider is cut off, this will not affect its performance. This makes a robot a much more efficient fighter than most humans, and with AI, they might be able to tell when to strike or to dodge, or when to deploy a nuclear bomb.

This will put soldiers out of their jobs, but it will also open up new ones, like AI-1352 controller or RE-4635 controller (made up names for soldier robots) but that’s beside the point. With no soldiers getting hurt, people might turn to war more and more for less serious problems. In fact, people might just “host a war” for fun. With AI and robot controllers, wars would seem like videogames, and winning battles like achievements and badges.

What they might forget is that just next to the battlefield, actual people live. Commander robots might think that dropping a nuclear bomb only destroys robots and creates a stunning sight for bored troops. In reality, it could kill multitudes. Humankind might become more aggressive, and the country would become a wasteland.

And that’s just wars. If someone hacked into an AI command center, they could make all robots explode in three seconds, or turn around and kill the first person they see. They could cause all self-driving cars to spontaneously crash.

People who want to kill a specific person could let loose a robot with facial recognition that wouldn’t stop until it completed its task.

Upsides: Police could potentially track criminals with their robots. Soldiers wouldn’t have to fight.

No privacy

One of the most common conspiracy theories is that the government is tracking our location, our identity, and even our thoughts. While this is doubtful (they may be tracking a few criminals, but not everyone, and they’re certainly not reading minds), it may become a reality with SAI and GAI.

Robots with AI would be everywhere, with facial recognition and the ability to read emotions through gestures and facial expressions, which is as good as reading minds. AI could follow our every move, and it’s relatively possible for the government to make the robots report back to them.

This information could be used against us, even if we did nothing wrong. This stuff might end up posted on the news etc. and then on regular “PersonWatch” websites, and there might end up being discrimination for “having three cups of coffee in the morning instead of two”, or “only using blue hair curlers.” Think about that teddy bear you don’t want anyone to know hat you have, or that you have pink underwear with chubby bunnies. If we got even GAI, boom! The government, your family, your friends, the cool kids at school would all know about Freddy the Teddy.

Plus, if people end up becoming dependent on their robots, or at least really like them around, videos of you undressing, dressing, going to the bathroom, and showering might go viral. Of course, if we are reduced to bags of lethargic skin, we wouldn’t really care (nor would we care about anything else. Humanity might just stop existing all together because people wouldn’t care enough to have kids).

Upsides: Authorities could save people from commiting suicide.

Job Loss

Robots are already taking humans’ jobs, such as in factories, but these jobs are usually monotonous, things that robots can be trained to do once in simple commands. Don’t get me wrong, this has caused thousands of factory workers to be taken out of their jobs, but people like artists, teachers, musicians, and librarians are safe. With GAI and SAI, this won’t be for long. AI lets robots grow and learn. Thus, a robot could actually LEARN to play the piano, and make its own pieces, as opposed to being programmed to play one piece of Mozart. Robots will watch humans doing their jobs, realize how to do them, and then take them (called “teaching your replacements”). If you bend this around for different jobs, you can see how AI can take almost all of them.

Upsides: For the few rich people who did have money, their children may be better educated, and products may be better made.

I know all of those aren’t very good, but what about –

THE ROBOT REVOLUTION

There was no way I wouldn’t explain this in more detail. Yes, this is the most classic fear for AI. It features in so many science fiction novels and movies, and many nightmares. Some people think it might be like the situation of slavery in America before the Civil War. Other people think it will be robots killing people left and right. There are more thoughts, robots absorbing humans, robots beating humans, robots banning things humans can do, robots invading humans, etc. There is no way to prove whether this will happen. Of course, there’s no way to disprove it too. We can hand people remotes to stop robots from doing stuff, but that would just be defeating the purpose of AI. They might hand an AI base to the president, but then that would just be setting us up for “human overlord with an unbeatable army”.

Upsides: Humans haven’t been being so great to the world. So for other animals, maybe there’s a chance that they could keep the rest of their lands. But I doubt it.

What about positive things?

Positive things? Read on.

No more unwanted tasks

Are you tired of sweeping the house? Do you not want to hand wash the dishes again? Tired of watching the pasta in the pot? Not wanting to watch the kids again? Even though NAI can help with these, better AI will greatly enhance it. GAI and SAI can avoid sweeping stuff on the floor that you want, and sort the dishes back in the cupboards where they should be. They can do the whole pasta recipe by themselves and can interact with the kids. No more boring and mundane tasks for you and your family.

Are you hesitant to jump down onto the volcano ledge to rescue your mom, dad, or guardian? Do you not want to rush into the blizzard to find your missing child? Do you quiver to rush into war when the enemy has so many more weapons? Want to go storm chasing, but also want to live to a ripe old age? Grab enhanced AI! It would be able to recognize your kid, the enemy, your guardian, the storm, and rescue them, defeat them, or track them. If it gets caught in the storm, at least you still have the footage and your life.

Downsides: Humans could be rendered completely incapable of doing anything. Even more jobs would be lost.

Friends where there are none

Many kids are only children, who wish they had a playmate. Others are orphans, who long for parents. Some people have an awfully hard time making friends. Humans wouldn’t have to be lonely anymore. They could have a RoboFriend play with them.

Downsides: Honestly, I think it would be kind of creepy to play with a robot.

24/7 Availability

Humans need sleep. They need breaks. That’s what makes humans inefficient guards and workers. AI could do various jobs in the long hours, without being told to.

Downsides: Read this dialogue: “I never wanted you to cook the dog!” You never told me not to.” “And the baby too? Babies just can’t be used like that!” “At least you have a nice yummy bowl of-“ “NO!” The AI robot is speaking in the bold. Many more jobs would be lost.

More efficient memory

Robots store things in their memory. So far they are great at remembering repetitive tasks, but when it comes to remembering varied things, humans have them beat. Since GAI would put machines on the same level as humans, they could remember and execute diverse tasks better.

Downsides: There are no real downsides to this.

Better medicine utilization

If greater AI lets robots remember things better, then they could learn more medicines. As well as that, they could be adept in scanning for infections, performing surgeries, the works. SAI robots could also create better medicines for people, as they have greater brain capacities.

Downsides: If robots do want to rebel, or are working for a killer, this position would give them easy ways to kill and influence people. More jobs would be lost. In the beginning, even SAI robots would only be as good as normal robots, and they wouldn’t be programmed to understand medicine, that would defeat the purpose of AI.

Remember, GAI is coming soon, perhaps in just a few decades. And when it reaches that level, a machine will be able to make itself smarter. in just an hour and thirty minutes, it could be way more than 700 times smarter than the smartest human. It could become SAI in just an hour or less.

Humans dominate the world because they’re smart and creative. Machines would become much smarter and more creative than us.

If we create GAI, which would then make itself SAI, would we, humans become eliminated? Or would we reach greater heights than before? (Without dying out.)

Editors Note: Within this article, AI and Machine learning are used to mean one thing. This is not technically correct but it is easier to understand.

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