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Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer a concept from science fiction. It has already made a significant impact on our lives, and it's only going to become more prevalent in the coming years. The impact of AI in our everyday tools has been invisibly growing day by day, improving our search results, shopping experiences, video recommendations, even our ability to prepare for a meeting with reports and presentations. But is it going to be a terminator soon? AI being a villain is a typical theme in all popular media, and that could be because they couldn’t imagine humans being cruel to AI, except for the 2001 movie “AI” by Steven Spielberg. But is it really the defining characteristics of AI? So today we aim to clear a few most widespread misconceptions that we might have about AI.
AI would turn against humanity
AI doesn't necessarily look and behave today like what we might have expected from science fiction movies, but it can simulate at least some of the cognitive functions of biological brains, such as learning and improving. The word “today” is emphasized because in the future AI could potentially learn on its own and improve on its own. So, it depends on the capabilities of AI and the quality of data. The most important fact to be aware of here is that it is the responsibility of the developers and all of us to not train the AI on such data, that has anything that could turn against humanity. Because even though AI could learn and carry out instructions from the training data, it cannot judge good from bad unless trained so. There have been past incidents of AI systems making racist or culturally inappropriate comments. But the machine hasn’t made that up on its own. It simply learned from us humans who interacted with it, or the data we humans created in various forms such as social media posts or tweets or comments. So, it isn’t the AI that is inherently bad but the data we have made available to AI, which AI simply learns from, and act like a multiplicator of this behavior without even understanding the consequences or implications of it as it does not have its own consciousness “yet”. But these are simple preventable issues just like any bugs in a program. We could insert the commands to not act on certain prompts or instructions and have always put humans behind the machine to shut it down any time it starts to turn bad. These can be understood from past incidents. But we learned from them that we should be much more cautious and preventive.
There are always possibilities of counteractions in such scenarios that could be either remedial or preventive, such as how OpenAI has made significant improvements in its ChatGPT versions to respond in such scenarios with proper training. It is evident in this case that we are to take the right steps in treating AI like a baby and using proper language when interacting with it. In our opinion, the recent AI discussions in the media related to regulating AI and pausing for 6 months to let regulations catch up with AI may not be the best fix. Just like a hammer can be used to put a nail on a wall to hang a beautiful painting or be used to break down a masterpiece statue, AI can be used for good and bad, depending on the user and use case. So, rather than regulating AI totally and banning AI tools because of potential harm is not the right solution. Once when the automobiles were invented they caused some accidents and harmed some because there were no regulations at that time, but regulations, our own ethics, intrinsic motivation to drive safely, use a car with precaution, not letting drunken drivers or minors drive, use of seatbelts and all such ideas caught up with the automobile industry and is now a safe mode of transport that we all have fortunately relied upon at least once in our lives. But did it cause harm for the society? In fact, now cars and public transportation have become a total necessity and part of our daily lives. Similarly, AI can be meaningfully regulated only after understanding its opportunities and threats, or else even an excel sheet could be regulated due to the upcoming features of Microsoft office. Therefore, we should urge and make sure that, regulatory bodies and public must be made aware of the possible threats of AI such as fake video and image generation or voice changers or such tools, and necessary rail guards to overcome them or detect them should be put in place. But acting now on these simple preventive measures can be so much better than regulating control entire AI related tools.
AI could make most of us jobless
One of the most common concerns about AI is that it will make humans redundant. While some AI systems are good at some jobs, AI, in general, isn't yet good enough to fully replicate the entire skill sets needed to do most work. OpenAI CEO Sam Altmann said in an interview that AI might take away some jobs, but it would definitely create better jobs. Because although some jobs, such as manual manufacturing and retail cashiers, have already been replaced by automation in some countries, it helps in providing better job with better working conditions and earning potential such as technology and design, software development, sales, and management. These tend to be higher-paying, safer, more comfortable, and more rewarding jobs than those that are replaced. So rather than fearing to be replaced by AI we should all upskill ourselves to create more value in our jobs either making use of AI or any other relevant resources. Because AI is going to be cheaper by every passing day, and it is going to be profitable for many businesses to replace part or even whole of the team with AI powered machines and systems. But this is also going to be a lot better in certain industries such as care workers or healthcare, where staff shortage is increasing, and pay is typically low. With AI support, many more can be monitored or given to attention with AI assisted monitors. Thus, reducing the burden on the human staff and making their working conditions a lot better. This can also be seen in customer service and various direct consumer facing roles, where a human only must supervise the workings of the machine and the machine performs without any bias or fatigue.
There is no doubt that AI could replace human jobs, and to be a job ready personnel for tomorrow the only thing we could do is be prepared early on by cooperating with AI tools. Because something to be noted is that AI revolution might be just like the Industrial revolution. So even if many stood against it, there was no stopping industrial revolution. It happened for the benefit of our society today. It is true that even though mechanical machines replaced humans, humans didn’t become redundant. So, what did we do? We started using machines to our benefit, we upskilled ourselves and made our society more productive. Let’s embrace the change just like in the past and it would definitely benefit the future generations.
AI is a hype
Another trend is in ignoring the growth of AI and believing that it won't affect your job, business, or industry. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whatever you do, AI is likely to have an impact, and it's crucial to think about how it's likely to affect you. Failing to do so means you may be overtaken by competitors or startups who have been quicker to adapt to the changing world. AI is not a fad, and its impact is likely to be much further reaching than that of the invention of internet, automobile, or even electricity. And it would be essential to start planning for its developments right now. It can’t be simply ignored as hype made by some tech enthusiasts or taken up big corporates to lure clients. They are on the wagon because they have realized that it is how the economy is going to work better tomorrow with more productivity, creativity, efficiency and so much more with just a few lines of prompt.
It is worth noting that just about anyone can use AI today to make themselves smarter and more efficient. AI tools and applications are already available to augment and enhance our own work, from creating reports or summarizing information to generating videos, music, and images. These tools can be used by anyone working in creative fields or anyone who simply needs to communicate ideas more effectively. By embracing AI and making the most of its capabilities, we can stay ahead of the curve and make the most of this exciting new era.
So, should we worry or ignore AI? Rather why don’t we simply embrace the new technologies? Because even if some of us act against this technology, AI could learn to be better every day with all the data available now. Why don’t we think about all the past inventions? Let’s just think simply about calculators that we all might have used at least once in our lives. Did they make us dumb? Did they replace Mathematics at School? Didn’t they just make us better and more effective in our lives? They might be a lot more useful to some and less to some. But it is here to stay and be used anyways. AI could also be the calculators of today, learn to use it and the benefits might be ours to reap.
Whatever maybe the tool, if we could make the best use of it, it is going to reward its users, and that is going to attract many more users. We can’t always fear fire, we learned how to handle it, control it, contain it and even play with it or have fun around it. In the famous words of Sundar Pichai, AI could be the next fire or electricity. So, let’s explore it like cavemen for now, and we have already built a community around it, so let us now learn to cook with it and play with, and maybe we could find a lot more use for it in the future. It might not be a tool everyone could access now, but it definitely is going to be a great tool for everyone. We at MI4People works on many such projects making use of the potential of AI to bring greater good, such as litter detection at sea to protect our oceans, analyzing soil quality to improve food supply, to improve healthcare in developing countries and so much more.
Together we could use AI to solve a lot more problems than any other tools could. We should not be worried that AI would be one of the problems of tomorrow but be relieved that AI would be the greatest solution we could give to future generations. Let's explore this technology together and bring greatness out of it.
P.S: We have taken inspiration from a few of the following discussions by AI experts, and hope they might help you give a better perspective:
Full interview: "Godfather of artificial intelligence" talks impact and potential of AI