AI is Coming. What’s in Store for You?

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Artificial intelligence is advancing at an alarming rate. While the consequences for hyper-intelligent software is still unknown, its progress continues unhindered. How will AI affect the workplace? Our everyday lives? Our very existence? At present, there are no easy answers, only a few educated predictions. As the research and advancement of artificial intelligence intensifies, philosophical questions are replaced by practical ones. One such questions: how fast is AI progressing?

I don’t think most people understand just how quickly machine intelligence is advancing,” Elon Musk said at a recent Vanity Fair Summit. “It’s much faster than anyone realizes even within Silicon Valley.”

The pace of innovation is relentless. As our needs become more and more complex, current technologies struggle to keep up.

We may not be aware of it, but machine learning is already an integral part of our daily lives,” Simon Worrall wrote in his piece How Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Our Lives for National Geographic. “Few of us understand it or the implications, however,” the author continues.

Complicated problems require sophisticated solutions. One primary proposal is to augment our efforts with machine learning. A proposal, as Elon Musk elucidated, that is gaining traction rather quickly.

AI is kind of the second coming of software,” Amir Husain, founder of a machine learning company called SparkCognition, told Business News Daily. “It’s a form of software that makes decisions on its own, that’s able to act even in situations not foreseen by the programmers. AI has a wider latitude of decision-making ability as opposed to traditional software.”

With this greater ability to learn and make decisions come a wealth of positive consequences. We produce billions of pieces of data a day. As we create more and more data every second, our capacity to analyze said data decreases. Artificial intelligence could help us wield big data in helpful ways.

Medical researchers, for example, are able to analyze massive pools of data related to cancer with the assistance of AI.

A recent Oxford study predicted that as many as 47% of jobs were at risk for being automated in the coming decade. How? AI is able to replicate routine mental work quite well — which could cut out a great deal of jobs that rely heavily on routine work. Common sense, creative thinking, and social grace are difficult to replicate for AI, but routine, like the routine of physicians, lawyers, and some service workers are easier to mimic.

A loss of so many jobs could be catastrophic. At the same time, however, the elimination of routine from work could be extremely beneficial, if — and only if — it is used to help bolster others.

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence,” Bill Gates said in a Reddit AMA. “First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.”

As Gates expressed, machine learning could result in many positive outcomes, especially in terms of work. Superintelligent machines, on the other hand, could pose an existential threat. Artificially intelligent machines could be deployed in warfare, for example. Or could perhaps have an error in their utility function that calls for extinction of mankind. Most salient among these concerns of weaponization seems to be the fear of a global AI arms race.

[W]e believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways,” reads the open letter endorsed by prominent AI researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs, including Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, and Elon Musk. “Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.”

Regardless of what innovations within the industry bring and what legislation and regulation we see as a result of it, it is clear that artificial intelligence is already here. How far artificial intelligence integrates into our daily lives is dependent on a few key factors, including how it changes employment, the economy, and productivity. Whatever the effects may be, AI will certainly change how we relate with the world irrevocably.

About the Author

Contributed by: Anthony Coggine is a HR professional turned business analyst. He has spent more than 5 years as a recruitment consultant in a variety of industries, primarily focused on consumer technology and research. 


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