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Artificial Intelligence – friend or a future foe?

November 24, 2021

6 min read

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the power to change the world, for the better or the worse. But let’s not think in such a black and white manner. Let’s explore the top arguments for and against AI, and try to discern if this exciting technology is about to cause our doom or eternal bliss.

Just stop and think about AI for a second. What pops into your head? Is it a sense of hope and optimism about our future? Or an eerie feeling that leaves you wondering if humanity is in danger?

You’d be right not to have a biased view. There’s a lot to consider here, and we’re here to recap on the key factors. 

The world of robots, automation, and the bright – or not so bright – future of humanity are all complex matters. And we’re bringing you the top 4 arguments for, and against AI. But first, let’s sort out the basics.

The difference between AI and ML

The two terms don’t mean the same thing even if people tend to use them interchangeably.

  • AI, that is Artificial Intelligence is the bigger, more complex concept. To create Artificial Intelligence means to simulate the thinking capability and behaviour of humans in machines.
  • ML, that is Machine Learning, on the other hand, is happening when an AI learns from data without being programmed to do so.

So AI is to mimic human intelligence and get machines to carry out tasks in a smart, humane way. All the while ML allows machines to learn from data and become even smarter overtime.

AI at the moment is pretty far from where Skynet is in The Terminator, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get there at a point in the future.

So what is AI currently capable of?

Well, amazing things for sure, but not world dominance. It can do:

  • Profiling – Based on a person’s actions, choices, and preferences. Just think about your Netflix or Spotify recommendations.
  • Predictions – Using data to predict future events. Remember those projections and charts about the pandemic? Yup, that was AI in its prime.
  • Pattern recognition – To find patterns in behaviour, and to show the anomalies. It’s there when Google suggests things, or when Gmail finishes your sentences.
  • Natural language – To understand the way humans communicate, and to be able to react in a similar way. Think Siri and Alexa, but also chatbots that pop up on your screen.
  • Object identification – It can detect objects that it was trained to recognise. Think self-driving cars and in-time recognised obstacles.
  • Goal achievement – This is present in video games, where you play against the computer. The ML algorithm can learn on its own in any environment, and win, with maximised outcome.

So yes, AI is already advanced but it’s nowhere near the state to dominate the world. And we’re still a long way from the singularity.

Still, even in its “infancy”, it can be harmful and cause disruptions to our societal fabric. Let’s see why some loud voices in the discussions surrounding AI say that it will cause our doom:

What are the top 4 downsides of Artificial Intelligence?

Just look at the TV shows and movies of our time. They endlessly project and predict a dystopian future, and you might be inclined to think in terms of The Matrix or The Terminator when it comes to AI. Because in the end, robots might really win, take our jobs, and destroy the world.

Now, if we look at the actual negative traits of this amazing technology, the picture becomes a tad more realistic, but it still causes concern in a lot of people. AI is currently not – and hopefully will not become – an all-powerful, all-knowing consciousness that sets out to destroy humanity. The more realistic negatives lie in the details and AI’s general faults that come with such a versatile, smart technology. 

These are the main negatives:

1. AI makes critical choices but is inherently inhumane

Algorithms have been tasked to make life-altering choices many times. And not all instances have gone by without accidents. Self-driving cars are the future but there’s still a lot to learn for the AI brain. Just check the Moral Machine for an eerie kick of mistrust towards the technology. Algorithms might be able to think more efficiently than humans, but they need to be taught what is and isn’t humane.

2. AI causes unemployment and replaces humans in jobs

This is the most complex argument among all and it needs deeper investigation. AI, in general, can add value to jobs with various augmentations, however, automation technologies that use ML will likely replace humans in the long run. Research shows that 48% of experts believed AI will replace a large number of blue- and even white-collar jobs. This will create income inequality, increased unemployment, and slowly but surely a breakdown of the social order.

3. AI discriminates

Artificial Intelligence frequently fails to recognise and censor racial slurs but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Algorithms often amplify societal problems, like gender bias or the spreading of false information.

4. AI is a risk to our personal privacy

Do you feel watched? That’s because you probably are when you’re out and about living your daily life. 75 out of 176 countries globally are actively using AI for surveillance. Facial recognition is a prime example of unwanted attention and can be used to passively watch people without their approval.

What are the top 4 reasons to root for an even smarter AI?

The positive list is just as impressive as the negative side. AI really does have the potential to change lives for the better and to take humanity to a utopian future. AI fans believe that it depends on us, humans, where we take this technology and how we use it. AI can definitely already help increase productivity and is therefore a major objective in current digital strategies of innovative companies.

1. AI improves efficiency

Since data is worth more than oil, it’s necessary to process it with the utmost accuracy. And there’s nothing more efficient than AI when it comes to data processing. It’s quick, accurate, and processes data in real-time.

2. AI can eradicate human error

The AI workforce will never make mistakes because of stress, tiredness, or illness. Especially when it comes to risky, even dangerous tasks like inspecting roofs. In the case of these jobs, AI can replace the human element and mitigate incidents. Just think humans on top of roofs doing extremely dangerous tasks. Now change up the picture and let a drone fly there, able to notice and fix problems on the spot. In many instances, it’s safer and faster to let AI do the job.

3. AI makes everyday life simple and convenient with smart technology

At the moment, smart homes are not the norm, but in an optimistic view, AI will power entire smart cities in the future. Life is more simple and convenient thanks to smart technologies, and many people think that this will only get better with time.

4. AI improves our health and supports people living with disabilities

One of the main benefits of AI lies in helping people who otherwise couldn’t live a fulfilling, independent life. At the moment, Siri, Alexa or Cortana help millions perform simple tasks. But these solutions will exceed all expectations soon. Smart thermostats, lighting, and plugs can be automated to work on a schedule, and apps like Wheelmap already provide users with critical information like wheelchair accessibility. What’s more, deep learning algorithms are already better at identifying skin cancer than dermatologists.

And where do you stand on Artificial Intelligence?

Now that we’ve seen all the pros and cons, what do you think about the state of AI? And where do you think it will take us? We believe that what we do with this technology depends on us, people, to a great extent, and especially on today’s developers. 

If you’ve set your mind on utilising AI for efficiency and productivity in your company, you’ll need digital professionals who’re at the top of their game to set that AI up, and develop your systems so that help get there. With our help, you can find the right people who’ll take your organisation through a successful digitalisation.

Also, as more and more jobs become automated, it’s critical for your businesses to have a strategy in place that can help your employees develop new skills. We can help with re- and upskilling your existing teams to give your employees the digital skillset that your organisation might be lacking now.

Reach out and let’s talk business! We’ll help you speed up the delivery your digital strategy and business goals.

Hope to talk to you soon.

About us

Codecool is the fastest growing programmer school and tech talent hub in Europe. We make the digital talent gap disappear and enable people to take on future-proof tech careers. We solve IT skill development and resource needs via training and recruitment.

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