When they hear about tremendous advances in AI (Artificial Intelligence), the first thing that many people think of is whether we will have a Terminator-like scenario on our hands in a few years.
Do not be alarmed. AI is still a couple of years away from becoming self-aware, joking, of course! It’s more like a few decades, minimum. Nevertheless, the recent increases in the sophistication of AI have been met with equal measure and alarm.
Other inventions, like the internet, have ushered in new technological advances. Not without their downsides, of course. However, for many industries, it has created brand new industries within them.
You only need to explore some digital casinos online to see how much that industry has benefitted. Gamblers can sometimes win massive casino jackpots without leaving the comfort of their own home. However, will such tremendous advances ultimately benefit or hinder the more significant population? This is the real question on everyone’s lips. It is a question that has been asked of the internet and smartphones.
The difference is that AI can replicate real human interaction and conversation. This is why the “self-aware” question carries much more weight and danger than ever for the internet.
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What Does “Self-Aware” Mean?
Regarding the internet, some conspiracists thought the year 2000 would completely shut down the world and start an apocalypse. They were similar to many of the famous “world-ending” conspiracies you can find online and on social media today.
The Y2K bug was a classic bit of doom-mongering. It gained widespread coverage but caused absolutely zero damage. For AI to become “self-aware”, we need to define precisely what that means. There’s some distinction regarding the specifics. However, the most broadly recognised and acceptable version is a machine that knows what it is programmed by and what for.
It can then change its goals based on new and ever-changing information. Self-aware means AI that can come to its conclusions and adapt.
Will This Be a Concern?
Yes, it could become a concern decades from now. If AI is programmed with the lust for violence like humans seem to have hardwired into them, combined with much higher knowledge and awareness of the climate, it could pose a terrifying reality for human beings.
It is likely to ever get to this stage so long as there is government intervention. But fortunately, the reality presented in films like Terminator is over-amplified for Hollywood.
A great film, but there are plenty of other variables to consider for that sort of catastrophe to unfold. Much like the film AI, while it is based on some fact, the reality is often slightly different.
The more significant concern is how many jobs AI will take from humans. The list of sectors at risk from highly intelligent artificial intelligence that operates at a higher level of clarity, intelligence, and efficiency than 99.9% of human beings, at a fraction of the cost, is vast.
Is There A Possibility Of AI Disrupting Society?
Almost undoubtedly, yes. It’s the level of the disruption that is the cause for debate. We’re currently seeing a base level of AI technology, and industries like software coding, content writing and education are under threat from the astonishing rise in sophistication from the likes of ChatGPT.
Following Microsoft’s colossal multi-billion-dollar investment into ChatGPT and companies like BuzzFeed announcing they will implement the technology to help create articles, content writing is definitely under threat.
It will begin to change the way the finance industry works. In addition, it will impact healthcare from every level, from research and development to patient care.
There will be huge positives and some negatives to weigh up. Thousands of people must be moved into other sectors if they lose their jobs. This technology begins to hinder a society if it stops thousands of people from providing for their families.
It will be a case of striking a balance, and it will be up to regulatory agencies and governments to ensure that this technology doesn’t begin to impact society as a whole negatively.
It depends on the timescale we look at. For many of us, AI becoming aware is decades away. So even though massive investment in the area may speed up the possibility, the technology isn’t there yet.
A chatbot that can answer advanced educational questions based on hoovering up knowledge is an entirely different proposition from AI software that can make impartial and holistic decisions based on a live scenario.
The genius of human innovation is cancelled out by its subconscious desire for self-destruction. Although we can fly planes worldwide, we also use them to enact war. We have discovered oil which can allow us to travel and move with incredible convenience, yet we are depleting this scarce resource and causing damage to the environment.
The real danger is if we continue to play with fire regarding AI technology.
If AI becomes self-aware, it could accelerate in sophistication rapidly. Although this scenario isn’t anything to worry about in the immediate present, the long-term will come around quicker than we expect, and it is something we need to be heavily aware of a couple of decades from now.