Artificial intelligence, sci-fi and utopias

Arie Halpern: Artificial intelligence will change the way we live - our relationship with work, with the environment

Arie Halpern: Artificial intelligence will change the way we live – our relationship with work, with the environment

There is a drama of mythological dimensions about the relationship between creator and creature. It is present in religious narratives in literature, children’s stories and almost invariably relates to fear that the creature come alive and start to have own will. There are, besides the myths about the creation of man, classic stories like Pinocchio, Golem, Frankenstein, the Doctor and the Monster. The modern version of the myth was presented in a masterly way in the film “2001 A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick, in which the computer Hal tries to get rid of the Discovery ship’s crew to impose its will. Restlessness of the same nature is present in the current experiments with artificial intelligence (AI), a technology that advances on several fronts and should trigger successive waves of disruption.

Artificial intelligence will change the way we live – our relationship with work, with the environment, between humans, between humans and machines and between machines themselves. Yes, we have robots performing household tasks, taking care of our health, we will have driverless cars, appliances that talk and interact with us. And, on top of the social pyramid robots, machines that can perform tasks without having been instructed to do so – that is, able to make decisions based on their own “experience” in their own mistakes.

Nowadays, we have fun with machines that mimic the human behavior. They are fed by an enormous amount of data, have great processing power and algorithms that simulate the way we analyze all of this. Some are also capable, like humans, to do unintelligent things – for example, based on your internet browsing, persistently offer products you searched one day and in which you are no longer interested or already bought. The answers spirits that the command system voice of iPhone returns when you say a dirty word, Google’s search mechanisms and recognition systems of people in photographs are also part of the IA development field. The robots that come successively defeating chess players and teachers in Go are shown as examples of the possible superiority of machines over the “natural intelligence.”

In urban transport, the new sensation are the autonomous cars. They are circulating experimentally in the streets and leave no doubt that a smart car can, without the intervention of a human driver, take the passenger to their destination based on their own decisions system. It analyzes information captured by its sensors, identifies the movement of objects and beings around, diverts, reduces the speed or take other action, as appropriate. In later stages, these skills will be over-refine, including the accessory functions related to the comfort of the car occupants. We can think of cars able to identify the mood of the occupant, choose the appropriate music and start a meaningful conversation – perhaps even able to complain about the traffic.

In the view of some scientists, by 2050 machines will be rivals of human beings in relation to ability to act. They will be able to learn a game, alone, by deduction. They will be able to social interactions and even create, write or paint. Unlikely to be artists, but certainly will be more efficient in analyzing scenarios and drawing mathematical conclusions. Tasks as performed by robots in Fukushima, which were used to take care of risk tasks, such as cleaning up the nuclear accident location, will be very welcome. Let’s not talk about the use of A.I. for evil, although it is obvious that this should be a concern already placed. Used for good, A.I. could contribute to solve or prevent further problems, such as global warming, epidemics and natural disasters.

The disruptions caused by IA will require special care with the increasing intelligence of the machines and their indiscriminate use, so it do not turn into a trap for humans. Not in the sense of a rebellion of the machines against their creators. However, as the use of this technology becomes part of everyday life, it is appropriate to also research the impact of their use in the learning process, especially with children. Therefore, it is essential precautions to avoid possible harmful effects on the development of the next generations. With the large-scale adoption of AI, humans must also improve their ability to evolve with humanity.

The social impact is expected to be of great magnitude. Bank of England studies suggest that 48% of human workers could be replaced by robots and autonomous software (http://fortune.com/2016/06/15/future-of-work-2/). Only in the United States, ArkInvest estimates that 76 million of jobs may disappear in the next two decades. With the arrival of AI, there would also be the time to do some utopias that the industrial revolution gave rise and failed – how to reduce the workload so that people can enjoy life with fullness?


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