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Kotey Scribbles: The War On Artificial Intelligence

Edwin Kotey
27 February 2017 | Opinion/Feature

With robots soon taking over jobs around the world, one specific question remain unanswered – how will it affect traditional economic structures and would they lead to the introduction of a universal basic salary?

In 2014, Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and cosmologist said, "Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks."

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seen as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This age brings with it the Internet of Things, Large-scale machine learning, Robotics, Natural Language Processing, Neuromorphic computing, and many more. The intelligence of the human race is seeking to satisfy its curiosity by inventing and creating new ways of doing things, and it comes at a cost which may be beneficial…or will it not?

To define AI, Nils J. Nilsson, an American computer scientist and researcher in the discipline of AI, says, “Artificial Intelligence is that activity devoted to making machines intelligent, and intelligence is that quality that enables an entity to function appropriately and with foresight in its environment.”

For the past 60years, mankind has devoted time to make machines more intelligent and there’s no turning back now. In the 1920’s, a science fiction play RUR and written by Czech writer Karel Čapek sort to depict a Robot revolt. There has been many concerns raised about how ‘safe’ mankind can be should he develop machines that could think for themselves and act without supervision. However, safety is another side of the story.

Robots Saving Lives
In all fields, such as education, agriculture, health, and industry the role of robots and AI cannot be downplayed. Examples include using cutting-edge technology to study particular strains of virus and bacteria to understand their composition; researching into areas that will allow ‘robots’ to operate more precisely on people; employing of drones for easy delivery of products; mechanized farming; using Natural Language Processing to enhance computer communication with people; automated assembly line; driverless cars and many more. In fact, it is projected that in about 15years autonomous transportation will be the norm in a typical North American city.

The examples are countless, but why is man so scared despite this level of improvement in all aspects of life since the birth of AI?

The Panic
The chief indicator is that, many people will lose their jobs as machines are replacing them. Many fear that we will be entering an age where less people will be employed as companies lay off workers as they partake in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Some publications have rebut this logic by implying that “Denver-based Panorama Consulting has noticed, only 12% of companies report full satisfaction with their automation programs, and Gartner has found that 75% of all ERP implementations fail .” Also, according to the Labor Department in the US, there were over 5.8million jobs in the year 2015. A sign that perhaps, humans will always be needed.

Furthermore, some argue that what if these ‘machines’ go out of hand and cannot be controlled? A case that Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have raised concerns about. Others also indicate should AI be fed with wrong data, there could be extreme abuse, possible racial abuse even, if these things go out of hand. There is also concern about the privacy of people and other democratic values such as freedom, equality and transparency.

Possible Solution
Others tend to argue that we must look at improving the human skill than eliminating it entirely as it is the only thing capable rethinking an event to help prevent a world disaster.

The thing is, if you do not adapt, you won’t survive and if you don’t evolve with the times, you will be left behind. Truth be told, the future cannot be predicted and as statistics show that revenue from AI will more than quadruple in the next decade, every possibility is an eventuality.

As the population of the human race is at its record level ever, and man shows no sign of retreating from reproducing, I am forced to agree with Elon Musk, that we will need a universal basic income in order for people to ‘merely survive’. But then what meaningful lives can they live, if all they get is a stipend to keep them breathing? Will governments and wealthy citizens of the earth be willing to take this task that may become impossible to achieve?

Surely we need an evolution that will help incorporate more of human labour in the affairs of AI until it’s too late.

Author: Edwin Kotey
Email: [email protected]

  1. Artificial Intelligence And Life In 2030, One Hundred Year Study On Artificial Intelligence | Report Of The 2015 Study Panel | September 2016
  2. Artificial intelligence will save jobs, not destroy them. Here's how by Bright Simons
  3. AI takeover - Wikipedia
  4. Natural Language Processing – Wikipedia
  5. America has 5.8 million job openings –

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Edwin Kotey

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