Intelligent Software: a Curse or a Blessing?
What is artificial intelligence?
The term artificial intelligence (AI) was coined by John McCarthy in 1955 and meant "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines". Nowadays we can find such definitions as "the intelligence exhibited by machines or software" or "the study and design of intelligent agents", in which an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chances of success.
In general, people apply the term of artificial general intelligence to mechanisms or software which can take decisions without human interference. Driverless cars, military transporting robots, pets and companions - these are the mechanical wonders of the modern world. And the list is growing with every year.
Throughout the history we have always wanted to reduce the amount of unpleasant, monotonous or difficult work. Compared to animals we were weaker but smarter. So we tamed them and used them as our assistants. We have come a long way from simple working tools to huge factories and mass production. Gradually we substituted our muscles with mechanical ones. And now the time has come for 'thinking machines'.
Thunder in paradise
Robots, as well as computer assisted humans, produce goods and services cheaper and more efficiently than humans alone. They "live" and work longer, don't get ill or depressed, they don't ask for a pay rise or a holiday, at least for now. In case it breaks down, there comes another identical one and the production continues. You even don't have to teach it – it is already programmed to have all the necessary functions. It's perfect, isn't it? Where's the catch then?
The most obvious drawback for the human kind, at least nowadays, is increasing unemployment. And experts do predict that practically all sectors will be hit. There is no exact date, but it's already happening. Vacuum cleaners, teaching programs, coffee machines, self-driving cars and pizza delivery robots – they have already taken away many jobs.
Some people consider the usage of robotic power to be a huge benefit, saying that this simply saves us time. We are able to focus our efforts and creative thought on other spheres, especially those not suitable for robots.
However, pros and cons always go side by side. What about our source of income? Technology is a chief driver of growing wealth inequality in the USA and the world. This has created a rich class of owners (the 5% that make and own the technology along with the minority that they employ) and an increasingly poorer class of workers scrambling for an ever decreasing number of low paying service jobs. Perhaps, when we change the whole economic and social system and secure people's lives (without the need to have a job as we understand it today), then it will be a huge benefit. As for today, it just steals away our working place.
What the future holds…
Judging by the rapid development of AI technologies, chances are that in the future we will be surrounded by intelligent software and robots (just like most people on the planet now have a computer and a smart phone, which used to be unimaginable). No one really knows when it may happen. You can find different figures. Some predict that, for example, by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human or that artificial intelligence could take over nearly half of all jobs in the United States in the near future. However, it is not a question of time really. I guess, we all feel that automation is inevitable.
Men have gone a long way in transforming from an ape into homo sapiens. If labor made us humans, what will laziness do to us? Will we become apes again or is it just the thing we have inwardly wanted from the very beginning - to work hard and develop our brain so that we can finally relax and never have to work again? What will the future of artificial intelligence bring to humankind?
Obviously, people are deeply concerned about this question. A lot of researches are made in order to avoid or at least reduce the dangers of fast development of AI. Believe me, I am not saying that artificial intelligence is something terrible or we should fear it. There are plenty of examples which prove the opposite. A car equipped with AI software really increases safety on the road and Watson is already helping to diagnose cancer (apart from just being awesomely smart). What's wrong with that? I'm just saying is that it's great when robots can assist people and help to make a decision but they shouldn't make it FOR us.