First seen, experienced or read about in Isaak Asimov’s I, Robot, artificial intelligence for me was frighteningly beautiful. It was very futuristic and yet seemed very much possible. And in the past few years, artificial intelligence has been experienced by the consumers on a large scale. Be it Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now or Microsoft’s Cortana, artificial intelligence has given us a glimpse of what the future of ‘wireless’ robotics holds for us in our day to day life. Exciting as it may seem, artificial intelligence has been tipped by many as the cue to human extinction in the future. Prof. Stephen Hawking isn’t really optimistic about AI. He said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”
While not everyone is pessimistic about AI, many do support it. And just like any other thing on this planet or anything that we know of, AI has its upsides and downsides. Let us have a look at the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence.
Continuity: Artificial intelligence helps us by reading our activities and learning how we function through that. By doing this, it can do the small yet significant tasks for us while we get to focus on something else, thus saving valuable time.
Perpetual: AIs are made in such a way that they have the ability to work with or without human control. For example, while doing a particular research, the AI can be set to function in such a way that even when the person is not physically present to control or guide the AI, it will continue researching and reading the data available, thus continuing the task at hand.
Apathy: It is a machine. So just like any other machine, AIs cannot feel anything and they complete their work irrespective of the emotions going around. In many cases, this increases productivity as it cannot feel stress or anxiety or any other condition that a human might face.
Limited Errors: Humans are bound to make mistakes, machines are not. Machines function exactly as told (if everything is right in the hardware and software). Fewer errors mean more productivity and efficiency. The size of the data is no issue as based on the programming, AIs tend to work efficiently.
Your Secretary: Smartphone users who feed and save information like reminders, calendars, alarms etc, on their phones know exactly how helpful the AIs can be. They virtually act like your personal assistant by organising personal information, giving reminders, providing hands-free control, etc. which makes our lives a whole lot easier.
Unemployment: It is no secret that post industrialisation, many humans have lost their jobs. For companies, it makes more sense to hire one single person who does the job of 25 others, whilst costing comparatively less and is more efficient. And after a good amount of evolution and development in AI, it is bound to take up more jobs meant for us humans.
Apathy: While apathy can be a pro from one perspective, from the other, it is a con. There are certain situations which more often than not arrive in a workplace, which requires that human touch. Lack of compassion and sympathy in certain workplace situations can prove it to be a poor addition.
Costly: AIs are advanced machinery which, depending on usage and scale, can cost arguably more and maintaining it can cost even more. Programming the AIs can be a complex task and the software requires regular upgradations for smooth functioning. Machines are also prone to breakdowns and faults which need to be checked up on regularly.
Memory Wipe: Many of us smartphone and PC users have faced the untimely and unfortunate data wipe. For many workplaces, it can stop regular work as many times, the data lost cannot be recovered and becomes a huge pain.
Virus Attack: When software based AIs are implemented in workplaces it is very much possible that an outside source tries to infiltrate the system to get some data. In such cases, AIs can prove to be a massive threat to many.
Feeding some of our imaginations, let us, for a small second, assume that AIs do develop to such an extent that they start thinking for themselves and plan ‘something’ on their own. While the chances of this happening are minuscule, it does make for a great storyline. A few years back, an android robot named Dick, learned some words based on the data fed by its owner. The data comprised of conversations and statements said by writer Phillip Dick. Upon being asked some questions it replied candidly and comfortably. So when asked if the robots will take over the world, it said,”Jeez, dude. You all have the big questions cooking today. But you’re my friend, and I’ll remember my friends, and I’ll be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I’ll still be nice to you. I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ time’s sake.”