Artificial Intelligence

Sierra Walsh, World Page Editor

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Over the span of humanity there have been many great changes that have molded life into what it is now. The creation of fire beginning the Neolithic Revolution, the creation of the steel plow helping to catalyze an agricultural revolution, the devastating invention of the nuclear weapons and the atomic bomb, the creation of intricate irrigation systems to transport water to far flung destinations, the creation of electricity and even climate change have all been major events that have affected, and will affect human life immensely. Yet none of these, could compare to the change that humans would face if and when Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more than just a pipe dream and a man- made thing walk and think for itself.
AI, according to a Stanford University project, is “The science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.” AI development relies on the complex algorithms that lie within it, and theses algorithms are used by many major companies along with Long Short Term Memory (LSTM), which is an artificial network that uses neurons to convert observations and feelings into output action. LSTM is used by Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and many other companies. Many Americans use Siri which essentially derives its “life” from LSTM, because it is able to listen to people speak around it and then reason with what they are saying and come up with an answer that will serve the intended purpose. This is not a pre recorded answer instead it is derived from logic and reasoning. Some AI is also used in hospital because it is beginning to be able to see possible threats of disease in humans better than doctors.  What could possibly be wrong with AI then? This is where the area gets gray or dark, very very dark. The fact is that AI is a tool for humans in the present. The thing with tools is that their capability to do good is entirely dependent on the person or the political system that is in charge of them. While there are concerns about AI further separating humans from the natural world and further widening the gap between rich and poor as work gets done without humans being paid, the most immediate threat may be AI in the hands of someone who wants mass destruction or wants to use it in unethical ways. Weaponized AI could become a serious threat for the future of mankind and the earth.Though the scale might be unprecedented, there is precedent for a disruptive military technology to change history. In China (under the Mongol rule) a relatively small band of rebels got their hands of some newly invented gunpowder and used it for destruction and were able to overthrow the most powerful government on earth. With the state that the world is in today it is incredibly dangerous to have this capability lying at anyone’s fingertips.

There is another aspect of the use of AI related to war, that is important to consider. People say AI is a great invention because it can be used in the military, and that way people do not have to fight in the wars. But at what cost? In such a future war, there will still be great civilian casualties and the use of AI can not get around this. By introducing AI into the army, more than it already is, we are detaching ourselves from the horrors of war. Before people would be more inclined to stop a war because they may have known and loved someone who died at war or was at risk or they may have some moral, individual restraint. Yet by having AI doing all the fighting people do not have to worry about their own loved ones dying. War might be tossed around as if it is nothing and people might be more inclined to go to war, not realizing that even without man at the first line the effects of war will not be local, but global, and deadly. If in daily life AI is already making us more like machines and less in touch with nature, it is in war that the fast pace that computers and weapons are developing that has the world’s existence hanging on a fragile thread.

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Artificial Intelligence