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The future of Artificial Intelligence and the singularity
Any device capable of perceiving its environment and taking actions based on programmed or self-learned principles to maximize its prospect of success at achieving some goal can be called artificially intelligent.
Artificial intelligence today is making progress exponentially and opening new horizons as to the possibilities it provides us. While some view it as a chance at eradicating hunger and solving illiteracy and poverty, others are concerned about a future where machines surpass human intelligence and make decisions that endanger our safety and survival.
The birth of artificial intelligence has greatly promoted technological growth. Today the tech giants are employing AI to work on combatting issues such as hunger, poverty, illiteracy and even crime. How does AI help in all this? One way is making intelligent decisions based on data provided and predicting trends and the turn things are going to take according to the data. Low-literate people can be helped in their day to day lives by AI that deciphers complex instructions and manuscripts and provides them with the general and basic message of the thing. Bit by bit, and by helping us in pinpointing the root cause of all our troubles.
On the other hand, many big names like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and even Bill Gates have raised voice on how Artificial Intelligence could pose a threat to our existence. According to Stephen Hawking, a computer can perfectly emulate the human brain and therefore also exceed it. While this could result in the cure of many diseases and the solution to our countless other problems, it could also result in things like autonomous weapons and machines that develop a will of their own in contrast to our own. This brings us to The Singularity.
Vernor Vinge wrote in 1993 that –
“Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”
The singularity, therefore, is a hypothetical moment in time where artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence and result in unthinkable changes to the human civilization. The creation of superhuman intelligence will enable us to transcend our biological limitations. However, such an AI would continuously improve itself to perform better, leaving us biologically limited beings far behind. It is not likely that a machine is capable of malice or hatred. Humans would certainly program it in a way that it does not take actions that harm us directly. Machines lack the morality and empathy to make decisions like humans. For now, at least. Also, our values of morality and ethics are not universal and change over time. What if, an AI tasked with eliminating cancer from the world after careful deliberation decides that the best course of action, in this case, is to wipe all of the humanity from this planet?
So, our fear here is the development of something that surpasses humans, as the artificially intelligent machine would then proceed to redesign and improve itself at an alarming rate, even perceive actions against it and defend itself. However, Mr. Hawking also says that artificial intelligence could be the worst or the best thing that has ever happened to us and he is willing to bet on the latter.