Artificial IntelligenceSocial Issues

Artificial Intelligence: The Good, The Bad and The In-Between

For certain individuals of society, artificial intelligence is viewed as an enhanced version of human species that can benefit various aspects of our daily lives. It can take over dangerous jobs and fill the holes that humans can not. Although, as useful as these consequences are, there are other people, specifically the older generations, who do not share this view — for their perspective towards AI technology is not yet based on trust.

“Just as it is our obligation to apply this technology to complex, societal problems, it is our obligation to develop it in a way that engenders trust and safeguards humanity,” says Guru Banavar in his Harvard Business Review What It Will Take For Us To Trust AI. “In other words, building trust is essential to the adoption of artificial intelligence.”

Artificial intelligence is uncertain. It is still in the early stages of production, though society’s perspective on it is growing, as is their research. In 2017, during a survey conducted by AI-driven American platform Inside Sales, the following data was collected:

  • Almost 49% of consumers believe AI will lead to medical advancements
  • 46.7% of consumers believe AI will take over dangerous jobs
  • 41.7% of consumers believe AI will automate mundane tasks in their personal life
  • Almost 40% of consumers believe AI will lead to advancements in transportation and travel
  • 35.1 % of consumers believe AI will automate mundane tasks in their work life

Like all other technologies, artificial intelligence has its pros and cons. But which side weighs more? Is it a balance of advantages and disadvantages, or is the human race about to unknowingly rely on a technology that obtains more bad elements than good?

Artificial Intelligence: The Good, The Bad and The In-Between

(Image Source: Anita Balakrishnan, NCNB)

As mentioned above, these statistics vary in terms of demographics. The current generation — the millennials, that is — have a slightly more positive take on the possibility of AI machines, while the older generations aren’t as confident in its development:

  • 42% of Generation Z has a positive view of AI in the workplace
  • 35% of millennials have a positive view of AI in the workplace
  • 24% of Generation X have a positive view of AI in the workplace
  • 21% of baby boomers have a positive view of AI in the workplace

Admittedly, the potential of artificial intelligence provides the public with much to think about — even years before anything major in its development even occurs. The pros are obvious: it will do things humans cannot, or maybe too afraid to do. But what about the cons? Artificial intelligence could decrease job opportunities, lower income levels and further damage the trust between consumers and producers.

“Although Americans may be cautious about AI now, many expect it to keep evolving until it’s capable of performing tasks that are currently beyond its capabilities,” writes Jurica Dujmovic for Market Watch. “This conclusion correlates pretty well with the reality of AI and what it can currently do.”

In 2016, world-famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking spoke at Cambridge University’s David Attenborough Building about the research regarding artificial intelligence during the launch of the school’s AI centre.

Hawking, who is part of the baby boomer generation, isn’t as accepting of AI as current youths may be.

“In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which,” he said. “Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.”

Artificial Intelligence: The Good, The Bad and The In-BetweenAn AI conference (Image Source: Peter Diamandis, HuffPost)

Artificial intelligence has the potential to better us. It has the potential to find cures and discover even better ways of living — but at what cost? Are we willing to give up learning from our mistakes, our freedom and our choice?

Admittedly, although these questions are constantly asked, there isn’t much solid background for an answer. Although there remains to be much research on AI technologies and whether or not society can trust it, most of it is speculation. Yes, while artificial intelligence would be difficult to trust, AI machines haven’t even developed to the point where our deepest fears would become reality.

While AI is rapidly developing, it is still in the beginning stages. Until then, our views on the matter will just have to develop with it.

Author

Artificial Intelligence: The Good, The Bad and The In-Between
Alexis is currently studying journalism at Ryerson University. Her interests include politics, social issues, and global conflict.