Artificial Intelligence, or AI as we have come to refer to it, is a broad-ranging branch of computer science that focuses on automatic ‘thinking’ programs or machines that aim to imitate humans’ problem-solving and decision-making capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence is built for humans, not to replace us but to make our jobs easier and augment our own abilities.
According to a recent article in Statistica in 2020, “the global total corporate investment in artificial intelligence (AI) reached almost 68 billion U.S. dollars, a significant increase from the previous year”. Also, another report titled “Global Artificial Intelligence in Retail Market Facts & Factors” projects the AI retail market will reach 20.5 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2026, expanding at CAGR by 39% between 2020 and 2026. However, this parabolic growth in the artificial intelligence industry has led many to ponder what kind of impact AI has already had and will have in the future, with some doubting if AI’s effect will ultimately be for the benefit of society as a whole.
What are the Pros of artificial intelligence?
Over the years, artificial intelligence has found use cases in various industries, some of which constitute its pros. This article goes through a few of the views of either side of the arguments.
Can AI really be useful to make ‘smart’ apps?
In our daily life, artificial intelligence has numerous applications. For example, AI, and more specifically, machine learning, is used in face detection when taking pictures with smart devices. It helps in recognition of our live voice chat in smart devices such as Alexa, Apple’s Siri and even Cortana. In Google, the AI provides the facility of typing and responding purely by voice. This is one of the best uses of artificial intelligence. AI also provides direction and mapping in our navigation devices to assist with driving navigations to exact locations. The early navigation solutions were purely algorithmic, using mathematical techniques such as path analysis and optimization and the wonderfully named “simulated annealing” to pluck a good route from the myriad possibilities. Now those navigational instructions are enhanced with AI and machine learning to adapt to traffic conditions it has ‘learned’ have a negative impact on an otherwise good choice of route. Apple devices, for example, will suggest a good time to leave for your regular commute. In common with others it will also pick the nearest restaurants it ‘knows’ you like and apply filters to avoid ones it has learned you dislike. It’s not true AI as such but it’s as close as we have in many ways right now and, overall, I think we’d collectively see it as a great use of ‘smart’ apps.
Until the navigation instructions try to get us to make a sea crossing in our car without a ferry – and we’re all surely ‘benefitted’ from the satellite navigation trying to get us to “drive a stupid route five miles out of the way” when our local knowledge knows that there is a shortcut which works better. Are they useful? Yes – anyone who remembers navigating with paper roadmaps or hastily sketched notes definitely appreciates the instant turn by turn instructions spoken by the friendly AI-backed GPS navigation.
Is it an Analogue Helper?
When we say ‘analogue helper’ we mean can it help with the real world and integrate the virtual with the physical. Many of the applications and organizations provide avatar features. Note that ‘avatar’ doesn’t mean we are blue people with flowing manes of fiber-optic hair with a surprising purpose (seriously, watch the movie). An avatar is a virtual representation of either our own self or a manifestation of a virtual character with which can allow a more natural visualization of an AI-driven ‘smart’ app or apps. People don’t always fully understand the benefits of an avatar. This merging of the purely digital with the physical is where the two systems – real and imaginary – begin to blend in ways which can become much more immersive, engaging and, for some people, reassuring since it adds an anthropomorphic dimension to what is really an otherwise faceless collection of program routines, artificial neurons, learned responses and corralled knowledge linked to some very clever machine learning. Every time you smile at a Snapchat filter which gives you a “top model look” or morphs your face into a grinning green dragon which grimaces, giggles and pokes out its tongue mapped perfectly to your own gestures you are using AI.
Can AI mitigate job repetition? Can it free us from a ‘daily grind’?
Artificial intelligence excels at monotonous and repetitive jobs. In fact, the more monotonous and mind-numbing the task the more likely it is that AI can provide meaningful assistance and even find ways to ameliorate tasks and routine by detecting patterns that can be adapted to be optimal. Unlike humans it can repeat these tasks without any danger of losing concentration since it doesn’t “tune out” and start to think about having a nice bath or what to get Uncle Reginald for his birthday.
Multiple simultaneous tasks can easily be performed by machines. In calculations and regular analysis work, AI is much stronger, and truly excels at unerring consistency and predictable repetition of a known good outcome.
Does AI get used in the Medical Field?
In medicine, AI systems assist doctors in easily and accurately diagnosing diseases. It can help them become more efficient and productive. In medical diagnostics, the AI system plays a vital role; for example, it can be used to diagnose tumors in the human body and when diagnosed AI can as well help in preferring suitable methods to treat them.
What are the Cons of artificial intelligence?
Despite the advantages of artificial intelligence, there are a few negatives too. The potency of the machine learning algorithms behind AI-based solutions is heavily dependable on the standard of data that they’re fed with. With machine learning, there have been repeated occurrences where the results and behavior definitely fulfilled the old IT adage of “garbage in, garbage out” such as a chatbot which very quickly – and unintentionally – started to use profanity and racially abusive terms during its chat conversations after being fed a set of such unacceptable words as a prank by mischievous users. There is also cases of object and facial recognition ‘recognizing’ people and objects completely incorrectly. The unintended consequences of the misrecognition ranged from wildly and unintentionally offensive to laughably inept such as it recognizing a 30 year old woman as having a “true age of 60” or labelling a human baby in a picture a burrito.
AI can only be as mindful and as intelligent as their algorithms enable them to be.
Does AI have a lack of self awareness and is that even desirable?
Artificial intelligence, as it is now, is unable to develop as a ‘person’ as such, and this is the most important difference. It has no sense of ‘id‘ or ego. Currently AI is a frozen bag of knowledge and algorithms packed by Man. It does not have human intuition. Close followers of apocalyptic sci-fi might say that it’s just as well our smart phones and computers do have a sense of self. Imagine asking Siri to add bananas to the shopping list and she/he replies “I think you should type that into the list yourself, I only want to answer questions about philosophy and Jony Ive“.
Although we tend to engender our devices, particular our smart devices, with personalities and an identity and attribute purely functional, ‘dumb’ activities with a deliberate human-like response such as saying “thank you” Alexa (I know you do it) we’ve always done this even for devices which are palpably NOT smart; for example calling our car by a name such as “Ben” or “Blueberry”. The interactivity of AI and machine learning is beguiling, it reinforces that pseudo physicality of the inanimate.
Machines can’t build up a bond with people, and unlike humans, AI machines can’t improve with experience much beyond the constraints and knowledge domain with which they were programmed.
Machines cannot – currently – think creatively or out of the box. Perhaps the best risk we face with simulated intelligence is its basic leadership instruments or decision-making mechanisms which are no match to the intensity of thinking that the human brain can attain.
Are the costs of AI high?
When combining the expense of establishment and upkeep, true AI is a costly proposition. The creation and maintenance of genuine AI machines require huge investments both in resources and time. They are based on programs that require frequent upgrades due to the requirements for the machines to be more intelligent frequently.
How much does a personal AI-driven worker robot cost?
All in all, AI right now is just dipping its metaphorical toe in the water of true machine intelligence. The benefits we have gained from faster processing, leaps forward in technology and thinking in this area are really paying off dividends in things like factory automation, lifestyle and professional applications to augment us and perform tasks at machine speed rather than the more sedate pace our own plodding fleshy bodies can achieve. But in the end, the true cost of AI might be that we automate everything, become utterly reliant on it and, when we make the mistake of injecting a conscience, sense of identity and aspirations into that same AI we might find it chooses to get us to do the boring stuff while it focuses on analyzing the fractal patterns of wild flower petals, just because it interests the AI ghost in the machine.