AI: The future

Written by Sahil Walia

The phrase ‘Artificial Intelligence’ isn’t exactly a word 10/10 people are able to fully describe. Or even 5/10 for that matter. But in 10-20 years it’ll be as commonly known as ice cream, and that’s not an exaggeration.

Believe it or not, AI has actually been around for over 50 years. When we think of AI we think of robots walking around and that it’s just a crazy technology phenomenon that could happen deep in the future. Perhaps you even recall the Jetsons and how insane the whole world looked. It’s hard to believe that we interact with AI probably hundreds of times a day.

Every google search, every time u talk to Siri, these are all examples of simple AI. With how rapidly it’s growing and advancing, it’s going to be controlling literally everything in the very near future, and could even take over humans.

Before we delve deep into the logistics and functionality of AI, I’ll quickly attempt to convince you how impact it’s going to be on the human race in the next decade or 2.

The coolest thing about AI is that it can sort and find patterns in colossal amounts of data in short amounts of time, and given this, AI computer programs could potentially be able to identify trends and find solutions to the world’s biggest problems such as world hunger, climate change, poverty, and more. It sounds far off, but the technology to do this is already in our hands, and with a couple advancements it could definitely be a possibility.

Something much closer to where we are right now is the complete disappearance of all blue-collar jobs and some white-collar jobs as well. Every tedious job will be taken by an AI in the form of a computer or robot, mowing your lawn, doing your laundry, loading the dishwasher, etc. Jobs such as factory workers or surgeons will all be taken by robots as robots are cheaper in the long-run and less prone to error.

Now this is absolutely nothing if you think of the potential possibilities of AI in the longer run. Being human as we know it will be something completely different than what we know today.

To understand how everything I just told you is possible, I’ll cover the basics on the functionality itself of AI and how it works!

The most basic description of AI is a program that

  1. Think rationally
  2. Think humanly
  3. Act rationally
  4. Act humanly

DataRobot CEO, Jeremy Achin, defined AI while addressing a crowd at the Japan AI experience in 2017.

“AI is a computer system able to perform tasks that ordinarily require human intelligence… Many of these artificial intelligence systems are powered by machine learning, some of them are powered by deep learning and some of them are powered by very boring things like rules.”

There are 2 broad categories of AI: Narrow AI, and General AI

Narrow AI

Narrow AI is Siri, Google search, Self-driving cars, and the simple AI plastered all over the world today. Narrow AI focuses on completing one specific task, making it so well-used today. A subcategory of Narrow AI is the most used type of AI today, Machine Learning.

Machine learning feeds data into a computer and progressively gets better at its task by using the data in different ways. The 2 ways it acts with data are called supervised and unsupervised learning.

Unsupervised learning

In unsupervised learning the unlabeled data is collected and the machine has to find a pattern or connection in the data and identify what the data is and what it’s significance is. It is not told the right answer, and organizes the data on its own, learning as it goes. This strategy saves millions of lines of codes needed and is used in many fields. Marketers can quickly group together types of customers after collecting data on them, doctors can find patterns in people with certain diseases to quickly identify them, etc.

Supervised Learning

In supervised learning, all the data is labelled. The algorithms are fed inputs where the desired output is known and after learning the patterns in the labelled data, can predict and match unlabeled data based off trends it shares with the labeled data. This can be used for weathermen in predicting the weather before it happens, or other fields where prediction is key.

Now that you understand the first type of AI and its subsets, we can talk about the second, and less popular type, General AI.

General AI

General AI, also known as Strong AI, is an algorithm or set of algorithms which can perform a task as well as, or even better than, humans. Weak AI is much more popular because it is trained to do just one thing really well and has many modern day uses. It is also much easier to create and use. This said, AI is getting more generalized and stronger with every day that goes by, and it would not be surprising if in 10-20 years general AI is more popular than weak AI.

If we do start creating general AI in bunches, it would be able to function fully on its own at a point, and many people believe if we are not careful, AI will take over humans.

The genie is out of the bottle. We need to move forward on artificial intelligence development but we also need to be mindful of its very real dangers. I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans. -Stephen Hawking

I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that…. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out. -Elon Musk

AI is already stealing jobs from humans and will stop at nothing. Self-driving cars are taking away the jobs of taxi drivers and Uber drivers. Soon, it’ll be cashiers then all blue-collar workers and once general AI popularizes, even humans. The potential of AI is limitless, and we could better everything we know in the world today… as long as we’re careful.



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