Will AI lead or destroy the human race?

“They’ll become self-protective and seek resources to better achieve their goals.
They’ll fight us to survive, and they won’t want to be turned off”, Stephen Hawking warned.

We learned a lesson in Jurassic Park during an attempt to control a species smarter and stronger than us . However, when it comes to AI, it seems like we have missed the point.

In 2017, Elon musk tweeted that “with artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon,” and this is as accurate as it can be. As early as 20 years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) seemed like something that could only happen in movies; however, today it’s a reality. The question is no longer “can we”, it’s become a question of “should we” explore this world of uncertainties. A task possible does not imply it has to be done, and a task impossible is not compulsory to be tried.

There is no shortage of debate around AI today, but a poll by The Guardian reveals that 72% of Americans believe AI will take over the world. Developers from all over the world, however, are enthusiastic about introducing AI to the norm. AI definitely has aspects to it which can improve our daily life, ranging from driverless cars to personal and military robots. AI can also become a really good helping hand in daily chores. We all want others to do work for us, don’t we?

Like most new technology, AI has countless benefits. A study conducted by the Atlantic magazine revealed that annual traffic fatalities can be reduced by 90% with the use of autonomous cars. Siri, Apple’s famous AI virtual assistant has about 41 million users every month. Needless to say, these technologies have become an integral part of our lives, whether you like it or not.

Everything comes with a cost. Physicist Stephen Hawking saw the potential in AI to “transform or destroy” society. One of AI’s main benefit is its ability to collaborate, which is also a huge threat. AI robots will be able to collaboratively solve complex problems; though, many ask, “what would happen if they team up to work against us?”. The answer is, Humans without doubt would be outnumbered and outsmarted. This would be devastating for the human race. Last summer, Facebook reportedly had to abandon its AI project because the chatbot conversations “led to divergence from human language as the [robots] developed their own language”, a researcher leaked to The Telegraph. Although we don’t exactly know what they were talking about, it became a high level threat. When two people speak in a foreign language, a third person not knowing that language tends to become uncomfortable.

Furthermore, if you still believe that AI will not take over the world, there are other potential concerns you should worry about. Nothing connected to the internet is safe. Around 1.9 million cars were recalled in 2015 because their entertainment software was vulnerable to hackers. The extent of damage this hack — if exposed — could have caused is beyond imagination. By exploiting this flaw, a hacker could control the volume, songs, headlights, wipers, brakes, steering, and basically any other computerized component of the car. Moreover, in the wake of Cambridge Analytica’s data scandal, everyone by now should realize that data stored online is not secure. Companies can collect, steal, sell, or hack data. Google Timeline is aware of a lot of places you’ve been to, claiming “your location is reported by your mobile device”. If you turn Google Timeline off, your mobile carrier also maintains a map of the locations you go to, accessible to businesses who pay a couple thousand dollars. You can’t hide from them. Similarly, AI will have the ability to collect enormous amounts of data which would be even more precise. In fact, last year Amazon’s AI powered assistant — Alexa — was accused of recording and sharing conversations without permission. The constant presence of AI would be outright creepy.

What can we do? There really isn’t a perfect solution in which one can use to fix the whole problem. Humans are already too advanced to look back. Although, there are a couple of things we can do to help the situation. First, don’t encourage the development of AI. You should educate yourself and others. Secondly, take all measures possible to secure yourself; starting with creating strong passwords. Know what permissions are being used by which program, and most importantly, be aware.