Revolutions when they occur cause drastic changes to the socio-economic and political conditions of the society. History has taught us that. The French revolution is a watershed moment in the progress of political institutions which has fundamentally altered the manner in which governance is carried out. And its impact was not just limited to political sphere. Similar is the case with Industrial Revolution(IR).
Primarily an Economic revolution that has transformed economy from an agrarian based to factory-based model. The after effects of IR fundamentally altered the way humans lived. Many of the stuff that happened later can be attributed IR like environmental degradation, birth of communism as alternative to capitalism, Cold war, huge income inequalities, Urbanization etc. The world has never been the same after IR.
Many Researchers claim that we are on the brink of what they call a 4th Industrial Revolution. The 4th IR is built on the foundations of 3rd IR (based on Information and Electronics technology). 4th IR is based on a digital revolution powered by Artificial Intelligence(AI). They also claim that scale, scope, complexity and the transformation AI would have on the society will be unprecedented.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The term AI was first coined by John McCarthy in 1955. He described AI as the “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.”The modern definition of artificial intelligence is the study and design of intelligent agents, where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximizes its chances of success.In simple terms AI is the discipline of Computer Science that enables computers/machines to think, reason and act like humans.
Many of the advanced concepts of AI have been conceptualized way back in 1950’s. But the major reason why it has got a major boost in recent times is because of the advent of Big Data. The reduction in storage and computing costs have also contributed to the rise of AI.Classification of AIBranches of AIMachine Learning: Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to learn automatically and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it learn for themselves.
Deep learning is a sub branch of machine learning where humans are emulated to gain knowledge in order to achieve desired output. Compared to machine learning which are linear, deep learning algorithms often are more complex and has multiple layers. In deep learning a system learns everything itself without any supervision from a programmer. This is much more accurate and faster than machine learning.
Artificial Intelligence: Boon or Bane
The applications of AI are already visible in various sectors. Some of them are evolution of autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars, Robotics, Online assistants like Siri and Alexa etc., Artificial Intelligence is bound to impact every sector and section of the society. Whether the overall impact is positive or negative is matter of huge debate. There are diverse and extreme opinions not only from general public but also from industrial big wigs.
The potential benefits of AI are as follows:
It is expected that AI would help in improving diagnosis of various diseases and also eliminate the human error involved in diagnosis. Further medical robots conducting surgeries are envisaged which could address the shortage of doctors and also eliminate human error. It is also expected that AI may help in discovery of new drugs especially for diseases like cancer. AI in collaboration with Internet of things (IOT) have potential to fundamentally alter the way in which patients are treated. AI could significantly improve health and expectancy.
Can significantly improve learning outcomes by customizing teaching based on the students profile. AI has the potential to make study an interesting topic. For instance, study can be taught through modifying concepts into a video game, so that pupils will learn concepts while playing the game. Further AI can ensure that quality education is reaching every nuke and corner and has the potential to address the teacher storage.
AI can eliminate repetitive and hazardous jobs. AI would also potentially create lot of high quality jobs which require much lesser physical stress. This would ensure that more humans will be employed in white collar jobs. Further replacement of humans with machines with AI would mean lesser social costs for companies, more efficiency in work. Scientific benefitsSpace exploration: AI powered robots may help in interplanetary space travel and thus better understand the universe. They may also help in detection of alien life.Mining: AI can also improve the accuracy of mining exploration process and thus ensure maximum availability of resources.
Big corporates would prefer systems/robot over humans in works of repetitive nature. This is because robots could work 24*7 without physical wear and tear, wouldn’t organize themselves into trade unions to voice their demands and are more efficient. AI would bring great gains to companies who are primarily engaged in it.
Companies can now run customized AD campaigns which suit the taste of individual customers. Further AI would also help companies in better understanding what a customer needs and design their products. This would lead optimal utilization of resources.
AI through traffic algorithms can help reduce traffic congestion which would ensure lesser fossil fuel consumption. Reduced waiting times in long queues of traffic would also reduce the mental exhaustion public face.AI can help predict weather and extreme events like cyclones etc., more accurately and thus form an important of disaster management.
AI can help improve tax collection through elimination of tax evasion. The improved tax revenue could be invested in education and health.AI has potential to ensure optimal allocation of resources and thus reduce public wastage of resources.AI can help in effective formulation of policies which are in accordance with needs and behavior of the public.AI can be used to tackle the menace of black money and thus eliminate criminalization of politics.
AI can make games much more interesting, interactive and challenging. Due to AI the same game can be made to feel in a different way each time you play it. However, many concerns and issues have been raised on AI. This even includes people who are ruling tech world not just any conspiracy theorists.“I’m increasingly inclined to think that 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. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.” —Elon Musk. Like Elon Musk many great people of our times like Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing have also expressed concerns regarding AI. Some of the issues include:
AI has potential to wipe out millions of jobs which are of repetitive nature. For instance, once the driverless cars come into picture, millions of drivers around the world would become jobless. This may cause social unrest. Further job loss due to AI is not limited blue collar jobs. Even Tech jobs involving work of repetitive nature are under threat. This might further widen the gap between rich and poor.
Systems with AI lack the emotion, compassion and empathy which human beings are abundant in. So, the human connection which is essential for any successful task completion is absent in systems with AI. For instance for effective a teacher needs to establish a connection with the student which requires emotion which a system powered with AI can’t provide.
AI has potential to change the way in which warfare of a country is organized. AI may allow nations to deploy robots instead of humans for border surveillance or for other operations. With reduced risk of human loss on part of army, nations may become much bolder. This may threaten global peace. Further with only handful countries having expertise over AI, this would create a asymmetrical situation where only a few countries could dictate peace.
Integrity of systems
How could we ensure that initial algorithms have integrity. Much of data provided to these systems come from the general use and most of them are corrupted with biases and prejudices.
AI with the help of constant surveillance can track each and every movement of an individual including physical movement and tracking web activity, thus threatening the privacy. Further the manner in which such critical information would be used by agencies will always be matter of concern.
Like phishing scams (where legitimate emails bundled with malicious links) would increase in leaps and bounds due to AI. Hackers may in future utilize AI to make hacking much more difficult to track.Fake news and Deep Fake: AI can potentially alter the prospects of candidate through planting of fake news and deep fake. AI has allowed for creation of fake videos which seem so legitimate that, it is difficult differentiate fake from real. This can potentially be misused for defamation or hurting prospects of candidates contesting elections.
Irrespective of issues AI is here to stay. So as Elon Musk has pointed out, countries should regulate AI to provide direction to the progress of AI. Some of the suggestions could be as followsFraming a bill to regulate AI. The bill should contain provisions of institutional body which could provide oversight over AI. The body should contain members from all the sections to ensure inclusiveness.Ensuring transparency in research, algorithms, and in implementation of AI.Creating awareness and educating the masses about benefits and issues associated with AI.Establishing a data improvement mechanism where data fed into the AI systems is always investigated and improved time to time. AI would significantly improve the standard of life of humanity. However, to ensure it benefits all stakeholders governments across the world should take the responsibility. Any mistake or lethargy on their part AI could potentially cause more harm than good.