Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now firmly ingrained in modern culture. That is a constant cause of anxiety for some people and fuel for excitement in others. But, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, AI technology is rapidly advancing towards general and super intelligence.
We already have smartphones that can not only understand what we’re saying but can instantly translate our words into another language. There are also devices in for our homes that understand consumption habits and can reorder items automatically, so you never run out.
So many technological advances have become integrated into everyday life over the last five years. The next five years promise no let-up in AI’s onslaught on humanity.
The AI Infiltration
Our phones have become considerably smarter over the past five years: So has our cars, clothes, eyewear and watches for that matter. But, there is no clearer example of AI’s ability to infiltrate human culture than the smartphone. Here we have a powerfully intelligent device that the majority of people in the West depend on for everything from education to entertainment.
That is grim news for those who hold a pessimistic outlook for the future of artificial intelligence – the smartphone’s ubiquitousness is a sure sign of humanity’s gentle decline into submission to our eventual tech overlords. As we hurtle towards a world of general intelligence or even super-intelligence, it is easy to understand why some see a grim future for humanity.
The Pessimistic View of Artificial Intelligence
There is no shortage of cynics when it comes to AI, the most notable of which is Professor Stephen Hawking. The famed physicist has continually warned of the end of the human race as a result of a “complete” artificial intelligence. Hawking’s primary fear is that AI’s evolution would be much swifter than our own. As a result, AI might be inclined to do away with us once it has evolved to live independent of us.
From a pessimistic viewpoint, it is easy to imagine all manner of awful scenarios that could play out if AI outgrew us; machines might begin using our bodies for energy, enslave us in a utopian virtual reality, or exterminate us all together.
Despite the fact that Professor Hawking relies on a clever piece of artificial intelligence for his speech, he finds little positivity in the future of AI. He is not alone either! Elon Musk, who himself has built his fortune in technology, worries about the future of humans… and spam.
The Optimistic View of Artificial Intelligence
Despite some of the world’s greatest minds, and countless sci-fi movies, predicting AI doom, there are reasons for optimism. Advancements in artificial intelligence could lead to solving some of humanity’s greatest problems. That includes climate change, incurable diseases, and the search for other habitable planets.
In healthcare, the auto industry, and manufacturing AI is already making a huge positive impact. Robotic radiosurgery provides unparalleled precision for patients undergoing surgery to remove tumours; self-driving cars are all set to drastically reduce road traffic accidents, and with AI in manufacturing we can all have our favourite products faster and cheaper.
Of course, none of this matters if artificial intelligence will ultimately destroy humanity. Fortunately, there are some very intelligent people working hard to ensure that we get the most benefit from AI and less of the not-so-good stuff.
The Next Five Years
The is much unpredictability about artificial intelligence and, when it comes to technology five years is an extremely long time. A lot can happen in just one year, but that doesn’t stop people from making predictions of AI: educated predictions, but predictions nonetheless.
In 2015 tech powerhouses such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon made huge investments in AI. These companies are predicting, or rather, banking on artificial intelligence being the next big disruptor. With what we have read so far, it is not difficult to pinpoint their reasons for enthusiasm. Much of what the likes of Facebook and Google are doing in AI is open-sourced.
Open-source means anyone can get access to the technology and build on it. That means the average entrepreneur will not be restricted from developing in the AI sphere as a result of finances. Within the next five years, we should see an influx of new developments related to AI, not from the large tech companies, but from small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs. That is likely to lead to rapid progress in this field.
A pessimist might view the next five years as the beginning of the end for humanity. An optimist might have some difficulty disagreeing.
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