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How do human beings co-live with AI in the future?

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) has triggered many concerns and discussions in recent years, and through these discussions people are prompted to introspect on what it really means to be a human being. It provides us with plenty of food for thought regarding our science, society, family, work, etc., and all of these raise an important inquiry: how is life going to be with artificial intelligence being around us?

The following are some of our opinions relevant to the possible relationship between AI and mankind in the perceivable future. Hopefully, you will find them inspiring to some extent once you finish reading.

What is the place of AI in human-machine interaction?

To us, AI is just another tool created to compensate human insufficiencies, and they should stay in that way. Artificial intelligence should not become something that brings us misery, or even be turned into something that endangers our own survival. This should be the governing principle whenever we are making an AI system.

And since the goal of an AI system is never replacing human beings, their design, both appearance (when they were built as a robot) and mechanism, does not have to resemble us unless it's better that way. Instead, they should be designed in the fashion that they can best carry out their given purposes.

With that being said, AI that is purposely designed to mimic human brain can potentially be valuable, especially for neuroscience and medicine. It may allow us to have a better understanding about why our brains look and act like the way they do (click here to see an example). Or better, enabling us to create some sort of device capable of interacting with real cerebral tissues in a meaningful manner, which can be utilized to help patients with mental disorder. This may sound like an occurrence from a science fiction, but in fact such devices are currently on its way to the reality.

What will be the reasonable applications of AI?

The following are some of the applications that we deem reasonable for the future use of AI:

  • Being our second brain:

Instead of replacing human brain completely, AI is good for being our second cognitive system, which can be particularly good at detecting errors from human's actions and creations. For example, an automobile can be equipped with a driving-assisting technology capable of predicting and warning us about a potential accidence before it happens. Or, AI can be used in an industrial monitoring system to identify man-made mistakes or inappropriate behaviors in a factory in real time so that blemish or injury can be prevented before occurring.

  • Making machine more customizable:

Today, we have to accept whatever tech companies provide to us. If there's something that you don't like about an app on your smartphone, for example, the only two options that you have will be either to uninstall it or hope that the next version will be better. Once a device has the brain to understand your needs, however, thing may be very different. You can directly tell your smartphone about what kind of app that you want, and the phone will automatically and instantly "create" that app for you, all customized and open to future modifications. In other words, AI can open a new era for customization in tech industry.

  • Free our mind for something we truly care about:

Living in an era of information explosion, two things come to us as a challenge: the first one is there are too much information to process daily, and the second is the covert presence of fake messages. The former can be resolved by a well-functioning, AI-powered recommending system that can put forward precisely what we may consider crucial or tantalizing. As for the later, AI, in combination with the use of web crawler, may help us to trace the source of a particular piece of information, and hence helping the readers to decide by themselves whether the info is trustworthy or not.

  • Helping people with mental disorder:

Just as we stated previously, AI has been used to help people with mental disorder to overcome their problems or live a normal life, and such application is expected to thrive even further in the upcoming years without any doubt.

What kinds of AI should we really be afraid of?

Although AI in the future can be very intelligent, I believe it’s not their “intellect” that we should be worrying about. Below we listed two factors that we think are the real threats that artificial intelligence may bring upon us:

  • An AI that is not smart enough, but we somehow put too much faith in it:

Instead of a super-smart artificial intelligence, a mediocre (but not utterly stupid) one may have a better chance to cause us harm, and that’s because we may falsely believe in them while they fail to deliver what they have promised. Facial recognition and self-driving technology can be two of such examples; we may be trusting them with our privacy, or even our lives, but eventually they crash and burn due to their immaturity.

Figure 1. If an AI had reached superintelligent level, this might be what it was thinking.

  • An AI that formulates its own goal (i.e., having awareness):

As mentioned before, we believe that the “intellectual capabilities” is not the major reason for us to fear an AI. The thing that we should really be on the watch for is whether the AI has awareness, which is an issue completely distinct from being smart or not.

To clarify, by saying “having awareness”, we mean that instead of following commands given by people, the artificial intelligence can make up their own goals, and plan their actions according to such goal all by itself. To understand why this makes an AI perilous, considering the difference between a pistol and a snake. When being put on the table, a gun will never fire itself. The reason is simple: it does not have awareness and therefore will not generate spontaneous activity. In contrast, a snake is a sentient being, which is capable of carrying out voluntary behaviors on their own, and that makes them significantly more dangerous than a pistol while no one is operating it. In other words, even if an AI is superintelligent, if all of its goals are provided by human, it’s considered under control. However, once the AI becomes conscious, some of their “thoughts” and “behaviors” may be unpredictable by human, and that is when we will start to have troubles.

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