Artificial Intelligence (AI) was first coined as a term in 1956. It is the idea that a computer system built by human ingenuity can learn from each experience it encounters. Although our definitions have evolved as technologies have improved, this one core definition has remained.
Today’s AI is more human-like than ever before. We even have virtual assistants like Siri who help us be able to control aspects of our home and work experience through voice commands. You can tell Siri to set your alarm clock for a specific time, help you find recipes online, or answer a specific question you might have.
We are using AI in our homes to control thermostats, improve security, and automate daily functions in a hands-free way. Our current definition of artificial intelligence has been used by the military since 2003. What the future may hold could be beyond anything that our imagination may conceive right now.
As this technology continues with its path of development, now is a critical time to look at the pros and cons of artificial intelligence to see what personal applications may be available.
List of the Pros of Artificial Intelligence
1. AI gives a business more opportunities to be productive.
Unlike human workers, artificial intelligence doesn’t need to rest. On a good day, humans can produce up to 10 hours of effective work with repetitive tasks. For an AI, the time can be indefinite. Although code can be corrupted, and you might need to turn it off and then on again, the amount of time it takes to restore functionality with artificial intelligence is much less than it what it takes for the average human.
2. It will provide opportunities to reduce time commitments to routine tasks.
One of the most significant advantages of AI is its ability to complete repetitive tasks for us in a timely fashion. That gives each of us an opportunity to focus on tasks which require our creativity and ingenuity instead of our ability to complete a routine. Accenture studied the effect of AI on the German manufacturing industry and discovered it could add EUR 1 trillion to the economy over the next 20 years.
In the United States, Accenture anticipates that employee productivity will rise 29% as workflows are made to be more efficient. With AI, you get to focus on the tasks which offer high added value.
3. Anyone is capable of using artificial intelligence to improve their lives.
Many people are using AI without realizing that’s what they are doing. When we control components of a smart home, we’re using a basic artificial intelligence application. The virtual assistants on our phones, computers, and home devices are all based on AI development. Even the development of augmented reality is a step that was created through artificial intelligence research. When we apply this technology and its concepts in a positive way, we’re able to create personal experiences that improve our safety and personal experiences.
4. We are given new opportunities to explore with artificial intelligence.
AI makes it possible for us to explore the past, present, and future in ways we never thought about before. It can stitch together thousands of pictures in just hours to show researchers how ancient buildings were constructed. It can be used to find new job opportunities when we program the correct parameters for our needs. AI even lets us explore outer space in unique ways that were not possible before.
5. There are fewer errors in the completed work with AI.
Because decisions are made by machines instead of humans, the chances of an error happening with an automated routine are greatly diminished. Although AI is not error-free since it is created by humans who create errors, this technology is built on the language of mathematics and commands. It solves equations where facts are generated by the results which are calculated. For businesses looking to reduce costs, this is one avenue that deserves more exploring.
6. You can have artificial intelligence work in unsafe situations.
Imagine the dangers of sending scientists to the ocean floor to study soil samples. Think about a world where police officers can send in an AI to help diffuse situations without putting additional lives at risk. With this technology, it becomes possible to know more about ourselves, our planet, and our universe because it can go where human survival would be difficult.
7. Our health improves because of the presence of AI.
There are numerous potential benefits that are achievable in the healthcare industry because of artificial intelligence. It could enable x-ray machines, MRI machines, and CT scanners to replace the need for a tissue biopsy, allowing doctors to offer an accurate diagnosis with greater speed. It will unify machine learning with human learning to create new interfaces that provide emergency care. AI reduces the burden of manual reviews for electronic health records, helps contain the risks presented by antibiotic resistance, and creates analytics that are more precise than ever before.
8. With AI, we are able to extend our own experiences.
Ginni Rometty describes this advantage in a unique way. “Some people call this artificial intelligence,” Rometty writes, “but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence.”
When something new comes along, the changes which occur can be frightening. Allowing AI to take over our automated tasks might feel liberating to some, but it can also make people feel like they are unimportant. Because of artificial intelligence development, we have artificial limbs which are better than ever before. People who were deaf are now able to hear. Those who are blind are now able to see. These benefits wouldn’t exist without the presence of artificial intelligence.
9. We can achieve better research outcomes.
Artificial intelligence will help us improve our prediction capabilities in clinical research settings. We can reduce the number of trial-and-error development techniques that are used in a variety of industries. It even gives us the opportunity to think about concepts like a guaranteed income and improved living standards because we can do so much more with fewer overall resources. That is why AI is such an exciting development.
10. It could transform how we approach conflict.
Predictions of AI include that it will change how humanity approaches war just as much as gunpowder did. The technology could be as transformative as electricity. Students can be taught through AI approaches, even at the elementary school level. Programs can be tailored to meet specific needs. There is only one limitation that holds the potential of this technology back: our fear of it.
List of the Cons of Artificial Intelligence
1. It could be a technology which turns out to be dangerous.
Claude Shannon once said, “I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans, and I’m rooting for the machines.” The reality of AI is that it may very well be the end of the human race as we know it. Humans are slowed by the biological evolutionary process. Artificial intelligence is not. Once it achieves a state where it could re-design itself based on self-defining parameters, we would be unable to compete with the outcomes.
Elon Musk suggests that the dangers we could see with AI could happen as soon as 5 to 10 years from now, based on his exposure to groups like Deepmind.
2. AI would create a different definition of humanity.
The future of AI could include control over our business ideas, our personal lives, and even the clothes we wear or foods we eat. That is because machine learning and thinking are different than human learning and thinking. There is no emotion associated with artificial intelligence, even if we program the “idea” of emotion into it. Humanity would be defined by its ability to remain a commodity, much like how businesses view customers today in terms of profit potential.
“You have to talk about The Terminator if you’re talking about artificial intelligence,” said Gray Scott. “I actually think that’s way off. I don’t think an artificially intelligent system that has superhuman intelligence will be violent. I do think it will disrupt our culture.”
3. AI shifts the power dynamic to those who have developed it.
Artificial intelligence is being explored because of its ability to automate routine tasks, allowing humans to focus on other things that must be done. That one characteristic has the ability to change how we think, feel, and live each day. Imagine how much time could be saved if an AI could inform you of the essential emails received instead of manually sorting out the spam? The issue here is that the money will go to the people who develop this technology. In tomorrow’s world, the next superpower will be the country who is able to control AI effectively for their own good – and that might not be an outcome that everyone wants.
4. Artificial intelligence can struggle to learn on its own.
Under the current structure of AI, it has the ability to be reactive when the environments around it change. It does not have the capability of being proactive. Siri isn’t going to tell you to slow down because she has predicted you might have a traffic accident in ten blocks, after all. Until AI is able to analyze situations to create proactive responses, it will struggle to provide benefits that go beyond direct observation or environmental interaction.
Eliezer Yudkowsky puts it this way: “By far, the greatest danger of artificial intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.”
5. Creativity is a struggle for current AI applications.
With the current format of artificial intelligence, we’re able to have programmers create code which allows for creative tasks to be completed. Modern AI does not yet have the ability to recognize creativity on its own. Anything in this area is built into the structures of the intelligence by the person or people who created it. That means the reactive decisions an AI produces are based on analytical processes, which means a correct decision is never guaranteed.
“You want to know how super-intelligent cyborgs might treat ordinary flesh-and-blood humans?” asks Yuval Noah Harari. “Better start by investigating how humans treat their less intelligent animal cousins. It’s not a perfect analogy, of course, but it is the best archetype we can actually observe, rather than just imagine.”
6. AI doesn’t understand the complexities of human need.
We can see where the future of artificial intelligence is headed based on its responses to emergency situations today. Take the AI protocols used by Uber in Sydney, Australia. Prices were raised by four times the normal rate as people sought rides out of a siege zone because it saw an increase in demand. It never considered the reason why that demand was present in the first place.
The siege lasted 16 hours, and two victims were killed. In the United States, the company had to come to an agreement to restrict their policies during national emergencies. AI lacks an understanding of the complexities of human societies.
7. The presence of AI will create a net job loss for global societies.
Although there will be jobs created by the development of artificial intelligence, jobs that are based on repetitive tasks will also be eliminated. Gartner predicts that more than 500,000 jobs would be created because of AI, but other analysts predict that net job losses could be more than 1 million – and that’s only in the United States. John Koetsier on Forbes notes that in a worst-case scenario, 800 million jobs could be lost due to robotics, automation, and AI.
Even the United States only ranks ninth on the list of countries that are best prepared for the incoming wave of AI.
8. Implementing AI technologies is not cheap.
The cost to build a basic artificial intelligence in 2018 averaged $300,000. If you’re an SME or SMB, then there’s a good chance you don’t have that kind of capital lying around. Some businesses can piggyback onto existing AI technologies, such as the use of a virtual assistant, to take advantage of specific benefits. Those who experience the most success, however, will be the companies who are able to develop these technologies on their own.
9. We have no way to predict how an AI will develop as it is learning.
Tay was an AI chatterbot that was released by Microsoft on Twitter in March 2016. It had to be shut down just 16 hours after launching because of what it learned on the platform. Although the account was deleted, as were the tweets, but the exercise is important to consider. Artificial intelligence will learn from us. If we embrace racism, homophobia, spiritual harassment, bigotry, and bullying, then this is what AI will believe is normal for society. It is up to each of us to shape this technology in a way that is positive.
Even AI experts fail to come to an agreement when discussing the pros and cons of artificial intelligence. The fact remains that we cannot know what the future holds. At best, we can guess that a future with AI will not be the best-case scenario, but it won’t be the dire outcomes that some technology leaders like Elon Musk expect it could be either. For the world to truly benefit from AI, it must become a technology everyone can use. If only a few hold the keys to this tech, it will shift the power dynamics of the entire planet.