This topic is being discussed so actively right now that perhaps only complete recluses are not aware of it. It may seem as if the idea of artificial intelligence polarized the world. People tend to either be ardent supporters or petrified critics of this phenomenon, often failing to realize how nuanced and mysterious it really is.
It is funny how those who use SIRI on a regular basis may be at the same terrified of the robot uprising. People are simply not cognizant of the fact that AI has already firmly established itself in their daily routine. It makes them unjustifiably terrified of its evolution.
I would like to start with drawing a line between the ubiquitous and widely acceptable weak AI and the demonized and commonly feared strong AI. The latter has not been invented yet, but people have long expressed their concern about such a possibility.
The Concern Is Not Groundless
In your essay you can start by reaffirming the popular assumption, namely, that people’s concerns, although blown out of proportions, are not completely misguided. Leading researchers in this sphere maintain that AI can be potentially very dangerous when handled the wrong way.
However, this is not a reason to be blinded by terror. Technology, including the existing weak AI has made the life of an average person much easier and more fulfilling, eliminating boring chores and giving room to more creative activities. If AI still finds its skeptics, the majority would concede that they could not imagine a house without a washing machine.
In the Industrial Britain Luddites would go about their day destroying newly invented machinery which they viewed as evil and catastrophic. It is very natural for humans to be afraid of change; however, it is also possible to stay calm and rational under the given circumstances. AI can make the world much safer, when maintained properly.
The Importance of Research
AI can wreak havoc on the world, or it can save humanity. Climate change, rapidly evolving bacteria, terrorism and the increasing wealth inequality – all these problems can be fixed or exacerbated by the artificial intelligence.
The reasonable approach here is not to sing hymns or shudder in terror, but to try and learn more about this fascinating, but highly complicated phenomenon. How can people use it to their advantage? What might possibly go wrong and how to preclude those malfunctions? Those should be the questions people ask. Unfortunately, very often the dialogue descends into science fiction or Huxleyan dystopia, rather than constructive discussion.
Moreover, due to such dismal unawareness bordering on superstition, it is often hard for researchers to obtain the necessary funding. Thus, humanity may soon find itself superseded by the superintelligence, without any steady control mechanisms or the overall realization of its threats and capabilities.
Convenience of AI
Artificial intelligence can transform the world on an inconceivable scale. Some of those benefits have already been reaped with the weak AI. However, strong AI has a potential not only to ameliorate certain routines, but also depose humans from their role as the kings of the world.
AI is not biased and tormented by conflicting desires as people are. So, it could more adequately analyze the world problems and propose solutions based on the vast richness of human experience. Even the most talented and smart person is not capable of accumulating and successfully synthesizing all the abundance of Earth history, thought and invention. It has been already demonstrated in 1997, when the Deep Blue computer beat the world chess champion Gary Kasparov 4 times out of 7.
The recent Google program AlphaGo can beat any professional Go player thanks to its progressive algorithm which allows it to teach itself how to play the game based on the players’ most frequent choices. People could not physically retain all this statistics, which gave AlphaGo an edge over its competitors. In any case, it is palpable that AI can perform certain tasks much more effectively than humans, which the latter can use to their advantage. The key here is to remain in control.
Danger of AI
Speaking about staying in control… although computers have no consciousness, they can demonstrate a goal-oriented behavior which poses a tremendous danger for humans. They may not have an innate sense of morality, but you would hardly care about it if machines take over nuclear weapons.
This is not a science fiction myth or ignorance. Prominent scientists expressed their concern regarding this scenario. It is crucial that AI is programmed in a way to eliminate the risk of a) AI doing anything to achieve its goals; 2) AI viewing human attempts to stop it as a threat to its mission.
So, the main disadvantage of AI is the fact that it can be volatile and dangerous. Therefore, people should think twice before using it and not just be fascinated by its efficiency and almost miraculous abilities.
What Will the Future Look Like?
It is hard to answer this question because inventions do not happen on schedule. However, it is a plus if you convey some ideas about what the future might hold based on the existing evidence.
For instance, at Puerto Rico conference 2015 the majority of researchers maintained strong AI to be inevitable and being around before 2060. However, such an optimistic prognosis even coming from the experts in the field should not delude you. History gives many examples of how it such ideas were shattered by reality. Some inventions people could not imagine just 100 years ago are already here, but humans still do not have flying cars.
There are many benefits which can be derived from further development of AI. First of all, it is the increased efficiency and productivity. Second of all, it is the ability to have more free time as the machines would cover for all the mundane tasks. Third of all, it is a better world which could be built upon the cold reason rather than human emotion which often fails humanity. Anyway, there are many reasons to fear strong AI, but there are even more reasons to try and safely introduce it into the daily life.