ANAM RIYAZ HUSSAINI
Abrogation! Newspapers in the year 2019 and 2020 are filled with phrases starting with these keywords. The children coming out of schools, and about to embark on a career of there interest have been sent into an oblivion. During this unprecedented affair, I utilized the unwanted leisure time it has left us with, to research about the most sort after skills and facets of science and technology. Baffled, as it left me, artificial intelligence is the most intricate and interdisciplinarity skill one may possess. Thus so far, I have been fascinated by its applications, and wanted to share my experience with the enthusiastic peers.
“It felt a bit like magic when the first time I tapped a button, and an Uber appeared three minutes later; The magic of Artificial Intelligence.”
Unimaginable and wizardry, it may seem a few decades ago, but today it is no longer a magic, but a science–a facet of science and engineering concerned with building smart machines capable of performing cognitive tasks that require human cerebral capacity. Artificial Intelligence, also commonly referred as AI, epitomizes the cerebral development of a human in its incipient stage. However, in this context it is a machine learning and not an infant, although the protocols and principles –by combining large amounts of data with fast, iterative processing and intelligent algorithms, allowing a software to learn automatically from patterns in the data–involve are somewhat similar. AI is emerging as a pivotal achievement in any given area of human involvement –business, engineering, health care, scientific research etc.
Using these technologies, computers could be trained in such a way that there is no or minimal fallibility unlike humans. Intriguing, it is based on the assumption that the human thought processing could be mechanised. AI systems are developed and trained to learn and adapt as they make decisions. To elucidate it, for example, in the transportation area, semi-autonomous vehicles have tools that let drivers and vehicles know about upcoming congestion, highway construction, or other possible traffic impediments. “Google Maps”, caters to the ease of traffic flow by assigning more pragmatic routes to the end user. This omnipotent ability is just a bunch of algorithms and mathematical assimilations analysing the data collected from previous commuters. In case of fully autonomous vehicles, the awareness of space and time by a machine completely controls a car or a truck, and makes all the navigational decisions.
With the advent of 21st century, the application of AI has covered all the possible domains in the world. For example, the most intricate field of sciences, medical sector, IBM Watson has developed an AI Software for medicine. More than 200 health care organisations worldwide use IBM Watson technology. Furthermore, “Diabetic Retinopathy” –blindness caused due to diabetes– is being researched in Google’s ongoing project –Google’s AI Eye Doctor– to develop an AI system which can examine retina scans and identify the condition.
Moreover, AI could do wonders by making some of the educational processes automated such as grading, rewarding marks etc. therefore giving educators more time. Further, it can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI may change where and how students learn, perhaps even replacing some teachers.
Similarly, AI has been proving to be highly beneficial in natural language processing, which is processing of human language. For Example, spam detection, which looks at the subject line and the text of an email, and decides whether or not it is junk. Pattern Detection, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, etc. are subsets of AI.
This debunks the misconception that Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning are the same since they have common applications. While Artificial Intelligence is a science of getting machines to mimic the behaviour of human beings, Machine Learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence that focuses on getting machines to make decisions by feeding them data. Deep Learning on the other hand is a subset of Machine Learning that focuses on complex problem solving.
However, while AI is coming to the rescue of humans in every possible field, there is always of threat looming over our heads that the slave may someday become the master. One can’t deny the fact that Artificial intelligence has also created a threat all over – the threat of humans being replaced by the machines. Many see AI as augmenting human capacities but some predict the opposite – that people’s deepening dependence on machine-driven networks will erode their abilities to think for themselves, take action independent of automated systems and interact effectively with others.
Experts have predicted networked artificial intelligence will amplify human effectiveness but also threaten human autonomy, agency and capabilities. They speak of the wide-ranging possibilities; that computers might match or even exceed human intelligence and capabilities on tasks such as complex decision-making, reasoning and learning, sophisticated analytics and pattern recognition, visual acuity, speech recognition and language translation. Most AI tools are and will be in the hands of organisations striving for profit or government striving for power. Values and ethics are often not baked into digital systems making people’s decision for them. These systems are globally networked and not easy to regulate or rein in. The efficiencies and other economic advantages of code-based machine intelligence will continue to disrupt all aspects of human work. While some expect new jobs will emerge, others worry about massive job losses, widening economic divides and social upheavals, including populist uprising. Some predict future erosion of traditional socio-political structures and possibility of great loss of lives due to accelerated growth of autonomous military applications and the use of weaponized information, lies and propaganda to dangerously destabilize human groups. Some also fear cyber criminals may reach into economic system.
All this makes one wonder that as AI is branching out into every aspect of our lives, is it possible that one day AI might take over our lives? It is estimated that AI will take over the world within the next thirty years. By then I hope we develop some sort of teleportation machine that helps us escape our very own creation. After all movies like Terminator, iRobot, and Matrix have given us a glimpse of this dark future possibility.
Nevertheless, we have to accept the fact that AI is a two sided sword. While on one hand it opens a door to numerous possibilities that can revolutionize the human race, on the other hand it can also take humanity towards an inevitable doom. It all depends on how we use this art of magic.
Someone has rightly said that change does not always mean the end of the road for humanity as we have a history of technological revolutions causing social and political changes in society. In the Early years there are bound to have some fears and challenges but so was the case with steam engines, industrial revolutions and most recently the computers. There will be more opportunities in the fields not yet known and there will be more jobs to cater to human needs.