Artificial intelligence: savior or monster?

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The years 2020 and 2021 have already been eclipsed by the Covid-19. As we move into 2022, the Omicron variant has grown, giving a sense of already seen. The pandemic has, however, played a vital role in giving an accelerated impetus to the use of technology in our lives. For example, BlueDot, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform, was the first to report “unusual pneumonia” in Wuhan.

AI has improved our capabilities in ways never seen in the past. Recent advances in AI promise to increase the cognitive abilities of human beings. The evolution of an advanced human species called “Transhumans” has already started. Transhumans are people who have been artificially enhanced with mental and / or physical abilities beyond what is considered normal for the species from an evolutionary point of view. The spell checking feature of any word processor is the simplest example of increasing the language skills of humans using machines. Another example of increasing navigation capabilities using machines is the use of Google Maps.

In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue made history as the first computer to beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue’s victory was seen as symbolically significant – a sign that AI was catching up with human intelligence. However, Kasparov, little discouraged by the loss, understood the potential of machines and introduced freestyle chess to bring together human and computer skills. In acrobatic chess, each player uses a computer chess program to explore the possible outcomes of the candidate’s move. Despite this computer assistance, it is the human player who controls and decides the game.

AI is already helping business leaders automate business processes, gain insight through advanced data analytics – predictive and post-event – and engage with customers and employees with processing chatbots. natural language. Given AI’s ability to process and calculate much more information than humans, Deep Knowledge Ventures (DKV), a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm, made history in 2017 by naming the first AI robot, Vital, on the board. . DKV has decided not to make any positive investment decisions without obtaining approval from Vital.

Doctors need years of training and experience to properly diagnose diseases. AI, especially deep learning algorithms, has recently made huge strides in the automatic diagnosis of disease, making diagnostics cheaper and more accessible. The AI-based machine can be exposed to millions of disease scans / images for training within hours and can outperform humans in disease diagnosis.

According to a study published in Nature (January 2020), AI is more accurate than doctors at diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms. AI has been instrumental in speeding up diagnostics, vaccine development, and treatment protocol for the Covid pandemic. AI is unlikely to replace doctors altogether, but will increase their capabilities. AI systems will be used to detect patterns for the expert, allowing the doctor to focus on interpreting these signals.

Likewise, AI-enabled algorithms are widely used to perform repetitive tasks, sparing human efforts for more creative tasks requiring true intelligence. We need to create an enabling environment where man and machine can work side by side and accomplish tasks to their full potential in a way that compensates for the weaknesses of the other and complements the strengths of the other. The combination of human intelligence and AI should be greater than the sum of the parts. As AI increases in size and scale, the artificial increase in human capabilities has the potential to transform the way we live, work and spend our time.

Need for control

On the other hand, AI is becoming too powerful to be left as a force unleashed. The late Stephen Hawking had also expressed fears that future developments in AI “could spell the end of the human race.” According to Professor Yuval Noah Harari, historian, philosopher and best-selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, AI will create a “useless class” of humans.

AI-enabled algorithms are often criticized for being biased against certain sections of society. In 2016, ProPublica reported that an AI tool used in courtrooms across the United States to predict future crimes, the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS), was biased against black defendants. . In 2017, the AI ​​algorithm, Beauty.AI, used to rate an international beauty pageant in Bengaluru turned into an embarrassment, as the algorithm chose the winners purely on the basis of skin color.

Another manifestation of the possible misuse of AI is deep-fake. In 2018, Jordan Peel, an American comedian, used some of the latest AI techniques to create a fake video of Barack Obama commenting on President Donald Trump to demonstrate the potential for abuse of AI technology.

The possible biases and abuses in algorithms activated by AI make their submission to human intelligence more contingent. The augmented intelligence of humans is the best bet for harnessing the potential of AI. The current need is therefore to strengthen the capacities of human beings with the support of these intelligent machines while remaining vigilant to possible harmful effects.

The author is at CRIS, Ministry of Railways. Views are personal


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