Is the Advancement of AI Happening at too Great a Pace?

By Lucia McQuillan-Puccetti

Unsplash – Robot Kid reading his book

In the last few years, AI (Artificial Intelligence), has been rapidly progressing and developing. Nowadays, AI is everywhere – from helping people with online shopping, to map navigation and even autocorrections. AI forms the backbone of communication, energy, health care, transport and the infrastructure of our society! 

However, are we too reliant on AI? Could AI’s transformative power become a weapon against us rather than benefit us?

Some people fear that AI’s “intelligence” and rapid learning skills could cause humanity to almost become enslaved by machinery, as they could potentially become more “intelligent” than humans. There are concerns that AI will increase unemployment and worker displacement, especially in the retail and transport sectors.

This would be a notable problem, as worker displacement would not only result in people being in financial difficulties, but would also impact the mental well being of workers. It is estimated by the investment bank Goldman Sachs that AI will replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs. Geoffrey Hinton, the godfather of AI himself (as he is known), decided to quit Google and warned about the dangers of AI if it was used in the wrong hands. He spoke about his concerns  about the spread of misinformation and false news, and though he helped develop systems such as ChatGPT, he now considers AI chatbots “quite scary” (as he told the BBC). He is not the only developer of AI who warns about the potential threats of AI, even Elon Musk fears the progress of AI is too rapid and could be harmful.

However, Jürgen Schmidhuber, a known computer scientist who works in the AI field, believes that the fears concerning AI are wrong; he regards the progress of AI inevitable and an opportunity to embrace, rather than to fear. It is evident that AI has helped our society in many ways, by helping with the delivery of the COVID vaccine, when it analysed and managed large amounts of data and distributed the vaccine to all around the globe; and by helping diagnose illnesses, such as cancer, and overall revolutionise health care. AI is also sustainable in the long term, as it makes better use of materials than humans and produces less waste. Nevertheless, the most revolutionary thing about AI is how it has opened up pathways to solve some of the world’s worst problems. For instance, AI can use satellites to tackle Climate Change and predict where the next flood, wild fire or drought is likely to occur. When used wisely, AI has the potential to protect the planet and make it a better place, as well as being able to provide us with tons of opportunities for the future.

So, is AI a good thing? 

Though the speed at which AI is advancing is understandably frightening, we must admit AI is indispensable for our economic well-being. The world is changing, developing, progressing. Change is inevitable and we shouldn’t fear it. However, we should treat AI with caution and respect. Ethical thought and reasoning applies to all advancements in society, such as for medical science, and we need to be ready to act 

and invoke ethical rational thought when necessary. This is the world we live in; AI is here already and will continue to evolve. We must police the speed at which AI is developing as well as educating and embracing it, and by doing so we can manage and make better and safer technology to ensure a just and fair future for all.

Posted in Featured, News, Science & Tech.