Artificial intelligence (AI) is a new and captivating concept that has taken the world by storm. ChatGPT, Dall-E, and Bard are all different forms of AI platforms open to the public. Different AI platforms can be used for different tasks, whether to create an image from text, ask a range of questions, research, or help in several fields. AI is a machine's potential to perform human-like abilities.
There are at least five different types of functions for AI:
- Artificial Narrow AI: All forms of AI that exist today are Artificial Narrow AI, also known as Weak AI. This type of AI can be trained to perform single tasks, usually performed in a faster manner than human minds. Artificial AI models can’t perform outside of their designated tasks. ChatGPT, Siri, and Alexa are all examples of Artificial Narrow AI.
- General AI (AGI): Also known as Strong AI, is a theoretical concept. AGI forms of AI can use previously learned skills to complete new functions without the help of human training. In theory this model would learn and perform intellectual tasks just as a human being would.
- Super AI: It is often referred to as artificial superintelligence and is a theoretical model, as well. Super AI would have the capabilities to learn, think, and reason to levels that would surpass humans. In theory, Super AI models would have needs, beliefs, and emotions.
Since Artificial Narrow AI is the only type of AI to exist, two groups categorize the AI models that fall under it:
- Reactive Machine AI has no memories and is built to perform one particular task working with available data. One example of this is the Netflix recommendation engine.
- Limited Memory AI can use past and present data to achieve a preferred outcome, but it cannot retain information long-term. Some examples of this are ChatGPT, Siri, and self-driving cars.
Some various pros and cons need to be considered when asking the question, ‘Do humans need AI?’
History has shown that humans constantly look for ways to do tasks quicker, easier, and more efficient. AI could potentially make everyday life more convenient and improve the standard of living. AI can perform simple routine, and repetitive tasks, allowing humans to concentrate on high-productivity tasks. There are already several tools that many use in their day-to-day lives that are some type of AI. Examples of AI used for daily tasks include:
- Email inbox management
- Grammar checkers and rewording tools
- Slide decks and presentations
- Task and project management
- Transcription and meeting assistants
- Video creation and editing Image generation
- Voice and music generation
Apart from daily and repetitive tasks, AI can help with specific parts of human life, especially in healthcare. AI and machine learning (ML) contribute to hospitals, medical providers, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. They both help by sorting health records and clinical studies and analyzing them at a faster rate than humans can. Also, they help with administrative workflow, virtual nursing assistants, dosage error reduction, fraud prevention, and performing less invasive surgeries.
AI developers can create cost-effective solutions for people with different disabilities. AI algorithms can help improve assistive technology (AT). AT helps maintain or improve capabilities of people with disabilities. AI can analyze data and predict patterns to personalize AT solutions and adapt to specific needs and preferences.
In 2021, the AI healthcare market was valued at $11 billion and is estimated to be worth $187 billion by 2030, according to Statista.
Not only can AI assist in the medical world, but it has benefits in the environmental world, as well. In biodiversity conservation, AI can investigate and analyze data on different species and their populations, habitats, and threats to their communities. It can aid in conservation strategies to achieve biological goals.
AI can also help contribute to energy conservation and climate control. It can process large amounts of data and improve predictive models by predicting climate change patterns. AI can help with satellite monitoring of global emissions, tracking deforestation, and designing energy-efficient buildings. It can help the environment on a smaller scale, like automatically powering the lights of a house at certain times.
Artificial intelligence can improve workplace safety. For example, in hazardous work environments, automation can help by completing dangerous tasks that would remove the risk of workers being in unsafe situations. Drone technology can be used to inspect areas without needing a walkthrough of potentially hazardous environments. To prevent overwork, fatigue, or overheating, some companies have begun using a wearable device that tracks the workers' heart rate and skin temperature. AI in the workplace can also help with:
- Hazard detection
- Safety training
- Predictive insights
- Security surveillance
- Improve cost and measurement estimations
- VR training
- Boost productivity
- Takeover repetitive tasks
Although there are many pros to AI, there are cons that play into every part of artificial intelligence, as well.
One of the biggest cons of AI is the ethical challenges that it faces. There is a lack of transparency in AI tools and companies due to the internal workings of models being unknown to users, it's unclear how they are trained.
It leads to questioning the responses and outcomes produced by AI. Decisions or responses are sometimes inaccurate, biased, or discriminatory. Despite AI algorithms aiming for neutrality and to remain unbiased, they become influenced by data imputed by humans. For example, there has been an underlying theory of algorithmic hiring being a discriminatory process. AI hiring systems have been likely influenced by algorithmic bias, a systemic error in computer systems that discriminate based on things like race or gender.
AI has a significant role in the workforce, not just in safety regulations or reading through applications, but in job displacement. In 2023, the seventh-largest contributor to job displacement was AI. At least 14% of workers have claimed to have lost their jobs to AI. In May 2023, 3,900 job losses were because of AI in the United States. It’s predicted that by 2030, 45 million jobs in the United States may be lost to AI. Among the most vulnerable jobs to be susceptible to losing to AI are customer service, data entry, and analysis. It leads to an unequal impact across different fields in the job market, because while some may experience more job losses due to AI, other fields may not be affected at all. While AI may work alongside higher-income workers, it may harm lower-income workers in terms of job displacement.
Artificial intelligence also poses a threat to security, privacy, and property rights. Over a fourth of all organizations have banned the use of AI due to privacy and security concerns. Any irresponsible development of an AI model could lead to security risks including data poisoning, information manipulation, and automated malware. It’s possible that AI tools built to benefit society could be used by other people to commit fraud or scams.
One common theme for AI whether a pro or a con is data collection. AI thrives off of data, so the more it has, the more it can learn to become even more efficient. However, this in turn creates a notable concern for privacy. AI tools can collect data from everywhere on the internet, including personal data, sometimes even sensitive information. If the AI isn’t safeguarded correctly, it can lead to hackers or cybercriminals getting a hold of that information.
AI can also present misinformation and manipulate people into thinking about certain perspectives. One of the largest impacts that AI has had online is the ability to create fake photos or text that seem very real. AI-generated images and texts depicting celebrities or politicians pop up online, and there are no regulations stating that they need to have a disclaimer. Artificial intelligence can produce almost anything, including tales, deepfakes, articles, news, and photographs. With AI, it becomes harder to know what is real or fake on the internet.
So, do humans need artificial intelligence?
As AI becomes more innovative and powerful, the more dependent humans become on it. Many movies depict the downfall of humanity due to robots and artificial intelligence, from kids movies like Wall-E to adult-rated movies like iRobot or Her. In my opinion, AI can be very beneficial in many aspects of life at the Artificial Narrow level. As Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park put it, “scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” I think it’s worth it to leave the rest theoretical and focus on fixing human issues before we jump into something new.
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