Is Artificial Intelligence something to be afraid of?

I wrote this post Artificial Intelligence in a human world not too long ago, talking about my own concerns about AI despite all the good that AI is reportedly already doing and hoping to achieve in the future.

 Have I changed my mind and now have both feet in the AI camp?

In short no.
It’s not because I fear technology at the moment I don’t feel comfortable with the thought of putting my complete trust and giving control over to a machine That is just my viewpoint but I also don’t think there is any need to be scaring the public into thinking that in a few years time their jobs could be taken over by a robot. Or that it’s already difficult enough for graduates to find suitable employment but now they could find themselves also competing against a machine. Of course not, but news reports can’t help themselves with a bit of scaremongering keeps readers on their toes.

AI doesn’t have to be this big scary monster that is coming to take over the world, it is about us adapting to a different way of life, isn’t moving forward about evolving and trying to improve the way we currently live?

When talking about AI I liked how this article from Venturebeat.com; 3 types of artificial intelligence, but only 2 are valid  broke down AI into three categories with simple explanations.

Transformative AI; The kind of AI that will “take over the world” — or at least have the most dramatic effect on how people live and work. Think driverless cars
DIY (Do It Yourself) AI; is any artificial intelligence platform whose end goal is to make you, the user, more informed so that you can then do the remaining work yourself.
Faux AI; They look and act like AI agents, but they are not really using machine learning. They are pretenders.

From my own perspective AI is still in its developing, there is a lot of testing, trial and error going on. Yes there are driverless cars in development but we won’t been seeing them as the norm for a while, then we have police robots despite the name they don’t have the same function as a police officer.

Medical

Regardless of how far technology advances there will always be a human in the background or working alongside the technology in question. A California based company have created a health scanning machine that uses AI to detect any ailments a person may have. This device will work alongside doctors who can then discuss your health using the visual scan, it will contain your medical history. This isn’t a way for doctors to get out of reading their patients notes but an easier way for them to keep track of their patients medical health.

The exoskeleton suit or wearable robot giving hope back to paralysed people enabling some to walk.

This suit can also help elderly people predicting when they are going to fall, no it doesn’t have a crystal ball. Quote below from Silvestro Micera, the lead author of the research by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne explaining the suit.

“This device is able to understand whether there is a change in locomotion behaviour – in particular at the onset of falling,”

Think about the positive effect smart technology can have in people’s lives, it can give some people back their independence.

Customer Service

Chatbots you phone customer service or IT support and you’ll speak to a chatbot first and if they can’t help us will then be passed onto a person, this type of service is already in place with some companies. The idea is to save time making people more efficient at their job and focusing on the important aspects of it.

Chatbots a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

Autism

I’ve mentioned in my previous AI post about the robot Zeno, this type of advancement is close to my heart having a brother who was only diagnosed with Asperger’s at 21. Anything that will help those with autism is something I will always advocate. From my own experience and knowledge of it, depending on where the person is on the spectrum things are in black and white, a logical approach is adopted much like those of machines. They are programmed with possible logical options, for humans that is like our emotions and how we interact socially, skills we learn when we are young. Skills that aren’t so easy for people with autism, my brother doesn’t always understand how sarcasm works but I can assure you he is getting better at dishing it out these days!

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is also getting in on the action with a robot police officer making an appearance at shopping centre’ in Dubai. Don’t worry if you’re young enough to remember it’s not the Robocop you’re thinking from the 80’s it doesn’t have the power to arrest, it is more a walking, talking information board.

‘People will be able to use it to report crimes, pay fines and get information by tapping a touchscreen on its chest.’

Part of me is still concerned about how dependent we could become on technology and the influence artificial intelligence could have. Just look at how the NHS Cyber attack affected health trusts including the one I work for. Everything came to a stand still, worry that patient medical information could be compromised, no functioning email for a period of time, we had to resort to going old school and picking up the phone to speak to people.  Then there was the worry of a second attack and measure taken to make sure the NHS IT network wasn’t vulnerable. So you can understand why I feel a bit sceptical about but my complete trust in technology because things can go wrong. Saying all this there is the other part of me that just from these handful of examples can see the benefits of AI. Imagine how many children could have benefitted from a robot like Zeno in the past and how a police robot with the right programming could help with the shortage of police officers on the street.

Driverless cars I am still on the fence, I haven’t even managed to move away from a manual drive car to automatic one let alone consider a driverless car. Who knows over time and once the bugs have been ironed out I may change my mind.

Artificial Intelligence in a human world

Since joining Netflix I watched a range of films and television series even sometimes binge watching a particular television series that has me hooked one of them being a series called Scorpion. It’s about a team of geniuses who have the intelligence to create a functioning computer out of your toaster and your mobile phone but lack the social skills to interact in what is considered normal society.  This series though repetitive got me thinking about all the hype surrounding artificial intelligence. Like it or not AI is steadily infiltrating the world as we know it. We already heavily rely on techinology to communicate, work and play.

AI didn’t just happen overnight and appear on our doorstep one morning, Kismet, a robot head created in the 1990’s at Massachusetts Institute of Technology  was able to recognise and imitate human emotions. Fast forward to today and we have Google working on a self-driving car and a sex bot in the making courtesy of Realbotix, something for everyone.

How does AI work? Very much like a computer that is programmed with a number of possible scenarios that could be encountered followed up with the number of possibly human reactions. From watching the series Scorpion I learnt that with a skill for coding and an ability to hack into almost anything a computer programme can be overridden and left in control of the hacker. How can an AI machine be programed with every possible outcome of a situation, humans adapt we learn from experiences and evolve so how can we expect an AI robot to behave in the same way? MIT may have solution with a robot that works off the brain signals from a human; ‘The robot/human interaction with EEG signals allows for direct and fast communication—communication that could remove barriers for operating a robot.’

For now AI technology behaves the way it is told to but how long before it advances to think for itself and behave accordingly? Machines are designed to think in black and white most of the time there is no grey area, a machine can learn to assess a situation, weigh up the pros and cons of various reactions but will it consider the emotional element that separates the human race from a machine? I’ve seen I Robot where one robot goes ‘rogue’ and believes it dreams for itself, those dreams had been implanted by its creator, was able to feel emotions, evolve and create an uprising of forgotten good machines against the evil one.

Worries aside AI does have its uses. Heard of the robot Zeno helping autistic children to communicate and interact with others? If you know anything about autism depending where on the spectrum the child is emotional interaction whether it is verbal (sarcasm, jokes) or physical (actions, hugging) is not easily understood. Zeno in a fun way to interact with a verbal and non-verbal child through conversation, facial expressions and actions making them feel comfortable so they don’t realise they are learning important social skills.

We’re not at the stage where we can worry about a rise of the machines but the focus on wanting to create a lifelike as possible robotic humanoid is a bit worrying. A machine maybe more efficient, can work longer hours possibly be considered safer and more effective but it’s still a machine.