Researchers at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie, are currently on leave, serving the US government. They are unanimous in their observation that artificial intelligence and machine learning are set to drive business and growth in the coming years.
When used diligently, AI can improve efficiencies and reduce workloads. But what is often not discussed is the havoc AI can cause if unregulated and mismanaged. Increasingly capable and efficient algorithms can push machines to achieve what seemed impossible a few years ago. According to Gartner, the worldwide AI software market will hit approximately $62 billion this year.
What are the future plans for AI?
AI are not just better than humans at games, but even at figuring out protein shapes when given its sequence. One company that managed to accomplish this is DeepMind. After starting work on using AI to predict a protein’s shape in 2016, by the end of 2022, they will have determined and made public the structure of more than 130 million proteins.
In a poll by Toolbox, 42% of tech professionals asserted that artificial intelligence will be the biggest technology trend for 2022, upending industries and transforming the way we work. Researchers are also worried about ethics in AI. The regulatory aspects concerning ethics and trust will slowly take center stage as AI becomes deeply embedded in our systems. It would have taken all of humanity decades and thousands of hours of labor to do what AI accomplished in a few years.
AI is set to change everything. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal. Automation will also displace jobs while creating newer jobs in different fields.
How can artificial intelligence be harmful?
Despite its extraordinary achievements, AI is built by humans, and thus comes with its fair share of flaws. Unless they are caught early, AI could have bias and other human mistakes embedded in its code. This will eventually affect results and give rise to a bigger problem. For example, researchers found that an AI-based recruitment tool had learned to systematically discriminate against women. Another algorithm denied people of color access to healthcare.
As AI is also prevalent in social media, democracies, bound by ethical constraints and disjointed in their approach, might find it difficult to stand up to the deluge of misinformation and propaganda. AI systems preyed upon racial, social, and political differences in the United States to change people’s opinions. Experts worry that, if unregulated, AI will completely overturn the notion of truth. AI is also being used in warfare – both physical and virtual (read cyber). Research has found that automated systems caused damage to the tune of billions as hackers use AI for malicious attacks and fraudulent activities.
Only when AI is harnessed with the right tools will it be effective. To do this, organizations must identify tasks that are best suited to machines, while letting humans do the more complex tasks that require a certain degree of empathy. It is imperative that there is always someone behind the scenes, making the final call, and monitoring its progress, in addition to training machines. Without this, we will see the unintended outcomes of AI when things go ugly quickly. AI should be given access to clean data sets for it to function without bias or error.
The age of AI is still not fully developed. It is up to mankind to monitor its progress so that we do not end up creating systems that backfire undoing all progress made in the last few decades. Buchanan and Imbrie compare AI to fire – as can be destructive, but there is no denying that it is the basis for civilization. The modern-day equivalent of man’s discovery of fire is AI.
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