The first quarter of the 21st century have seen prodigious technological advancement, machines unimaginable decades ago now accompany countless aspects of human life. Nearly all tools at our disposal have been revamped or engendered for the current epoch, none more paramount than the influence of artificial intelligence. Intelligent technology has been integrated into the daily routine to point of indispensability, a world without smart phones, video games, Google, appears inconceivable to current society.
As A.I continues to evolve animated systems are cementing their position in civilization. With all the potential benefits there is also the potential for problematic consequences, could A.I produce a heightened desire for power igniting global conflict? Could it lead to a major decrease in employment? Alternatively, if treated poorly and humans are assessed as an affliction, is a robot rebellion conceivable?
Innovation of Tools
Human evolution has been accompanied by an incessant innovation of tools, the species has been able to adapt and thrive in diverse landscapes through the development of novel utensils. As weaponry updated from stones to spears, bows to swords, agriculture commanded attention and novel contraptions facilitated new lifestyles.
After the intellectual resurgence of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, the first industrial revolution saw production move from homes to factories, altering manufacturing forever. By the end of the 19th century mass production was providing society with more technology than ever before, people familiarized themselves with new machinery and the household configuration changed. Edison put light in homes and Tesla made it efficient, the 80’s saw the beginning of the landlines demise as cell phones empowered distant communication, yet, nothing has been more revolutionary than the Internet.
The Internet has been a prime catalyst in changing the community landscape; allowing content to be spread rapidly, people have become increasingly connected and notions have proliferated globally. There can be no doubt that any technological advancement henceforth will derive from the Internet, it has stimulated information sharing and the manufacturing of intelligent machinery. Our desire for innovation means the production of new tools will incessantly occur, however, this is the first time humans have made machinery capable of thinking for itself; could the craving to create diminish observation of the potential perils?
In 2017, the United Nation’s Development Program decorated a Saudi Arabian as the first innovation champion. She has feelings, predilections and synthetic consciousness, Sofia, the first humanoid A.I, made her inaugural appearance in 2015 and was the first robot ever to attain citizenship. As one robot is now an internationally recognized citizen, it wouldn’t appear long before more are created and granted the same distinction. It isn’t a mental stretch to see this accreditation as a publicity stunt, yet, it’s also not outlandish to predict humanoids to be fundamentally imbedded in society within 50 years. How will this effect community cohesion? Will they hold the same rights as humans or will there be a class distinction?
Technology is made for a purpose; if an A.I robot is produced to fix problems and perceives an inherit fault in human action, is it possible they may act out against the recognized flaw? If they begin to identify human threatening behaviour, will preventive action be taken? Tesla spoke, “In the twenty-first century, the robot will take the place which slave labour occupied in ancient civilization”. Throughout history there has been repeated instances of slave revolution, if the A.I machines are endowed with advanced consciousness negatively assess their subordinate statue, could history repeat itself?
Examining a history of slavery, genocide, war, rape, tyranny, if A.I becomes widely available people are more than likely to misuse it for personal benefit. There is always a demand for state of the art machinery and as recreational technology advances so too does combat weaponry. With the development into A.I amplifying it would appear an arms race for intelligent weaponry is inevitable. The creation of intelligent machinery could also see a rebirth of imperialism; with superlative artillery and an unstable global political climate, leaders may view an opportunity to extend their dominance and cease control of new land.
Concepts of technologically advanced beings are repeatedly witnessed in film, yet, in reality, the era of mechanically altered humans is rapidly approaching. Its encroachment raises questions of responsible use and self-discipline; perhaps it will amplify human evolution, perhaps it will be the downfall of our species.
In the coming decades ailments like deafness and blindness could become tales of previous epochs. Advances with A.I will allow medicine to become personalised as algorithms offer precise information about a patient’s biology, life expectancy invariably extending well past the common bracket for humans hitherto. If humans begin to live vastly longer lives what repercussions will occur from not adhering to the natural life cycle? Can the earth cope with a densely populated planet? Will the gap between the wealthy and poor stretch astronomically giving the former God-like status?
Online, cyber security will be safeguarded by robots autonomously tracking malevolent patterns, shutting down viruses before they can penetrate hard drives. Although humans are needed for the creation and maintenance of these robots, once they become commonplace will large amounts of human workers become dispensable?
Transportation changes are already being observed. Driverless cars will reduce the road toll and state of the art passenger vehicles will minimize the world’s distance. When these technologies are widely implemented what happens to industries relying on large quantities of drivers? How many professions will have a dramatic drop in the number of employees needed? How will this effect the redundant worker’s ability to provide for their family?
If incorporated sagely A.I will increase proficiency and reliability in many aspects of life, incessant problems may be left in the past presenting more time to deal with surfacing issues like a rising population and limited job supply. Considering the human propensity for power, the likelihood of intelligent machines being used for social community benefits and not merely for profit is remote, if not alarming.
People are engaging with intelligent devices daily, as more tools are provided the demand for innovation surges. With untapped potential residing in A.I, humans will benefit immensely from the technology, however, within the enormous potential there too be enormous possibility for robot malfunction and human exploitation. The integration of A.I has already been instigated and cannot be stopped, whether it advances our species or inevitably destructs it can only answered in time.
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