AI is extremely useful, but it comes with great risks

March 31, 2019

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is growing at a phenomenal rate. It used in many aspects of day to day life; from your phone’s smart assistant, to targeted online advertisements. This type of technology has proved to be extremely helpful a society that is ever increasing its reliance on the online world. However, there are dangers to AI, and despite its usefulness, we need to know where to draw the line.

 

AI can be used for good in numerous ways. With our ever-growing population, poverty and starvation rates highlight the good than can be done when AI is implemented into the process of food production. Technology can be used to make the task of farming more efficient, allowing for a greater number of crops to be produced; with current estimates suggesting that the world population will expand to 9.5 billion by 2050, this makes this a necessity. AI can also be used to aid fight on crime by allowing a more detailed way to pick up on threats of terror, cyber crime and other things that would otherwise take huge numbers of man power and time to complete. This is an incredibly valuable resource that, despite the needless fears of privacy invasion, can help with atrocities like terrorism or child grooming.

 

However, top scientists, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, have signed a letter that warns of the potential dangers of letting AI go too far. Although the idea of robots taking over and fighting back seems improbable and frankly laughable, warnings have been made about the threat of robots becoming self-aware. On a lesser, but still serious level, there are real risks when it comes to relying on AI in everyday life. Self-driving cars are one aspect of AI that has received a lot of attention. They have already been created by some companies, and others say that they have the technology and skill to get them out to consumers. In theory, self-driving cars sound like a good idea to avoid accidents and road collisions but, in reality, there are so many dangers that come with taking the control away from the driver and instead placing it in technology. The threat of artificial mistake may not be overly high, but it is certainly not impossible.

 

 

AI is also dangerous for the workforce. If we continue to advance technology that removes the need for human beings, we will eventually end up in a society where the labour force is no longer required. This means that millions of people, whose jobs would disappear with the implementation of AI, would be left without any means of income, furthering the already growing wealth divide. Take these self-driving cars for instance. What will happen to all the lorry, truck and taxi drivers that will be put out a job as a result? This is an ethical issue that needs to be addressed before society begins to fully rely on technology for jobs that were previously done by the labour force.

 

Another large threat of AI the risk of it falling into the wrong hands; it is all well and good using it to further our society and help those in need, but it is all too likely that, eventually, it could be used to commit acts of violence or actions that have terrible consequences. This is a danger that should be considered in depth and we need to think about whether it is really worth the risk.

 

All in all, AI can be incredibly useful in both day to day life and with helping with bigger issues around the world. The ability to whip up Google Maps on your phone when you’re lost, or to ask your Amazon Alexa to play your favourite songs might be a little unnecessary, but they’re still helpful and fun. Our reliance on technology grows each day, and we should expect our own personal technology to keep up with that. Using AI to fight crime, starvation and poverty, as well as aiding with medical research can only be a positive thing. However, we should not underestimate the importance of our abilities as human beings, and using artificial intelligence to significantly replace aspects of a human society is not a good idea.

 

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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