Bad Robot

“TV KILLED THE RADIO,

aND THE INTERNET SLIT TELEVISION’S THROAT”

– Wale (Street Philosopher, Rapper [Gullible ft. Cee-lo Green])

Wikipedia, Not So Sleek.

“Artificial Intelligence, sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.” This sentence is the Wikipedia definition of Artificial Intelligence. The brazen speciesism in “humans and other animals” isn’t the focus of this piece but; not so sleek Wikipedia, not so sleek. The list of what Artificial Intelligence is capable of is increasing at a pace that will render that part of this article useless by the time you get the chance to read it. That said, we move.

With the ever-increasing scope of AI, we constantly ask what it means for the rest of the occupants of earth. Is it time to pack our bags and head for Mars since water has been discovered there? Do we stay back and have a reshow of the industrial revolution resistance and destroy every AI lab? Or do we do what we have always done – adapt and find a way to still be atop the chain of command?

Artificial Intelligence Concerns

The use of AI in manufacturing has quadrupled in recent times; thereby cutting cost in the long run and shooting productivity levels through the roof. However, it is important to note that AI can only do this by replacing human labour, thereby creating structural unemployment. Many might argue though, that the human race will adapt by simply creating other fields that will, in turn, create other job opportunities, but we cannot ignore the fact that these new fields will not exactly accommodate everyone who was disadvantaged by the initial shakeup. There is a myth claiming that only Luddites are worried about this development, but the truth is, renowned and respected researchers and academics across all fields are equally concerned with what the future of labour holds for the future of the human race.

Economic Growth vs. Economic Development

The use of artificial intelligence in manufacturing ensures high levels of efficiency which means that productivity levels go up, and in the same vein, profits go up too. What this means usually is an increase in the GDP of the nation – basically, economic growth. The importance of economic growth to any nation cannot be overemphasized but the need for economic development should not be ignored either.

Economic growth refers to the amount of productivity per head, economic development encompasses the positive changes in the general living conditions of people in any construct. This is important to clarify because, while the use of AI might drive economic growth, economic development will not increase at the same pace. When more AI is employed, lesser humans are involved in the process. The financial divide gets wider as people already with access to AI employ its use in the further creation of wealth, while the proletariat who were once in the employ of the one-percenters now have no access to a means of livelihood at all.

People on the crossing – Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Human Element Needed

Recently, a facial recognition technology was tested on a wide variety of people and it made the mistake of labelling a number of lawmakers that were part of the sampled people as criminals. On a personal note though, I will like to assert that that machine is working perfectly! But importantly, it draws attention to the need for the human element of sentience and subjectivity in judgment. This might not be such an important need until we realise that AI sometimes determines who lives and who gets the chance to tell God “maybe sparing the human race after Noah was a bad idea.”

The use of unmanned technology in warfare is on the increase and speculations have it that in the nearest future, the loss of human military personnel in combat might be down to zero (of course for nations that employ the use of AI). While this is a great gain, we have to question though, who then will this technology be used against? What does this clear asymmetry mean for nations without access to AI? Considering the deadly accuracy of AI, and the absence of sentience that humans inherently possess, what will the use of AI mean for rules of engagement and the dynamics of how we handle war-related issues especially when it comes to accountability?

A lot of articles highlighting the importance and the merits of AI have been written; so, this was intentionally structured to briefly interrogate the trade-offs humans will be making in the quest for scientific advancement. The human race owes itself the duty of self-preservation and so checks have to be put in place to ensure this is not eroded. The Zuckerberg-Musk debate brought this to light and I hope the issues raised are a lot clearer after reading this.

1 COMMENT

  1. Perfect obnoxious blend of gloom and glee. Welcome back into the future AI was and has been introduced to mankind domestically through consumer electronic goods that replaced hands on activity like lawn mower, vacuum cleaner & microwave ovens. It enhanced our lives but an industrial scale it threatens our livelihoods

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