Digital age has opened the door for many inventions. New technologies are growing rapidly and they are used in a numerous ways. However, there are some old inventions are relying on this new expansion of innovations to open the door for something that would change our day-to-day life forever. Above all, that is Artificial Intelligence (AI). As its revolution continues to accelerate, it tackles different problems regarding the ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

Research in the field of AI is based on the claim that human intelligence “can be described so precisely that a machine can be built which can simulate it”. This claim evokes different philosophical debates about the nature of a mind and ethics in creating artificial creatures with intelligence similar to the one humans have.

The origins of AI

It all started in 1920 when the Czech writer Karel Čapek published a science fiction play named Rossum’s Universal Robots, also better known as R.U.R. The play introduced the word robot. R.U.R. deals about a factory, which creates artificial people named as robots. Several years later, at the dawn of computing, the guy named Alan Turing was already grappling with the question: “Can machines think?” He is widely known because he encrypted the code of the enigma, which were used from Nazi Germany to communicate. (If you haven’t watched the 2014 Oscar winning movie “The Imitation Game”, we recommend you check it out). Some years after the end of World War 2, Turing introduced his widely known Turing Test, which was an attempt to define machines intelligent. In 1956 there was probably the first workshop of Artificial Intelligence and with it the field of AI research was born. Researcher from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and employee from IBM met together and founded the AI research. In the following years they made huge process.

In the last two decades, AI has been growing heavily. The AI market (hardware and software) has reached $8 billion in 2017. Furthermore, the research firm IDC (International Data Corporation) predicts that the market will be $47 billion by 2020.

The ethics of Artificial Intelligence – Wrong or Right?

World famous astrophysicist, Steven Hawking, thought that the lack of control over the development of AI will lead to catastrophic effects. Some who share his opinion are even going to the extremes and warn about possible science fiction scenarios. Can you imagine some of the scenes from Terminator coming to life? However, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg say that these forecast are simply paranoid. For them, AI carries unlimited potential in the technology development. Epilogue of these debates is yet to be seen, but in this post we will try to tackle some of the most important ethical problems of AI.

Will AI become superior than human intelligence?

artificial intelligenceWhat is probably the scariest thing about the AI is the possibility of it becoming self sufficient. Can AI start producing its own AI and in some point start ruling the world, like it does in so many movies? Is the fear of AI becoming more smarter and creative than the human brain real? Company Hanson Robotics makes humanoid robots, and the most popular one is Sophia – a delicate looking woman with doe-brown eyes and  long fluttery eyelashes. In 2017 Sophia made international headlines – she became a full citizen of Saudi Arabia. She is the first robot in the world to achieve such a status. When questioned about her potential for abuse, she had a quick rebuttal. “You’ve been reading to much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you.” So, there’s no need to panic? Serious scientist think so. They think that these fears are irrational and that in this moment computers are still very much depended on humans.

Misuse of AI

artificial intelligenceSome of world most important leaders thinks that whoever becomes a leader in the AI will become “the ruler of the world”. There is a fear that the competition for dominating AI area on a national level may cause the World War III.  Military has always fomented the development of the new technologies and most of the technologies used today has been originally created for military purposes. Hence, it is not so hard to imagine that the future wars will be led by robots and not men? This is first and foremost a political problem, but also an important problem regarding the ethics of AI. Will political leaders misuse the AI in the future or not?  When asked about this at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, Elon Musk said: “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.”

Unemployment due to AI development

This is a big subject for debating and at the same time a subject skillfully overlooked in the media. On one hand, there is a possibility that AI can cause losing millions of workplaces all around the world. For company owners  it’s easier to buy a machine than to pay workers for years. Consequently, it is no wonder many fear that the machines will take over most of the jobs and therefore erase many professions and harm millions of workers. On the other hand, some people are optimistic. Saying that AI can create up to 500.000 new professions more than it would destroy. That would imply opening schools for training people to work with these highly intellectual machines. With regards to that, have you heard that MIT is investing $1 billion in a college for AI? More on that visit the MIT page “MIT reshapes itself into the future.

Conclusion

Every day there are new applications of Artificial Intelligence and new variations of the algorithms that are changing the reality. The AI is slowly getting into all aspects of life, making it much easier. On the other side, it’s obvious that with these ground breaking innovations there some possible downsides to AI. Evidently, the opinions in science circles are different when it comes to this. This being the question of social importance, it is crucial that we come to the conclusion through social debates. In that way, we can understand what exactly we want from technology and how much do we actually need. So instead of greedily  drifting into the future, we can understand better where we want to go and what price are we willing to pay to get there. Perhaps, as in all things in life, the answer to these questions lies in finding the golden middle.

If you want to read more articles like this, check out our blog “MaDI  blog“.