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Human Replaceability – A.I and Automation

In an interview on the topic of Artificial Intelligence (A.I), the late Stephen Hawking once stated that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

While the statement itself may seem preposterous to some, Hawking elaborated that “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superceded.”

This is frightening but something we cannot deny as we look toward the future. Will A.I replace humans in industries? The answer to this isn’t a simple yes or no but rather a question in itself – When and how fast?

Given the ever increasing technological prowess of mankind, the world we live in right now is immensely different to the world of 100 years ago. Developments in healthcare have allowed people’s life expectancies to increase significantly.

Advances in transportation and communication have connected us. Artificial Intelligence already exists and topics that were once only possible in the realm of science fiction, eg. machine learning, androids and automation, are now commonplace.

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin commented in the company’s annual Founders’ letter. “The new spring in artificial intelligence is the most significant development in computing in my lifetime. Every month, there are stunning new applications and transformative new techniques”. Brin further added that “such powerful tools also bring with them new questions and responsibilities”.

He concluded with a somber remark. “While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care, and humility.”

Deep responsibility, care and humility. Three factors that those at the forefront of technology need to consider. Artificial Intelligence and automation have the potential to render humans obsolete and therein lies an intense socio-economic conundrum.

Why should a company pay employees salaries on a monthly basis when they can purchase an A.I powered machine once off ? It’s true that a machine can carry out certain tasks at a far more efficient rate than any human can and factory workers are already feeling the brunt of this. Thankfully, humans are resourceful. While A.I and automation can replace basic repetitive tasks, complex decision making is still done by humans. Laws and policy are human created.

Artificial Intelligence and Automation in its current form have not reached the levels as depicted in works of fiction like Detroit: Become Human. We aren’t at the level of having Androids replace human beings for emotional connections but this may soon happen.

Humans may have created AI but where do we draw the line when it comes to advancing it? Will our morality and philosophy keep us from progressing into the future or will Androids and Artificial Intelligence reign supreme sooner rather than later?

As A.I developers, we currently hold the power over its future.


[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

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