Artificial Intelligence - Opportunity or Threat?

Published: 20. 1. 2019
Author: Ivan Pilný
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Is the age of singularity, defined as the moment when artificial intelligence will know more than the intelligence of all the inhabitants of the planet together, really coming?

The boundary is still moving towards the future, but this doesn’t mean we don’t already live in an era of digital economy supported by robotics and artificial intelligence.

What Is The Threat?

Let's start with threats. It’s clear that robots and computers handle better, faster, and more efficiently, repetitive routine tasks that can be algorithmized and broken down into easily digitized segments. Economy is important too, that is, how much it costs to launch a new technology. Technological performance is exponentially increasing and the costs exponentially dropping. Low-skilled jobs where robotics are simply not worth deploying are at less of a risk, as well as highly qualified jobs, which can’t be replaced by artificial intelligence just yet. According to surveys, middle rank jobs are at the biggest risk, that is not just "blue collars", workers at plantsand warehouses, but also all intermediaries performing administrative tasks. Estimates of job losses are of about 10 per cent. Robotics is accelerating because there is shortage of labour, and we keep on creating more pressure on wages. Robots also don’t have unions, work 24x7, they won’t argue when to retireor what employee benefits to get, at least for now. Another threat is posed in the very education system, which is still preparing students for professions that will not exist or will have dramatically changed by the time students go to work. We need to put an endto the model of educating for twenty years and then living off it for forty years. This means putting an end to the "bulimic" education system, based on knowledge transfer from teacher to a student, who gets rid of it and forgets it once she is examined.

We Need to Cooperate

Let’s be optimists for a bit. What opportunities are going to appear?There will certainly be some in the emergence of new jobs. Unfortunately, they won’t be appearing as fast as we may wish. In search of cooperation with artificialintelligence, learn your lesson from chess grandmasters that used to be able end with a draw playing with a computer twenty years ago. Today they can be beaten by your mobile phone chess programme without a chance to win. Yet, chess grandmasters have learned to use algorithms to analyse hundreds of games that completely outweigh their human abilities.

Lots of Questions

Mankind has survived the transition from agriculture to industry; we will undoubtedly survive this revolution too. Unfortunately, we have way less time to tackle it than back in the history, while new issues we aren’t ready for are coming up. Should the driverless car run over your neighbour or make sure your kid is safe in the back seat? Who is responsible? The car owner, car manufacturer or the algorithm designer? Another thing you can easily do today is to simply assign you want a redhead baby girl with blue eyes. Do we really want that? Should we be deploying artificial intelligence to corporate boards? We are going to actually like marketing tools that will predict our needs before we even know we have them? Are we going to entrust medicine and surgeries with robots, being aware of the risk that no one will be able to complete the surgery in case of a blackout or loss of the emergency power unit? What will we do once regular working hours are reduced to half? What will we believe in in the time of virtual fake news?

It's time to ponder over future.


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