Artificial self-driving cars, Facebook’s friend suggestion to

Artificial
intelligence has rapidly progressed over the last 63 years, from the first time
the term was coined by American computer scientist and “father of AI,” John
McCarthy in 1955 to present day, the technological world has completely
evolved. From SIRI to self-driving cars, Facebook’s friend suggestion to
Netflix suggesting movies for you, while science fiction often portrays AI as
robots with human-like characteristics, AI can encompass anything from Google’s
search algorithms to IBM’s Watson to autonomous weapons. Today’s AI is known as
narrow AI or weak AI, in that it is designed to perform a single narrow task
such as the iPhone facial recognition, however, the long-term goal of many
researchers is to create general AI also known as strong AGI. While narrow AI
may outperform humans at whatever its specific task is, like playing chess or
solving equations, AGI would outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task.
Neil Postman said it best, all technological change is a tradeoff, for every
advantage a new technology offers there is a corresponding disadvantage. The
greater the wonders of new technology, the greater the liability and culture
always pays a price for technology. The disadvantages of AI could be
devastating, once humans develop AI, it would take off on its own and redesign
it’s self at an ever-increasing rate. Humans are limited by slow biological
evolution and couldn’t compete and would be superseded, the jobs that humans
once occupied would be replaced by faster, more efficient and intelligent AI,
leaving no purpose for humans to serve. Autonomous weapons are artificial
intelligence systems programmed to kill, in the hands of the wrong people these
could cause mass casualties. With no “turn off” button for the weapon systems,
humans would have no control over the situation. AI technological developments
have allowed humans to advance in ways we never thought possible, but it has
also changed people’s social connections forever. It has caused permanent
sociocultural changes and society needs to become aware of these changes before
our ability to connect with each other is lost. 

Elon Reeve Musk is
a South African business, investor, engineer, and inventor. He is the founder
and CEO at SpaceX, Tesla, OpenAI and Neuralink. Musk feels and has expressed
that AI is our “biggest existential threat” and believes that it could perform
any task humans can but 1000x better, with less risk or error.  Our species only dominates Earth because it
currently has the highest level of intelligence, once surpassed by a more
intelligent being, the jobs humans once had will now be given to the AI systems
leaving no purpose for humans to serve. Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital
firm Sinovation Ventures and a top voice on tech in China believes AI systems
are likely to replace 50 percent of all jobs in the next decade. “It is
the decision engine that will replace people,” Lee said, adding that AI
capabilities far exceed those of humanity. For example, he said, companies in
which his firm has invested can accomplish feats such as recognizing 3 million
faces at the same time, or dispersing loans in eight seconds. “These are things
that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry.” This will
lead to an even bigger divide between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and
could ultimately lead to a communism society. With property and the means of
production concentrated in few hands, this leaves people with little option for
moving up in society. The bourgeoisie deliberately keep the proletariat under
control by manipulating their working conditions, adding AI systems to the
workforce will only further make the proletariat feel more meaningless and alienated
once they are replaced by technology. Big name companies often run on the
ethics that the business’ primary responsibility is to make money and often
economics is the dominant paradigm of our western society. AI is much cheaper,
and the risk of worker error would basically be eliminated, alongside the human
workforce. Not only is AI a danger to humans in the workforce, but a danger to
mankind itself.

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Autonomous weapon
systems are a form of artificial intelligence that is programmed to kill, they
select and engage targets without human intervention. They have been described
as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and the nuclear missile.
Unlike nukes they don’t require costly or hard to obtain materials making them
cheap to produce for all military powers. The black market opens for terrorists
to obtain them.  AI weapon systems have
reached a point where such systems would be feasible within years. Having these
in the wrong hands of dangerous people with a wrong moral or political compass
could inflict mass amounts of casualties amongst the population.  Having these weapon systems in the hands of
terrorists could spark a global arms race and untimely lead to a global war.  Dictators who are wishing to better control
their populace could use these weapon systems to forcefully gain control.
Warlords who wish to carry out an ethnic cleansing would now have the power to
do so without facing human intervention. Embedded in every technology there is
a powerful idea which is hidden from our view because of its abstract nature, every
technology has a prejudice according to Postman. He also adds that technological
change is not an additive, its ecological, a drop of red dye into clear water
would turn the water red, a medium does not add something, it changes
everything. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon
development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of
this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the firearms
of tomorrow.  The creation of AI weapon
systems would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI
can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating
new tools for killing people. If we are not careful these systems could lead to
the destruction of mankind, they also have the danger to create a society that has
lost all emotions and ability to connect with one another.

It seems like a
world without the Internet and smart devices is unimaginable. The first true
“Smartphone” came out in 1992 and Facebook was released in 2004. To top that
off the first Apple iPhone came out in early 2007.  The online world has only been around for a
mere 27 years and our society is already completely dependent on it. If you
look at technology usage with a global perspective, in November of 2007 the
amount of people’s time spent on social networking sites surpassed the amount
of time on email and in July of 2009, the number of social networking users far
surpassed the number of email users. Today, algorithms know well what we do,
what we think and how we feel, possibly even better than our friends and family
or even ourselves. Often the recommendations we are offered fit so well that
the resulting decisions feel as if they were our own, even though they are not
our decisions. In fact, we are being remotely controlled ever more successfully
in this manner. Software platforms are now moving towards “persuasive
computing.” In the future, using sophisticated manipulation technologies, these
platforms will be able to steer us through entire courses of action, for the
execution of complex work processes or to generate free content for Internet
platforms, from which corporations earn billions. Artificial intelligence is shaping
our society, for better or worse. If such widespread technologies are not
compatible with our society’s core values, sooner or later they will cause
extensive damage. They could lead to an automated society with totalitarian
features. In the worst case, a centralized artificial intelligence would
control what we know, what we think and how we act. Our current society is
being described by the term “network society”; this is due to the digital
revolution that caused many sociocultural changes.  An increased focus on individual growth online
and in the real world is paired with a decreased focus on community; more
specifically work and family. This is an example of a major sociocultural
change and produces our current “Me-Centered” society. Primitive AI was created
and is used to increase connections personally to one another and globally, but
the constant online interaction has decreased our ability to interact in the
real world. Individuation online means isolation in the real world.

To conclude,
Artificial Intelligence has caused permanent sociocultural changes that society
needs to become aware of.  The risks
posed by AI greatly outweighs the benefits. Major technological experts such as
Elon Musk have warned us of the possible risks and feel we should be concerned.
If humans want to continue as a working socioeconomic society with the ability
to connect and maintain their jobs, it would be beneficial to research AI
safety, rather than advancing AI itself. With very little information on how
these systems work, AI weapon systems are high risk due to the lack of control
over these systems. Having these in the wrong hands could lead to mass amounts
of casualties. Technology can be great when used correctly, but in AI situation
there is no correct way without damaging humanity. 

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