Today, in 2021, we live in a reality in which it would be pretty hard to imagine a day without an increasingly sophisticated range of machines – for most of us, it is our phone, computer, tablet, or even a coffee machine without which our everyday routine would be almost unimaginable. But, as they have become a part of our routine, we usually don’t really stop to think about how incredible those little pieces of technology actually are and how they work.
So, even though these game changers quietly crawled under our skin and we don’t feel the rapid difference we have half-consciously embraced, it is a fact that we are witnessing a profound breakpoint in the history of humanity.
Our lives are undeniably saturated with all sorts of devices that hold immense potential which arouses the biggest expectations and curiosities regarding the future by far. And let us not forget that all these types of devices we today perceive not just as a norm, but as a necessity, would have be (not that long ago) seen as robotic and extremely futuristic.
Well, all these devices use AI, or Artificial Intelligence, to manage complex data and in order to be able to learn, and thus refine themselves through collecting information. When you think of it, that is pretty amazing, and it actually resembles our learning patterns and the basic principle of what we call intelligence altogether, but we will get to that a little later.
The truth is that this brave new world is so incredible because of the speed at which the technology develops and the enormous gap between the picture of individual everyday life of today and that same picture 50, or 100 years ago. It is all happening so fast, but how did we get to this in the first place?
Dystopian novels from the last century like George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Worlddepict a (not that far) future in which humans will be deprived of free will through drugs that navigate their satisfactory system in the brain and subdue them using short-term pleasure. On the other hand, as portrayed in 1984, we will face a reality in which humans suffer an inhibition of freedom summed in the infamous line Big Brother is watching you. This line refers to a totalitarian surveillance conducted through security cameras and other recognition and controlling advices.
Nevertheless, even though we are past the years in which these stories took place and we can’t say that their “prophecies” came to life to the letter, a careful reader will catch on serious key philosophical points between the authors’ views of the future and modern life of today.
Many perceive this stream of thought as a warning that someone out there is out to take over the world, but the truth is that this might be too big of an endeavor for a man or even a group of people and that they would need technologically advanced mechanisms to implement their plans. Hence the development of AI, the most promising concept in the world of technology.
According to these theories, the fact that these mechanisms would be so widespread and get into the very pores of individual everyday life is what gives them the power to navigate values, politics, ethics, fashion, and many more aspects of people’s lives worldwide.
Why AI is also the reason you are reading this article, far more than your conscious choice
In a sea of articles about artificial intelligence, you didn’t go to page 35 of Google search and consciously chose this article to be your source of information about AI. According to a new behavioral user study, 50% of people who Google search click on one of the search results within 9 seconds, and 9% make it to the bottom of the first search page.
What do you think, who (or what) does the selection of the first 5 articles (beyond which you probably won’t explore) that will be conveniently thrown in your face and make a choice of your information sources instead of you?
Well, Search engine optimization AI has a role in this, especially when it comes to suggested content, as it analyzes the patterns and links between sites and is able to follow the popularity and recognition of content. Apart from this, AI also recognizes focal points of your interests based on which it can feed you with similar content that you won’t be able to resist. Then you find yourself after five hours wondering what the hell it is you’re doing?! You know, story as old as time… or maybe not?
The truth is that what defines modern life as “modern” is an almost overnight advance of technology, and the base of the future technology is AI, as the “intelligence” part itself involves potential autonomy of machines, so that they will be able to solve tasks, function on their own, and even bring to life new, autonomous intelligent mechanisms.
Even though most of people associate AI with humanoid robots, Artificial Intelligence is way more widespread from the area of robotics: AI is literally all around us! –
· In our hands (in the form of our phones, only Siri itself is an AI mechanism),
· In our cars (navigation and Google maps use AI),
· In all of our social media (Facebook uses AI for collecting and managing data, as well as for face recognition – for example, Facebook can recognize and tag your friends on your photos; Instagram and YouTube use AI for suggestions and e-mail filters spam using AI)
· in the world’s quickest, smartest and most available encyclopedia – Google,
· in our health systems,
· in our payment systems,
· even in some of our washing machines.
Experts are even more ambitious when it comes to the future of AI, as they are working on implementing AI in areas like the traffic, kitchen, sports, construction and fire department along with other jobs that are life endangering, etc. In fact, smart, self-driving cars like Tesla are already in use, and AI has already entered our kitchens from the mechanisms that can generate recipes from photos, to an actual robot that can cook.
And when it comes to all AI devices, they’re still learning, and we are all helping them with that. For example, one of the purposes of the “prove you are not a robot” tests on Google is AI learning.
The Harward Gazette released an article called “Imagine a world in which AI is in your home, at work, everywhere”, but the truth is that AI already is everywhere and anywhere you turn, only in let’s say, baby forms.
The concept of AI itself possesses immense potential and possibilities. Many experts today suggest that once this kind of technology is improved to the point it passes the line after which the intelligence can further create new patterns and solve new problems on its own - the behavior that was artificially created will not be predictable, comprehensible, or controllable anymore.
This is exactly what many are afraid of when it comes to the development of AI, both nonprofessionals and experts. The most sensitive questions that make the progress of AI a controversial topic are ethical problems and a possibility that AI will replace humans in some lines of work.
On the other hand, the majority of the field’s specialists argue that creating a truly human-like intelligence is as far as it is complex. To begin with, we don’t even fully understand how our own intelligence functions beyond the principles of neuronal communication.
Humanizing machines is all the rage amongst some of the most valued minds of today and it seems like mechanical and electrical engineering, hand in hand with computer science might replace science as we know it altogether, as science fundamentally examines nature and its laws.
Perhaps we have scooped dry the essence of the nature around us (or at least our epistemological potentials to grasp it and came to a point where it is time to make our own, new one.
After all, God is often described as a form of super-intelligent being that created such a complex and perfect organic structure as the world that we are a part of. In the light of the vast technological improvement, some argue that it wouldn’t be impossible that even the world we know isn’t the most complex known algorithm, a Matrix-like simulation.
We are the generation that is witnessing the rise of technology at its full strength and that whatever happens in the future, it will more than partly be our responsibility and a direct consequence of our reactions to these rapid changes, or a lack of those same reactions. And the only way to make a decision is to be conscious, awake, to think – which is exactly what we are now working so hard to teach these AI creations… But it seems that we ourselves tend to forget it somewhere in the process, or in between of communicating with some of the forms of AI that surround us and consume our attention, time and life.