The dangers of AI? King Edward VI student Barney Chapman warns us that we're already living with it
The dangers and risks that artificial intelligence (AI) could bring to our society have long been fictionalised by the media in books, Hollywood films and TV.
Long-raging wars between robots and man portrayed in The Terminator, the evil computer HAL plotting to kill a spaceship’s crew in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the killer androids in Blade Runner. Ever since its development, the conversation about AI has focused on robot apocalypses and unrealistic dystopian futures, rather than the real-life problems that millions could face when AI truly takes over.
In reality, we already are living in a society run by computer algorithms and robots. From facial recognition to car production lines, the roots of AI have been deeply embedded into our society.
You would struggle to go about your normal working day without using some kind of AI. The traffic lights you used to cross the road; Google maps updating your smartphone to ensure you take the quickest possible way home; Spotify suggesting newly released music based on what you usually listen to. There are hundreds of ways that AI makes our daily lives just that little bit easier.
Additionally, there are much greater responsibilities we entrust to AI. It won’t be long before self-driving cars are transporting us and our goods around the world, putting our lives and belongings in the hands of a robot. We also use AI to handle our money. Buying and selling on stock exchanges faster than any human could and making businesses billions.All of this suggests it makes our lives better, but another aspect of this new reality is that as we embrace more and more into our lives, it won’t be long before the line between AI and humans become blurred.
The first, most obvious negative effect will be the loss of jobs. Able to do anything faster and better than a human could, robots will soon run all production lines. That accounts for a huge number of humans. The unskilled work developing countries like China and India rely on to keep their economies running will become redundant. Before long, billions will be struggling to earn a living and those with limited education will see a dramatic fall in life-chances. As AI develops, it won’t be long before doctors, social workers and teachers must compete with a computer counterpart. Even creative roles like musicians are at risk. Robots have already written genuinely melodic folk music.
As this technology advances, maybe we’ll start asking Google for a medical diagnosis and listening to music created by a robot Ed Sheeran.
It’s not just our jobs that are at risk. The advanced abilities of AI have also come under scrutiny as things like facial recognition become more widely used by governments. Technological advancements risk breaching our privacy. Facial recognition could track our every movement.
As we allow more computers to take over our daily tasks, like Siri and Alexa, the risk of our lives being tracked increases even more. Anywhere from the justice system tracking our movements to advertisers using cookies to tailor specific products.
Slowly but surely, we are being wandering into a whole new world.