A particular favourite film of mine as a child, was AI – Artificial Intelligence released in 2001. The film where a robot boy named David could think and feel, was placed in a human family in the 22nd Century and because he was different, the human family’s son (Martin) didn’t like David, so David ended up being an orphan. David and his teddy (named Teddy) were left to figure out where they belong in a world that they arent really meant for. There is more to the film, but it’s better to watch it, rather than read a description. However, that is the film which sparked my interest in AI. Since finishing my undergraduate degree, I have taken it upon myself to learn more about AI, and as I have read more, one question dawns on me: why are we not discussing AI more?
Artificial intelligence is the study of intelligent behaviour and was a term that was first used by John McCarthy at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire in a proposal for a conference, in the mid 1950s. Since the 1950s artificial intelligence has developed at a significant rate, what was once an incredibly futuristic thought is becoming ever closer to being reality. And this is because AI is everywhere, our homes, personal devices, schools and even hospitals! AI is enhancing our lives and whilst this is magnificent there is the potential danger, which no one appears to be talking about (admittedly, we do have other things on our minds like COVID) but the danger is how advanced AI is going to become and how comfortable are people with it?
AI is not just robots, think of the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Jarvis (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) is taken over by Ultron. Even though that’s a film, I personally believe it shows it’s unpredictable.
One of the goals of AI is to understand human intelligence and as a result it learns from experience, much like how humans learn. But what happens when AI learns to over power humans? And because AI is a new phenomenon, when does it become ‘too much?’ Currently, AI collects so much data on us; it tracks our location, who we have conversations with and the websites we access. In the UK, how far do regulations like GDPR actually go in protecting us?
In Politics, if you think back to it coming out that the Leave campaign used Cambridge Analytica to help their campaign, by targeting voters to get them to vote… How much since then how much have we actually learnt? Probably not much, and the new ‘way’ of campaigning – targeted adverts, will be used instead of ‘just going with it.’ Having watched Brexit: The Uncivil War the other night, AI has definitely been used to revolutionise elections, and personally – I don’t know how I feel about that! Then there’s the bigger problem of AI learning about us and that information being used overseas, by goodness knows who. Just like the ocean, there is still so much we’re unaware of!
This is only a short piece, but hopefully it will get you thinking and discussing. How far do we want AI to be developed? How much do we want it in our lives? Ultimately, people do have power and it is up to us to decide the future from two options:
Humans and AI working together
An AI takeover
I know which one I prefer.
Artificial Intelligence: An Introduction by Alan Garnham
The Big Ideas: Will AI Replace Us? A primer for the 21st Century by Shelly Fan