What Does AI Have in Store for The Future of Human Life?

What Does AI Have in Store for The Future of Human Life?

The digital advancements we see today are disrupting human life as we know it. The activities we do, the way we approach social situations, the way we perform our jobs, have all been impacts by digital technology. And now with the rapid advent of AI technology, things are poised to be disrupted even further.

Code-driven systems now impact over half the planet's population. Information is spreading faster than we can sometimes keep up with. Connectivity abounds. So the question that many seem to have is will we be better off, especially with the rise of AI? What does the future hold for this interaction of humans and artificial intelligence? Are we in danger of losing control in the battle of a human versus machine?

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in which they asked just under a thousand developers, innovators, and tech pioneers among others, their opinions regarding whether or not people will be better off in the future given the advancements we are seeing today. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2018.

While those surveyed did say that AI will likely help boost the effectiveness and capabilities of humans, many lamented the fact that it will also, in a detrimental sense, impact human autonomy and control. What happens if computers can match human intelligence one day? What if computers come to be more effective decision-makers? Machines are already adept when it comes to speech recognition, learning complex analytic patterns, as well as translating languages. There is no telling what AI will be capable of in the future and how this could subsequently supplant human agency.

That said, the experts did agree that there are definite advantages ahead—even advantages from which people benefit now. Smart systems like those found in cars even in buildings have given humans a great deal more flexibility, such that allows them to customize their lives even further.

Another area in which the experts asked cited incredibly positive benefits when it comes to AI/human interaction was in healthcare. Treating and diagnosing patients and ultimately helping older people realize a better quality of life in those later years, have all been enhanced as a result of AI advancements and digital technology. The possibilities when it comes to taking huge amounts of data and being able to analyze it, spot relevant patterns, and create more individualized treatment plans have helped health care come a very long way in even just the past five years. The experts also insisted that numerous improvements in education would come about because of AI-led initiatives.

There were concerns though that many had, particularly regarding how AI would impact our essential humanness. Many had significant worries regarding human control and agency in an AI-driven world. Below are some of the key problems and concerns about which the experts voiced their opinions:

The Experts Concerns Regarding AI and the Future of Humans:

  • Human Agency. We will experience a loss of control over our own lives. As automated systems come to be more complex, we'll have less dominion over them. Not enough people understand how these systems and tools work.

  • Data Abuse. What happens when data use and info gathering techniques are utilized for malicious ends and/or to try and usurp power…Such systems are difficult to regulate and many companies do in fact harness the power of AI strictly to make a profit.

  • Loss of Jobs. AI is gradually taking over more and more jobs performed by humans. This could lead to social issues and imbalances. There could be a massive loss of jobs across the board—economic systems will thus be hit hard and there may eventually be an uprising of sorts.

  • Over Dependence. As AI comes to do more and more for us and our lives, humans' social, cognitive and mental skills will start to diminish. We will thus become overly dependent on technology to do things for us. Once our ability to think for ourselves is undermined, computers can potentially "take over."

  • Complete Mayhem. What happens when weapons become autonomous, cybercrime is unrestrained, and even information itself becomes dangerous…Many experts see this resulting in a great loss of lives down the road because of the uptick in the violent and malicious use of AI and information in general.

Looking to the year 2030, many of the experts and analysts believe that people will only become more and more reliant upon machines and AI to do the work of living for us. That said, they do tend to see the positive results that this could potentially bring. While others see a road of hardship and danger ahead of the more we tunnel our way into this world of artificial intelligence.

One of the questions asked by the Pew Research Center was whether or not the experts thought that by 2030 advancing AI systems and digital technology will have helped to enhance and empower humans. Will they be better off than they are now? Or conversely, will AI take away human agency and thus leave us more vulnerable and far worse off than we currently are?

Surprisingly, despite the fears mentioned above, over 60% of those who participated said that indeed they believe humans will be better off in 2030 as a result of advancements in technology. 37% said that they feared humans would not be in a better position than they are today.

Most did agree that the key to any advancements in AI as far as the impact on people is that such systems have to be closely monitored. Our increased reliance on these tools and advances must be monitored and kept in check, in as far as they are created, implemented and distributed. Left unattended, there will most definitely be problems on the horizon.

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