I recently read an interesting piece on AI’s PR problem. This is a timely topic of discussion, as we are entering a new economy that we have yet to define fully.
This ‘machine taking over the world’ argument, inquisitiveness (or fear) among public, and as a part of formal research among computer science scholars is nothing new, and dates back to the middle of the twentieth century. I.J. Good in 1965 wrote the thesis on the cognitive aspect of designing a smarter AI. Without any doubt, there has been amazing development in the world of hard science, information technology and artificial intelligence.
Keeping in mind the context of broad implications and the mechanics of science, in my opinion, there is no existential threat for humanity as a result of the science itself, in a manner that machines will be developed fully, to be able to have a full cognitive capability to take over the world. Ill will of humans leading to catastrophes is certainly another story.
I find the wisdom of Peter Drucker relevant still this day, that often he called the computer “a total moron.” Drucker rationalized, that machines feed off the information and the processes that you provide to the machine. Drucker’s work related to computers and AI, I believe did not extend to the era or technicalities on, if and when machines could take over. In his own words, Drucker explained “If the computer does not enable us to simplify our organizations, it is being abused.” However, I believe that his foundational view on computing devices and machines is still relevant when we talk about how far humans can push the limits of machines, and if robots of the future will have the full cognitive capabilities of humans, comparable to what we see in the Hollywood’s version of AI.
I like the broader questions based approach to push the limits of science and imagination - in hopes of finding cure and advancement of science, technology and artificial intelligence, for the betterment of humanity. If implemented in a proper context (with adequate training for users and using with the mission to compliment the human intelligence; and, aligning with the human lead) I see benefits of the advancement in artificial intelligence in combating crime, tackling climate change, and developing smart cities with innovations such as autonomous vehicles.
Our organization, Explore Nano, Inc. is exploring nanotechnology with leading researchers and various arms of the ecosystem from around the world. I am fascinated by the types of research in nanotechnology that I get to be aware of every day. Not so much in terms of artificial intelligence, but nanotechnology enables computerization at the molecular level – and, as a result in case of health sciences, offers hope to cure life-threatening diseases like cancer and advanced diabetes - by enabling the manipulation and the access at minute, molecular level - to eradicate pathogens at the core. I am aware that nanotechnology, being a new area of science, that the regulatory aspects of the technology still faces some challenges in terms of educating the law makers and the masses - to expedite commercialization.
Multiple federal agencies are working on nanotechnology research in concert along with the private sector. We are a proud supporting partner of World Innovation Conference (Nanotech 2017) to be held in Washington, DC May 14-17 this year.
The upside is clearly huge in terms of the promises that the technology holds, but the risks are very much there, and must be a part of a broader set of research policies - to be able to understand and come up with responsible solutions.
We have long ways to go in terms of creating a machine or the artificial intelligence apparatus that is remotely capable of mimicking or exceeding the vast human neural networks. This is not to say that scientists are not trying. According to this article, Google is working on a neural network to create an artificial brain. With human brains containing over 10 billion nerve cells, and as each nerve cell forms a massively parallel information processing system (unlike the conventional computers, in which a single processor executes only a single series of instructions), the scientists who are committed to developing robots with comparable human cognitive capabilities have their work cut out for them.
The following statement (as per this article on the Drucker Institute blog) by Stephen Baker, author of the book Final Jeopardy is more along the lines of a realistic and pragmatic outlook, “Machines are going to become part of our lives. Each one of us will have to figure out how to leverage these smart systems for our own good -and not be replaced by them. Our brains are still the most intricate, complex and brilliant thinking machines on earth. But we have to figure out how to use them in concert with the machines we are building.”