By Cassandra Stegner
What is artificial intelligence? Though a complicated and ever expanding topic, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) defines AI as “the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines.” The science has come a long way since the 1950s, when the term was first coined, to now; entire factories and assembly lines are able to be successfully run by highly intelligent machines. But what are they really capable of?
According to Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired Magazine, the AI being developed now primarily specializes in only one area of work, or excels at a singular task. In other words, a chess program could not suddenly diagnose a terminal illness with the flick of a switch. The popular and sought after “humanoid” robots people expect from AI research is “still very far off” Kelly says. In fact, over the next couple of decades Artificial Intelligence will be “boring in the industrial sense” as it won’t resemble the way we think of human intelligence-it “lacks conscience”.
In a conference at SXSW earlier this year, Kelly addresses various concerns about the very real eventuality that robots will soon take over human jobs. “Yes, they’re going to take our jobs. They’re going to take many of our jobs.” Kelly remarked. However, he pointed out, many jobs to be taken over are things that will appear “degrading” to humans in the years to come. Instead of working long hours in factories, we will be able to hold jobs that instead rely on “creativity, personal experiences, and relationships”, something that synthetic intelligence isn’t yet capable of.
In response to those who worry about “AI taking over the world,” and “destroying humanity,” Kelly tells people not to worry. “We should embrace what’s coming, because by embracing it, that’s the best way we can steer it.” Ultimately, when you hear about the development of AI, don’t freak out. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a robot uprising is on the horizon, or that the end of humanity is just a few years off. Embrace the tech- just as you embrace phones, videogames, and computers- and be prepared to work along “cognified” machines for the foreseeable future.