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Artificial Intelligence: A Promising Future or the Beginning of the End?

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My first introduction to artificial intelligence was courtesy of The Jetsons. Rosy the robot, a wise-cracking maid and babysitter, brought humor, empathy and joy to her wacky human family. The comedic droids in Star Wars reinforced the idea of artificial intelligence equating to sidekicks rather than adversaries. Indeed, C-3PO and R2-D2 played a central role in the success of the rebellion. Yet science fiction movies such as 2001, The Terminator, and The Matrix foretold of a different reality. They envision a world where sentient machines threaten the very existence of humanity. A time in which AI supersedes the intelligence of humans.

In 2017, we’re not quite on the brink of a computer-based disaster. Still, delegating responsibility to machines continues to expand exponentially in the 21st century. Self-driving vehicles, air traffic control, guided missiles and more rely on decisions made by on-board computers. Improving time, costs, and accuracy all factor into the use of AI. Yet how do we account for hardware or software glitches in large-scale systems such as power grids or computer trading via the Stock Market? One thing’s for certain, we’ve become intricately dependent on technology. For example, just think of how utterly helpless you feel upon realizing you’ve forgotten your smartphone at home.

Voice-activated digital assistants such as Apple SIRI, Amazon Echo and Google Home make use of AI to handle daily life tasks. It’s not difficult to imagine full-fledged robots making use of this built-in technology to physically takeover society’s day-to-day menial activities. Another positive development is the co-existence of humans and bots in the live chat space. Companies such as Liveperson have developed AI technology which allows customers to interface with a bot/human combination. In essence you get the data efficiency of the bot with the decision-making process of a human being. Perhaps that’s an acceptable compromise. Artificial Intelligence implemented in a contained, manageable fashion.

As long as there’s a benefit to exploring the potential of Artificial Intelligence, progress will continue to forge ahead. What that means in the big picture no longer lives in the realm of science fiction. The future is now.

What do you think? Will Artificial Intelligence benefit or destroy humanity over time?