“We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth.”
The ability of machines to function the same way as or even superior to humans but with much more efficiency and precision, is the sound of the new coming age. While developing countries maybe behind developed countries on the AI-adoption scale, developing countries are catching up. AI has the potential to bring about a transformation much greater than any other innovation in the world, be it electricity or any other technological. It is going to be a revolution in itself.
What is AI?
The simplest and most intuitive answer was given by Larry page. He said “Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing.” There has been a lot of debate surrounding the definition of AI. With time, the definition of AI has also evolved. The widely accepted definition of AI is the ability of a machine to function the same way as a human but with much more efficiency and precision. It’s the simulation of intelligent behavior, i.e. to think and act rationally, in machines. There are three levels at which AI operates- narrow, general and superintelligence.
Artificial narrow intelligence (also called weak AI) is that which specializes in only one particular area. The machine has just been taught one task and it carries it out efficiently, with other tasks it fails to do as commanded. An example of this would be playing chess against the computer. It is well suited for playing chess but can’t do other things.
Artificial general intelligence is also commonly known as ‘human level AI’ or ‘strong AI’. It refers to a machine that is able to carry out any intellectual task that a human being can. The computer or machine has the ability to reason, solve problems, carry out logical analysis, think and comprehend complex ideas.
Nick Bostrom came up with the term artificial superintelligence. In his book “Superintelligence”, he defines artificial superintelligence as “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills.” They include computers that have surpassed human intelligence in all proportions. The creation of such an intelligence would result in that intelligence perpetuating itself and creating intelligent machines. This could perhaps mean the end of all work. It would be the logical conclusion to the journey of a ‘rational being’.
What is this revolution?
Humans have always tried to make their lives easier. The understanding of a ‘rational being’ is that a person would prefer more pleasure with the least possible effort. Towards this end, we have been makings ‘tools’. One of the definitions of the word ‘tool’ is “a means to an end”. This is something which humans have been creating since time immemorial. From the first sharp edged stone tools to help cut through things to scribbling on stone tablets to overcome our limited memory, we have constantly been creating tools. Each of these tools brought about a revolution in the way we interact with one another as well as nature.
One fundamental things that these tools did was to create a divergence between human time and natural time. Man was no longer bound to the limits placed on him by nature. If running from point A to point B took a person 30 minutes, a cycle could get him/her there in less than 10. This also increased the speed at which we progressed. The industrial revolution increased this divergence. We have now reached a point where migration from one continent to another would take years can now be done in a matter of hours. Progress has a cumulative effect. The rate at which we are progressing is increasing rapidly. The sheer pace at which we are growing makes the coming AI revolution inevitable. Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement in early September 2017 in acknowledgement- “Artificial Intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind”.
Artificial Intelligence is the most exciting topic of our times. It holds the potential to change the way humans interact with one another and with the world. It could mean the creation of another race with cognitive and computational abilities far superior than ours. This may perhaps be the most critical of all the revolutions humans have caused on earth. It has captured everyone’s minds from movie makers to policy makers, corporate to academics. It’s a revolution that many philosophers and scientist believe is inevitable and is, arguably, the “next big thing”.
Picture Credits: digitaltrends.com