Especially in recent years innovative technologies based on artificial intelligence (AI) have found their way into our everyday lives.
They have become important components of consumer electronics, household applications, smartphones or cars. They recognize our voice and face, monitor our health and property, warn us about dangers, play the role of personal assistants and win against us in board games such as chess.
The more omnipresent the use of AI becomes, the more questions it raises. Who is responsible if an autonomous car causes an accident or a medical AI device causes a fatal error? To what extend will robots take over humans’ jobs? And most importantly, will AI ever rule the world?
The primary focus of the AI discussions
Questions about technological orientation and basic moral principles are definitely the centre of AI discussions.
AI is an important scientific field. At the same time the term artificial intelligence (AI) is used as a generic term for a number of technologies, systems and methods. These methods are partly based on a simulation of processes in the human body, especially in the brain, and demonstrate a human-like “intelligent” behavior.
In addition, they are able to self-develop, learn and act on their own initiative. Current discussions on artificial intelligence can roughly be divided into two directions.
Weak AI is omnipresent, strong AI remains a challenge
The first direction has a technological background.
It’s all about the question how and if artificial intelligence that is comparable to human intelligence can actually be developed.
The so-called “criteria of intelligence” distinguishes between weak and strong intelligence.
The weak AI helds a leading position in one specific area. It defeats the chess world champion and can detect spam messages without errors. Other tasks going beyond this cannot be mastered by the weak AI.
The strong AI should be able to master the same tasks as a human being. A machine with strong AI would be able to not only perform certain logical operations, but also to understand their meaning.
The strong AI exists as a theoretical concept. If one day it should become a reality, it will go beyond the limits of human imagination and evolve into a “superintelligence”. It not only surpasses human intelligence, but in the opinion of Google’s Director of Engineering Raymond Kurzweil, it leads to a technological singularity, a time in human history at which future development of mankind is no longer predictable.
Basic philosophical questions about the future with AI
The second direction of discussions has a philosophical background.
It regards the relationship between man and the intellectual machine. If one day researchers create an intelligence that will be more powerful as the human mind, what will happen to us humans? While some experts fear that people will not be able to survive this development, others believe that it will take us all to the next level of evolution. Will AI enslave or even extinguish us? Or will there be a peaceful symbiosis? We are yet to find out.
Future development: AI is becoming a matter of course
An important step towards a better understanding of multilayered and complex impact of AI on our lives was made in 2016 by Stanford University in the U.S.
Within the framework of the project “AI 100: One Hundred Years Study in Artificial Intelligence” leading researchers from American universities and research institutions created a detailed forecast on the future development of AI up to 2030.
Great progress is expected to be made especially in business, transport, everyday life, medicine and education over the next 15 years.
Self-driving vehicles soon on our roads
The researchers agree that autonomous cars will be a matter of course in the foreseeable future. Some cities are already about to add self-driving vehicles to their public transport.
The technology of autonomous vehicles is constantly improving and becomes safer every day. The latest self-driving test vehicle of Google drove more than 500.000 km without having an accident.
Founder of Tesla, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of autonomous vehicles, Elon Musk, asserts the importance of AI for automotive traffic and develops own AI chips in his company.
Experts say as soon as the first fully autonomous vehicle is approved for road traffic, self-driving cars will be ubiquitous.
They will be used for both, passenger and freight transport. The number of fatal accidents is expected to decrease significantly.
Robots help in the household
According to the authors of the report, typical household duties will also be taken on by robots: they will provide security, clean buildings, act as babysitters or caretakers and carry out repairs.
For example, Chatbot Jarvis developed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is already able to control all processes in a Smart Home thanks to advanced speech recognition.
AI supports doctors
Medicine is a particularly promising field of application for AI technologies.
Latest developments can help millions of patients already. Devices for diagnostics are successfully used by doctors and support them during operations. Based on the data analysis, AI can also point out health risks of people.
Robots will be used in hospitals all over the world to perform patient anamnesis over the next 15 years. They will be controlled by doctors and provide them with useful suggestions for treatment.
This will not only reduce the workload of staff, but in many cases will also contribute to better medical care.
Improved education processes
Artificial intelligence is also very useful in education.
Millions of students, teachers and professors worldwide use numerous interactive apps that not only make the teaching and learning process much easier, but also allow it to be completely redefined.
The idea of individual support in learning process will become a reality in the near future. Robots analyze mistakes and knowledge deficits of learners and help them improve.
Moreover, speech recognition technologies will also support students with improving their language skills, while complex simulation systems, especially for scientific courses, will enrich the learning process.
Conclusion: Identifying dangers and encouraging progress
Human history has shown that progress cannot be stopped.
In the near or distant future we will live in a completely different world surrounded by thinking machines. Researchers and experts therefore agree that we need to discuss about the potential dangers of such a development to be able to set limits on time.
At the same time, we also need an efficient cooperation between science and economy in order to promote AI development.
If we are able to realize these two aspects, it is very likely that sooner or later we will get the chance to solve problems like overpopulation, poverty and world hunger.
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