AI, the new kid on the block, the wonder that is going to help us do just about EVERYTHING, from boiling an egg to getting space ships to Mars, the electronic brain that science fiction writers have been warning us about since Frankenstein’s Monster strode the Earth, (and look at the damage he managed during his short existence.)
But what exactly is AI ?
Well, of course it’s the initial letters for ‘ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE’, and just the words themselves, without explanation, can breathe a sense of fear and trepidation in even the strongest person’s mind,
The first, and major response I have heard from most of the people I have mentioned the subject to is; “Bloody Hell, does this mean we’re doing ourselves out of a job, or even out of existence?”
It’s the word ‘intelligence’ that really gets them. Most sensible people are quite aware that ‘intelligence’ is a commodity that is, generally speaking, not too easy to find amongst humans, so even an artificial version might very well prove to be too much competition for us.
And before we know it, Earth is populated by millions of these ‘creatures’, (is that the correct term?), doing all the skilled work, going to seminars about the possibilities for financial improvement in a robot world, and making certain that their servants - the humans - don’t get out of hand and try to take over, as in the days of slavery in America, several centuries ago.
That’s the real frightener, isn’t it? - are humans going to become the second-class citizens, working for the computers of the world instead of the way round it is today?
We have always been told right from the first IBM computer, that there is nothing as stupid as a computer, the only thing they are good for is to take the information we feed into them, and use such information, (called ‘data’), to do in hours what humans used to take weeks to accomplish.
Some bright individual once said, “In fifty years or so, there may be as many as seventeen computers in the world”, I can’t help thinking he now wishes he’d kept his mouth shut! But the basic truth is still there, a computer is only as bright as the information that is fed into it - don’t forget, just one decimal point in the wrong place and a whole complicated piece of math could be irretrievably lost.
Of course, the modern computer has come a very long way since those early days, when they were powered by valves and were literally the size of a room! And despite their size, those old machines were less able to do proper computing than the smart phone you now have in your pocket can do, and in about a tenth of the time, plus having the ability to chat with other computers, all over the world.
But I think we have to learn not to be scared of this new generation of AI computers, now bursting onto the stage of life – just try to remember the furors there were over ALL computers when they first started to appear, as the PC’s so many of us have in our daily round, now.
We were told then, by the so-called ‘experts’, that most of us were going to be out of a job, living on the dole, while the rich bosses made themselves even richer through not having to pay wages to so many of us? Well, that didn’t come to pass did it! Nor did the story that computers were going to be the death of paper, yet as it turned out we use more paper now than we ever did in the pre computer age.
No, I’m a bit of an optimist I know, but I really do think artificial intelligence is never going to be superior to the human brain - AI was invented by people and I am confident those same people will discover the ways to keep the beast under proper control, when the time comes, even if it does require the use of a hammer, or some other heavy object, to switch the damn things off!
Upwards and onwards people, keep the home fires burning, and may all our problems be little ones - artificial intelligence be damned!
© 2023 Brian Lee