The state of Artificial Intelligence (AI) today is roughly equivalent to that of MS-DOS in the early 1980’s. And while the pundits trip the light fantastical in the hype of AI and Hollywood has us all awaiting the rise of the Terminator, such a scenario is highly unlikely, at least for a long time. There are some issues with AI. I’ve worked on the business side of AI with machine learning and natural language processing since about 2009, mostly applied to Big Data analytics, but have consulted at the executive level on AI for business applications.
Technologies Are Odd
The car was designed to replace the horse. A car does not look like a horse. The phone was invented by Bell to share opera music, not talk to each other. Jack Dorsey and his team had no idea how Twitter would be used. Technologies don’t always look like the analog they’re replacing, nor do they always end up being used for the purpose they were intended.
There Is No Feminine In Artificial Intelligence
Yes, it is mostly a female voice we hear when we access AI tools such as Siri or Cortana. But AI, since the inception of the idea in the 1940’s, has been driven by the men. AI deals with cognitive processes. So far, the thinking on thinking machines has been driven by the male psyche. We need some feminine influence.
AI Is Problem Specific
If you use Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo etc., you quickly realize that what they can do is pretty cool, but also rather limited. AI tools solve specific problems. They are very linear tools. AI and the majority of focus on it’s development is problem driven, not goal driven. Humans are, largely, goal driven (i.e. survive.)
The Economics Don’t Make Sense
I think this is key in our current capitalist driven system. To get to where AI behaves like humans will require an incredibly sustained economic interest. Even tech giants with huge sums of money like Apple, Google, Amazon or Microsoft to are plowing billions into AI, don’t have that kind of economic interest. They want to solve specific problems to sell more products and services, not participate in family discussions at the dinner table.
We Inherently Build Safe Guards
Google has already stated it’s working on a “kill switch” should, bizarrely, some machine gain true cognitive awareness and try and run amok. In cars we add seat belts and airbags and brakes. Table saws have safety systems. All large machines have safety systems. If you’re worried about a bad guy, well, they’d have to have enormous financial resources and astounding loyalty from henchmen.
While it’s easy to go down the dystopian road of unimaginable horrors, AI will be subservient to mankind. Likely, AI will be an augmentative tool that we tap into or perhaps plug into through a contact lens or similar interface. We will develop some amazing applications through AI and it will help propel our society and perhaps help solve key problems like climate change. But replace us? Not likely, at least not for a long time. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to ask the hard ethical and moral questions, we certainly do.