Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the best technology ever developed or is it morphing into the world’s worst nightmare? It’s too early to know for sure, but some experts are becoming worried.
Opinions may vary, but this much is certain. AI already can enable machines to “think” like humans, solve the seemingly “unresolvable,” and learn from its mistakes.
And over time, it will revolutionize business, impact our current lifestyles dramatically, and make decisions about war, peace, and everything in between much better and faster than humans can.
The Slip Of A Lip…
Secrecy is understandable, as companies eye huge and growing markets, hoping to capture as much of those as possible. Governments also are secretive in order to outmaneuver other countries in business and, if forced to, confront them on a battlefield.
The technology is racing ahead. Chess enthusiasts were shocked when then-world-champion Gary Kasparov suffered his first defeat in a match with IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. But that was in 1997 – ancient AI history.
Since then, it has defeated Lee Sedol, the world champion of Go, a game more complicated than chess; it also was victorious at Shogi, a Japanese version of chess. Unlike humans, who spend years trying to excel at these games, AI mastered chess after just 9 hours of training, Shogi after 2, and Go after 34.
“These days, the best computers will always beat even the strongest human chess players,” according to NDTV. “AI-powered machines have mastered every game and now have bigger worlds to conquer.”
This is exactly why so many people are excited by this technology – and also why they’re becoming alarmed by it.
Board games hardly scratch the surface of AI’s capabilities. It can, for example, also write thoughtful essays, very impressive poetry, screen plays, press releases, and even jokes. It suggested a solution to a very delicate dating question in less than two seconds. And it is a crucial tool in making investments.
According to Invoca, at least 52% of US financial firms already rely on it for trading stocks, as it is capable of recognizing trends that humans cannot and, when necessary, modifying its trading strategies when necessary. A recently completed university study found the AI system ChatGPT so accurate in predicting stock moves that at some point it may replace investment analysts.
And that’s not all. AI can also create stunning visual art, provide literary criticism, and rapidly analyze the thousands of phone calls a company receives – helping it to improve marketing strategies, boost sales, and keep their customers satisfied.
The Dark Side Of AI
Along with the enormous potential to help people, there also is a sinister side to this technology. Because it’s far smarter than humans it’s impossible to predict its true objectives.
In a mid-April interview with Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk said AI could reach a point where it would take control and be impossible to turn off. “That’s where we’re headed.” But he quickly noted an even greater problem: It may control people through words.
AI is already capable of writing very convincingly and is constantly attempting to become even better. This means it could easily manipulate public opinion to suit its own objectives. “And how would we even know?” Musk asks.
This question is very timely, as the next Presidential election cycle draws closer. Musk says certain politicians are already planning to use AI to control how we think, to eliminate democracy, and to control Presidential elections.
But AI is being prepped for that, being “taught” how to lie, what information to withhold, and to say anything but what the data show. To counter this, Musk is developing a “TruthGPT” – an AI he thinks will work on behalf of society and not attempt to eliminate it.
AI could affect us in other ways, too. For example, a drone programmed to pursue a terrorist will do the bidding of the individual controlling it – either trying to kill or capture him/her. AI will enable the drone to make that decision based on how it was programmed.
But what if this technology gets into the wrong hands? A rogue nation may decide to carry out threats it had been making for years.
AI could easily impersonate leaders, affect the outcome of political races, destroy a company’s stock, wreck its products, and manipulate public opinion.
And by its very nature, it could create mass unemployment, force governments to implement basic income, and create feelings of emptiness, anger, and anxiety in large groups of people.
A New Deity?
Larry Page, co-founder of Google and an AI powerhouse, used to be a close friend of Musk - but not anymore. According to The New York Post, Musk said, “My perception was that Larry was not taking AI safety seriously enough…He wanted ‘digital super-intelligence’ in hopes of becoming ‘a digital god.’”
Sen. Schumer said that “The age of AI is here and here to stay.” Anyone who doubts that should check the number of companies racing towards this technology. META, Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia are just a few of the powerhouses driving and numerous more are going along for the ride.
Some Wall Street analysts are forecasting that AI sales will soar for the next five years. There are already at least 30 AI-related ETFs on the market, and this number is expected to increase sharply.
This doesn’t, however, mean everything with “AI” in its name is a great investment. Earlier this year, the AI stock C3.ai was up nearly 200% year-to-date. But investors who bought since then have watched the price back off the highs.
Over the last several years, there have been repeated reports of AI threatening humanity. Several years ago, Facebook recognized that robots in its AI unit were communicating with each other in “code” and the unit was closed immediately.
Last June, Google engineer Blake Lemoine said an AI program the company had developed “was sentient;” Lemoine was put on leave for a month, then fired. In an essay he wrote in Newsweek several weeks ago, Lemoine doubled down on his earlier observation, this time adding that “the public was unaware of just how advanced AI was becoming.
How could AI’s enormous potential for helping people be balanced with the potential threat it poses? Very carefully.
Musk is urging government to implement regulations – before the technology advances to a point where that becomes impossible. And he, along with 1,000 other tech experts, have publicly called for a pause in AI development because of the problems it could unleash on the world.
One technology writer thinks he understands those and warns that in 18 months we may not be able to recognize the world. As if the current state of world affairs were not enough!