Viewpoints: Will artificial intelligence benefit or threaten mankind?

Artificial intelligence poses evil

By Garrett Gallego

Staff Writer

Since the beginning of time, the human race has used technology as a means of achieving efficiency to ease everyday tasks. But creating a greater-than-human machine intelligence is a frightening and dangerous possibility in today’s world.

In a 2014 BBC News interview, physicist Stephen Hawking vocalized his fear that a manmade intelligence would have the capacity to outsmart humans, stating that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

On Jan. 30, several of the world’s top poker players were brought in for an experiment. The objective was to see how a newly developed supercomputer system, named Libratus, would fare against other humans in a game of no-limit Texas Hold’em, an activity that requires intuition, bluffing skills, and intelligence.

Libratus walked away as the victor with $1.7 million in fake chips, leaving the poker world stunned because a handful of their best had been beaten by a computer.

On March 25, 2016, Google’s robotic challenger AlphaGo faced off against Lee Sedol, the world’s most experienced and mastered player of Go, a Chinese strategy board game. AlphaGo beat Sedol 4-1.

Artifical intelligence systems have become smarter and craftier than human beings. What happens when they are able to think solely on their own, and realize they don’t need the help of their human counterparts?

Ting Li, vice president of the European Go Federation, wrote that “[AlphaGo’s moves] were totally in the black area, humans would never think about doing that.” The system came up with several moves that had never before been used in a game created by humans millennia ago.

Advancing artificial intelligence is reaching a dangerous point, as exhibited by the intellectual superiority of Libratus and AlphaGo. Hawking speculated the technology would also decimate jobs.

“The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing,” explained Hawking, “and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”

According to a recent study conducted by CitiBank in partnership with the University of Oxford, 47% of jobs in the U.S. are at risk of automation, compared to 35% in Britain and 77% in China. To add, three of the world’s 10 biggest employers are now replacing human workers with robots.

Humanity must ease up on the development of artificial intelligence and take extreme precautions so as to prevent a future in which humanity is eventually outdone by its own robotic creations. The technology cannot be treated as a tool – it is a living, learning being that we cannot fully control or possibly hope to understand.

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