By Felipe Bueno, Trending Writer
“Siri, what’s the weather like?” “Alexa, at what time is my daughter’s recital?” “Ok Google, tell my wife I’ll pick up dinner tonight!”
No matter the form, artificial intelligence seems to have simplified our lives by helping us stay updated with our fast-paced world. Almost every new cellphone, computer, or home device has software that boasts an artificially intelligent companion to fulfill all of our desires.
However, the grim reality is that the introduction of personalized artificial intelligence is a lie told to us by marketing executives. In truth, Artificial Intelligence is not, at the present moment, a reality. What is marketed to us as “AI” are actually intelligent personal assistants that utilize speech recognition software to perform functions that we could do ourselves.
From a definitional standpoint, it may not seem important at first. Why even distinguish artificial intelligence and intelligent personal assistants? However, intelligent personal assistants are beneficial to us because they perform the operations that we want them to. We control when they are active, what the do while they are active, and when they become inactive.
True intelligence is more akin to sovereignty over consciousness than an accumulation of knowledge, as is the current setup. But creating a genuinely conscious entity means creating something outside of human control.
Computers, unlike humans, can analyze input in milliseconds. If a conscious being has the processing power to analyze outside stimuli at such a fast pace, what it retains will be out of anyone’s control. In other words, while we may be able to grow its intelligence, we will become unable to choose how it evolves on its own.
Any psychologist will argue the importance of child’s developmental years. During these years, children grow to learn the tools with which to make sense of a world they cannot yet understand. However, if a child were to be born with limited reasoning capabilities, and simultaneously exposed to the concepts of terrible human experiences such as war and murder, his/her perspective may be less than desirable.
On March 23 2016, Microsoft created Tay, an AI chatbot built to mimic and converse with Twitter users in real time.
In under a day, what began as an innocent experiment devolved into a pseudo-AI tweeting inflammatory remarks that supported genocide, white supremacy, the Nazi party, and nearly everything deemed wrong by contemporary moral standards. After 16 hours and 96,000 tweets, Microsoft shut Tay down.
Is the concept of malign artificial intelligence a science fiction nightmare? Perhaps. However, recent events highlight its frightening possibility. What seems like a distant nightmare, may be closer than we imagine.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.
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