Artificial Intelligence between Past and Future


Each era is characterized by a unique invention or discovery that changes the nature of this era dramatically, catapulting it into the future and opening new venues scientists had not thought about before. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most important modern innovations that changed humanity's path and will change our future on a wider scale.

AI is the digital computer's or its robot's ability to achieve missions usually done by intelligent creatures. The term itself is linked to the ability of developing systems with human intellectual operations, such as the ability to think, discovering meanings, stereotyping, or learning from past experiences.

AI history is very interesting; scientists have been dreaming about it for a very long time. It goes back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when science fiction first introduced the idea of intelligent robots. In 1920, Karel Čapek wrote a science fiction play where the word "robot" was first introduced. Later, a generation of scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers, including the young British scientist Alan Turing, appeared. He conducted remarkable scientific researches on what was later known as the "Turing Machine", which became the base of AI research.

Since the development of digital computers began in the 1940s, a possibility to program computers to achieve complex tasks has been proven. Despite the continous progress in computer processing speed and memory capacity, up till now, no programs have proven compatible with human flexiblity in wider fields or tasks that require a lot of daily knowledge. As a result, scientists aspire to develope AI to imitate the human mind's intelligence and flexiblity, perhaps surpassing it one day.

What are the forms of AI in our time?

From Siri to self-driving cars, AI is making remarkable progress in our modern age; whilst science fiction movies capture it as human-like robots. Artificial Intelligence could include any of the search algorithms, from “Google” to “Watson”—an AI computer system belonging to IBM, which understands human language and answers questions—to autonomous weapons.

Nowadays, AI is known as Narrow AI, as it was designed to make narrow tasks, such as recognizing faces, Internet searching, or just driving a car. The long-term objective for many scientists, however, is to create general or strong AI. Even though narrow AI could surpass humans in any specific task, such as playing chess or solving equations, strong AI will surpass humans in almost every intellectual task.

Are there any risks using AI?

Ever since the emergence of this idea, there have always been concerns about it turning against humans. What is the truth behind that? Most researchers agree that AI cannot show human emotions, such as love or hatred, and that there is no reason for it to become right or wrong. Instead, when thinking of how AI could be dangerous, experts believe there are probably two scenarios.

First, when AI is programmed to perform a destructive act, there are autonomous weapons, which are AI systems programmed to kill; when these weapons end up in the wrong hands, they could easily result in great devastation. Second, when the purpose of AI is to do something useful, but it develops a destructive method to achieve that purpose. That could occur when we fail to fully conciliate between the AI purpose and ours, which is not easy to do. For example, if you asked an intelligent car to drive you as fast as it could to the airport, it could drive you there even if it caused several accidents.

Here lies the threat of AI; not because of the possibility of its slag or challenging humans, but because of its increased efficiency.

How can scientists ensure AI is safe?

On the short term, scientists will make sure that your laptop's AI corresponds to your commands not to a hacker's in case it was damaged or hacked. On the long term, this super intelligence could help us achieve sustainability by browsing massive holdings of data, making it the biggest event in human history. What would happen if AI succeeded to become better than humans in all its cognitive functions?

Such system could undergo repetitive self-improvement, leading to dramatic development that leaves the human mind way behind by inventing new revolutionary techniques. As such, some scientists declared their concern and found out that the solution is in linking AI purposes to ours first, before developing it.


Image via

About Us

SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
Continue reading

Contact Us

P.O. Box 138, Chatby 21526, Alexandria, EGYPT
Tel.: +(203) 4839999
Ext.: 1737–1781

Become a member

© 2024 | Bibliotheca Alexandrina