Our second article in the Middle Ground series focuses on the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on the future. While AI has its roots dating back to the 20th century, rapid advancements in recent years have brought its relevance into the spotlight. AI has applications in a variety of diverse fields, such as AI chatbots like ChatGPT, self-driving vehicles, or AI-powered assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa.
However, these advances come with pressing questions on ethical AI use. In this article, the authors discuss the impact of AI on the future and its implications. Highlighting the power of AI in 2023, the con side of this article was written by ChatGPT.
- The Editorial Board
Pro: AI Will Have a Positive Impact
Creating human-level Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been the holy grail of the field of computer science since the field’s inception. In fact, in his 1950 paper, Alan Turing, who is widely considered the father of modern computer science, proposed the question ‘Can Machines Think?’. And it can be argued that the dream of creating intelligent machines goes even further back than the field of computer science itself since curiosity about the workings of the human mind has been observed throughout history.
Although there has been constant progress in the field of AI research in the decades since Turing proposed his question, the field has exploded in the past decade. This is largely due to the re-emergence of neural networks, an AI architecture loosely modeled on how neurons fire. The idea of neural networks had been proposed in the 1940s, but these models didn’t yield impressive results on many tasks; then in 2012, there was a breakthrough moment when a group of researchers at the University of Toronto trained a special type of neural network to classify images on the ImageNet dataset (a famous benchmark in computer vision). Their neural network was significantly better than any method used before and ignited a revolution in the field of computer vision and other fields such as natural language processing.
Since that paper was published in 2012, the dominoes have kept falling. Image captioning. Machine translation. The board game Go. Real-time-strategy video games like Dota and StarCraft. Code generation. Protein folding. Art creation. And achieving a human-like understanding of natural language. All these tasks have been solved by neural networks, sometimes paired with algorithms from another exciting area of AI called reinforcement learning.
And things are only speeding up. The number of papers in the field has increased exponentially. The amount of investment in the industry has skyrocketed. And the number of highly talented scientists and engineers entering the field has grown dramatically. With these trends, we can only expect progress in AI to continue (and probably accelerate) into the foreseeable future. This begs the question: what’s going to happen next?
Many have predicted that AI will disrupt the economy. The latest AI models are approaching or exceeding humans at a wide range of cognitive tasks; for example, the recently announced GPT-4 model by OpenAI is better than most humans on several standardized assessments such as the LSAT, GRE, and SAT. As AIs continue to improve and new models and techniques are developed, there will likely be fewer economically valuable tasks that humans are needed for. If AIs can do all our jobs cheaper and better, what will humans do? And how will the wealth generated by AIs get distributed? These are questions that society needs to start asking. And governments need to start preparing for the times ahead.
In addition to the economic concerns, many other interesting, fundamental questions have yet to be answered:
Can AIs be conscious? Should they be conscious? If we create human-level general-purpose AI, who should control it? Should anyone control it? What should it be used for? What should it not be used for? How do we make sure powerful AIs are aligned with human values?
These may sound like questions best suited for science fiction. But our reality may turn into a sci-fi world sooner than we think.
AI can be one of the most important and impactful technologies humanity ever creates. After all, our species has been able to build a pretty incredible world for ourselves. And we’ve discovered a decent amount about how the universe works. This is in large part due to our intelligence.
More intelligence, if built in the right way, can help us solve more problems and do more awesome things. In this way, AI is the ultimate meta-problem. Solving AI can help us solve everything else.
But technology by itself is not inherently good. It would be quite sad if we build advanced AI but it leads to a dystopian reality with widespread economic turmoil or war. We need to make sure that we create and deploy AI in safe and robust ways that are beneficial to humanity. This way, we’ll have a chance at making our sci-fi future a utopia.
- UVA SEAS Undergraduate
Con: AI Will Have a Positive Impact
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the most transformative technologies of our time. It has the potential to revolutionize industries, improve healthcare, and enhance our daily lives. However, as with any new technology, there are concerns about its impact on society. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why AI could have a negative impact on society.
Job Losses: One of the most significant concerns about AI is the potential for job losses. As AI systems become more sophisticated, they will be able to perform tasks that were previously only possible for humans. This could lead to the automation of jobs in many industries, resulting in significant job losses.
Bias: AI systems are only as unbiased as the data they are trained on. If the data is biased, then the AI system will be biased too. This is a significant concern, as AI is increasingly being used to make decisions that affect people’s lives. For example, AI systems are used in hiring processes, credit scoring, and even criminal justice. If these systems are biased, then they could perpetuate existing inequalities and discrimination.
Lack of Transparency: Another concern about AI is the lack of transparency. AI systems are often black boxes, which means that it is difficult to understand how they are making decisions. This lack of transparency can lead to distrust and skepticism of AI systems, which could limit their adoption.
Privacy Concerns: AI systems rely on data to function. This data often includes personal information, such as location data, search history, and biometric data. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it could be used for malicious purposes. There are also concerns about how this data is collected and used, particularly in countries with weak data protection laws.
Dependence: As AI systems become more ubiquitous, there is a risk that we become overly dependent on them. This could lead to a loss of critical thinking skills, as we rely on AI systems to make decisions for us. This could be particularly problematic in situations where human judgment is required, such as in emergency situations.
Security Risks: AI systems can be vulnerable to hacking and cyber attacks. This could lead to sensitive data being stolen or manipulated, or AI systems being used to launch attacks on other systems. As AI systems become more prevalent, the risk of these attacks increases.
In conclusion, while AI has the potential to revolutionize industries and improve our daily lives, there are also concerns about its impact on society. These concerns include job losses, bias, lack of transparency, privacy concerns, dependence, and security risks. It is important that we address these concerns and work to ensure that AI is developed and used in a responsible and ethical manner. This will require collaboration between governments, industry, and civil society, to develop policies and regulations that promote the responsible development and use of AI. By doing so, we can ensure that AI has a positive impact on society and contributes to a better future for all.
- ChatGPT by OpenAI
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