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Should We Be Afraid of AIs?

Should We Be Afraid of AIs?

As technology continues to improve and the development of artificial intelligence hurtles towards progress, it’s no wonder we find ourselves asking whether we should be worried. What will artificial intelligence be like? Will we retain control or will something go wrong? Will it help us or hinder us? There is certainly enough science fiction to suggest the latter. Books and movies are littered with examples of rogue robots and AIs gone bad – machines that take over the world and enslave the human population or worse, kill us all off; but that’s just fiction. And besides, we’re a long way from walking, talking AIs who are part of our everyday lives, right?

 A Present Problem

Wrong. We already encounter artificial intelligence in much of the technology that we use every single day. Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are, after all, forms of AI – albeit more basic than those we see roaming the streets in the latest sci-fi movies. Then there’s smart cars that can drive themselves, iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners that guide themselves around your room and then return themselves to their charging stations, and security surveillance that can follow potential crime without human control. There are fraud detectors, predictors for retailers, recommendation services like those you find on Amazon, and even automated online customer service support[1].

And that’s just the beginning of it. In Japan, the tech firm SoftBank has released a best-selling humanoid-style robot named Pepper who can recognize emotions and responds accordingly[2]. There are sex robots currently in production – alongside a sweep of controversy, automated weapons are being developed, and more and more AIs are taking the jobs of human beings. So what seems like a future problem is actually something that we are very much embroiled in already.