The AI Paranoia

AI Paranoia

One of the first innovations soon after the emergence of the civilizations across the world was the wheels; they are the most primitive form of machines that were produced for helping human labor and easing out agricultural activities. Later, humankind found several techniques that further reduced the need for human effort, and led to the creation of a life marked by overwhelming dependence on machines.Today, we stand in a century where the world is driven by computers and artificial intelligence — Thinking was once the job of the human mind, but today that area is being taken over by machines.

The other day, I was trying to log on to a website, and so I entered my credentials, a task that was followed up by ‘verification’ to ensure that I am ‘a human being and not a machine’, through what is popularly known as a captcha.  Verification code or the captcha codes are used by web services to ensure that the requests for the web-based services have not been made by machines or automated internet bots, but are genuine requests made by a human user. By using captchas, websites can avoid attempts of cyberattacks, most commonly Denial-of-Services Attack(s) (DDoS). The captcha experience is something (presumably) all of us have gone through. We are living in a century where machines are validating the authenticity of human users.

Whether the Artificial Intelligence and computing power that we achieve by improving technologies is good or bad for the human progress is a matter of ongoing debate. Several news reports emerged recently, quoting studies that found out how more than 69% of the jobs in the country’s IT sector are under the threat of automation and artificial intelligent systems which can process tasks without human guidance. Though it could be argued that AI may take away some jobs, it is wrong to say that AI will take away all jobs, leaving human beings with nothing. As some jobs diminish from the labor market, some others will enter.

Most of the debate that happen on this matter is oriented towards labor and employment issues. What we must discuss now is the moral hazards that Artificial Intelligence poses to humanity. There must be more discussions on what should be the extent to which the artificial intelligence and its expansion must be allowed; to which spheres of human life it could be allowed, and which areas where it must remain restricted.

For instance, a few years ago, there was an app that created headlines in the West. It was an app that took the confessions from the Christian faithful and gave prayers and forgiveness. It stirred a controversy as it ventured into the religious sphere, which many believe is an exclusive area for the clergy. But this doesn’t mean that all apps that are released for religious purposes violate the basic tenets of faith. We have apps that help individuals avoid long queues in holy places or those that help them to find the exact times of prayers in a given day. What we must inculcate is not a fear towards advancements in technology, but ideas that can help us assimilate those innovations without hurting core human values and beliefs.

Never ever in the history have we experienced such drastic shifts in technological innovations. Our lives are changing each second as new innovations are being introduced at a rapid pace. Here, fearing the change won’t help us sustain in the long run. Changes will emerge in the way we experience life with the advent of machines. Change is the law of life, and the only thing that is constant is change. The way forward is to embrace and direct the change.

-Contributed by Jiss Palelil

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