Humanity has done incredible amount of progress in science, technology, and knowledge. It seems we have come a long way and are living in special times in human history. Yet, we continue making same blunders over and over again. We live in a time of abundance, when there is no need to fight over food, shelter, and security. Yet, there are still wars, economic suffering, social distress, political deceptions, greed to control, and hunger in the world.
If a true AI was born today, it would be confused with human phenomenon and human condition. It would quickly realize the problem of humanity is humans. That is the tendencies for corruption, manipulation, subjugation and control by few groups of humans. In general, humans are good, smart, and devote their lives for leaving a better world behind for the next generations. For this reason, we continue to advance in knowledge and creating a better world despite the tendencies to do harm by few.
Human ingenuity and engineering is the reason we have made great strides in medicine, education, architecture, engineering, technology, etc. Many of these were thanks to great engineering in computer technologies. The progress in this field is so fast and exponential, it is not really possible how it will shape the future of the world. It is promising and concerning at the same time. Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are the areas of focus by many individual researchers and tech companies.
A few decades ago, it would still seem to be a fantasy that could only exist in our imaginations and film. Today, it is more believable that the emergence of AI is inevitable. However, we don't necessarily completely understand what this AI would look like. Is it just a software that is much more faster and smarter? Is it a software that can think? Does it have consciousness? We ask these questions, because in these early stages attempt to model them to imitate how our brains work. The problem with this approach and the questions we ask are that we don't completely understand how our brains work. Neurology and cognitive science, themselves are in their early stages and there is a lot more to explore and learn in these fields.
But we know is that computers are a lot more faster and productive compared to humans. If we can teach them or create models that teach them imitate human experts based on their experiences, this alone would be of great benefit in solving problems. It already helps in medical field where machines can go through medical data and images, and help detecting illnesses in early stages and perhaps even tell if illnesses may develop in the near future.
There are great benefits for AI in combination of robotics to make the world a better place. These innovations can help with fighting and preventing wild fires, rescue missions. They can help with cleaning up the oceans and preservation of environment and ecosystems.
The emergence and further progress of AI depends on three factors: human engineering, hardware capacity, and data. All three of these things weren't possible a few decades ago. While humans always been engineers, the availability of computers for many around the world made it possible for the birth of software engineers globally in massive amounts. This growth in software engineering will continue and hopefully most will embrace open source and shift the gears away from corporate control.
However, I am not saying there is no benefit and use of tech companies. Thanks to them we continue to have innovations, that includes innovations in hardware. Year after year brilliant engineering of various tech companies have brought us better and better hardware that made it possible for progress in software to continue as well. Better hardware is always faster, and can compute much more data than the previous versions of the hardware. AI needs this computing power.
By definition software are collection of codes that serve certain purpose. They follow instructions and execute. With machine learning we don't want the software to simply execute predefined instructions in the code. We want it to come up with a unique response or action to a new information, not just blindly follow the instructions. This is only possible by teaching it by examples, massive amount of examples. We need data, and tons of it. Machine learning, is basically feeding a lot of data to the model or algorithm and see how it would react to a new data.
Just like humans learn by observation when growing up and act based on these experiences, machines also need the experience of observing and learning. For this reason we need massive amount of data for them to learn from. It is only recently with progress in computer technologies, we started generating, sharing, and storing massive amounts of data. This wasn't possible before. Hence, AI wouldn't be possible before either.
It is an interesting phenomenon how we continue to share our data for free in all different digital platforms, while most of us are aware that a lot of these platforms collect our behavioral data to them against our own benefits. One simple example is that collection of data by social networks, games and apps to generate ad revenue. They can only make this ad money, if the ad strategies they implement work. If these ad strategies didn't work, they probably would have stopped them long time ago, because they also come with costs. Apparently, tricking humans to buy things had no plans to buy, to waste time with intrusive content is a good money making strategy for these companies. It is indeed, as long as we let them continue to do so.
While AI has a great potential in benefiting humans, like preventing and treating disease, performing tasks that would be harmful for humans, growing food, building houses, etc; there are also disadvantages like companies implementing deceptive tactics to make money, government spying on their citizens to suppress political speech or criticism, warmonger utilizing the tech to kill people and destroy lives.
It is also true it every tool humans invented came with advantages and disadvantages. For the most part it seems many chose the advantages and disadvantages were condemned. Hopefully, this time as well we can utilize the power of AI for good and avoid falling into the trap of greed, control, and corruption.
At this point AI is not stoppable, and those who would try to stop or ignore it will just miss out on opportunities it will create. Big tech companies like Google, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and others are in the race of building the best AI. I doubt they have the best interests of humans in their mind. As their past behavior have demonstrated their innovation only serves them to make more money, and they will not hesitate to deceive and manipulate their users. They do have the best engineers, a lot of financial and political resources, and motivation to continue the development of AI technologies. The secretive nature of such projects and proprietary nature of such innovations, would pose risks, as would never be sure if they are utilizing this tech for the benefit of humanity or against.
The answer for this could be an alternative efforts that advocate for open source solutions, transparency, and accountability. But such efforts usually require altruistic intentions and contributions by many who may not have the resources that big tech has.
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