What Is the Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence?

Over the span of just three years, renowned scientists and technology experts have started to warn about the real threat of artificial intelligence. The late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Tesla architect Elon Musk, and business magnate Bill Gates have all expressed fear regarding the potential for artificial intelligence to harm the human race. Musk even suggested that artificial intelligence could be more dangerous than nuclear bombs. Advanced Artificial intelligence does pose very real threats to the world, but are they as drastic as many say? The real threat of artificial intelligence isn’t necessarily in robots going to war with humans, like the movies portray, but more in the potential to disrupt existing power balances and cause newfound economic inequalities.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

First, it is important to understand the definition of artificial intelligence. It involves the creation of intelligent machines that can work and function like humans. Modern artificial intelligence can synthesize vast amounts of information about a specific topic and then make decisions based on that information. Apple’s Siri, which responds immediately to questions, and Amazon’s Alexa, which is labeled as an intelligent personal assistant, are both popular applications of artificial intelligence that have become commonplace in American society. Artificial intelligence offers such value because it can perform far faster and more efficiently than any human. Despite the appeal of advanced technology with the ability to make life easier, artificial intelligence jeopardizes the modern world in multiple ways.

The Most Immediate Threat: The Economy

The most immediate threat that artificial intelligence poses to mankind relates to the economy. Machines created with artificial intelligence can- and have already started to- replace countless jobs. For example, self-driving cars will make public transportation drivers obsolete, just like robots will make factory workers unnecessary. Since such a rise in artificial intelligence will steal jobs without creating new ones, millions of people have the potential to find themselves out of work. At the same time, companies that develop and invest in artificial intelligence will reap enormous profits. As explained in the article titled “The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence” in The New York Times, “We are thus facing two developments that do not sit easily together: enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands and enormous numbers of people out of work.” This is a very difficult problem without a clear solution.

Seconar Threat: Dependency on AI

Artificial intelligence is also risky because it allows humans to easily rely on facts and information that they did not personally obtain or confirm. Journalist Bianca Nogrady explains in her article “The Real Risks of Artificial Intelligence” that, “Once trained, [artificial intelligence] is then put to work analysing fresh, unseen data. But when the computer spits out an answer, we are typically unable to see how it got there…. As AIs are rolled out to assess everything… the risks that they will sometimes get it wrong- without us necessarily knowing- get worse.”. Furthermore, people could become so dependent on the information provided by artificial intelligence that they may lose their own high-level thinking skills. This could prove exceedingly dangerous since everything that humans have ever achieved has been based on knowledge!

There’s no doubt artificial intelligence is a unique, fascinating, and unprecedented challenge for modern society. Though it offers significant benefits such as identifying deadly diseases and monitoring financial activities, it also has the potential to cause widespread unemployment and rob humans of their natural thought processes. Experts predict that the true ramifications of artificial intelligence will become clear within this lifetime.