Future is here

Author Published: 3rd Aug 2017   12:01 am Updated: 3rd Aug 2017   12:17 am

Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of transforming human lives at a rate never seen before in the history and in a manner that could be even more disruptive than the internet. From assisting pilots to steer the aeroplanes and doctors to conduct complicated surgeries to seamlessly managing all the gadgets at home, offices and factories and catering to the end-to-end automation needs of e-commerce companies, the machines with human intelligence are now an integral part of everyday life. The man-machine interface has now reached such a critical stage that some experts are raising the red flag and cautioning against the unbridled use of intelligent machines. A robot, which has artificial intelligence, can behave like a human being and learn from its surroundings. While the number of technology areas where robotics and artificial intelligence find application is growing exponentially, there are also questions being raised over dangers of intelligent machines going rogue and out of human control. A debate is currently raging in the global technology circles over the ethical and safety issues surrounding the AI and robotics. Two big names in the technology world — Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk— are locked in a spat over the impact of AI on the future of humanity. While Musk has warned that indiscriminate progress of AI could be the “biggest risk we face as a civilisation”, Zuckerberg rubbished the naysayers for projecting the doomsday scenarios. Ironically, Facebook has just shut down one of its AI systems after chatbots started speaking in their own language defying the codes provided by the programmers.

Musk is not alone in taking a dim view of the unregulated AI. Celebrated physicist-cosmologist Stephen Hawking, philanthropist Bill Gates and ex-Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak have also echoed similar concerns. They have raised fears that humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, could be superseded by AI in near future, posing a grave threat to the future of humanity. The World over, machines are fast replacing several jobs. At 478 robots per 10,000 human workers, South Korea has the world’s highest robot density. While there is a strong case for regulation to safeguard the future if AI becomes the mainstream, the march of technology cannot be obstructed on the basis of unknown fears. From driverless cars to Siri’s quirky responses on the iPhone, AI is now an inseparable part of everyday life. Globally, the companies are making products for everyday needs using AI. Indian startups are also at the forefront of this trend. According to a latest McKinsey report, one of the biggest technological breakthroughs could come if machines develop an ability to recognise the concepts in everyday communication between people.