What Is Artificial Intelligence? Is it the suggestive ability of your smart home device, the personal assistance of Apple’s Siri, or the revolutionary self-driving vehicles by Tesla? The answer is all of the above.
The rapid development of such technology means society is integrating more and more with machine learning and the outcome is something we can’t help but be excited for. Artificial Intelligence is when a machine is able to mimic cognitive functions, considered to be those of a human brain, to observe and absorb its environment and learn how to take appropriate actions from assessing situations, also known as ‘Machine Learning’. However, with such complex technology come many issues of ethics and the social aspect of AI. This then poses the question, what does the future of AI look like?
AI is everywhere; we come into contact with some form of it on a daily basis. From our phones and cars to customer support and video games, however, this is just the start of what is possible. The anticipation of AI in the future is predicted throughout scenarios created in films, TV and media. When robots take over the world in ‘I-Robot’ or creating life-like androids of lost loved ones in Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’. Is this the future of AI or just the perfect premise for a Sci-Fi narrative?
Are people right to be frightened of the future of AI? Perhaps fright and interest are not far away from one another. (Gemma Wilson, 2016) Over 70% of the US fears robots and AI surpassing human capabilities. (Olivia Solon, 2017) Nonetheless, people were afraid of the capabilities of the Internet at first and now we are more afraid of living without it.
So far in the early stages of AI, there have been many positive contributions to our society and the progress made in modern day technology. However, as with almost everything there are positives and negatives.
The most common advantage of AI is the increasing use of computers for mundane tasks that are considered boring for humans to have to do. This frees up time for people to focus on more important or challenging tasks to increase productivity. Some people may also argue that this is creating a lazy society, all of whom are losing basic common sense and skills.
Another point of view is the advantage of reducing ‘human error’ when using AI. Tasks can be done quickly, decisions can be made faster and if programmed properly machines will not make mistakes that humans will. This is something that can potentially create a more efficient workforce and decrease the amount of error in many jobs. One downfall of this observation is AI is replacing humans and people are losing jobs to robots. This has already been seen in assembly line jobs for several years and is becoming more of an issue for many lower-level jobs. With the rise of driverless cars, smart security systems and robots, we have the potential to start replacing chauffeurs, bodyguards and customer service jobs.
One positive aspect that comes from AI replacing humans is allowing robots to perform more risky tasks that are considered too dangerous to put humans through. This allows us to benefit from the data and knowledge received from these experiences without having to worry about the safety of our employees. An example of this is if we left a human on Mars for the last 6 years to explore the planet by themselves. Instead, we sent the Mars rover into space to travel around Mars and learn about the landscape for us, whilst making decisions about what direction to take and creating its own pathways.
AI plays a huge part in the future of design and it is becoming more and more common for innovative products to include some form of intelligent system that can communicate with the user in a sophisticated manner. Whether or not we embrace technology in the future is dependent on the success of designer’s current products and uses of AI. I believe the only way people will accept AI in the future is if it was unknowingly integrated it into everyday life; just as society can no longer live without using Google ads, suggestions or dynamic pricing when purchasing Online. Do we still call this AI or is it that ‘as soon as it works, no one calls it AI anymore’? (John McCarthy, 2011) Not only does this increase the pressures of improving this technology to ensure people can trust it, but the race for designers to find the biggest breakthrough in AI is getting more daunting.
The next step for AI and product design is for designers to allow the current consumerist lifestyle to see AI technologies as a natural progression of leading products. With the increasing capabilities of AI and huge companies like Google, Amazon and Tesla at the forefront of this revolution, people will naturally adopt AI as a necessity. Therefore, the role of design in the future of AI is crucial as we can determine the relationship between human intelligence and Artificial Intelligence.
To find out how much AI will impact our future we must first understand how much it has impacted our present and it has definitely had a positive influence on our current cultural climate. This does, however, have the potential for negative consequences, with jobs being lost, machines replacing human contact and hindering social skills. One day we could look back and think what if? What if we didn’t take that risk that was fundamental to the destruction of the human race, as we know it? I believe this can be prevented. We should be proactive with creating laws and regulations for the use of AI, instead of reactive because ‘if we are reactive in AI regulations it’s too late’. (Elon Musk, 2017) The truth is, who knows what the future of AI will look like, but all I know is it will be groundbreaking and I for one am excited to meet the first humanoid – even if it takes my job.
Article by Kiran Sagar
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