Unspoken fear about AI – minds vs machines

3d rendering humanoid robot with ai text in ciucuit pattern

ASA students in the AI Club have been reading, researching, discussing and debating at length recently on minds vrs machines; and it’s been great fun!

You have probably heard about artificial intelligence (AI) and might have used it as well; but do not to worry if you haven’t. Artificial Intelligence is a broad and interdisciplinary field of computer science focusing on creating systems and machines capable of tasks that typically require human intelligence, from learning and reasoning to problem-solving, perception, language understanding, and even creative tasks.

Computers have been around since the 1950s, and interestingly, they were initially humans. A human-computer referred to someone who could perform scientific calculations by hand, then came the calculator. In the words of the inventor of the calculator, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, “It is beneath the dignity of excellent men to waste their time in calculation when any peasant could do the work just as accurately with the aid of a machine”. This is to emphasise how much power technology gives an average person and that’s exactly what AI does; it’s a tool meant to elevate and provide you with so many resources at your disposal.

Despite the pattern of new technology replacing people, do we regret inventions like calculators, phones or cars because some people lost their jobs? Definitely not! So, why this unspoken fear about AI?

I will tell you why. There is a new type of AI called Generative AI, which can create content from scratch – entirely new – in just a fraction of a second. There is a worry that AI will replace workers and drive them out of business. The fear that artificial intelligence will grow too strong and unmanageable, ushering in a dark future; the worry that AI might make judgments that – whether on purpose or accidentally – harm people. There is ambiguity surrounding AI’s potential effects on ethics and society because it poses issues with accountability, privacy and responsibility.

Among the most important advantages of AI is its ability to empower people. Artificial intelligence (AI) frees up human potential by automating monotonous and repetitive chores, enabling us to concentrate on more strategic and creative projects. AI-powered technologies have the potential to improve our capacities and help us accomplish previously unthinkable goals and here are some of its evident contributions.

In healthcare, for instance, AI has been applied to medical imaging, drug discovery and personalised medicine, improving diagnostics and treatment plans. AI algorithms can analyse large datasets quickly, aiding in the identification of patterns and anomalies challenging for human practitioners to detect. A study published in Nature Medicine showed that an AI system trained on mammogram images was able to detect breast cancer with an accuracy of 91.6 percent, which is comparable to experienced radiologists.

In Education, to make learning more dynamic and interesting, artificial intelligence is being incorporated into educational games and apps. These resources use gamification components to inspire students and reaffirm learning goals. With the use of virtual classrooms, automated content and tailored learning, AI improves the online learning experience while promoting a more inclusive and successful educational system. AI tools like Chat GPT, Pi and Study GPT support educators and students in their research by offering clear, concise solutions and improving instruction. According to a study that was published in the Journal of Educational Technology & Society, students who used personalised learning platforms outperformed their traditional learning techniques on tests by an average of 20 percent.

In Entertainment, AI is employed in the production of content, from music and art to narratives and scripts. Deep learning algorithms are one example of a creative tool that helps artists create fresh, original content. AI is used in video game design to produce dynamic storytelling, adaptable difficulty settings, and lifelike characters. AI can also improve the actions and reactions of non-player characters (NPCs). Interesting fact: all of the music of the band “SKYGGE”‘s “Hello World” CD was produced by AI, and critics gave it positive reviews.

In Communication, AI-driven language translation services enable real-time translation of text and speech, facilitating communication across language barriers and enhancing global connectivity. AI-driven speech recognition technology powers voice assistants and transcription services used in communication devices, dictation software and voice-activated applications. AI analyses facial expressions and vocal tones to recognise emotions, contributing to more emotionally intelligent communication. This technology is applied in video conferencing and virtual communication platforms. AI is used in predictive text and autocorrect features in messaging apps, making communication more efficient and error-free.

In summary, artificial intelligence (AI) is a potent instrument that, when used appropriately, can result in notable breakthroughs in a variety of fields. Ethical guidelines and responsible development must be carefully considered in order to balance the risks and benefits. With continued research, thoughtful decision-making and a dedication to ethical deployment, issues like job displacement and ethical concerns can be resolved and AI can be used to make positive contributions to society and societal values. By considering AI as a partner, we can open up new avenues, make better choices, and accomplish amazing things. Together, let’s embrace AI to ensure a bright future.

The writers are from the African Science Academy. https://www.africanscienceacademy.org/

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