Artificial Intelligence. Friend or Foe?

What we know.

Artificial intelligence, otherwise known as AI, is the ability of computer systems and programmes to carry out tasks that would normally require engagement and execution by human beings.

One thing we know, which may not be common knowledge, is that artificial intelligence will allow computer systems to function as if they were human, yikes! This includes making use of human senses, and as strange as it might seem, this is actually becoming increasingly possible.

AI already exists and is operational all around us. Think of AI as a machine that is self-aware, meaning that the machine can interpret and react to things based on the senses it perceives. Artificial intelligence will also allow computers and machines to think and function for themselves.

I know this may sound like you are living in a sci-fi series on Netflix and that’s because this is becoming more and more of a reality. But don’t panic, the advancement of artificial intelligence is not entirely what you think. AI is not going to be an army of robots from ‘The Terminator’ that are going to walk around and take over humanity. AI takes the form of many different types of technology, not just the form of robots.

Is Artificial Intelligence, Friend or Foe?
AI isn’t out to get us

The different types of artificial intelligence

1. Reactive AI

Reactive artificial intelligence is one of the first types of AI to be invented. Reactive AI has pre-programmed answers to certain inputs.

These machines cannot learn from previous responses and they cannot generate new behaviour based on past experiences. An example of Reactive AI would be when you dial a phone number and there is a pre-recording asking you which department you would like to speak to. Personally, I find those recordings really annoying and would much rather speak to a human.

2. Limited Memory AI

Limited memory artificial intelligence is different to Reactive AI in that it can learn from previous data and apply it to future scenarios. It can be taught to identify scenarios and learn the answers to those scenarios. Systems like Siri and Alexa are examples of limited memory AI. They have pre-programmed responses but they can also learn new things.

Limited Memory AI is currently the most utilized form of AI. Self-driving vehicles such as Elon Musks Tesla cars use Limited Memory AI.

Limited memory AI
Cars like Tesla use Limited Memory AI

AI that is currently under development

1. Theory of Mind AI

This type of artificial intelligence will be able to learn and understand humans. It will be able to identify and differentiate between different types of human behaviour and personality.

2. Self-Aware AI

This is the ultimate form of artificial intelligence. At this stage, AI will be conscious of the fact that it is a computer or machine and may also be aware that it has the capability to outsmart humans but, maybe that’s a blog for another day.

Elon Musk has warned against developing artificial intelligence too fast to a point where AI becomes self-aware. Self-aware AI will have the ability to reason, respond with speech, argue, and ultimately make its own decisions. It will have its own thoughts, emotions and needs, much like a human. The danger is that the AI favours itself over human life and could potentially see humans as a threat to its existence (cue eery music).

Self-aware AI
Self-aware AI

There will be two types of Self-Aware AI:

1. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

This will be AI that is able to function on a level equivalent to humans. This type of AI will be able to communicate with humans on an intellectual level and function completely independently from human intervention.

2. Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

This is what will be known as the most intelligent entity on earth, super!. Far more intellectually capable than any human. ASI will be able to solve complex problems on its own. AGI will not even come close to how advanced ASI will be.

In conclusion

These advancements in technology create both excitement and uncertainty to humankind and our future. The technological advancements that will come with the progression of AI are probably unimaginable at this point in time.

I am hoping though that this technology will be put to good use, for example, in medical advancements. Imagine an AI system that can diagnose a serious disease within minutes and then develops the best and most effective treatments for that disease.

AI is an incredible concept that could change the trajectory of civilisation for the best, or it could be to the detriment of civilisation. Only time will tell but until then let’s just relax.

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