Every half-decent sci-fi movie over the last 30 years or so has in some way hinted at the uprise of Artificial Intelligence.
One would think they couldn’t have been accurate. It is in the name ‘Science-Fiction’. But what if they weren’t wrong? What if we are at the dawn of a machine revolution? Of course, not in the manner portrayed in The ‘Matrix’, ‘Avengers’ or the ‘Terminator’ but in a less dramatic way.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is simply the science of creating machines with human-type capabilities. The term “artificial intelligence” is broadly divided into strong or General AI, a theoretical form of AI used to describe a certain mindset of AI development where AI can learn from experience like humans, being indistinguishable from the human mind. The closest examples are seen in sci-fi movies.
And Weak or narrow AI; AI that focuses on performing a specific task, such as answering questions based on user input or playing chess, for example, advanced web search engines (e.g., Google), recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix), conversational AI (such as Siri and Alexa), self-driving cars (e.g., Tesla), automated decision-making and competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go).
Machines with the use of AI are already on the ‘uprise’. Most jobs that existed during the industrial revolution about 100 years ago do not exist now, thanks to machines and automation. It is estimated that 20 million manufacturing jobs will be lost to automation by 2030 (Oxford Economics).
Machines are quickly replacing us, and deservedly so. Machines are more reliable than we are. And we subconsciously know this; this is why we count money handed to us by a bank teller, but we barely do this when an ATM dispenses Cash. It is how we would be unsure when we get directions from someone but trust “Google Maps” with our lives. Machines have proved to be better than us at most of our jobs, and we will be doing ourselves a great disservice if we don’t let them have these jobs.
This, however, is easier said than done. If it doesn’t come off that way, the situation has been downplayed.
The rise of AI in this context will not necessarily mean flying cars and Siri as president of the world. Rather it could mean hundreds of millions of people losing their jobs because organizations realized it is more efficient and cost-effective to have a machine that does not need vacations, raises, or breaks to do them.
However, Meta reckons that while AI has made major progress toward mimicking the efficacy of human intelligence in executing certain tasks, there are still major limitations. In particular, most AI today is weak or narrow, meaning they are only capable of “specialized” intelligence; this denotes that they can solve only one problem and execute only one task at a time. This further suggests that for the foreseeable future, AI will be unable to take away jobs but will rather be collaborators to make humans better, drive massive innovation that will power many existing industries and could have the potential to forge many new sectors for growth, ultimately leading to the creation of more jobs.
Furthermore, there is no telling how soon an AI that surpasses human intelligence will be created, i.e. A machine, or a network of machines, capable of carrying out the same range of tasks that we humans are capable of, easily doing the work of a doctor, an illustrator, a teacher, a therapist, or a driver, on its own volition; as Norvig and Russell put it in their textbook on AI.
This is proven by the result of the most recent study by Katja Grace and her colleagues, conducted in the summer of 2022.
In this study, 352 AI experts were asked when they believe there will be a 50% chance that human-level AI will exist. While only a very small percentage of the experts thought such technology would never be developed or developed after 2160, the vast majority of the experts predicted that General AI would be created within the next 100 years, but their predictions are largely varying.
According to Our World In Data, 90% of AI experts believe human-level AI could exist within the next 100 years. However, historically, experts are not necessarily perfect at predicting the future of their fields; point in case, in The History of Flight, Wilbur Wright is quoted as saying, “I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for 50 years.” This couldn’t be any farther from the truth as only two years later, ‘man’ was not only flying, but it was Wilbur and his brother in particular that had achieved the feat 48 years earlier than predicted.
Although AI is in its early adoption stage, more than 4 billion devices already work on AI-powered voice assistants, according to CompTIA. With the introduction of ChatGPT and other chatbots, Bard by Google, LLaMA by Meta, and Microsoft’s Prometheus, all in the span of a few weeks, AI has already started to carve a niche in technology, healthcare, finance and services, education and even arts and entertainment that were once deemed untouchable. The competition is fueling improvement at an exponential rate. We might as well have history repeat itself and get a General AI with a decade.
In conclusion, it is irrefutable that AI will drastically change how we work, performing some tasks better and cheaper than we can and ultimately taking over those roles. It is also estimated that the uprising of AI will create millions of new job roles that do not exist today. Most of these new job roles will be around Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Cybersecurity, Cloud security, software development, Data Science etc. it is then imperative for individuals and organizations to get aligned with this new disruptive force if they want to remain relevant.
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