Is Artificial Intelligence a Curse or Boon for Mankind?

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Is Artificial Intelligence a Curse or Boon for Mankind?

The word ‘Artificial Intelligence’ sparks much curiosity in any individual, from an industry leader, scientists, technophile to the granny next door. There have been many interesting talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI) — mimicking human-like intelligence, and, at the same time, it is also perceived as a potential threat to humankind.

Since its inception, Artificial Intelligence has transformed almost everything which involves human interaction i.e., business communications, war field, healthcare, security, and transport. If we take a close look and contemplate on the changes happening around us, it seems like we have started to embrace the changes AI technology has ushered in our lives. Through this, it is evident that we are not so far from being stepped into the age of Artificial Intelligence, we are already there.

AI is booming into a large ecosystem with countries like the USA, Russia, China, and Germany being the major contributors. Whereas Artificial Intelligence in India is still in a slow-paced economy, but there is a scope of transforming public sectors through AI.

Let’s have a look into some key transformations and impacts Artificial Intelligence, brought in our mundane life:

1. Google Virtual Assistant or AI Assistant

Most of us are unaware of the fact that Google itself is an AI tool taking charge of the search, providing more relevant search results using Deep learning and Natural Language Processing abilities. To your surprise, Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, and GPS are today’s most profound AI applications used to meet our daily needs. Even our smartphone is also equipped with the most basic AI features.

2. Driverless Cars

Driverless Cars or Autonomous cars are the recent inventions in the area of Artificial Intelligence and evolution in the transport industry. Waymo, the self-driving technology company and a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., has recently launched first driverless cars to test in the Phoenix, Arizona area. These driverless cars are expected to provide a safe and easy commute to people, while also competing with rivalries Uber and Lyft.

3. Virtual Agents in Call Centers

AI has significantly changed the way call centers operate through Virtual Agents — the human-like Chat Bots usually displayed on the website or advertisements. Companies are deploying Virtual Agents in the workforce to provide 24/7 customer service through automated responses, and reduce operations cost, extended work hours with less dependency on manpower.

4. Precision Medicine in Healthcare

Healthcare has always benefitted from the AI approach. Some of the latest AI researches in healthcare include precision medicine, clinical decision support, and predictive analytics. Precision medicine is the biggest big data analytics project to provide personalized medicines to patients based on genomes.

IBM’s subsidiary Watson Health got recognition in healthcare for creating Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tool by using Natural Language Processing and computer semantics, helping the healthcare providers to make decisions based on the suggestions provided and also previous drugs taken by a patient.

So far, these are the advancements and benefits AI is reaping in various business sectors. Then, where is the threat?

Threat to jobs

According to a recent Gartner report, Artificial Intelligence is going to replace more than 1.8 million jobs in the near future, particularly in manufacturing, healthcare and education sector. But, this situation is most likely or unlikely to happen, because many businesses don’t even know how AI works and where to use it.

Even the great minds like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and many others have expressed their concerns to the media, on the risks posed by AI to the humankind. Two years back in a BBC interview, even Stephen Hawkins voiced over his opinion about the destruction AI technology can cause. He also said that ‘’Development of a full Artificial Intelligence machine or robot can lead to an end of the human race”.

With all these implications made by thought leaders on the adverse effects of AI for humankind, there is a serious question that still remains unanswered. Is AI a boon or bane? The answer to this question is two-fold, it has both a positive side and a negative side.

The positive side, AI plays a crucial part in making better decisions in critical areas. Unlike humans, it is reliable to put a robot in a mechanism where repetitive tasks are involved and give error-free outcomes. The negative side is, a lot of researchers are under the fear, if AI has the potential to become more intelligent than a human, then it can outsmart us. The moral issue is another concern, as humans learn through experiences, but machines are given instructions, so robots miss developing human values.

A machine with full human-level intelligence can be a serious threat, and we may expect a future like a Terminator series movie. Anything more will obviously result in a disaster. In such a case, AI is a bane. And, if we utilize AI technology carefully to our own advantage, then AI is a boon and we can prevent the Terminator kind of fictional condition.