If you believe some AI-watchers, we are racing towards the ‘Singularity’ — a point at which artificial intelligence surpasses collective human intelligence and machines go on to improve themselves at an exponential rate. The changes that manifest during this period will irrevocably alter the course of our future and the way we interact with technology and each other.
The general benefit of AI is that it replicates decisions and actions of humans without innately human shortcomings, such as fatigue, emotion and limited time; resulting in greater precision. However, as promising as machine-learning technology is, it can also be susceptible to unintended biases that require constant testing to avoid. Algorithms can have built-in biases because they are created by individuals who have conscious or unconscious preferences that may go completely under the radar until the algorithms are put into use. Other disadvantages range from the fear of technological unemployment, the ethical impact of AI, economic collapse and (according to some) even the end of humanity once machines surpass us – leaving us wondering whether we’re creating something that is as inherently flawed as us.
- Will AI be Mankind’s last invention?
- Will AI be beneficial to its creator (humankind) or serve to undermine it?
- Will AI have the same biases – race, colour, gender, sexual orientation – as humans?
Whatever form AI takes, its journey will be fraught with ethical idiosyncrasies and met, often simultaneously, with fear and celebration. Some will worry about job redundancies, privacy and control, while others will herald the next step in human greatness.
This nuanced and invigorating debate (or panel discussion) will examine the broad theme of whether AI is a global existential risk or the fourth industrial revolution.