The Threat of Artificial Intelligence
What is the Internet of Things? I have been trying to answer this question for almost a year, as it is a term that is thrown around excessively in my media degree. At its most basic level, I understand that the Internet of Things relates to any tangible device with the ability to connect to the Internet, however the term refers to much more than this.
‘The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction’ (Rouse, 2014). It is the idea of taking the person out of the connection sequence that intrigues me most. Can technology, and advances in technology replace human intelligence?
The knowledge that technology and machines run off is often referred to as Artificial Intelligence (A.I). Primarily, Artificial Intelligence is the set rules in programme coding, which instructs and enables a software or hardware, to identify and sequence or pattern through detection, and then to respond according to a pre-programmed prescribed action (Shah, 2014). Artificial Intelligence aims to make machines think like humans, but with the complexity of the human brain, surely this is not possible.
While I am not an Artificial Intelligence guru, I will try my best to present you with a number of views surrounding it.
Machines Will Steal Your Job
This is perhaps the most popular perspective I have found upon exploring Artificial Intelligence. It appears as though many people fear losing their job to a piece of technology. This fear is not irrational, as history has proven this as a reality already. In the 1980’s mid-level draftsmen were replaced by software, in the 1800’s British textile artisans were replaced by mechanised looms, and countless cash register staff are now being replaced by self-serve counters.
Research conducted by Pew Research, interviewed over 2000 A.I experts, and found that while 52% are optimistic that Artificial Intelligence will grow to be a positive thing between now and 2025, the remaining 48% worried for the future. However, all agreed that ‘the displacement of work by robots and AI is going to continue, and accelerate, over the coming decade’ (Hern, 2014).
Artificial Intelligence Cannot Replace Humans
The human brain thinks in a non-linear fashion, and can therefore deduce non-linear time and life. Harish Shah suggests that ‘technology was always with limits, and those limits are permanent‘ (2014). Long running cognitive research has shown that ‘cognitive consciousness requires a physical organic biological body’, something that technology simply lacks. While a computer can store more data, and make faster calculations, you cannot programme consciousness or intuition or spontaneity into any piece of technology, a limit that will forever differentiate the value of human intelligence, when compared to artificial intelligence.
Artificial and Human Intelligence Live in Harmony
This is the perspective that I align myself with. While I am aware that machines have and will always replace human jobs and roles, there are strong limitations with technology as suggested above. Where humans have emotion and sensitivity, technology does not, and these are things that cannot be taught. The displacement of work by robots, however, may not be entirely negative. Take for example military robots. These ‘“unmanned systems” are better suited than human soldiers for “dull, dirty or dangerous missions”‘ (Myers, 2009), and the introduction of them a few years ago has resolved the problem of fatigued crew members, and casualties from failed bomb defusions. Where risk and discomfort are eliminated for humans, I believe that technology has an obligation to replace these roles.
While the Internet of Things, and its growing popularity, threatens the jobs of many blue and white collar workers, it should be a thing explored and understood, rather than feared.
- Boyd Myers, C 2009, Will a Machine Replace You, Forbes, 22 June, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/18/technology-obsolete-jobs-opinions-contributors-artificial-intelligence-09-myers.html>
- Burn-Callandar, R 2013, Artificial Intelligence ‘will take the place of humans within five years’, The Telegraph, 29 August, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/technology/10274420/Artificial-intelligence-will-take-the-place-of-humans-within-five-years.html>
- Hern, A 2014,Will robots take our jobs? Experts can’t decided‘, The Guardian, 7 August, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/06/robots-jobs-artificial-intelligence-pew>
- Rouse, M 2014,Internet of Things (Iot), WhatIs, June, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things>
- Shah, H 2014, Why Artificial Intelligence will not replace a human futurist, India Future Society, 20 April, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://indiafuturesociety.org/artificial-intelligence-will-replace-human-futurist/>
- Yee, H 2012,Can Technology Replace Human Intelligence, Ted Conversations Archives, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://www.ted.com/conversations/9837/can_technology_replace_human_i.html>