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11 episodes old with the June one, Golmej has proved to be a platform of insightful discussions on a range of topics that affect us as common people. On Golmej, we don’t agree to disagree, we agree to discuss!

Some experts have predicted that there will be a second industrial revolution in the near future. Guess what they are saying will trigger it? Artificial Intelligence or AI.

A deeper interest has aroused in the general public about AI today, the reason being the introduction of more and more applications of it in our daily liveswith social media, web searches, online shopping recommendations, etc. It is working every time your camera face filter or autocorrect works. Another is through popular culture. Movies we call sci-fi but have increasingly come to believe in the reality of. Not for nothing. AI, in fact, is a story of sci-fi manifesting into reality. The collective endeavour of humanity over the years has ensured that we turn imagination or as some would call it, fiction, into reality with AI.

AI is proving to be a tool to improve the efficiencies & speed of our work. However, as machines are learning fast and technology is advancing rapidly, there increasing fears that AI will supersede humans and take off on its on in the future. None other than the preeminent scientist Stephen Hawking had said this.  We have read and seen science fiction stories on sentient or superintelligent robots, haven’t we?

There are fears AI will take away jobs or cause destruction. There are questions about whether our systems are ready to handle these advancements and their associated challenges.

So, what does AI mean for humans? Easy living? Productivity? Doom? Armed with research, we debated “Humans & AI” on Golmej in June 2021, joined by Anushka and Makarand on the panel.

With a heap of questions to be delved into, we opened with listing some to try and shed light on in this episode. Here is what we discussed:

Artificial Intelligence or AI is machines’ ability to learn & apply that learning as taught by humans.AI is that intelligent machine that is performing analytical tasks such as simulations and predictions often much better than humans. It is important to understand that the AI that has been deployed around us is narrow AI that is used for a specific purpose as against general AI which  focuses on building intelligent systems that can handle any task or problem in any domain.

Like almost all previous technological advancements, AI has brought its own good & bad impacts on human life. The panelists discussed how there is a need to evolve suitable guidelines & policies to prevent or mitigate the predictable negative impacts of AI in the future.

One pressing concern the development of AI has brought is the threat to our data privacy. It is apparent that we do not have special or adequately strong laws to protect our privacy yet. Panelists discussed how there is a need for us as consumers of services to be mindful about sharing of our personal data.

One important point that was pointed out was that it is important to build a strong security backbone and a robust system before we proceed with mass introduction of AI applications to prevent threats such as hacking of systems & AI going rogue which has the potential to jeopardize privacy, safety & security on a mass level.

An increase in deployment of AI is inevitably going to mean we lose jobs. But so has been the case with each tech advancement. This will mean two sure things: one: new jobs demanding new skills will get created and two: the use of augmented intelligence i.e. the combined intelligence of humans & machines will boost our productivity multifold.

An interesting discussion that has started around the topic of AI is ‘universal basic income’. Primarily discussed in the Western countries, it related to a scenario where humans receive income entirely from machine output without working for it themselves. How this would implicate on human motivation to achieve & acquire skills was debated by the panelists. Such an income system would enable humans to invest themselves into hobbies and passions was one argument.

There was a discussion on how most of the AI we use day-to-day is deployed before they could be rid of all biases. These biases in AI systems, which creep in due to humans but get believed & reinforced as they come from machines, were identified as a challenge to human objectivity.

Next on the discussion was the state of the legal system in relation to AI advancement. The challenges that will accompany according a ‘legal person’ status to intelligent machines were discussed. Case in point was Sophia the robot who was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia.

Panelists discussed their personal experiences with AI applications to outline how increasing human dependence on AI applications is starting to affect human abilities such as cognition & memory.

This drew the discussion to the question of machine-controlled humans. All agreed that if superintelligence or sentience of AI is to happen, it will be a considerable number of years from now. They debated on which challenges from AI today should be tackled on priority. Big tech & technologists, with AI, are evidently wielding significant power of influence over masses. We also discussed their accountability and checks on their power.

AI advancement appears to have ignited another major area of competition among world powers to exert their influence. This tussle is old since it is about power but it is new because this time humans may not be entirely in control.

This Golmej concluded with outlining the need for further study & research into the social, economic, political, scientific & legal aspects of AI since it is affecting humans as a race and, in all probability, shaping the course of our future.

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