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What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals, which involves consciousness and emotionality. The distinction between the former and the latter categories is often revealed by the acronym chosen. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is often used to describe machines that mimic “cognitive” functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as “learning” and “problem solving”. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be defined in many ways: one can say it is the technology that emulates the natural intelligence that we have in machines. It is designed by humans and demonstrated by the machines.

It can also be termed as the machine that replaces human labour and generates an effective and speedier result. It is able to accurately interpret from data, to learn from them, and to use that to achieve specific goals and tasks by adaptation to specific situations.

As machines become increasingly capable, tasks considered to require “intelligence” are often removed from the definition of AI, a phenomenon known as the AI effect. A quip in Tesler’s Theorem says “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.” For instance, optical character recognition is frequently excluded from things considered to be AI, having become a routine technology. Modern machine capabilities generally classified as AI include successfully understanding human speech, competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go), and also imperfect-information games like poker, self-driving cars, intelligent routing in content delivery networks, and military simulations.

In recent years, AI has developed so dramatically that it is a vital part in our life circle today, whether from the Alexa’s and Siri’s to as simple as searching a query on any search engine. But did you know there are many different types of AI? Yes, they can be differentiated by its functionalities. Let’s get into it!

Types of AI:

The first is weak AI, or narrow AI that is designed to perform a narrow task, such as facial recognition or Internet Siri search or a self-driving car. Although this weak AI looks to be helpful to us, there are still thoughts that weak AI could be dangerous because it could cause disruptions in the electric grid or may damage nuclear power plants when malfunctioned.

A lifelong goal for many creators is to develop strong AI or artificial general intelligence (AGI) which is the speculative intelligence of a machine that can understand or learn any intelligent task that we can, being a help to us humans in dealing with a problem. While narrow AI may outperform us in playing chess or solving equations, but its effect is still weak. AGI, however, could outperform us at nearly every cognitive task.

Strong AI is a different perception of AI that it can be programmed to actually be a human mind, to be intelligent in whatever it is asked to attempt, even to have perception, beliefs and other cognitive capacities that are normally only associated to us.

In much simpler terms, the below functions can be seen in AI:

· Automation: Makes a system or process to function automatically.

· Machine learning and vision: The science of getting a computer to act through deep learning to predict and analyse, and to see through a camera, analog-to-digital conversion and digital signal processing are some of the examples.

· Natural language processing: The processing of human language by a computer program, such as spam detection and converting instantly a language to another to help us communicate.

· Robotics: A field of engineering focusing on the design and manufacturing of cyborgs, or the machine man. They are used to perform tasks for our convenience or something too difficult or dangerous for us to perform and can operate without stopping which may be necessary in certain situations.

· Self-driving car: Use a combination of computer vision, image recognition amid deep learning to build automated control in a vehicle.

You may now get this question in your mind:-

“Do we really need artificial intelligence?”

Well, it depends.

If we opt for a faster and effective way to complete our work and to work constantly without taking a break, yes, it is. However if we are satisfied with a natural way of living without excessive desires to conquer the order of nature, it is not.

History tells us that we are always looking for something faster, easier, more effective, and convenient to finish the task we work on; therefore, the pressure for further development motivates us to look for a new and better way of doing things.

We discovered that tools could facilitate many hardships for daily living and through tools we invented, human could complete the work better, faster, smarter and more effectively. The invention to create new things becomes the incentive of human progress. We enjoy a much easier and more leisurely life today all because of the contribution of technology.

Our society has been using the tools since the beginning of civilization, and human progress depends on it. The human kind living in the 21st century do not have to work as hard as their forefathers in previous times because they have new machines to work for them.

Also, we see the high-profile examples of AI like autonomous vehicles (such as drones and self-driving cars), medical diagnosis, creating art, playing games (such as Chess or Go), search engines (such as Google search), online assistants (such as Siri and Alexa), image recognition in photographs, spam filtering, predicting flight delays, etc. All these have made human life much easier and convenient so that we are so used to them and take them for granted. AI has become indispensable, so although it is not absolutely needed, without it, our world will be in chaos in so many levels than we can imagine today.

PC: Google

The impact of artificial intelligence on human society

Some of the questions we may have heard over the years:

· Will human labour no longer be needed as everything can be done mechanically?

· Will humans become lazier and eventually degrade to the stage that we return to our primitive form of being? The process of evolution takes eons to develop, so we will not notice the backsliding of our kind.

· If the AI becomes so powerful that it can program itself to be in charge and disobey the order given by its master, us, the human kind, what guarantee do we have that it won’t turn on us?

Let us see the negative impact the AI will have on our society:

Humankind has to be industrious to make their living, but with the service of AI, we can just program the machine to do a thing for us without even lifting a tool. Human closeness will be gradually diminishing as AI will replace the need for people to meet face to face for idea exchange. AI will stand in between people as personal gathering will no longer be needed for communication.

Unemployment is next because many human jobs will be replaced by machinery. Today, many automobile assembly lines are being filled with machineries and robots, forcing traditional workers to lose their jobs. Even in a supermarket, the store clerks will not be needed anymore as the devices can take over human labour.

Wealth inequality will be created as the investors of AI will take up the major share of the earnings. The gap between the rich and the poor will be widened.

A bigger question is if the AI being trained and taught how to operate the given task, why won’t it eventually take off to the stage that we have no control over it? Won’t it have the capacity to automatically function on its own course ignoring the command given by the human controller after being loaded with all the necessary algorithms?

The humans who create AI may invent something that is racial bias or egocentrically oriented to harm certain people or things. For instance, the United Nations has voted to limit the spread of nucleus power in fear of its indiscriminative use in destroying humankind or targeting on certain races or region to achieve the goal of domination. AI is possible to target certain race or some programmed objects to accomplish the command of destruction by the programmers, thus creating world disaster.

Stephen Hawking warned early in 2014 that the development of full AI could spell the end of the human race. He said that once humans develop AI, it may take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, could not compete and would be superseded. In his book Superintelligence, Nick Bostrom gives an argument that AI will pose a threat to humankind. He argues that sufficiently intelligent AI can exhibit convergent behaviour such as acquiring resources or protecting itself from being shut down, and it might harm humanity.

Positive impact:

There are, however, many positive impacts on humans as well as in other fields. AI gives computers the capacity to learn, reason, and apply logic. Scientists, medical researchers, clinicians, mathematicians, and engineers, all benefit from AI.

· Fast and accurate diagnostics

IBM’s Watson computer has been used to diagnose with fascinating results. Loading the data to the computer will instantly get AI’s diagnosis. AI can also provide various ways of treatment for physicians to consider.

· Socially therapeutic robots

Pets are recommended to senior citizens to ease their tension and reduce blood pressure, anxiety, loneliness, and increase social interaction. Now cyborgs have been suggested to accompany people who need company, even to help in doing some household chores for physically challenged people. Therapeutic robots and the socially assistive robot technology help improve the quality of life for them.

· Reduce errors related to human fatigue

Human error at workforce is inevitable and often costly. The greater the level of fatigue, the higher the risk of errors occurring. Al technology, however, does not suffer from fatigue or emotional distraction. It saves errors and can accomplish the duty faster and more accurately.

PC: Google

Guidelines and Reminders on working with AI:

The High-Level Expert Group on AI of the European Union presented Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI in 2019 that suggested AI systems must be accountable, explainable, and unbiased. Three emphases are given:

1. Lawful-respecting all applicable laws and regulations.

2. Ethical-respecting ethical principles and values.

3. Robust-being adaptive, reliable, fair, and trustworthy from a technical perspective while taking into account its social environment.

Seven requirements are recommended:

· AI should not trample on human autonomy. People should not be manipulated or coerced by AI systems, and humans should be able to intervene or oversee every decision that the software makes.

· AI should be secure and accurate. It should not be easily compromised by external attacks, and it should be reasonably reliable.

· Personal data collected by AI systems should be secure and private. It should not be accessible to just anyone, and it should not be easily stolen.

· Data and algorithms used to create an AI system should be accessible, and the decisions made by the software should be “understood and traced by human beings.” In other words, operators should be able to explain the decisions their AI systems make.

· Services provided by AI should be available to all, regardless of age, gender, race, or other characteristics. Similarly, systems should not be biased along these lines.

· AI systems should be sustainable (i.e., they should be ecologically responsible) and “enhance positive social change”.

· AI systems should be auditable and covered by existing protections for corporate whistle-blowers. The negative impacts of systems should be acknowledged and reported in advance.


Despite all the positive promises that AI provides, human experts, however, are still essential and necessary to design, program, and operate the AI to prevent any unpredictable error from occurring. Beth Kindig, a San Francisco-based technology analyst, published a free newsletter indicating that although AI has a potential promise for better medical diagnosis, human experts are still needed to avoid the misclassification of unknown diseases, because AI is not omnipotent to solve all problems us.

There are times when AI meets an impasse, and to carry on its mission, it may just proceed indiscriminately, leading to more problems. Thus vigilant proctoring of AI’s functionalities cannot be neglected.

AI is here to stay in our world and we must try to enforce the AI bioethics of beneficence, value upholding, lucidity and accountability. Since AI is without a soul as it is, its bioethics must be transcendental to bridge the shortcoming of AI’s inability to empathize. AI is a reality of the world. We must take note of what Joseph Weizenbaum, a pioneer of AI, said that we must not let computers make important decisions for us because AI as a machine will never possess human qualities such as compassion and wisdom to morally discern and judge. Bioethics is not a matter of calculation but a process of conscience.

Although AI designers can up-load all information, data, and program AI to function as a human being, it is still a machine and a tool. AI will always remain as AI without having authentic human feelings and the capacity to commiserate. Therefore, AI technology must be progressed with extreme caution. As Von der Leyen said in White Paper on AI — An European approach to excellence and trust: “AI must serve people, and therefore, AI must always comply with people’s rights.”


The author, Anusha Satish, is a CSE pre-final student from Sathyabama University, a tech enthusiast, and above all, a learner.


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