Recently, the battle between Google AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, a professional Go player from South Korea, has again led to a heated discussion with regard to artificial intelligence. Who is the Super Brain? The human, or the machine? Many people have such questions in mind. In my opinion, whether the winner is AlphaGo or Lee Sedol, the ultimate winner is human. This is a battle between collective human wisdom and individual genius, and the success of AlphaGo is just another success of collective human wisdom.
However, the success of AlphaGo has also raised a strong response and worries over artificial intelligence technology among lots of people, which is unexpected before the match. Some even claim that artificial intelligence could destroy humanity when it reaches a certain level. Many celebrities, including the English scientist Steven Hawking and the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, have joined the campaign against the over-development of artificial intelligence. Such worries may seem unfounded now, but it truly reflects a deep deliberation into the relationship between human and artificial intelligence.
Seven questions about artificial intelligence
Will we lose our jobs?
With the rapid development of artificial intelligence technology, one of the questions that people are most concerned with is if jobs would be taken on by artificial intelligence. People are worried: will we all lose our jobs one day?
If you think about it carefully, such worries are not entirely unfounded. Currently, the intelligent robots are already helping humans clean the house, cook meals, take down speeches, edit articles, etc. The positions that could be taken on by artificial intelligence are increasing, and no one can predict what artificial intelligence could do next. Nevertheless, some scientists have pointed out that the development of artificial intelligence is still in the preliminary stage. The so-called “weak AI” used by scientific community means that part of the human labor may be replaced by artificial intelligence. However, the worry that “we will all lose our jobs to AI” are exaggerated.
In the “weak AI” stage, humans cannot create intelligent machines that can actually reason and solve questions, for the time being. These machines may look intelligent, but they don’t have intelligence or consciousness. Only in “strong AI” stage, will humans will be able to make machines that possess what we call “emotion” or “feeling”. In the stage, a large number of jobs would be taken on by artificial intelligence. It is an irreversible trend.
According to the projection of 2016 Davos World Economic Forum, 7.1 millions of jobs could be lost through redundancy, automation or disintermediation. At the same time, 210 new jobs would be created, focusing on more a specialized area. Accordingly, we may have fewer job choices in the presence of artificial intelligence, but the specialization of labor is significantly improved. As long as you have the expertise, you will be able to get a job.
Do we still have to go to school?
As AI develops to a certain level, a series of questions in regard to education will follow. Do our children still need to undergo years of systematic learning to grasp knowledge comprehensively? Or it can be accomplished by implanting a chip through a minimally invasive brain surgery, as what is shown in scientific fiction movies, which stores an extensive amount of information and can be connected to the internet for cloud storage?
A newspaper article once reported that a sick girl in the U.S sent a remote-controlled robot to school in her place while she was undergoing treatment in hospital. Her teachers and classmates treated the robot as the girl herself. They studied with the robot together, and communicated with it just as if they were communicating with her. Accordingly, it seems to be a choice for future children’s education to use robots to go to school.
Anyway, with the rapid development of AI, we see huge potential to use AI to substitute traditional learning. However, some experts have pointed out a step-by-step learning process is necessary for children to master knowledge firmly and cultivate a way of thinking. If an uneducated child suddenly becomes profoundly learned through implantation of the knowledge chip, lots of unexpected problems may arise.
The knowledge is not really mastered by this child; it belongs to the tiny chip. Also, the chip cannot tell this child how to use the knowledge, or how to cultivate his thinking and creative ability. Whether the possession of so much knowledge by a child, with no knowledge background and social experience, all at once will bring a series of negative impacts on the society remains to be proven. Therefore, there is still a long way to go before letting AI to go to school in place of children.
The connection structure of neurons in our brain correspond to a theory called “small world”. To put it simply, every neuron can connect to any other neurons through a few nodes. However, this structure cannot be achieved in a neuron-like brain implant chip, as the operating system will be extremely complex and energy-hungry if it is composed of electronics and machinery. Additionally, the growth in human intelligence is a process. At first, we have to learn concrete matters, and then simplify it into an abstract concept and then deepen the concept gradually through further abstraction. On the basis of the abstraction, we can get more generalized concept, and conduct analysis and reasoning afterwards.
Obviously, the ability to learn in-depth is lacking in neuron-like brain implant chips. In the aspect of using smart chips to acquire and apply knowledge as substitutes for human brains, we still have long way to go.
Do Robots have emotions?
When talking about emotions, the first thing we think of are the feelings between humans. With the development of robotics, it is possible that soon after, not only humans but also robots will have emotions. In the movie “Man from Macau 3”, the robot has falling into a romantic relationship, which is even stronger, deeper than human ones. Also, the Baymax in the popular Disney movie “Big Hero 6” is so cuddly and adorable that we just can’t stop loving it. Here the question comes: can robots have emotions?
Humans have two kinds of emotions: basic emotions and complex emotions. Usually, we consider that basic emotions include happiness, anger, sadness and fear. However, the reason that humans are human is that we not only have basic emotions, but also complex emotions. These emotions are social, spiritual and acquired, such as morality and love. Although, complex emotions cannot be simulated through programming in theory, AI may be able to develop complex emotions if it has an entire set of basic emotions and learning ability.
So it is completely possible for robots to have human emotions! With these, they will be qualified to become real human. Nevertheless, if one day robots were ensouled by the powerful technology and were able to show all kinds of emotions and eternal feelings perfectly, would you feel horrified? Or treat them as your friends?
You may have heard about the suicide of a robot in Austria in 2013. The host turned off the power of the cleaning robot after it had finished its cleaning work and left it alone at home. After the whole family had left the house, the cleaning robot turned itself on, pushed away the pot on the electric stove and then sat on the stove and set itself on fire. The fire caused by the cleaning robot burned down the house and left the family with no place to live, but the host insisted that he had turned off the cleaning robot before he left the house. The automatic start of the cleaning robot and its mysterious suicidal event became an unsolved case.
Previously, Japan has launched an emotional robot which sold out quickly. It is designed to be a companion for human, and it can recognize your emotion and knows how to comfort you, learns your hobbies, interests and habits form your daily lives, and never fights or shouts back. If you are smiling, the robot will know you are happy; if you are scowling, it can feel that you are worried about something. The robot can understand your mental state from your facial expressions and behaviors, and will communicate and interact with you on the basis of that. No matter if you are happy, angry or sad, you can pour out your feelings to the robot!
The future belongs to the robots. Nowadays, humans are no longer satisfied with industrial type robots. All kinds of remote-operated companion robots, servicing robots, recreational robots, etc. are increasingly favored by the public. For example, the intelligent companion robots which are popular in China lately, can provide you with considerate services that allow you to take care of your family any time and anywhere. In the future, humans will have a closer relationship with robots. Maybe one day you can go on a date with a robot!
What is the life-gate for robots?
What is the definition of life-gate? It is one’s weakness, the Achilles heel. The single hit that can take one’s life! AI looks very strong and has no weakness but does it have any life-gate?
Of course it has. To put it simply, cutting off the power. The robots need power to activate any mode so unplugging the power seems to be the life-gate of AI. But in fact, with the development of science and technology, such life-gate does not exist any more. It can restore power from light or wind. So are there any other life-gates for AI? It seems too perfect.
When humans create something, they never think that one day they won’t control of it. In the movie “Terminator”, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the role of a “good” robot, who is fighting the evil computer system “Skynet” developed by the US military. In “The Matrix”, “2001 A Space Odyssey” and other classic films, the main characters are uncontrolled robots. Although, in the films and television dramas, human eventually defeat the evil. But when you think it over, you feel horrified because such stories may come true one day!
Professor Hawking, one of the world’s most intelligent people, has said more than once that “the successful creation of artificial intelligence will be the biggest event in human history, but unfortunately, it may also be the last one.” Musk speaks even more bluntly: “with development of artificial intelligence, we are summoning the devil. “
Will AI really exceed and replace humans? Do humans really have no way to control it? Take a look at what artificial intelligence is. First. Pick up your iPhone and ask Siri how is the weather or the stock market, the answer you get will be artificial intelligence. Although currently these AI systems are considered useful, once AI is given more power, soon after we may lose control.
After all, artificial intelligence is based on human-designed programs, but no one can guarantee that the machine will not malfunction. Even for the most high-end artificial intelligence, perhaps a little virus program can change its program instructions. So hackers may become the life-gate of artificial intelligence in the future. In the mind of hackers, they don’t care how artificial intelligence develops, they only know how to go beyond the machine. Hackers are very clear about that, while computers are smarter and can solve questions faster than humans, it does not mean that humans can not bring them down!
“Copy of human creativity, if the machine really has the ability, it is absolutely amazing. But for now, it is absolutely not within the scope of human cognition and understanding” said Alex Rice, the founder and CTO of network security company, HackerOne. Rice believes that “the machine also demonstrated a firm belief that it will begin to feel worried. However, the machine has no self-consciousness, at least not yet.”
How will robots manage the human world?
The word “rule” may seem a little hyperbolic. Let us put it another way: management. Will the role of manager in human society be replaced by robots?
For example, humans make rules, but the implementation of the rules falls on a robot government. The responsibility of the government is to maintain order in society as a whole, according to the rules. If this is the case, what will the future of human society be like?
First, all of the current political system in the world will disappear. “National leaders” are no longer needed, and even countries do not exist. Humans will only have one high authority to represent their wills and establish all standards of society. Because the disputes of interests between people no longer exist – all resources, including the people themselves, can flow to any place on Earth, or between the planets freely with the help of robot civil servants. Of course there will be no competition between countries for interests and benefits.
‘Society of etiquette and favor’ and ‘society of relations’ will also fall apart. Lately, a speech titled “Do not rely on your relations”, revealed a contemporary social issue in China. The traditional Chinese society is based on relations. It is almost impossible to live in China without relations. After the managers of social order are replaced by robots, the society of relations will completely collapse. Instead, the new society will no longer built be on human relations, and all men will be truly equal.
All economic principles may soon disappear. There will be only two major economic roles in the future: producer (robot) and consumers (humans). Because of the new technologies, new sources of resources (extraterrestrial) and the high productivity of robots, people will easily get what they need without paying much, or anything. The only thing humans have to do is enjoy their lives; they will have the freedom to find their own spiritual sustenance. Capital, bank, stock market and other financial instruments will become history following the disappearance of currency.
Although human bodies and minds will have been greatly liberated from all kinds of labor, it is inevitable that some people may feel empty because not every one can find spiritual sustenance from extra material wealth. As the idiom goes, “the devil makes work for idle hands”, so crime rates are likely to increase.
War will not disappear, but the purpose, objects, methods and victory standards will be completely different. Wars between nations over resources have disappeared, but the wars between different religions will continue to exist, and more wars will happen to either “safeguard human system” or “overthrow human system”. The soldiers will be replaced by robots, and the victory standard is that one “robot army” will defeat another “robot army,” including its regenerative capability. The human leaders from each side may even sit together and watch the battle of the two robot armies. Once the game is set, the two sides will end the battle in a peaceful atmosphere, and the victor will have the power to make new rules.
Will AI conflict with human ethics?
There was once a video where a robot is holding a box while walking upright with two feet. A man next to the robot hit the robot with a wooden stick, knocking the box aside, but the robot could still stand up after being beaten down. Although this video is just to test the ability of robots to recover action after obstruction, it sparked much controversy on the internet. Some netizens reacted strongly, seeing this as abusing robots. A year ago, the video site also had a video about one person kicking a four-legged robot, which also received bad reviews.
Damaging the robot won’t constitute assault now, but some robots have already been made to be very similar to real-life beings. If such a robot was hurt, many people will feel pity, just as we don’t have the heart to see puppies and kittens being abused or killed. Robots have begun to affect human ethics.
Last year, the media in the UK and US reported that a female figure “sex robot” was produced by a US company. This life-size “world’s first sex robot” has many kinds of personality modes, such as “communicative”, “complaint”, etc. The product immediately sparked heated discussion, including a fair number of oppositions. If people prefer sex robots, will it affect the passion between humans?
The relationship between humans and robots is changing slowly. The Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence has set up an “Ethics Committee.” The society realized that it is necessary to discuss the connection between robot and social ethics seriously. In the meantime, the Robotics Society of Japan has proposed a guideline for “achieving and maintaining a healthy society,” which requires the study of the robot to not be isolated from general social concepts.
Also, the legal issues regarding robots are worth our consideration. Imagine there is a humanoid robot that can recognize people’s feelings through artificial intelligence, and improve its communication skills. In this process, the robot will upload the filmed/recorded information to the cloud server. In this case, confidentiality of private information will be at risk.
The late science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, has put forward “three laws of robotics” with “no harm on humans” at the core. It is very important to develop legal and ethical principles for robots, such as whether to implant the principle of “human first” into robots, how to teach the robots to keep a secret and so on.
There have been many times in human history where the development of new technologies go beyond ethical issues. “Robot ethics” are worth pondering. With the development of advanced technology, we cannot ignore the possibility that there could be research and development of a “killer robot”. Will the power of robots put humans in a defenseless position?
If humans can create a legal robot, who can determine the guilt or innocence of a person by law selflessly, will this infringe on human dignity? Regardless, the development of artificial intelligence in the future means that some people are worried that Al will take their jobs and pose real threats to humans. This is already within the area of AI and human ethics.
But we should believe that the purpose for researchers to spend so many years researching and developing artificial intelligence is to help people in need, improve the safety and efficiency of our working environment, and allow us to better explore the world we live in. Some people say, “the robot is a supplement to human, not a substitute.” There is still a long way to go for humans and robotics to coexist safely and efficiently, but we have to believe that the future is optimistic.
Will AI lead to a regress in interpersonal relationships?
Let’s imagine: in the future, artificial intelligence will have their own social circle, and will form a community much like humans do. However, by that time, will artificial intelligence cause our interpersonal relationships to go backwards? Recently, a “self-propagating” artificial intelligence robot was born in the lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Its principal part is a huge mechanical arm and a group of 3D-printed multicolor cubes, which have a small electric motor inside that replicates itself, replicates emotions and even replicates interpersonal ties. These are all expectations people have of future artificial intelligence robots. With regard to self-replicating, Hungarian-American mathematician, Von Neumann, once pointed out that any system capable of self-propagating should have two basic functions: it must be able to build one element, and use these elements to assemble the next generation that is identical to itself – it must be able to pass the description of itself to the next generation. So it seems that this so-called ‘self-propagating robot’ does not meet the true definition of reproduction.
The reason that humanity is distinguished from other things is because interpersonal relationships form the characteristic feature of human community, which won’t change following single dramatic events. Even if Al will be able to spread like a virus someday, its impact will be very limited, because after all it won’t be able to build an industrial zone by itself and start self-replicating without the help of humans!
The emergence and development of artificial intelligence has led to many possibilities. A professional in studying AI’s development from a data analysis institution has predicted that ‘artificial intelligence will be able to create a humanoid robot that replicate your words, behavior and thinking patterns. This means that the memories from one person can be preserved forever.’ It may sound horrible, because to some extent humans will never die. A long time ago, we used to dream about our memories being transplanted, but now the idea is turning into reality.
However, interpersonal relationships are built on a cumulative process, through daily communication and interaction with people. However, AI will not allow such a long process. The point of AI is that we can achieve a target instantly. Therefore, neither the relationships between humans and robots, nor the relationships between robots will be steady, but fall into a routine mode – we can either have it or lose it in the moment. If the building of interpersonal relationship becomes a process like switching on and off the light, is that a convenience, or a tragedy?
Today, all kinds of technology companies are predicting and even overstating the power of AI. Regarding interpersonal relationships, artificial intelligence is unlikely to bring happiness to us; the world will not be more peaceful, nor more chaotic. It might seem nonsense now to say that AI can settle interpersonal arguments, but its development is worth paying attention to because the development of artificial intelligence largely reflects the history of human civilization.
In the past 50 years, artificial intelligence has undergone a winding road of development, and its relationship with humans moves in fits and starts. It could be said that until now, humans have not yet fully mastered artificial intelligence technology. But even under such circumstances, humans have already felt the threats that artificial intelligence might impose. For example, humans could face unemployment – the skills brought by artificial intelligence will outperform the skills of humans – and artificial intelligence can ultimately replace human brains. Such thoughts make humans worry about how to keep artificial intelligence under control while still vigorously developing it. The purpose of mastering a new technology is to benefit ourselves and society, but we seldom consider the negative impacts of such technology. In the field of artificial intelligence, scientists have predicted that once artificial intelligence has entered into a more advanced stage, the machines made by humans will have intellect and emotion, and humans must treat them as peers and give them the rights of humans. It is hard to predict whether humans will still control artificial intelligence at this point. This is also why so many people are worried!
Nevertheless, we cannot simply refrain from artificial intelligence for fear of the risk. It is an irresistible trend now to continue studying and developing artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence could help humans work in many areas that cannot be accessed without assistance, and greatly improve the efficiency of human lives and production. So generally speaking, artificial intelligence is greatly beneficial for humans. The crux of the matter is how we can appropriately utilize and develop artificial intelligence so that it follows the path set by humans. Artificial intelligence also raises a wide range of issues, such as morality, law and human rights. To avoid any future problems, it is necessary for humans to standardize the management of artificial intelligence in these fields, from the beginning, by taking preventive measures and establishing standards early on.
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