Modern AI is intelligent. It can check you out at the grocery store, it can drive you to work, and even cook you dinner when you get home. In theory, AI is the perfect tool to eliminate human biases and failings, but as the saying goes: you get what you give. The trajectory of AI and automation is completely up to us – will we use it as a force for good or a tool for evil?
Savvy cyber criminals make use of modern AI to scan for their next victims. Tools like this not only identify vulnerable individuals, but also builds highly personalized attacks. Much like AI-developed phishing scams, automated propaganda machines powered by AI create targeted campaigns of misinformation. In the hands of authoritarian regimes and in the face of political instability, AI becomes a virtual weapon. Even for real weapons, there is room for AI. Self-aiming, long-range sniper rifles improve accuracy and automated vehicles or drones can be built to deliver explosives, far away from the influence of human beings. These augmentations distance us from the destruction of war and further our desensitization of violence.
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New technologies are often vilified at first, as humans are wont to fear what they don’t understand. For AI in particular, this fear may come not from the technology itself, but a fear of human influence in that technology. Recognizing the potential of modern AI is a two-way street; when used for good or evil, the outcomes are to be expected. AI in the sights of innovators and forward thinkers can become an incredible force for good. By one estimation, AI will create 2.3 million jobs in 2020, demanding programmers, ethics controllers, and technology go-betweens that ensure AI is accessible to business leaders and the public. Just a year later in 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion for businesses and 6.2 billion hours worth of worker productivity. Beyond business, AI is taking on sectors from education to pharmaceuticals to the environment and what AI can help us learn will change the world.
When approaching the future of AI and automation, we must ask ourselves exactly how we want this future to look. Though AI may be the vessel, it’s up to us to steer it in the right direction. Take a look at this infographic for more detail on the dark side of modern AI, where and why it’s being abused, and what we can do to ensure it’s used as a force for good.