Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal.
Even if you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, you have likely heard that famous line uttered at one point or another. Released nearly 50 years ago, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, specifically that scene, remains the symbolic gold standard by which modern popular culture marvels with a mixture of fear and awe at the existence of artificial intelligence (AI) and the implications of our own demise associated with its advancement.
AI is the science and engineering of machines that act intelligently. Advancements in the field have expanded to include what would likely have seemed like science fiction 10 years ago, but also include the more mundane applications we use in daily life that most of us never even consider. Things like the spam filter in our email programs or technology the doctor uses to look up substitute medications when the ones we normally use are out of stock. Applications that are largely invisible, but we’d nonetheless immediately miss in their absence.
Even the eye-widening awe we experience reading the latest AI breakthrough involving the replacement of a patient’s lost leg with an artificial one – one that, just as with an original limb, is controlled by the owner’s thoughts – engenders only the most positive of predispositions to this rapidly advancing field. Indeed, the happiness and improvement to the quality of life of even one individual who benefits from this kind of breakthrough far exceeds our ability to measure.
But hold on. What about AI’s current capacity to replace things less urgent than our arms and legs? I’m referring to any number of human white collar jobs previously not considered at risk to the miracle of automation – all the way from attorneys to doctors and financial analysts to journalists. “Journalists? This is starting to get a little uncomfortable,” says yours truly to no one in particular. “This is moving a little fast, don’cha think!?”
“Faster than you can say ‘built-in obsolescence,’” my inner insecurity replies.
“Oh! Obsolete!” I say aloud, joggling the digital tile lights along the edge of my phone so as to get a triple word score and sink my Words with Friends opponent as I simultaneously skim the day’s headlines in search of ideas to support my story.
Suddenly, as if to squelch my attempt to deflect my own fear of professional demise with humor, I spot a headline sure to accelerate my stress levels about a controversial announcement that Italian neurosurgeon, Sergio Canavero, will have the surgical and technological capability to perform the world’s first head transplant by 2017.
Wait – WHAT?!??! OK, technically speaking, Canavero’s proposed procedure does not fall within the boundaries of the field of artificial intelligence, but the collective recoil felt by most is related to the notion that while arms and legs and eyes and teeth, etc. are all replaceable, ethical lines end at anything involving the brain, which is where artificial intelligence’s greatest advances as well as its greatest perceived threat begins.
Enter Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering and author of the [...]
Artificial Intelligence – Are the Machines Taking Over? is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.Read more »